Thursday, July 30, 2015


Since storyboarding is now done digitally these days I have no production sequences saved on paper. In the flurry of activity that is the day-to-day race to draw sequences for looming deadlines thousands of drawings disappear into 'the system' never to be seen again. It's not really company policy to allow that material out of the building anyway. All I have are scans of paper thumbnail sketches I made when figuring out how to approach the staging and acting for some sequences. I did some early work on the 'Abstract Thought' sequence and you'll see below that the Train of Thought passed through it at one stage. Here Joy is separated from Sadness and, with Bing Bong, escapes Mind Construction Workers by hitching a ride aboard the Train of Thought . . .

After a briefing from the directors where I make notes directly on the script page I'll start scribbling down small thumbnail sketches of any visuals or staging that spring to mind immediately.

These are more like 'beat boards' exploring a Brainstorm, Abstract Thought and the Train of Thought.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Plein Air

The fine weather and light of Los Angeles is inspiring me to paint on location more this year. There are so many beautiful spots down the coast and hidden architectural gems within the city. These are pretty quick sketches - no more than 40 mins each.

'El Segundo'

'Point Vicente Lighthouse' Watercolour sketch below and gouache study above



  The Lawrence and Martha Joseph Residence, Culver City

Hutchison Ave, Helms District

Two angles of a modernist home on Helms Avenue.

'Fay Street'

'El Baron on Washington'

'Baldwin Hills Oil Field'

Modern beach-front house on 'Venice Beach'

 The 'Samitaur' building in the Hayden Tract designed by architect Eric Owen Moss (Culver City).

I stopped on the way home at Marina Del Rey and found this fishing boat just returned -at least it smelled like a fishing boat. Its crew were swabbing the deck which attracted a mob of gulls and small pelicans.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Untitled Pixar film that takes you inside the Mind!

Having lived in France for a couple of years I was aware that animated films are often given interesting new titles; 'Up' was 'La Haut', 'Brave' became 'Rebelle'. Racking our brains for suggestions of what 'The Untitled Pixar film that takes you inside the Mind' might be I suggested 'La Joie de Vivre' which the editorial team amusingly used at the head of one of the rough assembly screenings. Naming this film was thrown open to the entire crew by producer Jonas Rivera. A list was drawn up that everyone contributed to eg. 'Mind Blown', 'BrainTrust', 'Joyless', 'Out of Mind', 'Emotional Rescue' etc.

I started with a 'mood board' tracking films with similar titles to some we had in mind. I collated images with colours that suggested emotions and Saul Bass style fonts. Potential titles must be checked against existing properties by the legal dept. There are several 'Inside Out' films but there was deemed no conflict of interest with Pixar's film.

I think visually and have loved designing fonts and logos since childhood. My Dad is a sign-maker and I was fascinated by a Letraset book he had. I'd help him design signs and he had great technical pens I'd use to draw. I studied graphic design later at school and always relish the opportunity to do some thinking on movie logos.
'Life of Riley' was deemed too trite early on. I don't know who came up with 'Inside Out' ultimately but it was on a short list that John Lasseter chose from. Once again the French title is more interesting and whimsical 'Vice-Versa'.
 'HQ!' could've been fun. I thought perhaps using the name of the true main character of the film (but it looks like David O. Russell took that one).

The Story team are often tasked with generating ideas for teaser trailers.  These are very rough thumbnails where I'm just thinking my way through ideas. I love movie trailers that used to 'tease', that left the audience intrigued. I thought of something that would use simple abstract shapes animated on screen with relevant sound effects. 

I thought about Joy presenting the team in a 'Psychology Lesson'

(Above) 'The Emotional States of Riley' or even something more mysterious . . .
Pete even tasked us with coming up with graphic 'emoticons' that could be used on the control panel displays. This page above is what Pete showed to Dacher Keltner at Berkeley's Psychology lab which led to me helping them develop the 'Finch' animated emoticon for Facebook.