3D World

On­ward and up­wards


- Entertainment · Movies · Pixar Animation Studios · Onward

The spark

It starts with Dan and I in a room, just two of us, and we start talk­ing about ideas. That’s when we hit upon Dan’s story and re­alised how pow­er­ful it was. That sto­ry­line about loss, grief and those peo­ple left in your life who sup­port you, we both thought that could con­nect with a lot of peo­ple.

Story time

We bring on a head of story and slowly add a few story artists. Avail­abil­ity is al­ways an is­sue at Pixar be­cause we have mul­ti­ple films in pro­duc­tion at once. The goal within the first two years is cre­at­ing a treat­ment, an out­line, and then a first draft which we use to put the movie up in story reels. It’s a very skele­tal crew at that point, we usu­ally just have story, editorial and maybe a bit of art hap­pen­ing.

Reel talk

You get into a rhythm where ev­ery 12 to 14 weeks you screen the film in story reels.

We put the movie up for other cre­atives at the stu­dio, with sound ef­fects, temp mu­sic, scratch voices, ev­ery­thing. We do that eight or nine times over the course of the six years and get all kinds of notes from the whole stu­dio.

Trial and er­ror

We get all those notes, we go back to story and editorial, tear the movie down, ad­dress the notes, fig­ure out what’s work­ing and what isn’t, and then we spend the next ten weeks putting it back up. The en­tire six years is re­ally trial and er­ror of story, try­ing to catch our mis­takes, and see if ev­ery­thing we set up in acts one and two is be­ing paid off.

Artists as­sem­ble

It’s not un­til about 18 to 24 months out from re­lease that we start crew­ing up and build­ing as­sets. Re­ally only the last two years of that six is the hands-on mak­ing of the movie. We’re in­cred­i­bly savvy with pro­duc­tion at this point in our history at Pixar. What we strive to do is to spend as much time as pos­si­ble on the story be­fore we start mak­ing it.

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