A research trip for an animated film? Is that really necessary?? YES. In fact, after speaking with The Good Dinosaur filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios last month I realized more than ever how much research is needed to create an amazing film – whether it’s live action or animation.
During our visit to Pixar Animation Studios, we had a chance to sit down with the filmmakers themselves to find out exactly what went into that research. Since their research trips took them to the American West to live a bit of a cowboy lifestyle, the theme for our gathering had that same western feel. We gathered around the fire in the hearth of the Brooklyn Building at Pixar Animation Studios. It’s an amazing fireplace and, what’s even more amazing, is the room that is built into it and can be reached through a huge wooden door on the back. So cool!
Around our “campfire” were Director Peter Sohn, Producer Denise Ream, Supervising Technical Director Sanjay Bakshi and Director of Photography – Lighting, Sharon Calahan. They shared with us their adventures discovering mountains and rivers and ranches and how that all contributed to designing the look and feel of The Good Dinosaur.
They shared photos with us of the amazing places they traveled and just how beautiful these areas are. They spent time boating down calm rivers, rafting down not-so-calm rivers, riding horses through the mountains and even trying their hand at helping on a working ranch. Since Director Peter Sohn was born and raised in New York City there were many stories reminiscent of City Slickers!
One of my favorite stories was about a lost GoPro camera on their river trip. It had been mounted to the boat but became unattached and presumably lost. After looking around for it, they presumed the camera was lost for good. But not so….. Their guide, a mountain man named Derek, started looking around at the river calculating things in his head. He then got out of the boat, walked to a particular spot in the river, reached into the water and pulled out the camera. Just by reading the flow of the river he was able to determine where the camera would have traveled. (And they even have the GoPro footage with about 20 minutes of underwater view since the camera was running the whole time!
After listening to the filmmakers talk about their adventures and share about all they had seen it was so evident how the very real landscapes of the American West inspired the beautiful world created in The Good Dinosaur. From the Clawtooth Mountains of Arlo’s home to the roaring river that whisks him away from it, all are inspired by real-life places. I think that may be why the natural scenes in the movie are all so beautiful. I may have mentioned this in an earlier post, but the beautiful scenes are one of my very favorite parts of watching The Good Dinosaur.
I’m so excited for you all to see The Good Dinosaur and share with me what you think. When you do get to the theater, be sure to note the landscapes (it’s basically impossible not to) and see if you can tell all the ways they were inspired by these real-life trips to the American West.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR opens in theatres everywhere on November 25th!
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