Pixar Panel Breakdown from the D23 Expo

The Good Dinosaur Concept Art

As you know by now, the 2013 D23 Expo was full of incredible Pixar sneak peeks, concept art, and discussions on upcoming feature films. We first reported on the information from The Good Dinosaur sneak peekInside Out sneak peek and the Finding Dory sneak peek and are now happy to pass along details regarding the many Pixar-themed panels that took place over the Expo weekend.

The Art of The Good Dinosaur Panel

One thing that stuck out to me during the main Expo keynote (and first sneak peek of The Good Dinosaur) was Arlo’s dog-like features (the main dinosaur character). During the Art of The Good Dinosaur Panel, Indie Wire (link removed, no longer active) noted that “not only is Arlo green (like the forest) but has a goofy smile, large snout, and big eyes.” I guess that explains why I feat that Arlo was so dog-like – because he has some of those characteristics.

An interesting concept was the fact that the team created the main dinosaur characters as herbivores then gave them a job within the film as farmers. There has been a lot of great character design that went into the detailing by the artists who studied the faces of old farmers and incorporated wrinkle patterns and skin coloration to subtly represent the beards of Midwest farmers.

When Bob Peterson was asked by Jana Monji with RogerEbert.com about what happened to the large carnivorous dinosaurs, such as the T-Rex, Peterson laughed and replied “You’ll have to see the film.

Some other interesting facts from the Indie Wire article were discussions surrounding the landscape and the interesting push and pull of Arlo and Spot’s huge differences in size. “A waterfall overwhelms Arlo, engulfing him in the forest and making him vulnerable. There are lots of metaphors such as this – the design was intended to make Arlo and Spot either come together or pull apart.

There’s a gorgeous piece of concept art of Arlo next to a snowy mountain. It’s another instance of conveying vastness and vulnerability. Finally, a piece of test footage offered a stunning aerial view of the patchwork farming community and the dinos tending to the hybrid crops in a familiar way.”

Women of Pixar Panel

In this inspiring panel, Producers and Animators discussed how they continue to inspire each other and how they love seeing more women in animation.

The talented ladies that participated in the Women of Pixar Panel were Bret Parker (animator), Galyn Susman (producer), Mary Alice Drumm (producer), Lindsey Collins (producer), and Mary Coleman (development executive) with Robin Chandler, Vice President of Worldwide Publicity at Pixar leading the panel discussion.

According to Mice Chat, the discussion began with the panelist giving a little background information on themselves. We were excited to see Animator, Bret Parker included in this panel as we discussed in Episode 17 of The Pixar Post Podcast – she was one of the women we hoped to see on the panel. Parker noted that she first started as a temporary Production Assistant at Pixar then worked her way up through the company, eventually having her animation reel reviewed by Pete Docter for critique.

One item that really stuck out to me was a comment by Producer Galyn Susman who mentioned that it takes perseverance and tenacity to make it in the animation field – regardless of gender. Whether you can draw or not, a company like Pixar needs a very diverse group of employees on their team to function.

For me, this was a very powerful statement and a very important one, especially for those who dream of working for an animation company such as Pixar. Regardless of your skills, there are so many opportunities for collaboration. So many members of the entire team play an integral role in the making of Pixar films as well as the day-to-day operations of this great company.

Ending the discussion there was a question asked to the panel about which Pixar character they relate to the most. The answer from Producer Galyn Susman was the most interesting to us – she stated that she most related to a character that was cut from the film Ratatouille. That character was Remy’s mom, voiced by Bette Midler, this blew my mind as I was unaware of this Pixar fun fact.

Pixar: Doing Our Homework Panel

Pixar always seems to go the extra mile or do their “extra credit” when it comes to the detail of research that they put into each of their feature and short films.

The panel included director Andrew Stanton, producer Lindsey Collins, producer Jonas Rivera, director Pete Docter, producer Denise Ream and was moderated by producer Katherine Sarafian. During the discussion each Pixarian gave a personal story from a research trip, which took them to the “Tabletop Mountains” in Venezuela for UP to a consultation with real astronauts for Wall-e. Of course, they couldn’t leave out the details of looking “under the foliage” in the Pixar Studios parking lot for the research for A Bug’s Life.

One of my favorite stories from the panel comes from Spinoff Online who shared that while doing research for Toy Story the crew discussed their childhood memories of how they played with toys. While it was no surprise that John Lasseter was very careful with his toys just like Andy from the film, it was the revelation that Andrew Stanton and the late Joe Ranft related more to Sid’s character that was humorous.

Toy Story of Terror Panel

The Toy Story of Terror! and the Motivation Behind Pixar’s Short Form Content panel kicked off to a packed house on the Expo’s, Stage 28 to a packed room. The panel consisted of Jim Morris (General Manager of Pixar Animation Studios), Galyn Susman (Toy Story of Terror producer), Mary Alice Drumm (Producer), Rob Gibbs (Story Artist/Director), and Angus MacLane (Toy Story of Terror Director). The panel was very lighthearted and really gave guests a better look into the world of Pixar’s short films.

Toy Story of TERROR Jessie Screencap

Angus started by discussing that Toy Story of Terror is Pixar’s first horror film and that with any short, especially if it’s a franchise short (e.g., Toy Story or Cars), you don’t have the time to concentrate on every character – you have to emphasize a few. This rings true with the clip that was shown the day prior at the Expo – where we see Jessie is the main focus of the short. Rob Gibbs also noted that the series of Cars Toons focus on laughs rather than on a big or serious plot point.

The panel also announced the release of two new Cars Toons shorts which will debut on the Disney Channel in 2014 – Radiator Springs 500-and-a-half as well as To Protect and Serve. I wonder what the 500-and-a-half short will be about – a race where you have to drive an extra half of a lap?

Overall the panel really summed up the fact that Pixar really loves to make these short films and that they are one hundred percent an investment in Pixar’s future – from the more entry-level staff that are staffed on these projects (alongside more senior staff), to the new limits in technology that they can test – the shorts help allow Pixar to grow and evolve in a more scaled back way. Thanks to The Pixar Times for attending the panel and passing along the details.

Party Central

Although this wasn’t an official Pixar-themed panel, we had to make sure we passed along details regarding Pixar’s upcoming fun-filled short film, Party Central. During the Expo’s keynote session, the audience was treated to a special advanced screening of the short film and the overall reaction was fantastic – the entire audience erupted with applause after the six-minute film ended. Party Central is Pixarian Kelsey Mann’s directorial debut and allows us to get another peek into our favorite monster world.

The official tagline for the short is – Mike and Sulley are back at Monsters University for a fun-filled weekend with their Oozma Kappa fraternity brothers. The gang is throwing their first party, but no one’s showing up. Luckily for them, Mike and Sulley have come up with a plan to make sure “Party Central” is the most epic party the school has ever seen.

Party Central D23 Expo Announcement

A surprise that was revealed after the screening was that Party Central would not be included along with the October release of Monsters University (as previously thought), but would instead be released alongside The Good Dinosaur in theaters on May 30, 2014.

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