A Peek Inside Pixar’s Localization Process For ‘Monsters University’

Earlier this month we were lucky enough to chat with Pixar’s localization artist, Laura Meyer, and we couldn’t help but be intrigued as she described the process that takes place when preparing a film for release outside of the U.S. market. As an artist, Laura is one member of the small, yet bustling localization team (which also has ties to the Post Production department).

During our interview, we spent a bit of time discussing examples of Laura’s work, and rather than just talk about it we wanted to visually show screenshots from Monsters University (one of the films we discussed) to better illustrate the changes that take place across regions.

Laura Meyer Pixar Localization
Laura Meyer © Debby Coleman / Pixar

To get started, we reached out to our friends, Luis at Pixar Brasil Blog and Fabien at Pixar Planet France to ask for their assistance. Luckily, they were just as excited as we were to help out and we can’t thank them enough for taking the time to capture screenshots from their local copies of Monsters University to help with our post.

Additionally, be sure to listen to our entire interview with Laura Meyer included on Episode 34 of the Pixar Post Podcast. We guarantee her personal story will engage and inspire you.

One of the most intriguing elements of Laura’s position is that not only does she create her own artwork, but she also has to be able to re-create the artwork of others in the studio to match their style. In this first example, we see Mike Wazowski (or Bob Razowski in France) drawing with sidewalk chalk in the film’s opening credits. The images below (from top to bottom) are from the U.S. release (English), followed by France (French), and then finally, Brazil (Portuguese).

The French version loosely translates to Mikey W. is frightening, while the Portuguese version translates to Mikey W. is spooky. Below are a series of additional screenshots highlighting the differences in the versions. As you look through the images, be sure to think about all the planning, work, and timing that goes into making Pixar movies unique for each country. As Laura pointed out in our interview, certain elements have to be re-created in the country’s local language or the scene won’t hold the same emotional resonance or laugh factor.

Laura also talked about an interesting challenge during the scene where Randy makes cupcakes which say, “Be My Pal” – but later as he gets bumped the cupcakes fly into the air and land on his face spelling, “Lame”. The challenge was how to find a word across multiple languages which would start as seven letters and then get shuffled to form another word (four letters) for each country – whew! Instead, the team had to come up with a different approach that would be more universal – this is when the idea of creating smiley face cupcakes came into play.

Interestingly, Laura also discussed how the international/localization team handles each film’s trailer creation and inserts elements for each region. For instance, in the first full-length Inside Out trailer, the U.S. version shows Riley’s Father watching a hockey game in his mind while the U.K. trailer shows him watching a game of soccer (football). Laura noted that it was actually John Lasseter’s suggestion to incorporate the soccer clip in the international trailer as John believes localization is extremely important to help audiences connect with the film. 

Be sure to listen to Episode 34 of the Pixar Post Podcast for even more details from our interview with Laura Meyer as well as hear our discussions on the latest Pixar news. Thank you again to Pixar and Laura Meyer.

Now that you’ve seen these screenshots from Monsters University, what other scenes or movies are you interested in seeing more localization efforts from? If there’s a scene you’re wondering about, take a screenshot and post it in the Pixar Post Forum (under the appropriate film category) – then other users from the Forum can reply with screenshots from their local copy so we can all see the amazing detail and differences.

Comments 4
  1. Yeah, every one on this forum knows about him, in fact, I'm the one who introduced them to them. That's Bing Bong by the way, Riley's imaginary friend, but we aren't really supposed to talk about him.

  2. Great article! Just got around to reading it now. I've watched several Pixar films on visits to foreign countries (namely Toy Story 3 and Monsters University) and remember noticing the slight changes. I think it's awesome that Pixar does this, it definitely makes a difference.

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