San Francisco Comes Alive in ‘Inside Out’

Lombard in Pixar's Inside Out

Pixar’s upcoming feature film, Inside Out, is set in two defined worlds, one being the mind of an 11-year old girl named Riley, the other set in the lively city of San Francisco. To help define those worlds, the Pixar crew often has to travel great distances to gather the in-depth details that Pixar’s films are known for. That being said, a recent San Francisco Chronicle article showcasing Inside Out notes that sometimes in-depth research doesn’t have to go any further than your own back yard…and in this case, Pixar’s own back yard of San Francisco (read our full review of Inside Out).

So often Pixar movies are set in Anytown, U.S.A.,…For ‘Inside Out’ we wanted someplace real. We looked out the window toward the San Francisco skyline and realized the research trip would be cheap.

Pete Docter
Walt Disney Family Museum in Inside Out

Included in the full article were two screenshots and a new piece of concept art from the film which show how much Pixar took inspiration from the city (i.e., including the famed Lombard Street) while still stylizing elements to add unique touches. The detail of the foggy atmosphere lingering in the distance is a key feature that the team implemented perfectly in the included screenshots. The concept art (below) also mirrors this by highlighting the signature fog, Golden Gate Bridge, and housing style which is the signature of the city.

As an interesting note about the screenshot of the ice rink above – in March, we released a list of Inside Out fun facts that included a tribute to the Walt Disney Family Museum. The filmmakers set Riley’s hockey rink in the exact spot the museum is located in San Francisco.

So, how did Pixar jump into the local research for Inside Out – the article also added. 

Soon after Docter hatched the idea for “Inside Out,” based on his own daughter’s moody evolution from tween to teen, Eggleston and his team set out to do research. A horde of Pixar interns was set loose in San Francisco and returned with some 4,000 photos.

“One thing that came out of that was a lot of fun with the signage of San Francisco,” Eggleston says. “We gently poke fun at some things in the city, like a barrage of signs that say no left turn, no right turn, no backward, no forward. We had fun with it, but we didn’t want to steal focus. It’s more of a second-layer thing.”

Inside Out Concept Art

In addition to what the article discusses, we were lucky enough to chat with the aforementioned Production Designer, Ralph Eggleston about some early(and deleted) Inside Out concepts which found the Pixar crew visiting the Jelly Belly factory and a chicken farm as part of the early research process. Listen to our chat with Ralph Eggleston for more details on some initial memory sorting concepts that hit the cutting room floor in Episode 37 of the Pixar Post Podcast. Also, view more photos like the one below in our Podcast post as well – you can even see some of the research photographs of the city on the board shown in the upper-left corner.

Inside Out Behind the Scenes
Ronnie del Carmen, Ralph Eggleston, Pete Docter and Albert Lozano in an Inside Out art review session
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