T-Rex Teeth, Sam Elliott’s Mustache and Other ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Fun Facts

Take a look at several fun-facts about The Good Dinosaur.
The Good Dinosaur Pterodactyl Screencap

As the theatrical release of The Good Dinosaur nears, additional clips and images seem to be released on a daily basis. We wanted to share a few ‘Fun Facts’ from the film surrounding character design, production details, and an almost disastrous research trip down a raging river.

GO-PRO GO? – During a research trip to Wyoming, filmmakers braved a white-water rafting trip down the Snake River. Along the way, the GoPro camera being used to capture reference footage was dislodged and lost in the river. Thankfully, their guide was able to actually “read” the river and figure out just where it would likely come to rest downstream. The camera was recovered—still running— and the team has footage of its solo journey.

CHECK THIS OUT – Inspired by the American Northwest, the setting for “The Good Dinosaur” is not only completely exterior, it features ever-changing weather. To prepare, Pixar’s artists and technicians created a rain and cloud library, featuring different types of rain and a selection of clouds that could be mixed and matched, and stretched, squashed, and manipulated to create any desired look.

  • While clouds are typically done in matte paintings, for the first time ever, “The Good Dinosaur” features 100-percent volumetric clouds. This means, they are mobile, dimensional and can be lit from any camera angle, creating a stunning look.
The Good Dinosaur screencap

WIDE-OPEN SPACES – To achieve the wide-open look director Peter Sohn desired, filmmakers utilized height field data from the U.S. Geological Survey that allowed them to capture elevation details from actual areas in the country. This was the first step in creating a fully realized environment that allowed filmmakers remarkable flexibility in terms of camera placement.

PHOTO REAL? –The landscapes and environments in “The Good Dinosaur” are extraordinary, transporting audiences to a world where they can almost feel the raindrops. But filmmakers say it isn’t photo-real—just detailed in a way advanced technology and style decisions allow. Some members of the team playfully refer to the look as “Sharon Calahan Realism,” in honor of the director of photography- lighting. As a passionate landscape painter, Calahan has spent countless hours painting in the very areas that inspired the film’s setting. Her trained eye made a significant contribution to the film’s overall look. 

H-2-OH! – “The Good Dinosaur” features more water shots than any Pixar feature before it, including more than 125 shots of the river alone.

ALTERNATE UNIVERSE – In the world of “The Good Dinosaur,” where dinosaurs never became extinct, but instead evolved, herbivores—like Arlo’s Apatosaurus family — became farmers, and carnivores— like the T-Rexes— became ranchers. 

The Good Dinosaur Sam Elliott

WELL-GROOMED – Butch, the tough T-Rex Arlo encounters on his journey, sports a nod to the actor who provides his voice, Sam Elliott. According to supervising animator Mike Venturini, when Butch grins, his big white teeth resemble Elliott’s signature mustache.

  • Filmmakers looked at classic movie cowboys like characters portrayed by Clint Eastwood and Jack Palance to help inspire Butch’s physical look and performance.

RIDE ‘EM, COWBOY – Since the T-Rexes featured in “The Good Dinosaur” are ranchers, filmmakers wanted to give them the look of a true cowboy. When they’re running, their lower bodies mimic that of galloping horses, while their upper bodies have the feel of the riding cowboy.

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