High-Def Digest Attends Virtual Roundtable with ‘Up’ Filmmakers - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:36 PM
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Default High-Def Digest Attends Virtual Roundtable with ‘Up’ Filmmakers

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Old 10-31-2009, 04:42 PM
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I still don't believe there wasn't some pressure from Disney to throw in stuff for kids to enjoy as this is more definitely directed towards adults, NOT kids.
I would LOVE to talk to these men OFF the record and really hear their thoughts.
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Old 10-31-2009, 05:47 PM
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I actually think the kids appeal was a must, since they were already pushing it by not being able to market Carl dolls and toys like they were able to for other Pixar films. If I'm not mistaken Cars brought the most product opportunities.

Disney and Pixar also have to think about what rakes in money, and if kids don't like a Pixar movie theatrically then it's not going to be so good for DVD/Blu-ray sales.
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:58 PM
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Pixar has sent over a transcript of a second roundtable discussion with
Pete Docter and Bob Petersen that Michael Palmer was unable to attend:

Q: What are the challenges of writing for animated movies that one
might not face with live action, and how do you overcome those

Pete Docter: We approach our writing exactly as one would approach a
live-action screenplay; the focus is on character and keeping the
audience engaged. Our whole process is remarkably similar to live-
action; we have cinematographers, lighters, costume designers, etc. We
use different tools to get there, but the creative process is the


Q: How did Tom McCarthy get involved in the writing of “Up”?

Pete Docter: We had referenced Tom's film "The Station Agent" as we
worked out the structure of Up.” It's very similar -- a guy who isn't
really living, he's just walking through life, trying to stay removed
and alone. Then he reluctantly gets drawn into this surrogate family.
It's a great film, really well written and directed. We got Tom to
come here to Pixar to screen it and talk about it, so we'd meet him.
Bob and I were working together at the time, but then Bob was drafted
on to “Ratatouille” for a while and I was left all alone. I needed
someone to spark off creatively, and so I asked Tom if he could
recommend any writers he knew that might want to work on the film. He
fell for it and said, "How about me?" He was on for three months, and
it was in his draft that we added the character of Russell, which of
course we kept once Bob came back on.


Q: Bob - You said Dug is a mentor for Carl. Could you explain how?

Bob Peterson: Russell is a bit easier to pinpoint as a mentor. His
line "it's the boring things that I remember most" is meant to work at
Carl and move him toward an appreciation of the small adventures in
life. Dug's undying and immediate canine love "I have just met you and
I love you," and "I was under your porch because I love you" is an
indirect lesson for Carl that love is always around him, if he will
only accept it.


Q: Who or what was the inspiration for Charles Muntz?

Bob Peterson: Charles Muntz in story terms is "Carl Fredriksen at the
end of the line." In other words, if Carl had made it to Paradise
Falls without accepting others into his life, then he would have gone
crazy, wallowing in his unfinished quest. Carl is represented by a
square shape. So as far as shape language, Muntz is a "collapsed
square." He ended up having more diamond shapes as if a square has
collapsed upon itself. From real reference, we looked at the grand
adventurers of the last century including Lindbergh. We looked at
Howard Hughes, being a sort of inventor/adventurer. We also looked at
photos of Errol Flynn and even the dapper photos of Walt Disney in the
1930s with his pencil thin mustache.


Q: Do you remember the first time you drew something and thought,
"Wow, this is something I want to do for a living.” Do you remember
what you drew?

Pete Docter: You know how there are always those kids in your
elementary school class that are really good at drawing? They sit
there and "wow" everyone by drawing horses and tanks and battles and
stuff? That was NOT me. I was lousy at drawing. But as soon as I
figured out I could make something look like it was moving -- and
thinking -- I was hooked. My parents are musicians, as are my sisters,
so I was dragged to a lot of concerts growing up. I would always steal
everyone's programs and draw all over them, thinking up jokes like,
"What would happen if all the strings on his violin broke?" or "What
if someone fell in the tuba?" Comic gold, I'm telling you!

Bob Peterson: I remember my teacher in 4th grade commenting on the
hands that I drew on a surfer surfing a wave. That was the first time
I was conscious of my drawings. But more than my own drawings, I was
truly inspired by the cartoons of Charles Schulz as a kid, and I
wanted to emulate him - my cartoon strips in college strived to have
the Schulzian mix of surrealism and Charlie Brown angst. A bit of that
combo shows up in “Up.”


Q: As far as the animation style of “Up” goes, instead of going for
“as close to realism as possible” kind of visuals, “Up” has an almost
caricatured style, especially with the facial features highlighting
big points, rather than looking like a human head. What influenced the
style of “Up,” and why did you decide to go this route?

Pete Docter: The story called for Carl to float his house into the air
buoyed by balloons. For that to be believable, we felt it would be
necessary to caricature the world -- and therefore the characters as
well. I think if we made it look photo-real, you wouldn't believe it
as readily. We work in animation, so we can do things that can't be
done in any other medium. So the idea of simplifying and caricature is
always exciting to me.


Q: How do the visuals of “Up” compare with other Pixar films?

Bob Peterson: This movie hits a nice balance of caricature in the
shape of the characters, and realism in the lighting, atmospheres. I
especially like that many of the textures in the film are "hand made"
created with single brush strokes of paint and then used as textures.
Computer Graphics can now almost do anything - fur in “Monster's
Inc.,” oceans in “Finding Nemo,” realistic trash heaps in “WALL•E,”
but the nice thing is that now we can all relax and just do movies
where the look is appropriate for the emotional journey in the story.


Q: Was the choice of presenting the film in 3D a conscious decision
from the beginning? How does it affect the production process?

Pete Docter: We started the process for "Up" in 2D, with the focus
just on the story and the characters. It was about three years in that
John Lasseter came to us and said, "Hey, there are some really cool
new developments that have happened with 3D," and of course Pixar had
a long history of interest in 3D, John being one of the prime
cheerleaders. He shot pictures of his own wedding in 3D, as well as
"Knick Knack," which is in 3D as well. So we did a ton of research,
watching other 3D films, and made a list of things we liked and things
we didn't. I wanted to use 3D in a more subtle way. We used 3D as
another tool to communicate the emotion of the scene, like you would
use color, lighting, or cinematography. In the end, we didn't let it
affect the way we approached the story at all. I didn't want to
compromise the 2D version, which is the way it will be seen most
often, considering DVD and Blu-ray.


Q: How was the idea for collars enabling dogs to talk arrived at? How
much of it was comedy and how much of it was inspired by fact?

Bob Peterson: We knew we wanted to give Carl a new family including a
new "grandson" and "family dog." It was a gauntlet laid down in front
of him to accept new people into his life. Before Russell was
invented, we just had Dug along for the journey and it turned out to a
pretty quiet journey. So we invented the collars. We love comedy and
we knew that the collars would provide plenty of laughs, peering into
our beloved canine friends' brains. But more importantly, Dug is a
mentor for Carl in that new relationships are always offered to us,
and it is up to us to act on them.


Q: When you release the final film is it like watching your kids go
off into the world? You've shaped it, guided it along, and then you
have to let them go and see how they do.

Bob Peterson: Yes. It is interesting watching the movie for the first
time at our wrap parties with our crew. We don't ever get to see our
movies like a regular audience member because we lived through the
creation of the film and see the memories brought forward by each shot
and movement we see. When I look at my 14-year-old (who I don't want
to grow up and go to college!), I see her as a 3-year-old at the
pumpkin patch, the 5th grader at the spelling bee. Those memories are
there. When our movies leave us, we hope we've given them enough love
and sense to do great things in the world!!


Q: Pete and Bob, you’ve both worked as writer, director and even
provided some of the voices for a few of the characters in your films.
What do you enjoy doing most and why?

Bob Peterson: I have been lucky to have worked in most of the
animation spectrum - from purely technical over to purely creative. A
new industry like computer animation (now 30 years old or so) allows
for that sort of variance in jobs. I love the people I work with, I
love writing a funny line and hearing it as a huge laugh in the
theater, and I also love leaving my desk and performing in front of a
microphone and creating characters. They’re all my favorite.


Q: We saw the video of the trip to gain artistic inspiration for
“Up”...what are some examples of other inspirations for animated
elements in your work that came from more mundane/conventional

Pete Docter: Doing research is one of the best parts of working on
these films. One day we brought in an ostrich. It was cool to see an
ostrich running around on the front lawn here. And of course the film
was a great excuse to bring in our dogs. We also went to a few
retirement homes. We formed a band and played Tin Pan Alley-type tunes
and went in to play for them. As we played, we were secretly taking
mental notes and doing sketches behind our ukuleles. It was great --
we got good research, and they said we were the best act to play there
in months!


Q: Was it intentional to have Carl look like he's made of cubes? If
so, why make him so blockish looking? Are all of the characters based
on geometric shapes?

Bob Peterson: Absolutely. Rick Nierva who is the production designer
is a big fan of creating characters whose shapes give clues to their
personalities. A cube is not something that rolls or moves fast - it
is very stable - perfect for Carl. A circle can roll and move fast -
great for Russell. The more realistic we go with our characters, the
less appealing they become because humans have the great ability to
discern what is real in a human face and what is not. Basing
characters on shapes caricatures them, moves them away from reality,
and in a way let's the audience’s left brain relax so that they can be
more involved with the emotional journey of the characters.


Q: Pete, you've said in the past that you identify strongly with Buzz
Lightyear, are there any other characters you identify with?

Pete Docter: Well, I identify strongly with Carl. I often grouse about
how things are changing, and "why did they take that item off the
menu?!?" I'm going to make a good old man. Weirdly, Kevin the bird is
another character I really like. Not that I feel a kinship, but she
was a fun character to play around with, because she's so


Q: I love the amount of research that's been put into the look of the
mountain tops; were any similar tests conducted into using helium
balloons to lift an entire house?

Pete Docter: The first thing our technical team did when they started
working on the balloons was to figure out how many balloons it would
take to lift a house in real life. Here's his math: Carl's house is
1,600 sq ft. He found some figures saying that the average 1,600 sq ft
house weighs about 345,000 lbs, of which 160,000 lbs is from the
foundation, and about 30,000 lbs is from the garage. Since Carl lifts
off and leaves the foundation behind, that leaves about 155,000 lbs,
which is 77.5 US tons or 70,306 kg, which the canopy needs to lift.
Accelerating toward the ground at 9.8 m/s2, that's 688,998 N of force
from gravity that the canopy has to overcome. With the density of
helium at .1786 kg/m3 and representing a balloon as a sphere with a
radius of 2.78 ft (like weather balloons), each balloon can generate
4.5 N of buoyant force. To generate at least 688,998 N of force to
overcome gravity, you'd need 153,053 helium-filled, 5.56 ft diameter
balloons. If you're trying this with big party balloons, at about one
foot diameter, then you'd need a whole lot more: about 26.5 million
balloons. None of this takes into account the weight of the balloons
themselves or the strings to tie them to the house.


Q: Other than the trip to South America, what inspired the story of “Up”?

Bob Peterson: Various things, including the lives of our own
grandparents. For example, I had a grandfather who always wanted to go
west from Ohio, but never got the chance. I had the foresight to
videotape my grandparents’ home after they had passed 20 years ago.
There are the side by side chairs - one soft and one hard which
absolutely paralleled who they were as people. Many of our life
experiences with our wives and children were put into play in the
script, and of course living with our dogs gave us great insight into
dog behavior!


Q: Who came up with the idea to cast Ed Asner as Carl?

Bob Peterson: Once Pete and I had arrived at the idea of doing an old
man movie, the thought of Ed Asner came fairly early on. Good casting
at Pixar is an exercise of balance. Woody in "Toy Story" could have
been perceived as unappealing when he was jealous of Buzz if we had
the wrong voice for him, but Tom Hanks brings such a natural appeal
that he balanced any of Woody's negatives. The same with Ed Asner.
Ed's soulfulness balanced his curmudgeon side. When Ed saw the small
statue of his character when he came in to read for us he said, "It
looks nothing like me!" We knew from that, that Ed was the perfect
voice for Carl.


Q: My favorite scene was Carl's montage at the beginning. It seems
like such a simple idea, but I'm sure it was complicated. Can you
explain the process of how the montage evolved?

Pete Docter: That was probably the scene I'm most proud of in the
film. It came into play early as we developed the story of this guy
floating away in his house, and we asked ourselves, "Why is he doing
that?" We figured there was some sort of loss or unfulfilled dream
that he was trying to make right, and so we came up with the
back-story of Carl and his wife. We initially constructed it as a
compressed series of small short scenes, with dialogue and sound
effects. Little snippets of life. When Ronnie del Carmen started to
storyboard it, we felt like it would be nice to reduce it, simplify
it, and take the dialogue out. My parents shot a lot of super 8 movies
of our family growing up. Watching them now, there's something really
emotional about not having any sound. That allows, I think, the
audience to participate more actively and kind of imagine, "What are
they talking about there?" Or "what happened right before this
moment? " And that feeling was all part of what went into the
scene...these really beautiful, little, real-life moments showing the
highs and lows of life. Carl's true adventure was their relationship


Q: Both of you are animators, does it help to have that background to
be a good director on a film like this?

Bob Peterson: Pete is the gifted animator between the two of us. I
hail more from the world of storyboarding and cartooning with a bit of
animation experience (I worked on Sid in “Toy Story”). The great thing
that Pete possesses, partly from being an animator is that he is a
good student of movement and entertaining physical actions. Being a
cartoonist, I spent a lot of time with staging, drawing appeal and
dialogue. It's great that we bring different strengths to the table.
That said, Pete is a great writer and story man and our skills blur.
So to really answer your question, it does help.


Q: How did Michael Giacchino come to the project? How was working with him?

Pete Docter: Michael had worked with Brad Bird on "The Incredibles"
and "Ratatouille" and of course did a great job on those. He's a true
collaborator. We started out talking through the film conceptually,
discussing the things we were looking for -- like paying homage to the
films of the 40s and 50s, the Disney films and Frank Capra and films
like that. We wanted to evoke that kind of a feel. And then we went
through sequences shot by shot sometimes and talked about the
construction of the scenes and what I was hoping to achieve musically.
Not necessarily like arrangements or anything like that, but more
like, "Okay, it should start really low here, sneak in, and then build
to this point.... and then jump out at us!" We'd talk more
emotionally like that and then I'd leave it to Michael to write the
music. He would play us these demos and we'd listen via
teleconference, and anytime we'd have thoughts or suggestions, he
would make changes, sometimes right on the spot. He was very open to
whatever the film needed. He's a filmmaker. He really thinks about
the storytelling and how music communicates to people. He's got range
that a lot of film composers either don't have or don't utilize. His
"Ratatouille" score doesn't sound like the "Up" score, which doesn't
sound like "The Incredibles" or "Star Trek." Amazing.


Q: I absolutely adore the character of Dug, who's vocalizations are
both very funny and a pretty accurate reflection of what Man's Best
Friend actually thinks - what was the inspiration for this character?

Bob Peterson: I really enjoyed playing that character and creating his
dialogue. Pete and I have always had dogs and they serve as the great
inspiration for this character. My dog, Rosy, is a huge fan of
squirrels. Also, I love to fool my dogs into thinking that I see
something interesting for them. They'll be sitting around panting, and
I'll join in, and then pretend I see something, suddenly, stopping the
panting. They stop. Then I go back to panting. They go back. I love


Q: Were you concerned at all with delivering such an emotional
gut-punch so early in the first act?

Bob Peterson: We weren't concerned as much as we were vigilant. We
knew that we were traversing deep emotional terrain early in the film
and we wanted to keep that thread of emotion alive as the film
progressed. The reason we went so deep was because we wanted the
audience to buy that Carl would lift his house and go on such an
audacious adventure. We wanted to keep Ellie alive in the second and
third acts, as if she were along for the journey, and so we created a
few "talismans" to do so - objects with symbolic meanings - such as
the adventure book, the house itself, the colorful sash on Russell
(and his Ellie-like sense of adventure) and the colorful bird. At the
end of the second act, when Carl reads the adventure book, Ellie is
there to give him the wisdom to keep going. It was our hope that in
keeping Ellie's spirit alive throughout the film, her passing earlier
would be more poignant.


Q: “Up” became the first animated film to open the Cannes Film
Festival. Do you believe animated features are becoming accepted as a
more serious artistic platform?

Pete Docter: We were very honored to be the first animated film to
open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Walking around there, I
kept picturing Hitchcock, Coppola, Truffaut; these big time
directors... and US?!?! It seemed like some sort of mistake! But we do
look at our work as filmmaking, just like any other film. And it's
nice to see the world looking at it that way as well.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:10 PM
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ok, that question about real life physics involved in the planning is just hilarious.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:58 PM
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Pixar hosted another virtual roundtable session this week featuring Ronnie del Carmen. *Not only was Ronnie Story Supervisor on ‘UP’ (the best movie and Blu-ray release of the year), but he also wrote and directed ‘Dug’s Special Mission’, an exclusive short film you can see buy purchasing ‘UP’ on home video. *A prequel of sorts, ‘Dug’s Special Mission’ chronicles the events that lead up to Dug the dog meeting Carl and Russel. *It’s quickly paced, funny, and quite charming. *
Here’s what Ronnie had to say about working on ‘UP’ and ‘Dug’s Special Mission’:
Q: With ‘Dug’s Special Mission’ included with the upcoming video release, would you like to see a sequel or some sort of storyline with Dug or perhaps even Russell and Dug, or Russell and the other dogs in the future?
Ronnie del Carmen: I definitely would love to do the continuing stories of Dug. I had a scene in the original storyboard to Dug's Special Mission that had him flying an airplane. We cut it because of the length and it seemed out of place with other gags. But I still want to see him in a plane some day. There are stories in my head that tell of how he got into Muntz pack. Dug in that pack looks like a mistake--an oversight. I would love to tell that earlier story of how he got there. Certainly Muntz and Dug, a nd Russell and Dug. Carl and Dug too! But all that is up to the fates if any of it happens. Maybe you can put together a petition.
Q: What interested you the most about Dug's character?
Ronnie del Carmen: Dug is such a sweet dog and his heart is out there. Because of that he also gets taken advantage of. In a pack of soldier dogs he is definitely out of place as the cuddly lovable one. You empathize with him right away. That and the voice characterization of Bob Peterson gives us that Dug persona that instantly makes you love the character.
Q: What was your favorite part of directing "Dug's Special Mission"? What was the toughest part of the gig?
Ronnie del Carmen: Well, I get to tell a story that was intriguing me while making the movie. Dug is such a great character to the workshop that people involved in the short film loved working on it. Hey, I get to work with Pete Docter Bob Peterson on the story--while we were still finishing the movie. John Lasseter weighed in and gave me awesome advice. I got to work with a great cadre of people who were there to find creative solutions to the story I was trying to tell. And as for the tough part, well, it's always the story that's tough but also working with the time constraint of making a short that's only 4.5 minutes.
Q: Did you work on Dug’s special mission with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson?
Ronnie del Carmen: I did work with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson on this. Their involvement was crucial since we three were always part of telling the large story of the movie. It made sense that I go to them for advice. Pete Docter can see other potentials to the idea and Bob Peterson can instantly give me the character of Dug-- funny and nuance I then use. It was a dream. I'm also so hooked on working together with these two guys. Hope to get together again on another project soon.
Q: When did you start working on the new short, and how long did it take to finish?
Ronnie del Carmen: *I think that I had the idea for the short as soon as the movie was in production, right around the layout phase. I storyboarded a rough version quickly and pitched it to Jonas Rivera and Pete Docter around late spring 2008. I figured that I would be finished with story duties and could jump on a short. But the third act lingered on our plate for a while and I had to do double duty (I also took on illustrating the book, "My Name is Dug." I am a glutton for punishment). We got approval from Disney by January 2009 and got into production right away. We finished in June this year.
Q: Why did you decide to provide Dug with his own special adventure in the short instead of the other main characters?
Ronnie del Carmen: *Dug shows up in the movie talking about being on a special mission and we never talked about it again in the movie. I immediately wanted to find out what happened. "Dug's Special Mission" is really about how Dug remembers these moments. Dug has such a fragmented attention span that his continuity is likely not very spot on. Dug is easily the most lovable character in the movie and you can't help but want to see more of him. I would love to feature Alpha someday as well as Gamma, voiced by Jerome Ranft. Those two crack me up. Maybe someday I'll get a shot at that.
Q: Dug harkens back to classic comedians like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Stan Laurel. How much of that was intentionally scripted and how much of it did Bob Peterson bring to the performance?
Ronnie del Carmen: *We love Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Stan Laurel movies. As animators we gravitate to communicating visually and through behavior, so this is where we love to play. Bob Peterson, as the writer of the movie, created and wrote all of Dug throughout. We threw in other ideas from the crew here and there, but it was written by Bob Peterson mostly. And then during recording he would improv all manner of experiments and a lot of them we used because, well, that man is funny! For "Dug's Special Mission" I wrote the story and dialogue and Bob Peterson came to the rescue, bringing his Dug performance and advice. I'm a lucky man.
Q: What's your favorite scene from Up?
Ronnie del Carmen: *My favorite scenes were the silent ones, "Married Life," where we tell the whole life story of Carl and Ellie, and the scene at the end of the second act where Carl sits in his empty house at Paradise Falls to leaf through Ellie's adventure book. I tend to get all the dramatic scenes on most movies I'm part of. This was particularly special because I had to convey story and emotion without any dialogue. I remember drawing up Carl looking at the adventure book and getting emotional as I made it. I had to take breaks because I was too much in the moment, tearing up. When we watch our story reels I see people wipe tears from their eyes. You know you've got something when a bunch of lines on paper are making people cry.
Q: In what way did your work as an artist help you with the work on the movie?
Ronnie del Carmen: I do production design, write and direct; all skills good to have for the job of being a story person. When we started we had no job demarcations, we just started trying to solve creative problems. That means I'd draw, design, do camera plans, write and illustrate. It helped all of us touch on all parts of the movie at once. Ricky Nierva and I would sit next door to each other and we'd discuss production design problems as well as complete story sequences in the movies. Throughout production I would draw up solutions and do designs on the fly, from editorial to layout, as well as provide help writing. It was a blast! I miss it.
Q: Is Dug the smarter Pixar equivalent of Disney's long tradition of funny animal sidekicks, or do you see him more as a character in his own right?
Ronnie del Carmen: Dug was created very early in the development of the movie idea, even earlier than Russell. There was a talking dog and we didn't know why or how he talks, he just did. He was always there as a supporting cast member. It was always going to be Carl's story. Although after developing Dug into such a lovable character he does seem to merit his own set of stories, doesn't he? That's the reason I wanted to tell his story in "Dug's Special Mission.”
Q: "Up" is Pixar's 10th feature film, and has received great reviews, some of the best Pixar has had on a film. What elements of the story do you think have led to the success of "Up?”
Ronnie del Carmen: Pete Docter had wanted a story about an old man holding a bunch of colorful balloons. None of us could have even dreamed of how well the movie would be received. Back then we had our concerns about telling a story about an old man flying his house to fulfill a promise. Being part of the creative team that created the movie, I'm rather too close to be objective but here it goes: I think it's because of the emotional truth of Carl's journey. The fantastic elements, the funny moments and dialogue, all deliver an enjoyable and thrilling experience but we all walk away feeling we've felt something true about the journey.
Q: Among the books published in conjunction with the movie, you illustrated the book "My Name is Dug" -- tell us a little about the publication?
Ronnie del Carmen: I loved working on "My Name is Dug." Kiki Thorpe had written this fantastic take on a Dug story as she searches for the bird. It is a great companion to "Dug's Special Mission" because both happen before Carl and Russell show up. I was consulting on all the "Up"-related books being developed in conjunction with the movie so knew about “My Name is Dug". I also nominated others to tackle the illustration of it, but all those pairings fell through. I threw my hat in the ring thinking that it since my stint as Story Supervisor was coming to an end I would have time for it. I was wrong, of course. The third act of the movie needed more work and I had to do double duty. So I drew it at night and weekends for a few months. Kiki had been so generous in work shopping her story with me so I did page mock-ups of the book to see how the story performed, much like the way I would tackle a story sequence or a comic book. That collaboration proved to be a big success. But boy, did I work like a, well...dog, trying to finish those pages. If you're familiar with the images you'll see there are lots of leaves. I had to create a library of leaves so I could populate the trees and shrubs without having to draw it all from scratch. I also created special digital brushes to make the lines look like dry media, like chalk.
Q: How much of an impact did your trip to Venezuela make on the movie, and do you think the film could have been as good without that experience?
Ronnie del Carmen: That trip was a tremendous help for us. It would have been easy to just go by pictures and videos of the Tepuis but we're sure to default to places we know from experience. Otherwise it would be a let down and we'd never be able to correct it later. We wouldn't know the truth of being there. We needed to know how Carl would behave on top of the Tepuis and we can only represent that without reservation if we experienced it ourselves. And what a unique place those Tepuis are. They are like no place on earth, beautiful and dangerous. It was compelling and foreboding at the same time. We climbed one of them, Roraima and we walked all over on top. We went to Angel Falls, the actual falls we based "Up’s" Paradise Falls on. The sights, sounds and emotions we felt on that expedition helped us create Carl's experience during his journey.
Q: Since Carl and Russell are at different stages in their lives how did you tackle the dialogue between the characters so there was chemistry there?
Ronnie del Carmen: It's Carl's story and we knew we had a boxed-in curmudgeon who was set in his ways and wanted no help from anyone. As storytellers, we are familiar with the act of putting your characters in trees and then throwing rocks at them, so to speak. Russell was a big, chubby rock we threw at Carl. The direct opposite of Carl: free, unfettered and wanting to help anyone. Plus, he needed his "Assisting the Elderly" badge. We knew this would surely aggravate someone like Carl. That kind of conflict is fun to watch and write.
Q: Is there a particular canine friend of yours that helped inspire the character Dug? Are you a big dog-lover?
Ronnie del Carmen: Dug is very much a Bob Peterson creation. He is Dug. I had to use my own experiences with dogs to inform my handling of Dug's scenes. I grew up with a German Shepherd in our family. He was a big dog, trained and alert. He was more like Alpha, actually. But when we played, he was just a lovable dog. So I used that for my reference.
Q: Were there any elements of "Up" that you particularly championed and/or fought to keep in?
Ronnie del Carmen: Between Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and myself we all tended to tackle aspects of the story that we felt close to. Our collaboration is all over the movie. I could do as well what the other two could do. I gravitated towards the drama and emotional weight of scenes and moments. The third act also had many challenges that I had to chisel away at over the course of making the movie. Muntz's story was particularly troubling because he shows up so late in the movie. We also tried many ways to end the movie. I had made sequences that explored viable endings that I really believed in. They worked, but in the end we had to pick just elements from these explorations and put them into the ending you see in the movie. I believe you'll have a chance to see some of those explorations in the Blu-ray and DVD.
Q: Q: How much development goes into a Pixar project in terms of the story, and what kind of resources (people, time, money) are necessary to make sure Pixar continues to deliver such critically acclaimed stories? Particularly in terms of story development, not the animation side of the process…
Ronnie del Carmen: All our stories take a long time. By the time a director even pitches the story he will have been living with that story all by himself for a while. After that pitch, John Lasseter guides that story with the director/storyteller. Andrew Stanton also weighs in and gives it another layer of insight. We draw reels, write scripts and make story reels, over and over again. Then we screen it for the company so we get the entire studio's notes. After that, we have the Brain Trust (comprised of directors, heads of story, the executive team and more) give their feedback to help the reels. Then we also have a test audience watch it and we ask them what they thought of the movie. A long, long journey.
Q: How tough was it to tell "Dug's Special Mission" in under 5 minutes?
Ronnie del Carmen: I had many tortures and challenges for Alpha, Beta and Gamma. My favorite, and one that I held on to for a long time, was the moment where Dug falls into an airplane and flies it down to the other dogs, dive bomber style. It had to go. There were many lines and quips that Bob Peterson did during recording that I could have used but had to leave out. Every frame of animation was crucial. Another layer was the ending, in which Carl and Russell's dialogue and acting was lifted from "Up". We could not change any of it as it would have been expensive and troublesome. We also could only use the genius work that Michael Giacchino made for the movie. No new music. All these constraints actually helped make the short even better. I loved working on it and would love to do it again.
Ronnie del Carmen: Thank you so much for the chance to talk about "Up" and "Dug's Special Mission”! It was a blast to make both films. I really enjoyed reading and answering your questions. Talk to you next time!
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