Computer Graphics World

May / June 2015

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m ay . j u n e 2 0 1 5 c g w 1 3 any a parent has surely looked at a tween and wondered what was going on in that child's head. But few can spin that thought into an animated feature film. Pixar's Pete Docter did just that. In a joyful sequence in Pixar's film Up, for which Docter received an Oscar, we see Carl Fredricksen and his wife, Ellie, as children. Ellie is an exuberant little girl, full of life. Docter's young daughter Ellie provided that little girl's voice. And then, at age 11, Ellie Docter changed. So, too, 11-year-old Riley in Disney/Pixar's Inside Out. Writ- ten and directed by Docter and co-directed by Ronnie Del Car- men, who was story supervisor on Up, the film follows the Riley her parents and the outside world see, and the emotional Riley inside her mind that only we, the audience, can see. "I feel like it's the most personal film I've dealt with," Docter says. "Riley became her own character, but the story is based on what it is to grow up. It's difficult for the kid and for the parent. You love your kid, and then their personality changes, and that's difficult. Relationships go beyond having good times with people. We share intense sadness. We're scared for people, angry at them. Things don't feel positive at times. I wanted to dig deeper and have something substan- tive. We set the film where we feel the deepest connection." As the title suggests, there are two parallel story lines in this film, with each affecting the other. Riley, her mother, and her father inhabit the real world, the outside world, a recognizable world set in Minnesota and San Francisco. Inside Riley's mind an ensemble cast of personified emotions cavorts and kvetches in a bright, candy-colored world. "Of all the films I've worked on, this one has changed the least in terms of overall tone and feeling," Docter says. "Mon- sters, Inc. and Up were hugely different. It's been great going to a place everyone has been to in their minds but have never seen on screen." To generate extreme emo- tions in 11-year-old Riley, the story sends her from a happy, hockey-playing life in Minnesota to a bare bedroom in a dank San Francisco Victorian and a formidable new school. Her father has uprooted the family to take a new job. Inside Riley's mind, her emotions gather in headquarters and try to help. But, which emotions? Docter and the crew did re- search and consulted experts, including Dr. Paul Ekman, a psy- chology professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied and classified facial expressions and emotions. Among anima- tion and visual effects studios, Ekman is known for the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), an anatomically-based tool for objectively describing observ- able facial movement, which he developed with Wallace Friesen, published in 1978, and revised in 2003 with J Hager as a third author. "At the beginning, I had listed optimism, hope, pride, love, and many other things," Docter says. "We talked about love with Paul Ekman, and he argued that love is not an emotion. Technically, the way you define an emotion is as a short, three- to five-min- ute reaction. Love is a state of being that transcends a burst. Anger and fear were obvious, and even joy, which I called op- timism and he called happiness. He brought up disgust, and I realized that could be inter- esting. We ended up with 16 emotions, but that would have been melee in headquarters, so we narrowed them down." Ekman lists seven emotions that have universal signals: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, contempt, surprise, and happi- ness. The Pixar team eliminated contempt and surprise, kept anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and happiness, and renamed happiness "joy." All the human characters have the same emo- tions inside. Mom's emotions wear glasses; Dad's have a mustache. But Riley's Joy is the central character. M E N T A L E N E R G Y "Pete said that young kids are very happy," says Co-director Del Carmen. "So, the emotion that must be driving them is joy. Joy would be our lead emotion, our main character. At first, we had Joy be happy all the time, and Anger be angry all the time. The characters said the same things over and over. It was an- noying. We had to learn. They're not people, they're emotions. But they needed to have a range of emotions." And then, the personified emotions raised other ques- tions. Do the emotions know one another? Do they care about one another? What do they talk about? What do they sound like? They live in head- quarters, but what do they do during the day? "The punch line was when we put all the emotions in a booth in a Chinese restaurant," says Producer Jonas Rivera. "Do they eat? Where do they get food? Do they all like Chinese food? Will they have to go to the bathroom? This brand-new M ANGER REQUIRED SPECIAL RIGGING CONTROLS TO OPEN HIS MOUTH CARTOON-WIDE.

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