UNCG Campus Weekly

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From ‘Inside Out’ to ‘Toy Story’ and beyond

Photo of Pixar’s Ralph Eggleston and Dr. Heather Holian talking with students after lecturePixar’s Ralph Eggleston worked on the critically acclaimed film “Inside Out” 5 1/2 years. At UNCG Nov. 20, he spoke to an audience for the very first time about that experience.

He has been a big part of the studio’s artistic team since nearly the beginning. He was art director for Pixar’s first feature film, “Toy Story,” and has been a creative force on many of the studio’s subsequent movies. The Pixar film he is working on now (on which he was mum) is scheduled for release in 2019.

The Mead Auditorium in Sullivan Science was full, as he presented clips from some films that have inspired him and as he showed art – colorscripts, concepts, drawings, models and more – from throughout the process of making Pixar films.

Dr. Heather Holian (UNCG Art) introduced him. She is the only scholar researching the art of Pixar; she has been interviewing figures at Pixar and visiting their studio archive for years, as she prepares her book on the topic of Pixar art. Eggleston spoke with her “Art of Disney and Pixar” class earlier in the day (see visual).

Among the many things he shared in the 1.25 hour evening presentation:

  • Design inspirations for “Wall-E” include “2001 – A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Star Wars.”
  • What would the mind look like, they pondered, as  they designed “Inside Out”? It wasn’t the main character’s brain – it was her mind that they were presenting. They went through a lot of concepts. “That took 3 1/2 years.”
  • Each aspect of Riley’s (the main character’s) personality challenged them creatively. Each were characters. “We had 600 designs for disgust,” he said, as he showed a few. One won out.
  • In the design of “Finding Nemo,” the coral is more “caricatured” than the fish. Only coral that’s deep in the ocean where there’s little light would be so colorful, so they took liberties with that reality, to create their own reality.

He showed many elaborate drawings for Pixar films. But one truism stood out: “Sometimes ‘simple’ is the hardest thing to do,” he said.

For UNCG art students – and members of the community – the opportunity to see lots of designs and colorscripts and hear first-hand about the art and creative process for Pixar films was a rare thrill.

See a video on the Pixar site as Eggleston speaks about colorscripts.

By Mike Harris
Photograph by Chris Snow.