Early Press Day for “Toy Story 4”: A Look at Creating a Scene

Recently, Disney-Pixar invited AllEars.net down to Pixar Studios to take an early look at the latest addition to their evergreen series, “Toy Story 4.”

Forky, a new character in Toy Story 4

Continuing on with our early press day that we wrote about here, the next panel was “From Start To Finish: Creating a Scene In Toy Story 4.”

Toy Story 4 (Pictured L-R): Valerie LaPointe (Story Supervisor), Axel Geddes (Editor), Thomas Jordan (Sets Supervisor), Steve Karski (Sets Supervisor), Patrick Lin (Director of Photography), Robert Russ (Supervising Animator), Scott Clark (Supervising Animator), Jean-Claude Kalache (Director of Photography, Lighting) & Robert Moyer at April 4, 2019 press day. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

To illustrate the process of conceiving and producing an animated sequence, the filmmakers looked at a scene titled “Meet Gabby Gabby.” At the beginning, the screenplay is broken down into 28-30 sequences, which are then passed to artists for drawing. The artist will produce 100-300 drawings per sequence that they then pitch to the production team. Once approved, it goes to the Editorial Department which starts making it into a movie with sound affects, scratch voices, etc.  This usually takes around two years.

STORYBOARD – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” one of the early steps in the production pipeline is building storyboards. Artists sketch the key beats in a sequence, suggesting possible set positioning, camera angles and character poses. This sequence is when Woody and Forky meet Gabby Gabby for the first time. Directed by Josh Cooley, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The editors work on the timing and the dialogue and generally construct the characters’ performances. Editorial work on an animated feature is similar to that in live-action, but choices are made from frame to frame instead of shot to shot.

Unlike live-action that comes with some built-in latent sound, all the audio in animation has to be deliberately chosen and designed.

As the scene travels down the production pipeline, it continually returns to editorial, which makes sure that it’s still contributing properly to the overall film.

Once the sequence is locked down, it is sent to Camera and Staging.

The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Gabby Gabby is a 1957 talking pull-string toy, built around the same time as Woody. The challenge was to make Gabby Gabby look like a realistic doll, versus an actual human — adjusting her skin to look like hard plastic instead of flesh, and paying attention to the metallic quality of her hair and eyes was important.

The character Forky had to look like a 6-year-old’s creation, but also be an appealing main character that would fit in with the regular Toy Story gang. As a main character he needed to have enough capacity for expression to support a wide range of acting choices.

Forky creations are photographed on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Four ventriloquist dummies were created, each aged slightly differently, with ill-fitting clothing and rigid facial features to make them seem “off.”

The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

The Antiques Mall is one of the largest new sets built for the film.  It is the size of a city relative to a toy, at 8,000 square feet with 10,000 items.

LAYOUT – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” members of the camera and staging team use the storyboards to further explore how best to shoot the sequence. This team determines placement of the virtual cameras, which informs the sets teams where to place set pieces and props. Camera and staging also roughly choreographs the movement of the characters, considering framing, composition, lens, camera angle, stage lines and screen directions. This image shows the team exploring camera placement within the virtual set. Directed by Josh Cooley, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Creating a prop can take from a few hours to a few weeks; the Antique Store took two years to construct and fill. Areas of the store are arranged by theme, with wider carpet-covered thoroughfares for humans, and smaller alleyways that offer safe passage for toys.

The most challenging part of the scene from a staging viewpoint is defining the route of the pram ride — making sure the length covers the duration of the conversation, and that there are areas that fit action beats, like a clock chiming and the emergence of the dummies. Having once mapped out the action of the sequence, they can then start the process of their main work, cinematic storytelling.

ANIMATION – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the animation team works with the suggested layout and recorded dialogue to create the physical and emotional character performances. This sequence shows just how ominous Gabby Gabby and Benson are when Woody meets them for the first time. Directed by Josh Cooley, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Shots are constructed with different foci and point of views in order to clarify the characters’ thinking processes and set up what’s to come later in the sequence.

The main animation of “Toy Story 4” took about 100 animators and nine months.

Animation is acting; they create the physical and emotional performances of the characters. Lighting’s goal is to get an emotional reaction out of the audience by directing its eyes to relevant information on the screen.

 

LIGHTING — To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the lighting department is responsible for lighting the scene in a way that supports the story—in this case, using shadow and color to help convey the tone of the sequence as it progresses from uncertain to mildly menacing. Directed by Josh Cooley, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

According to the panelists, the theme behind “Toy Story 4” is that our purpose in life is a moving target:  The only constant is change.  In this film of transitions, Woody will find that his life may have a greater purpose than just being there for his kid.

We’ll have more from the early press day, and on the film itself in the coming weeks. “Toy Story 4” comes to US theaters on June 21, 2019.

Take a look at the teaser trailer for the film below:

 

Want to know about “Toy Story 4”? Check out these posts:

Be sure to follow @allearsnet on Instagram and Twitter!

Check out our YouTube Channel for reviews, news, information and more!

Click below to subscribe to the AllEars® newsletter so you don’t miss any of the latest Disney news!

Click here to subscribe

 

Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *