How Pixar Animated The Good Dinosaur

Animating dinos was new to Pixar on The Good Dinosaur, with particular emphasis on Arlo, the young Apatosaurus protagonist, as well as the special brand of T-Rexes. Locomotion and efficiency were key, and the animators took their cues from studying elephants. However, for the T-Rexes, director Peter Sohn wanted them to look like cowboys on horseback. Animation director Rob Thompson and animator Kevin O’Hara discuss the challenges.

Bill Desowitz: This gets back to the roots of animation with simple primal struggles, moment to moment.

Rob Thompson: For me, that was a big element of what drew me to the film, the intimacy against this big landscape. But it’s still a boy and his dog survival story. It’s different than anything we’ve done and I like that they wanted to do acting without dialogue also where these scenes could just breathe and you’re in the moment with them and I thought it was really beautiful.

Kevin O’Hara: It’s a really fun challenge and something we all want: just a blank canvas and you can bring what you want to it. One thing that made it special was the fact that Pete trusted us in those quiet moments. He was open if you felt something and brought it to the group you were free to play around with it. And if it wasn’t his vision, he’d tell you.

BD: Can you think of something specific?

RT: I noticed a lot of it with Spot where maybe in the boards we’d see Spot and Arlo looking at each other but we know there’s this connection happening. I remember one of the animators had an expression for Spot that Pete really responded to and we learned that it was something the animator saw his son do — something in the eyes — and he was able to capture that and get it in his animation.

BD: Then there’s the intimate moment about the meaning of family that brings Arlo and Spot closer together.

KOH: That was a great, powerful moment and one of the surviving moments from the old version.

BD: Talk about the challenge of the T-Rexes and making them cowboys on horseback.

RT: That’s what also drew me to the project. You have this huge dinosaurs and the T-Rexes are done in a certain way and the physicality challenges of that along with these quiet acting moments on the other side is a juicy canvas.

BD: As you explained, the locomotion has to be correct and the look can’t be strange.

KOH: Yeah, it takes a lot of experimenting and we were trusted a lot to figure these things out. And have Pete decide how much of it is correct.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Crafts, Movies, previs, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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