The Making of Inside Out – Ronnie Del Carmen

13 08 2015

  INS_Premire tiket

August 7, 2015 – Premiere Showing of ‘Inside Out’

     The Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI) and Disney Philippines organized the premiere showing and talk about the Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’.  The premiere of the movie was held at the SM Aura, Imax Theater at Taguig City last August 7, 2015. The film showing was suppose to start at 7:30 pm but it started around 8:30 pm and ended around 10:00 pm. The showing started late as there were still people coming in to watch the show and there were some people trying to sit down with no tickets; there were even parents bringing their young children with no tickets, so some of them were asked to leave. Of the 350 tickets, only 50 tickets were allocated to ACPI members and 4 of those tickets were allocated to Top Peg Animation Studios. 

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Inside Out

Joy ANger & Fear

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     Before the start of the showing, the director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen gave welcoming remarks and some things about the making of the film for about 10 minutes. 

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Ronnie del Carmen Pete Doctor

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      Since I (Edward) was not able to attend both events, I asked Grace A. Dimaranan to share the talk in this blog. The pictures were from her and Alstaire A. Sarthou. The following is the essay from Grace.

     This was my first time to attend a special Premiere wherein two notable directors from Pixar will be present. Animation Director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen graced the event and introduced the film to a theater full of audience in awe. With me is my husband – Luis, who is a 2D/3D director of Top Peg Studio, Alstaire another director for 2D animation and games at the same studio and Nelson Udaundo, a 2D/3D animator and trainer for TESDA courses at private schools. Nelson replaced Carly Calixtro of Top Peg, who was not able to attend the event.

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Nelson, Luis, Alstaire

     Before the film started, Pete and Ronnie shared short funny stories on what went on while doing the film Inside Out at Pixar. They seem to be very good friends and know each others brain waves in terms of making funny jokes on their struggles at Pixar while fleshing out the story of Inside Out. They both shared the same experiences on how they dealt with their young children growing up. Pete, on coping with his daughter’s change of moods and emotions when she was young then thru her teenage stage. His daughter went from happy, jumpy and energetic stage to quiet, solitary and moody stage which prompt him to ask, ” I wonder what’s going on in her head?” A perfect inspiration stage for the Inside Out story.

     Ronnie on the other hand, coped with his family and kids emotional turmoil on the sudden change of environment. When he was hired at Pixar as story artist, he hauled his family to move from Los Angeles to San Francisco, California. This was the time when his kids were in mid-school and they have to leave their schooling, their friends and activities with his decision. The adjusting period of the whole family posted its problems to Ronnie, but in time they adjusted well.

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     Before the film started there was a short clip of a film called ‘Lava’ by James Murphy. Its a love story about about a volcano yearning for the love of his life. And so the film started, the theater was full and I can see people standing along the aisle at the sides which should not have happened. The tickets were all numbered. But there were some wayward theater goers who took up some seats but they have no tickets. Since every audience was given some popcorns, pins and drinks, they were also were able to get the freebies. But later on, they were respectfully directed to the side of the aisles to give way to the real ticket holders. These were the people who really wanted to meet the two celebrity directors but there were no tickets allocated to them.

     The film was great! I can say young kids from 7 to 10 years old should be guided by their parents when they see this film. The film is set in 2 locations: the Outside world and the Inside world of the brains of each of the main characters. The going in and out might create confusion to the very young audiences. The storytelling is brilliant, and I can say its another Pixar blockbuster film in the making.

August 10, 2015 – Making of ‘Inside Out’  

Inside Out the making

     For the talk, all 350 tickets were allocated to ACPI members and and 25 of those tickets were given to Top Peg Animation Studios Inc. artists. The rest were distributed to ACPI school members and other studios. During the talk pins were also given. 

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College of St. Benilde People

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Top Peg People

    The registration for the Ronnie del Carmen talk started 2 pm at the IMAX Theater, SM Aura. Students from different animation schools, universities, training centers, professional artists and animators from ACPI member companies checked in for the registration. The event was a great meet up place of different studio owners, producers and directors in one place. Old, new and young faces were all excited and eager filled up the 350 seater theater. By 3 pm the lights dimmed. Mobile phones and cameras were announced to be kept inside bags and pockets. No one was allowed to take pictures of materials and video clips that will be shown by Ronnie during the talk.

     Ronnie stepped in his usual bubbly self with a booming and excited voice. He started off by telling his story on how he came to work for Pixar. He was working with different studios before in the US as a concept and storyboard artist. When he first stepped at Pixar office for an interview, he was led in a room surrounded by Monster drawings, sketches and boards (Monsters Inc. movie). He thought, “Hmmmm…I might be working in this film…” But nope, after the interview, it was a few months wait before he was called back again in Pixar to be officially hired.

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     At this point, he was the led to an office full of concepts, drawings and boards for fishes. And he thought that he was no longer accepted to be part of the Monsters Inc. movie. Little did he know, this was the start of his career at Pixar. He started as a story artist on ‘Finding Nemo’, a blockbuster movie.

     After ‘Finding Nemo’, he worked on movies like ‘Up’. He was the one responsible for the tear jerking sequences in most Pixar films. The montage of the story of Carl and Ellie in ‘Up’ was originally 23 minutes long but with Ronnie’s background in advertising, he was able to shorten it to 8 minutes while maintaining the essence of the story of the scene.

      Pete and Ronnie became close at Pixar studio. For a concept to become a movie, they have to come up with three stories and pitch it to John Laseter and the rest of the animators and staff at Pixar for comments. Only one will be approved by John and they will flesh out the story and pitch again every 3 months. During the process they will be receiving comments, feedbacks, add ons and ideas along the way. ‘Inside Out’ was made in 5 years; 3 of this years was dedicated for fleshing out the story and the rest was for production. 

     For every Pixar movie that is approved, there are 2 or 3 stories that are shelved for the moment but they can be revisited later on. All Pixar movies takes 4 to 5 years to make, there are no shortcuts.

     Pete Docter assigned Ronnie to work closely with him on the movie ‘Inside Out’. It has a tricky storyline and it must appeal to the general audience. They are not making a story out of the inside of the brains, they are going inside the mind on how to represent this in an understandable way in an animated film. The Inside Out human character – Riley was based on Pete Docter’s daughter. She was always bubbly and happy as a kid, but when she turned into her teens, she became quiet and reserved. Pete as a father was bewildered on how to deal with his daughter’s change of character. He wanted to know what triggers the change of emotions in a person. This is where Ronnie comes in. He is the perfect co-director who can translate these ideas into drawings and puts his own storytelling techniques to make it appealing.

     Since Inside Out is about emotions, they did some research by interviewing psychiatrists and psychologists around the US. They did focus groups discussions. For additional inspiration, they also searched for the right voice actors for the film. The voice actors worked with directors on how the character should behave. It added the special appeal to the story. The Inside the brain characters were only 5 – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Originally, there were more than 15 emotions plotted out for the film. But as they pitched and got comments, the emotions were organized to which ones were the most important and influential in a character’s personality. Thus, the 5 characters remained and they were the most fun to animate.

     In each movie of Pixar, research was done on actual locations. The mountain in the movie – Up, the snow mountains in Frozen were based on real locations. At Inside Out, there were 2 locations; Riley’s hometown is in Minnesota, where Pete Docter grew up. The other location was in San Francisco, where the whole family of Riley grew up. Pete shared his inputs and insights on the Minnesota setting, while Ronnie help build concepts for the San Francisco setting. Ronnie’s actual experience when he moved his family to San Francisco added its flavor to the film.

     Pete and Ronnie also experimented on who among the emotion characters they would pair up. At first they paired Joy with Sadness, but later agreed to use Joy with Fear, but then they realized that Fear was too predictable. “Fear leads to challenges, while sadness leads to changes”.

     Pixar storytellers don’t write a story, they draw…then they put up index cards on their wall for each important aspect of the story. These cards then go down and new ones are placed as the story progresses. Comments and feedback are placed on the wall for the storytellers and directors to view. The three most important ingredients of a Pixar film should be there: compelling story, believable world and appealing characters.

     They asked the question, “What if toys had emotions?” then they made Toy Story. Then they asked, “What if insects had emotions?”, then they made Bugs Life. Then they asked, “What if cars had emotions?”, then they made Cars, then they asked, “What if superheroes had emotions?” then they made The Incredibles. Finally they asked, “What if emotions had emotions?” and Inside Out was born.

     After the talk, the President of ACPI -Miguel del Rosario, gave Ronnie a Certificate of Appreciation and a gift and after that it was Ronnie’s turn to give Miguel a digital painting he made for the occasion.

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Miguel Giving the Certificate to Ronnie

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Ronnie Giving His Digital Painting to Miguel

    There was no opportunity to take some photographs with Ronnie before and after his talk, as his schedule was full of interviews and appointments set up by Disney Philippines. Ronnie was quickly whisked away to attend other meetings after his talk.

Article by Grace A. Dimaranan – Managing Director, Animator, Instructor of Top Peg Animation Studios Inc.

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