Posted December 11, 2015 by admin in Resource

Catatan Produksi Film The Good Dinosaur (2015)

About the Production

Disney Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend named Spot. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

“From the moment Arlo is born, he’s afraid of the world,” says first-time director Peter Sohn, a 15-year Pixar veteran and graduate of CalArts. “He’s fun-loving and determined; he’s got a lot of fire when it comes to his desire to help his family. And his father is his biggest supporter. But Arlo is scared. His fear holds him back.

“Spot is the opposite of Arlo,” continues Sohn. “He’s tenacious, brave and an animal in every sense of the word. It’s the story of a boy and his dog-only in our story, the boy is a dinosaur and the dog is a boy.”

Inspired by the American Northwest, filmmakers found that even towering dinosaurs could feel small in the right surroundings, which worked to intensify Arlo’s fears. According to producer Denise Ream, the stunning and often overwhelming landscape that artists created ultimately played an important role in the story. “Nature can overcome anything,” she says, “including a massive dinosaur.”

This original story catapults Arlo into a vast wilderness, where he struggles to face his fears and survive, all while dealing with the tragic loss of his father. Arlo encounters a host of unique personalities who all contribute to his evolution-whether they mean to or not. But the friendship he builds with Spot has the biggest impact. Spot can’t speak, yet he gives Arlo the kind of loyalty and unconditional love that fuels his self-discovery. “Arlo has a lot to overcome,” says Sohn. “His father always knew he was capable of much more, but it’ll take this emotional journey for Arlo to realize it.”

“‘The Good Dinosaur’ is one of the most emotional movies we’ve ever made,” says executive producer John Lasseter. “It’s really funny and clever, and as the story unfolds, this deep emotion emerges. You fall in love with Spot right along with Arlo. Their bond is so interesting and unique-so different from anything we’ve ever done. It’s a very special movie.”

The voice cast includes Jeffrey Wright (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” – parts I & II, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) as Arlo’s wise Poppa, Frances McDormand (HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge,” “Fargo”) as Arlo’s strong Momma, Marcus Scribner (ABC’s “black•ish”) as Arlo’s brother Buck, Raymond Ochoa (NBC’s “The Night Shift,” TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”) as Arlo, Jack Bright (“Monsters University”) as Spot, Steve Zahn (“Captain Fantastic,” “The Ridiculous 6,” “Rescue Dawn,” “Mad Dogs”) as a fearless pterodactyl named Thunderclap, AJ Buckley (TNT’s “Murder in the First,” FX’s “Justified”) as teen T-Rex Nash, Anna Paquin (HBO’s “True Blood”) as Nash’s tenacious sister Ramsey, and Sam Elliott (FX’s “Justified,” “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “Grandma”) as T-Rex patriarch Butch.

Disney•Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” is executive produced by Lasseter, Lee Unkrich and Andrew Stanton. With original concept and development by Bob Peterson, the film features a story by Sohn, Erik Benson, Meg LeFauve, Kelsey Mann and Peterson, and a screenplay by LeFauve. Music is by Academy Award-winning film composer Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”) and Emmy-nominated composer Jeff Danna (“Tyrant”). The film opens in theaters on Nov. 25, 2015.


Flipping “The Boy and His Dog” Story

The Unlikely Friendship That Drives This Incredible Journey Home

In a world where dinosaurs never became extinct and humans roam the wild, “The Good Dinosaur” features a simple, relatable story. “It’s really a coming-of-age story,” says Sohn. “Arlo is afraid of everything. But his father, Poppa, is always there for him, encouraging Arlo to step out of his comfort zone, to confront his fears, to make his mark.”

Arlo desperately wants to impress his family, but finds himself continually falling short. Says screenplay writer Meg LeFauve, “Arlo disappoints his father time and again, but Poppa always believes in him. And even though Arlo doesn’t know it, that unconditional love gives him strength that he’ll need later.”

Arlo’s siblings, sister Libby and brother Buck, are bigger and more confident than he is from the very beginning. Work and chores around the farm seem to come easily to them, which only shines a brighter light on Arlo’s weaknesses. “Poppa gives Arlo a job-a mission to earn his mark,” says Sohn. “Arlo is tasked with catching a critter, a pest who’s eating the food they’ve stored for the winter. At last, Arlo has a chance to prove his worth. But in the end, he can’t do it. He can’t kill this creature he’s captured, and he sets it free, much to his father’s disappointment.”

Poppa’s subsequent tough-love lesson turns tragic, and Arlo has trouble coping. “He blames the critter for everything,” says Sohn.

Arlo’s anger ultimately results in a major misstep that leaves him lost and far from home. According to filmmakers, that marks the moment Arlo begins to transform. “Arlo really needs to be on his own and go on this quest to become who he is meant to be,” says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. “His struggles in the wilderness help him grow and see beyond his fear.”

His chances for survival are dubious until an unexpected ally shows up and lends a hand. The critter, later dubbed Spot, doesn’t venture far from Arlo-despite the dinosaur’s angry feelings towards him. That single act of kindness-when Arlo releases him from the trap-reveals something about Arlo’s character that he has yet to realize. Spot quickly proves to be a great resource to Arlo and slowly, becomes a friend. “Spot is loyal to Arlo,” says LeFauve. “This big dinosaur could’ve killed him the moment they first met-he was supposed to-but Arlo set the critter free. And Spot will never forget that kindness.”

The unlikely friends embark on an eventful journey through stunning but often unforgiving environments in an effort to get Arlo home. Their story unfolds visually-a hallmark of Pixar storytelling that’s taken to new heights in “The Good Dinosaur.” “It’s a story that doesn’t have a lot of dialogue,” says Sharon Calahan, director of photography-lighting. “The combination of breathtaking vistas, dramatic weather and overwhelming vastness affects us so profoundly that we’re immersed in the story. We’re carried away. We can relate personally to the relationship that’s developing between Spot and Arlo.”

The duo encounters an array of intriguing characters, including raptors, pterodactyls and a family of T-Rexes. In the world of “The Good Dinosaur,” herbivores have taken up farming, while carnivores became ranchers. According to Mann, the T-Rexes Arlo meets are the dinosaur version of cowboys. “They’re quiet, intimidating, tough and massive, but they play a big role in opening Arlo’s eyes to his fear.”

Arlo wants the T-Rexes to help him, but realizes he’ll have to help them first. “They don’t know Arlo,” says LeFauve. “They don’t know anything about his fear, so they treat him like they’d treat any other dinosaur, and they really give him no choice but to go for it. Courage, he learns, isn’t about not being afraid.”

But Arlo’s feelings toward Spot are the key to his growth. “Spot teaches Arlo about bravery and gives him strength,” says Sohn. “Looking internally teaches him about love and friendship. Even though Spot and Arlo don’t speak the same language they find that not only can they communicate, but they actually have a lot in common. It’s through that connection that Arlo begins to care more about his friendship than his fears; he realizes that he has more to offer than he ever imagined, which gives him the confidence he needs to combat their obstacles, complete his journey home and ultimately make his mark.”


The Line-Up

Artists, Technicians and Voice Talent Bring Dynamic Characters to Life

The heart of “The Good Dinosaur” is the friendship that develops between Arlo and Spot-two characters who begin the story at odds. They don’t share a language and-at least at first-have little reason to come together at all. But thanks to a life-changing journey and a host of characters-good, bad, big and bigger-Arlo and Spot find common ground and a relationship that will change them both forever.

Behind the characters was a phenomenal team of artists, storytellers and technicians tasked with crafting the look and personality of each. Says producer Denise Ream, “Everyone came together to nurture the characters and make this story special.”

“The Good Dinosaur” also features an extraordinary roster of voice talent. “We were lucky to work with a number of incredible pros along the way and our story ultimately led us to this amazing and talented group,” says director Peter Sohn. “We’re all taking this journey with Arlo, and it’s been a privilege to see these performers bring our characters to life.”


Who’s Who

The last to hatch among his siblings, 11-year-old ARLO has yet to make his mark on his family’s farm. Though he is eager to help out with chores, this sheltered Apatosaurus just can’t seem to get past his fear of everything. “Arlo is young and vulnerable,” says character art director Matt Nolte. “He’s so unsure of himself and we wanted to capture that in his look. He’s smaller and thinner than his siblings. I noticed my own kids’ teeth, feet and ears seemed to outpace the rest of them at that age, so we played with the scale of Arlo’s muzzle, his feet and tail to help make him feel awkward.”

Adds supervising animator Mike Venturini, “Arlo’s posture gives away his lack of confidence. He doesn’t stand tall, but always appears a bit on his heels. He’s often wide-eyed with raised brows.”

At 18 feet tall and 25 feet long, Arlo is still a sizable creature. “There’s a big separation between his eyes and his mouth, which can feel off model without the right lens,” says director of photography-camera Mahyar Abousaeedi. “We wanted to avoid elongating the snout, so we defined a lens package that would be ideal for shooting close-ups on Arlo.

“We also had to place the camera back far enough in a close-up,” continues Abousaeedi, “so we could read the facial animation and the movement of Arlo’s mouth-he’s a very animated character. We tried avoiding the ‘sock puppet’ look as much as possible by framing his head and neck with another part of his body for a stronger composition.”

Raymond Ochoa was cast as the voice of Arlo. “We went through a lot of different voices,” Sohn says. “Arlo is at a crossroads-evolving from weak and innocent to a strong, more mature young adult. Everyone we heard sounded too young or too old. Raymond has a quality to his voice that’s sincere and really appealing with that gravelly texture. He’s a great performer who was willing to be vulnerable for the more emotional scenes.”

Ochoa, a lifelong fan of Pixar movies, liked taking the journey with Arlo. “To Arlo, the wilderness was a place to fear,” says Ochoa. “Bad things happen there. But the wilderness is actually where he transitions from being a little boy to becoming that mature, brave dinosaur he always wanted to be.”

SPOT is a wild, tough and tenacious human boy who has lived alone in the wilderness for much of his life. He speaks in only grunts and growls, but his strengths are clear: he’s fearless and confident. “This is very much a wilderness movie,” says screenwriter Meg LeFauve. “Spot is the wild animal who shows up to help the boy-in this case, Arlo-in need. Spot is of this place. He is a survivor.”

“It’s really fun to push Spot’s canine quality,” says Sohn. “We want it to be clear that he thinks and reacts like an animal in the beginning, but there’s a boy deep, deep down.”

To achieve the right look for Spot, filmmakers looked at both human boys and animals.

Says Venturini, “We referenced lots of animals-dogs, raccoons, cats and squirrels. We wanted him to move in a way that’s familiar to the audience, but not too literal and not too human. His expressions are more like an animal’s-simple in design, not as complex as a human’s. He’s often wide-eyed. We had fun with Spot.”

Simulation & crowds supervisor Gordon Cameron and his team helped give Spot his windblown look. “He’s in so many scenes and his movement reveals so much about him,” says Cameron. “Those subtle touches-how the environment affects him-really help sell the character.”

But pairing this human with a dinosaur proved difficult. “Framing Arlo and all of the dinosaurs was a huge challenge due to their size,” says Abousaeedi. “But when something much smaller-like Spot-appeared in the same shot, that complicated our camera strategy. Composing Spot small in frame was important. We wanted to remind the audience that this is a boy-and-his-dog story-and that Spot is the dog. Composing Spot small in frame for most of the movie made for a more powerful connection when the pair begins to bond and we pushed into Spot for a close-up.”

A young actor named Jack Bright provides the voice of Spot. But since Spot doesn’t speak, the role called for equal parts creativity and enthusiasm. “Jack is incredible,” says Ream. “And Peter [Sohn] is such a natural with children-he can explain what he needs in a way that makes it easy to understand. He and Jack really made a really great team.”



Brave and selfless, Poppa is a devoted husband and father, working tirelessly to make a life for his family on their farm. He has a soft spot for Arlo, his small and fearful son, and takes special care of him as he grows up. Poppa believes in Arlo and knows that with enough perseverance, Arlo can overcome his fear and make his mark. “We wanted Arlo to have a supportive father,” says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. “But we wanted a father that was true. Even the best fathers make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.”

He may not be perfect, but he is proud. “Poppa is powerful and capable,” says Nolte. “He has strong posture and he walks in a straight line-he knows where he’s going-whereas Arlo actually zigzags.”

According to character supervisor Michael Comet, Poppa’s design helps convey his stoic personality. “Poppa is a powerful character, so when we were modeling him, we used elephant references for his legs and body,” says Comet. “He actually has a bit of a bulldog look with those front legs out front and center-very strong and rigid.”

Jeffrey Wright provides the voice of Poppa. “We wanted someone with strength and warmth,” says Ream. “I think Jeffrey has a real richness to his voice. At one point, Poppa gets frustrated with Arlo, and Jeffrey had such texture, such depth in his performance that Poppa never came off as harsh or cruel.”

“Arlo’s relationship with his family, with his father, forms who he is,” says Wright. “He takes all of the lessons he learned from Poppa on his journey of discovery.”



A loving wife and mother, Momma is smart and quick-witted. She’s a hard worker with a lot of love for her family, and she keeps her children and their farm in order. Her quiet strength is the backbone of the family. “She loves Arlo deeply,” says Frances McDormand, who lends her voice to Momma. “But she’s concerned about his lack of confidence and how that affects him. I think he probably holds a special place in her heart because of that.”

Artists used classic brontosaurus references for Momma’s look. “Her legs are tapered from top to bottom, her back has a curve to it,” says Nolte. “Momma is kind; she provides stability for the family and the farm. Her design reflects those qualities.”



Buck is Arlo’s brother: they’re the same age, but Buck is bigger, stronger and a little rambunctious. He likes to tease his fearful brother as often as he can-and Arlo is an easy target. Buck’s size, strength and confidence allow him to do things that Arlo can’t imagine doing-like ripping a tree out of the ground with his teeth.

Filmmakers tapped Marcus Scribner as the voice of Buck. “We listened to a lot of voices,” says Ream, “and Marcus was my favorite. He sounds like a kid.”

“I connected with Buck and Marcus’ performance because I’m an older brother,” says Sohn. “Like Buck, I messed around with my younger brother all the time, and Marcus knew exactly what we were looking for.”



Arlo’s sister Libby is a capable and willful girl who can plow a mean field. The little trickster has a great sense of humor, and loves playing silly pranks on her family.

“We wanted Buck and Libby to be more capable, more brave than Arlo,” says Mann. “Everything comes more easily, despite the fact that they’re all the same age.”

Maleah Padilla provides the voice of Libby.


Pet Collector

Pet Collector is a mysterious Styracosaurus who lives in the wilderness. Like Arlo, he harbors unreasonable fears. His ability to blend into his surroundings helps-along with an unusual (but not exactly fierce) collection of forest critters he’s recruited to protect him. Says sets art director Huy Nguyen, “We researched how animals camouflage themselves and looked at the trees we’d designed. We realized that Aspen trees have a pattern that resembles a bunch of black eyeballs, so we strategically placed the dinosaur within those tree trunks and lit it to cast some shadow on him and disguise him.”

“He’s a great example of unexpected detail,” says production designer Harley Jessup. “This nutty character living out in the wilderness is so funny, so creative. It was a tour de force of character design with all of the complementary critters-each one was more hilarious than the one before it.”

When it came time to voice Pet Collector, executive producer John Lasseter had a suggestion: director Peter Sohn, who’s voiced iconic characters like Scott “Squishy” Squibbles from “Monsters University” and Emile from “Ratatouille.” “Pet Collector is just so funny and weird and entertaining,” says Ream. “You can’t get enough of him. And he’s integral to Arlo’s realization that Spot is important to him.”

BUTCH is a rugged and intimidating Tyrannosaurus Rex-showcased by the gruesome scar across his face. A veteran rancher who’s a real pro when it comes to herding longhorns, Butch encourages his kids Ramsey and Nash to learn by doing, hurling them into one hairy situation after another. Butch likes nothing better than trading war-stories over a campfire at the end of a long day.

Filmmakers wanted to give Butch and his T-Rex children the look of true cowboys. When they’re running, their lower bodies mimic that of galloping horses, while their upper bodies have the feel of the riding cowboys. “We referenced a lot of cowboy movies,” says Nolte about Butch’s look. “We created this heavy-jawed, squinty-eyed dinosaur that technically breaks the anatomy of a T-Rex.”

Artists and animators were able to incorporate more expected T-Rex details into Butch’s look, including his iconic teeth and the way his mouth moves. However, when Butch grins, his big white teeth resemble the signature moustache of the actor who portrays him: Sam Elliott. Says Elliott, “This is a story of two kids on this journey, this quest to get back home and what they learn along the way about themselves, each other and friendship-those are the things that are really important in life.”

According to Sohn, Elliott personifies a T-Rex. “We started the session by talking about the concept of being a father,” says the director. “He talked about his daughter and we riffed off that energy: you are a dad first. When we took our first break and played back a sequence, his voice blew everyone away. It’s perfect for a T-Rex. Everyone’s jaw just dropped.”

Abousaeedi and his layout team used camera placement to drive home the fact that T-Rexes are scary-at least at first-and they’re very big. “When Arlo meets Butch and his kids for the first time, we really wanted the audience to feel their dominance and strength, so we placed the camera as low as it could go using our widest lens,” he says.

A fearless, whip-smart and no-nonsense Tyrannosaurus Rex rancher, RAMSEY loves the challenge of driving a herd of longhorns with her father, Butch, and her little brother Nash. Ramsey has a lively, outgoing personality-she likes good jokes, tells a mean story and has a soft spot for those in need.

Filmmakers differentiated Ramsey from her fellow T-Rexes by elongating her snout and giving her nose a thinner bridge. “She has these bone protrusions down her back of her neck that are meant to simulate braids or long hair,” says Venturini. “Anna Paquin’s voice brought to life that fieriness in Ramsey. Her energy was great.”

Adds Sohn, “Anna was so excited to play a real badass T-Rex, she’d get red in the face when she roared for Ramsey.”

An enthusiastic young Tyrannosaurus Rex, NASH lives for adventure, and loves when something unexpected breaks up the routine of rounding up longhorns with his father, Butch, and his big sister Ramsey. He isn’t the sharpest of spurs and has trouble keeping track of their herd, but his mischievous charm and positive attitude make him good company out on the range.

“Nash is a bit aloof, and I can relate to that, but he’s got a heart of gold,” says AJ Buckley, who lends his voice to Nash. “This is a dream come true for me. I get to bring my daughter to the theater and say, ‘Dada’s a T-Rex-not just any dinosaur-but a T-Rex. Dada’s a superhero!'”

The PTERODACTYLS are a search-and-“rescue” team of five. They like to sit back and let the often-treacherous storms in this part of the world do their dirty work, then reap the benefits of the devastation. But when these flying hunter-scavengers set their sights on Spot and Arlo, they’re in for a big surprise.

Filmmakers found in their research that fossils exist indicating the wingspan of an actual pterodactyl ranged from 2 to 40 feet. With Arlo’s 18-foot height in mind, and the fact that these creatures were wildly intimidating-filmmakers decided to go big. The pterodactyls featured in “The Good Dinosaur” sport a wingspan of 30 to 40 feet.

The voices behind the pterodactyls include Steve Zahn, Mandy Freund and Steven Clay Hunter. “They have represented themselves as if-unlike Arlo-they have no fear,” says Sohn. “Steve Zahn is the voice of Thunderclap, the leader of this group, who sincerely believes he’s not afraid of anything. Steve had to play nice at first-his character is helpful when we first meet him. But then he evolves to something entirely different-a little bit crazy. Steve gave us everything and the kitchen sink in terms of playing it funny.”

RAPTORS prey on the prized herd of longhorns that belong to Butch and his Tyrannosaurus Rex family. Raptors-or Rustlers, as Butch calls them-sport wiry, feathered bodies and hardly compare in size or strength to a T-Rex. But as a group, the Raptors pose quite a threat, and even a T-Rex may need to call in reinforcements before tangling with them.

“These guys are pretty hardcore,” says LeFauve. “They’re not messing around. They don’t care that Arlo’s a kid. They fight just to fight, but Arlo stands up to them.”

Dave Boat, Carrie Paff, Calum Mackenzie Grant and John Ratzenberger lend their voices to the Raptors.


Beneath A Starry Sky

Filmmakers Venture to the American Northwest to Walk in Arlo’s Footsteps

Director Peter Sohn and Pixar’s team of artists and technical wizards went to great lengths to create colorful personalities, to capture the magic of nature and-above all-to tell a compelling and believable story. The effort-as with all films at Pixar Animation Studios-began with in-depth research.

The team consulted experts about dinosaur anatomy and child psychology. To develop their own tone and style, filmmakers referenced a host of iconic films-Western films like “Shane,” Carol Ballard movies like “The Black Stallion,” plus “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Top of the Lake” and “Stand By Me,” among others. A few members of the team visited the American Northwest to brainstorm Arlo’s homestead, the effects team got themselves swept down the American River, and research trips to Juntura, Oregon, and to regions surrounding Jackson Hole, Wyoming, immersed the filmmakers in the landscape where Arlo would soon find himself hopelessly lost.

The idea of getting lost was a theme from the get-go. In fact, says producer Denise Ream, it was the motto of an early research trip to Wyoming to go horseback riding near the Teton Range and river rafting down the Snake River. “We put a trip together to immerse Peter and a few other members of our team in that world,” she says. “We went into it hoping to get lost-to have that feeling that anything can happen without warning.”

And it did. Associate producer Mary Alice Drumm narrowly escaped serious injury during the group’s horseback expedition. “We’d been riding for a long time,” she says. “We’d reached the top of a hill where we found snow on the ground and were about to turn around to head back when my horse got cold and decided to drop and roll over in the dirt. I jumped off, but my foot was caught in the stirrup.”

Drumm pulled her leg out before the thousand-pound horse could hurt her, but the incident showcased just how tentative life in that environment could be. The vast surroundings showed director Peter Sohn just how small one can feel there. “The horses had never really been through part of that terrain so we’d watch the horses watch their own feet as they stepped over icy water not wanting to trip. It was thrilling-because of the nooks and crannies of the valley, we never knew where we were headed. We took turn after turn, going higher and higher until we finally saw the peaks of the backs of the Teton Range.

“Everywhere we went, there was a duality: something beautiful and dangerous at the same time-like landslides beneath sunsets,” continues Sohn, who wanted to incorporate that sense of danger into Arlo’s journey through the vast landscape.

Filmmakers also went rafting down the Snake River while in Wyoming. The experience provided first-hand reference for creating the river sequences in the film. But it was a guide’s ability to read the river and locate a fallen GoPro camera that really struck filmmakers. “He knew that river so well that he could calculate where the camera might come to rest downstream,” says Sohn. “We really admired that level of understanding of nature.”

Early on the show, the effects team took a separate rafting trip down the American River to experience the kind of rapids Arlo encounters. “We started out early in the morning when the dam release makes the river swell up and create rapids,” says effects supervisor Jon Reisch. “The rapids were really churning and our boat flipped around and went backwards, hitting the wall of the canyon. We got swept underneath the current and ended up getting kicked out downstream. Having that shared, visceral experience of how powerful the water felt really informed and inspired what we were able to bring to the river sequences in the film.”

“The river became the vehicle that would take Arlo hundreds of miles away from home, where he wakes up and begins his life quest,” adds Sohn. “That same river becomes the yellow brick road back to his family. And that simple concept became our basic structure: he gets washed away in first act and then fights his way home throughout the second and third acts.”


The McKay Family

Filmmakers wanted to experience life in the kind of vast open spaces Arlo calls home. Production manager Ann Brilz suggested a trip to Oregon, where a family she knows embodies the lifestyle filmmakers wanted to experience.

Joe and Joyce McKay, with their six children, Gabriel, Claire, Luke, Anna Rose, JoAnn and Martin, lead busy lives running their ranch just outside Juntura. “I went into the trip thinking it was going to be a scene from ‘City Slickers,'” says Sohn. “I thought we’d ride horses and look at some cattle.

“But once we got there, it became all about the McKay family,” Sohn continues. “They’re great people-so full of heart. The work is difficult. But they’re the real deal. Joe’s a man with a firm handshake. Joyce welcomed us into her home without hesitation.”

Filmmakers were not only invited to join the family on horseback, they were expected to contribute. “We figured they’d show us how to get on the horse-provide a step stool,” says story supervisor Kelsey Mann. “But to Joe-you just do it, whether it’s getting on the horse, figuring out how to maneuver it, or riding to wherever he needs you to be to move a bunch of cattle. He doesn’t ease you into the pool, he wants you to just jump in.”

The T-Rexes were inspired by the family-Joe’s relationship with his children is reflected in Butch’s straightforward, just-do-it interactions with Nash and Ramsey. The campfire scene features the ranchers’ storytelling style, too. But to Sohn, it was the overall experience of spending time with this family in this place that had the biggest impact. “I’d seen stars before, but never the Milky Way,” he says. “I walked outside in the middle of the night-it was two or three in the morning. Everyone was asleep. In Juntura, Oregon, there are no city lights, I could see from horizon to horizon. I had no idea before that night: I thought the Milky Way was some little pattern in the sky, but it was humongous. It was breathtaking. I got emotional.

“I woke up the next morning and thought, ‘holy cow, look at the incredible purity of this life,'” Sohn continues. “I was so envious of the way that family lived. You can’t beat nature, like you can’t beat fear. But you can find a way to get through it.”



A film about dinosaurs-particularly one from Pixar Animation Studios-demands a certain knowledge base about the dinosaurs featured. “We went to a lot of museums to look at bones and fossils,” says Sohn. “It was eye-opening how wide our lens would have to be to ever capture something so large.”

Supervising animator Mike Venturini says his team worked with an expert from Los Angeles. “He talked about the anatomy of dinosaurs, the differences between herbivores and carnivores, and locomotion. It helped us understand the weight of dinosaurs and the likely mechanics of the animals, so when we were building our models, we took all of that into consideration.”

According to production designer Harley Jessup, the filmmakers did a deep dive into what’s known about the size of real Apatosauruses in an effort to add authenticity to Arlo and his family. “We created a life-size printout of Arlo to help imagine his gigantic scale,” says Jessup. “Arlo is 18 feet tall and weighs about 6 tons, and Poppa, at 46 feet, is taller than the main building at Pixar. We exaggerated the size of the T-Rexes for our story, and they range from 38 to 50 feet tall, with Butch weighing in at about 45 tons.”

Filmmakers also took a few field trips to study real animals. “We looked at how elephants move,” says Venturini. “They’re the largest land mammal, so the patterns of their footfalls were really informative, and we were able to capture it authentically. Where we took liberties was in adding human personalities to make our dinosaurs feel emotionally relatable.”

According to character supervisor Michael Comet, the team also observed live giraffes. “We were able to hand-feed them,” he says. “We learned about how their necks worked and watched them in motion.”


A Good Look

Filmmakers Go All Out to Create Breathtaking Setting

Filmmakers wanted to capture the full scope of the environments they researched. According to production designer Harley Jessup, their experiences in the American Northwest not only illustrated nature’s power, but also its beauty. “The area has a fantastic variety of landscapes, ranging from the Jackson Valley and the Tetons to the amazing geysers and waterfalls in Yellowstone. We studied the grasslands of Montana and the mesa’s in Wyoming’s Red Desert, then incorporated all of it in Arlo’s journey.”

Their awe of nature’s beauty and power inspired the filmmakers to make the wilderness a character in itself and not just a setting for Arlo and Spot. “The golds and reds from the aspens were incredible-and the cottonwoods-I’ve never seen anything like that before,” says director Peter Sohn. “The landscape is so huge. It makes you feel tiny. There’s such a simplicity to the graphic nature of the place that it felt perfect for making a giant animal like a dinosaur feel small.”

Arlo and Spot face an array of antagonists during their adventure-from raptors who are scrappier than they look, to the pterodactyls who are up to no good. But it’s nature that gives them their biggest challenge: flash floods, sudden weather changes, a raging river that has no mercy and a treacherous trek that will test the protagonists like never before. With the environment playing such a key role in the story, filmmakers knew it had to be spectacular. The world had to aptly illustrate the enormous journey Arlo had before him-its breathtaking beauty, and its inherent risks.

According to Sharon Calahan, director of photography-lighting, the research trips inspired Sohn and the rest of the team to take the film’s environments to new heights. “One of the words we heard a lot early on was sincerity,” she says. “They really wanted it to feel sincere-authentic. I drew pretty heavily from my personal experiences. I’ve spent a lot of time in that part of the world-hiking and painting and feeling nature. We want to support the film emotionally. It’s more than just the light. It’s how the weather and the colors and everything makes you feel.”

As a passionate landscape painter, Calahan has spent countless hours painting the very landscapes that inspired the film’s look. “We were looking at some shots from the film the other day, and they match some of her paintings in a pretty spectacular way,” says producer Denise Ream.

In a nod to noted film directors Carroll Ballard (“The Black Stallion”) and David Lean (“Lawrence of Arabia”), who inspired Sohn, film editor Stephen Schaffer, ACE, peppered “The Good Dinosaur” with painting-like imagery. “As we come out of the first act and get into act two, Arlo and Spot fall into the river. When Arlo wakes up, he doesn’t know where he is. The way it’s done really adds to Arlo’s confusion and state of mind.”

“Peter [Sohn] loves that kind of cinematography where you can see forever and the camera moves with the characters,” says sets supervisor David Munier. “That’s the feeling we wanted to capture.”

While the characters are designed in a more stylized, caricatured manner to support the film’s comedic side, filmmakers wanted the environment to feel more realistic so that audiences could better relate to the perils of Arlo’s journey. But it’s not photorealistic. “Our sets are completely designed,” says Munier. “Even though we start with real-world data in the background, we have a look, a style we design. The cottonwoods or the aspen may be based on real trees, but we make them our own shapes, or own artist representation.”

Adds producer Denise Ream, “It’s an interesting balance between having the slight stylization, but also capturing the realism of nature. The details they’ve incorporated are stunning. And we’ve approached it differently-you can see for miles and miles.”

“We didn’t want it to feel like a walk in the park,” adds Sohn. “This world feels big-even to a dinosaur.”


Going Big

The goal was monumental. The idea of generating that much landscape and making it feel authentic and believable was overwhelming. Says Sohn, “In CG you have to render everything. Nothing comes for free. So if it’s 10 feet away from you, you have to render it. If it’s 10,000 miles away, you have to render all that, too.”

According to Calahan, typically filmmakers invest in what’s known as a hero set, dedicating the majority of time to elements that appear close to camera. “Anything beyond that-what we call the set extension-is achieved through matte painting,” says Calahan. “These paintings, though beautiful, can be time-consuming and limiting in terms of how much we can move the camera. It also makes it more difficult to light a given scene to make the matte painted elements integrate well.”

They turned to Pixar’s technical pros to find a better way to achieve the look they wanted. “We looked into procedural techniques,” says Sanjay Bakshi, supervising technical director. “We were able to download terrain data for Wyoming. The U.S. Geological Survey has height field data for the entire United States that’s created from mostly aerial photographs. The elevation data was the foundation for the procedural system we built.”

Bakshi and his team procedurally added vegetation on that terrain data by downloading satellite pictures. “We had the computer set-dress miles and miles of terrain by telling it that whatever was green should be trees. If it was brown, it was dirt; blue should be water. This gave Peter the freedom to shoot in any direction he wanted to make the world feel big and real.”

The effort provided filmmakers with a background base that offered flexibility in terms of camera movement and lighting. “The foreground and middle ground action areas were always modeled by hand,” adds Jessup. “By the time we were done, our landscape models were totally unique and artist created, but still authentic in their geological qualities.”

According to Munier, artists created a library of trees to populate the environment. “We included a lot of lodge poles, cottonwoods, spruce trees and white pines,” says Munier.

“We really liked the look of the quaking aspen because of the flutter. So we engineered the leaves so they would move a little.”

It was up to simulation & crowds supervisor Gordon Cameron and his team to add the movement to the trees and other vegetation. “We have about 270 types of vegetation, and 15 pre-made wind levels,” he says. “We generate 600-frame full simulation loops of those trees. We could layer on top of the procedural elements to get the look we wanted.”


Best Shot

Given the freedom to move the camera as they wished, filmmakers first had to determine just how to shoot the film. According to Mahyar Abousaeedi, director of photography-camera, there are many decisions to make- from camera composition to lens selection, camera placement to character staging. These decisions contribute to the storytelling. For example, when Arlo is safe at home in the beginning of the movie, the camera is smooth and steady to reflect the safety of being home. But once his journey is underway, filmmakers opted for more of a Steadicam feel. “It’s sometimes handheld,” says Abousaeedi, “but the active operation reflects Arlo’s uncertainty.”

Thanks to the USGS data, the possibilities were endless. “One of the best parts of our job was knowing that all these sets were there for the taking,” says Abousaeedi. “We could almost drop our dinosaur into an environment and move the camera around-just point and shoot-and end up with these beautiful vast landscapes. Having so much flexibility, it was hard to pick our favorite angle.”

But the priority was always Arlo’s journey. Says Abousaeedi, “One of the movie’s key scope shots establishing that he’s totally alone and lost is when he’s standing on top of that butte looking out at the river as it recedes into an endless mountain range. You can just feel the weight of his journey. He has a long way to go. Throughout the film, we have these key scope shots that remind the audience how beautiful the environment is, and also the challenge ahead of him.”


Cloudy Skies

Once filmmakers realized they were on the right track to achieve the gorgeous vistas they’d envisioned, they set their sights even higher-literally. Calahan had one key request early in the production. “I put a stake in the ground and said, ‘I want to do 100-percent volumetric clouds on this film.’ Landscape painters like to go outside and paint in nature, so we spend a lot of time looking at clouds.”

Committing to the clouds meant a major change in Pixar’s pipeline, but Calahan-in anticipation of the fully exterior set that included expansive wide shots and stormy sequences-knew the end result would be worth the effort. “It’s very labor-intensive to paint clouds, and they’re in almost every scene, plus these storm clouds are almost like a villain in the film. They should be treated like any character.”

With a lot of technical fine-tuning, the team was able to give Calahan her clouds. “These particular clouds can be rendered and we can light them, which we’ve never been able to properly do before,” says Calahan. “They’re beautiful.”

The team built a small library of clouds, including various types of cumulous clouds, known as puffies, that served as the biggest workhorses, according to Calahan. They also created a number of shapes and styles that could be layered and manipulated to create the desired look for each shot. “The same lights that are lighting the terrains are lighting the clouds,” says Bakshi. “They integrate really well and make the world feel more grounded.”

Adds Ream, “It ended up being a far more efficient way of approaching clouds compared to matte paintings, which is how we’ve done it in the past. So we’ve changed the way we do clouds at Pixar. We can shoot the clouds like everything else. They’re three dimensional and have real shadows. They add so much to what was already a rich and beautiful environment.”


Details, Details

With its sweeping landscapes, the wholly exterior set of “The Good Dinosaur” presented filmmakers with a host of challenges and opportunities. “It’s the biggest effects film we’ve done in Pixar history, by far,” says effects supervisor Jon Reisch. “Typically, about 30 percent of a film’s shots are effects shots. For ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ it’s more than twice that-60 percent of the film, over 900 shots out of about 1500, featured the work of the effects department.”

Add to that, the simulation of all of the environmental elements and crowds. “We’ve never moved as many things on screen as we’re moving in this film,” says simulation & crowds supervisor Gordon Cameron. “With all the vegetation-grasses, leaves, bushes-and crowds-hundreds of fireflies, bisodon, birds-we’re probably active in 99-and-a-half percent of the show.”

Reisch and his team are behind all of the film’s natural phenomenon-from rain to rivers to flash-flood wave fronts that destroy everything in their path. They also touched quiet scenes like the tender exchange between Arlo and Spot when they realize they have more in common than they thought. “In an important emotional moment, Arlo and Spot are trying to share stories about their fallen family members,” says Reisch. “They communicate by drawing circles in the sand to represent family. It’s a really subtle effect-pushing the sand around-but it’s tricky to do. It is one of my favorite effects in the film. It requires finesse and attention to detail to make it feel right, especially in a static shot, where there’s nowhere to hide.”

The rain shots required a different skillset. With so many rain effects to conquer, they approached it systematically. “With almost 400 shots of rain in the film, we needed to come up with a system to give us a consistent look that our lighting artists could tweak quickly,” says Reisch. “But we were also really interested in pushing the sense of depth in the image and keeping our rain from feeling too ‘CG’ and flat. To tackle this, in each sequence we layered several rain boxes at different distances from camera. These rain boxes are literally a box in space that’s filled with a pre-simulated rain look, whether it was a light drizzle or a blustery downpour. Our FX artists could quickly mix and match different rain boxes to build up the weather in a sequence, while our lighting artists could adjust the lighting and depth of field of each box separately to accentuate the feeling of depth we were going for.”

The effects team also created a river library, developing chunks of moving river water that could be assembled in unique ways to achieve the many river shots that appear in the film. “This was a new approach for us, especially with an effect as layered and complex as our rivers,” says Reisch. “But with 200 shots of rivers in the film, it was absolutely critical to getting as much up on screen as we could.

“Water is always one of the hardest effects we do,” continues Reisch, “largely because it takes such a specialized knowledge of the dynamics-how to simulate the water’s motion-as well as the shading and lighting of water, which define the look of it. And because everyone is so familiar with water, your audience knows right away if you get it wrong. That’s why such an integral part of our process is looking at reference constantly, and making sure we’re being as truthful as we can to what really happens in nature.”

The flash flood is a good example of how the team comes together to achieve the right look. “We were really trying for a look that was a little more cinematic in quality,” says Calahan. “We eliminated most of the color, opting for something more monochromatic, and more intense in terms of contrast and illumination levels. It’s dark and there’s a lot of rain and movement. It’s pretty powerful.”

“We took this fearful character, this incapable dinosaur,” says Sohn, “and pretty much threw him into the wilderness to experience all that nature can throw at him. Nature itself parallels his journey. Like the river when it’s rough and rolling, Arlo is going through really heavy obstacles. When he gets closer to Spot and finds peace with him, the river becomes more glasslike.”


Adventures In Music

Composers Amp Up Arlo’s Journey with Unusual Instruments

“The Good Dinosaur” takes Arlo-and the audience-on an emotional journey of self-discovery. Filmmakers opted to tell the story in a new way, relying less on dialogue, while leaning into the power of nature, compelling characters and music that captures the imagination. Academy Award -winning composer Mychael Danna and Emmy-nominated composer Jeff Danna are teaming up to create the score, while Oscar-nominated sound designer Craig Berkey capitalizes on his mountainous homestead in Canada to capture the wild sounds for the film. “The music and the sound design are key to enhancing an immersive experience,” says producer Denise Ream. “It adds texture and elevates the story.”

“It’s a dinosaur movie, so the music needs to be big,” says director Peter Sohn. “But it’s also that classic boy-and-his-dog story embarking on a journey home. That calls for a certain sensitivity to embrace the emotions. Mychael and Jeff are brilliant artists when it comes to setting up a theme that can be sweet and hopeful one moment and strong and powerful the next. And they do it in a unique way.”

The composers, who are also brothers, were inspired. “Pixar sets the bar for animation-they set the bar for imagination,” says Mychael Danna. “So we wanted to do something different, blending traditional instrumentation and a melody-centered approach with alternative world music instruments. We draw from everywhere-historically and geographically-to help tell this story.”

Instruments utilized range from classic strings, percussion and brass to the unexpected. “We used some pre-Colombian instruments that reflected the landscape around the characters,” says Jeff Danna. “We used a lot of unusual string-guitar instruments that are primitive or folky: a bouzouki, a long-necked Greek instrument that’s like a mandolin; the Turkish jumbush; the Iranian saz; and a Nordic instrument called a Harpoleck. They’re really interesting when placed into the refined world of the orchestra. Our approach to many of the things in the film was to take the expected or standard thing and, just like the movie did, turn it a little sideways.”

They found Spot challenging-his rough-around-the-edges character was tough to pair musically. They settled on a woodwind-a simple recorder-that is played with a guttural underpinning, creating a theme that reflects Spot’s wild ways and contrasts with Arlo.

“We wanted a sound for Arlo’s fear,” says Jeff Danna, “so we used an instrument called a fujara which is a Slovakian shepherd’s pipe. It’s a big, long overblown flute that we found effectively dark and evocative in representing Arlo’s frame of mind in these fearful moments.”

The Dannas designed a theme for Arlo that remained intact throughout the film. “When he’s born, it’s delicate, plucked on a single instrument,” says Mychael Danna. “As he encounters fear, loss and then confidence-that theme evolves and develops, and is ultimately played by a full orchestra as he gallops with joy across the mountaintops.”

They utilized a toy piano purchased at a flea market and a deliberately out-of-tune upright piano. “We call it the church-basement piano,” says Mychael Danna. “It’s just an old, well-worn upright piano that I played, with a lovely hominess quality to it that is a wonderful fit with the film. It was very helpful in creating the music that evokes this beautiful, warm, love-filled place that is Arlo’s home, a place that he loses, and then eventually finds again, although as a different, grown-up dinosaur.

“We’ve got this incredible, mind-bogglingly beautiful setting,” continues Danna. “The landscape is such an important part of the storytelling-a world where dinosaurs are homesteading and humans are these little critters that live out in the bush. Even though it’s about a dinosaur and a boy who never speaks a word, it speaks to all of us. There’s a real human arc to this character’s story that we can all relate to. That’s what I love about Pixar, beyond all the bells and whistles, the stories speak to us and move us deeply.”