Behind the Scenes of Inside Out with Camera & Lighting
Being able to go behind the scenes of a film and meet with the crew that’s made it possible is an amazing experience! During our latest Disney press trip and visit to Pixar, we met with the amazing people behind Pixar’s newest film Inside Out. We had several different sessions with creators of the film. For this we session we sat down with the Director of Photography, Patrick Lin, and Pixar’s Lighting Artist, Angelique Reisch.
When you go see the film in theaters June 19th, you’ll get to experience two different worlds: the mind world and the real world. The real world follows the main character, a little girl named Riley. The mind world is made up of Riley’s emotions: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. We’ll follow Riley in both worlds through her emotions and feelings. There is a lot of complexity to this film, so creating the photography and lighting was very difficult. The audience had to be able to distinguish between the two completely different worlds. The beautiful character Joy, who is a light source, also held other light sources.
Lights, Camera, Action describes the process of a live action film. In the animation world the roles are reversed. It’s Camera, Action, Lights according to the Director of Photography, Patrick Lin. He is part of the layout team, or it is also known as layout, animation and lighting. The layout team is at the front of the production line. They set up the foundation for all departments to follow.
The first step for the layout team is exploring what the film can look like cinematically. The two basic things the layout team does is camera and staging. The camera is their main tool but instead of being real it is a virtual camera. Even though the camera is virtual, they still have lenses to choose from, focal length, focus, distortions, etc. to mimic the movement of a real camera. Although virtual, it is mathematically true to an actual camera.
Staging is the choreography of camera subjects and how they move them through the scene. They start with storyboards and once they get inspired by the set the storyboards tend to change. They use these boards as a general guide. The layout does visual story telling.
The layout team starts with an empty set: a 3D digital set. There’s absolutely nothing on the set, at first. They bring in the camera and digital characters. They must do the initial posing of the characters and move them to the beginning of scenes. Now they can move the camera to different characters and scenes. They also must animate objects in each scene. This gives the animation team some timing and suggestions on how the characters will move. They can really shoot in a hundred different ways but it’s up to them to find the best way to place the camera and characters to best tell the story. Once the layout team is happy with all the shots they hand it on to editorial. The shots can then change, added or deleted.
What they really do is visual story telling. The contrast of the real world vs. mind world is so interesting. They needed visual language to define the two worlds but have contrast to keep them separate. The real world had to have real locations and the camera needed to be realistic, flawed and imperfect. In the mind world they could be more imaginative.
As the character lighting lead, Angelique Reisch, worked very closely with the director of photography (Patrick Lin), art department and the character theme to finalize the look of the characters. Angelique served as point person for character support of the lighting team which was about 35 people. She explained to us bringing Joy to light! The lighting department is similar to the job of a cinematographer on a live action film. The difference to a live action film is that they create everything from scratch… and don’t have to lug around heavy lighting equipment! There is a lot of technical complexity in their setups.
Angelique works close with the Director of Photography, Patrick Lin, and his team. They meet at least once a day and the lighting team is given notes on their shots. They’ll adjust their direction or they’ll give them more detailed notes if they are headed in the right direction. The lighting department actually works in the dark because any kind of glare on their monitors can affect the outcome of the lighting for the film.
Lighting is so important in animations. When you add dramatic lighting the scene comes alive and the audience is really engaged with what’s going on. Angelique said they don’t like to light images at noon. This gives harder shadows and makes the image flatter. Just like taking a picture, you don’t usually get the best lighting at noon. As lighting artists, it’s their job to convey a specific story point.
Typically on other films they rely heavily on value. Joy is so bright they lose that value range to use value to shape her… shaped her with color rather than value. built a group of lights (light ray) for Joy. she has a glow light, built up lights on top of that, inner glow lights (close to face and skin) – light for outer glow (white light).
Check out my other great posts and sessions with the creators from Pixar’s Inside Out:
An Amazing Pixar Animation Studios Tour | Disney Bloggers Pixar Inside Out Press Trip | Academy Award Winning Director Pete Docter Brings Us Disney Pixar’s Inside Out | Travel Inside the Mind of Disney Pixar’s Inside Out | A Day in the Life of Pixar’s Inside Out Animators | The Minds Behind Inside Out | Inside Out From Script to Screen
And don’t forget about the Animated Short Film Lava you can only see before Inside Out in theaters!
Like Inside Out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarInsideOut
Follow Inside Out on Instagram: https://instagram.com/PIXARINSIDEOUT/
Follow Inside Out on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/disneystudios/inside-out/
Follow Disney/Pixar on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyPixar
Inside Out opens in theaters everywhere on June 19th! It is an amazing movie to bring the whole family to see!
Behind the Scenes of Inside Out with Camera & Lighting