“What is so great about plans? I’ve never had a plan.
Did I plan to lose my parents? No.
Did I plan to find Marlin? No.
Did you and I plan to meet?
Wait … did we?”
~ Dory to Hank in “Finding Dory”
**Possible Spoilers Ahead**
Director Andrew Stanton is always on the lookout for a new story. His imagination has taken him under the sea and beyond the stars, but this time, a Character from his past unexpectedly swam straight into his subconscious.
“I realized that I was worried about Dory,” he says of everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang. “The idea of her short-term memory loss and how it affected her was unresolved. What if she got lost again? Would she be OK?”
Adds producer Lindsey Collins, “Dory seems so happy, but she was never really grounded until she met Marlin. Their happenstance meeting and subsequent friendship marked the first time since she was a kid that she had a family.”
Family is a key theme in “Finding Dory.” “We learn when we first meet Dory that she can’t remember where she’s from,” says Stanton. “But she must have a family. Her confusion got a laugh when she said in the first Film, ‘Where are they?’— but there’s a sad truth to that. I knew there was a story worth telling.”
Disney•Pixar's “Finding Dory” finds Dory living happily in the reef with Marlin and Nemo about a year after their life-changing adventure. When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, she recruits Marlin and Nemo for a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute (MLI), a rehabilitation center and aquarium.
In the effort to find her mom and dad, Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank, a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey, a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark.
Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family.
“It's amazing to me that Dory has resonated with people so much,” says Ellen DeGeneres, who lends her voice to the funny fish whose motto “Just Keep Swimming” has inspired and motivated audiences worldwide. “Dory was such a big part of ‘Finding Nemo’ that it makes sense that people might wonder about her journey. We want to see how it worked out for her. Are Marlin and Nemo her family now? Does she have a family and will she ever remember them?”
Filmmakers were eager to answer questions about Dory’s past. “She has that natural desire to know who she is and where she comes from,” says Stanton. “I always had ideas about Dory’s backstory, and we decided the time had come to explore that with her.”
“Dory’s short-term memory loss, while a source of comedy before, has very real consequences for her,” adds Collins. “She spent a lot of time alone before she met Marlin. She’s always upbeat and perky, but deep down she’s afraid of what might happen if she gets lost again. While she struggles to deal with her shortcomings, she has no problem accepting everyone she encounters. She doesn’t even realize that she’s surrounded by characters with their own hurdles to overcome.”
“The story is really about Dory finding herself—in every way,” says Stanton. “She’s compelling and vulnerable and has yet to recognize her own strengths.”
“Finding Dory” features an all-star voice cast, welcoming DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”) and Albert Brooks (“This is 40”) back to the sea as favorite fish Dory and Marlin. Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”) lends his voice to “septopus” Hank, Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) voices whale shark Destiny, and Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) gives voice to beluga whale Bailey. Portraying Dory’s parents Charlie and Jenny are Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) and Diane Keaton (“Love the Coopers”). And 12-year-old Hayden Rolence (“Beta Persei”) steps in to help bring Nemo to life.
Directed by Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”) and co-directed by Angus MacLane (“Toy Story OF TERROR!”), the film is produced by Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”) and executive produced by John Lasseter. Victoria Strouse (“October Road”) wrote the script with Stanton. With music by veteran composer and longtime Stanton collaborator Thomas Newman (“Bridge of Spies,” “WALL•E,” “Finding Nemo”), “Finding Dory” swims into cinemas 29th July, 2016.
Filmmakers Dive In Again 13 Years After Dory’s Deep-Sea Debut
While the conclusion of the 2003 Oscar®-winning film “Finding Nemo” left filmmakers and fans perfectly satisfied, Director Andrew Stanton had the realization there may be some unfinished business worth exploring. “Dory had wandered the ocean most of her life,” says Stanton. “Because of her short-term memory loss, she couldn’t remember anybody she’d met, but she had emotional memories—she always remembered how it felt. And she was repeatedly left with a compounding feeling of separation and loss.
“Her optimism and helpful nature are a defense,” continues Stanton. “It is an unconscious armor she presents in hopes others won’t tire of her challenge and ditch her. When we first meet her in ‘Finding Nemo,’ one of the very first things she says is ‘I’m sorry.’ She just assumes that somehow her short-term memory loss has caused a problem and she’s quick to try to mend it. That, for me, is really juicy stuff. That’s somebody that deserves to feel better about themselves; that’s a main character with a story to tell.”
“It’s a story about family,” says Ellen DeGeneres, who lends her voice to Dory. “It's about finding the courage to do something she's always wanted to do—even if she couldn't remember she wanted to do it.”
According to Stanton, the story crew initially showcased Dory as lighthearted, bubbly and funny—attributes that certainly apply to the character, but left her lacking depth. “She seemed a little two-dimensional,” says the director. “I realized that even though I had her full backstory in my head, nobody else did—including the audience. Everyone walked away from ‘Nemo’ with fond memories of how funny she is. But I always saw that as a mask. I realized we’d have to fill in the audience about what happened to her when she was young.”
“Finding Dory” reveals that Dory has a loving mom and dad who dote on their daughter, patiently helping her manage her short-term memory loss. “They don’t try to change her,” says Stanton. “They just want to help her own who she is. Being a parent and seeing my kids grow up and enter the world, I realize that kids are all born with certain temperaments, flaws, quirks—and it’ll always be who they are. You probably spend most of your time as a parent worrying about those things, too—you don’t lose sleep over the things they do well. The best quality I could give Dory’s parents is that they never doubt her.”
Despite their best efforts, young Dory gets lost. “She wanders the ocean for most of her life,” says Stanton. “And slowly forgets why.”
A massive stingray migration cruises through their neighborhood, triggering Dory’s memory. “The experience is viscerally similar to an event that separated her from her parents so long ago,” says Stanton. “She’s flooded with memories and suddenly very motivated to track down her family.”
In an effort to maintain Dory’s drive to find her family, filmmakers had to first understand her memory issues. Says producer Lindsey Collins, “While Dory forgets details in her day-to-day life—like Nemo’s name—her emotional memory is fine—she knows she loves Nemo and Marlin. And the love she has for her parents has been with her all along.”
“The mystery of memory is so important to the story,” adds screenwriter Victoria Strouse. “Memory is a huge part of family—all of those seemingly meaningless or mundane interactions we all experience as children stay with us and shape our personalities. Dory possesses those memories—on some deep level—and accessing them is part of her ultimate journey of realizing that she’s not broken after all.”
According to co-director Angus MacLane, the memory flash marks the beginning of a new adventure. “It kicks off a quest—both internally and externally—to try to find her family,” he says. “But Dory feels that she can’t do it on her own, so she talks her newfound family—Marlin and Nemo—into coming along.”
Dory finds her way to the “Jewel of Morro Bay”—the Marine Life Institute (MLI), where she believes her family may be. The MLI is a rescue and rehabilitation center and premiere aquarium.
In the journey to the MLI, Dory finds herself separated from Marlin and Nemo, and must rely on her own intuition—as well as a host of colorful characters, appealing to each of them to help her on her quest. “I play a disgruntled octopus named Hank,” says Ed O’Neill, who was tapped by filmmakers to bring Dory’s chief wingman to life. “He doesn't like anybody and just wants to be left alone.”
“We realized that Dory needed a foil,” says Stanton. “Dory was created in the first movie as a surrogate for Nemo. Marlin’s emotional journey to be a better parent called for a character like Dory to test him. Kids—and Dory—are very in the moment; they don’t think about the future too much. They take risks and have fun.
“For this film,” Stanton continues, “we needed a surrogate Marlin. Hank is a curmudgeon, an introvert. He really doesn't want to be healed and sent back out to the ocean. He’d prefer a solitary existence inside an aquarium tank, so he's trying to get himself into a more permanent installation.”
“Hank is smart, set in his ways and very cranky,” says DeGeneres. “He's not happy where he is, while Dory is always happy wherever she is. There's a great juxtaposition between these two; they're complete opposites. It's a great pairing because she is so innocent, yet pushes him to open his mind. They're both fearful—though Dory doesn't realize it. She just keeps swimming.”
ONES TO WATCH
Key Characters Go Deep in “Finding Dory”
Dory, Marlin and Nemo embark on a new adventure—this time to the California coastline—on an uncertain search for the family Dory thinks she left behind. Their journey leads them to the Marine Life Institute, where they meet a diverse array of sea creatures. “It really is a whole new chapter this time,” says director Andrew Stanton.
LITTLE BLUE TAKES CENTER SEA
DORY is a bright blue tang with a sunny personality. She suffers from short-term memory loss, which normally doesn’t upset her upbeat attitude—until she realizes she’s forgotten something big: her family. Of course, she’s found a new family in Marlin and Nemo, but she’s haunted by the belief that someone out there is looking for her.
Ellen DeGeneres was called on to provide her iconic voice to the lauded character for Dory’s return to the big screen—something DeGeneres often imagined on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “I was campaigning for a sequel to ‘Finding Nemo’ for 13 years,” says the comedian and talk show host, “but I never imagined it would be ‘Finding Dory.’ So that was the real surprise when I finally got the call.”
DeGeneres’ multiple-Emmy®-winning talk show launched just a few months after “Finding Nemo” opened in theaters, catapulting the comedian to new heights. So when it came time to revisit the character, filmmakers realized a lot had changed since she first gave voice to Dory. But according to Stanton, their reunion was just like old times—in more ways than one. “I saw Ellen on the same recording stage at Disney Studios with the same engineer and the same crew as the last day we had worked in 2003. She walked in and we picked up exactly where we had left off.”
The new story features a deeper side of the ever-optimistic fish, challenging DeGeneres to showcase a wide range of emotion. “Doing an animated film is really fun,” she says. “But it can be difficult because every emotion has to come from your voice. You can't pretend to cry, because that just sounds like you're pretending to cry. So it's all real—real conversations, real emotion.”
“To me, Dory was always a tragic character,” says Stanton. “Short-term memory loss just can’t be fun. No matter how much she puts her brave face on and makes the best of an extremely difficult condition, it has to be frustrating and frightening. She has no idea where—who—she comes from.”
Adds screenwriter Victoria Strouse, “I think her cheery personality is her way of compensating for her shortcomings. Her helpfulness works to induce others to stay with her, to ensure she’s never alone. She has a deep fear of being abandoned, and an even deeper fear about her own short-term memory loss and how it might alienate others and cause them to leave her.”
Dory may have trouble recalling exactly what—or who—she’s searching for, but she won’t give up until she uncovers her past and discovers something else along the way: self-acceptance. “In the beginning, she is painfully aware that she requires Marlin and Nemo’s help,” says co-director Angus MacLane. Over the course of the film, she learns to listen to her gut again, accept who she is and her unique way of thinking and living—and that becomes the key to her success.”
“I think people love Dory because there's not one speck of judgment in her,” adds DeGeneres. “She's never mean. No matter what she's faced with, she just carries on. She does what needs to be done.”
Story supervisor Max Brace says part of Dory’s charm stems from her memory loss. “She lives in the moment,” says Brace. “She doesn’t have a choice, really. As a result, she doesn’t over-think things. She’s present and flexible to handle whatever curve balls life has in store for her.”
RESURRECTING DORY’S DESIGN
Even though Dory was already designed for “Finding Nemo,” filmmakers were challenged to integrate her old design into the current technology. “It’s easier said than done,” says Jason Deamer, character art director. “The geometry we used to represent characters 13 years ago has changed dramatically.”
“She was done a long time ago with software we no longer use by a crew of different people,” adds characters supervisor Jeremie Talbot. “And she’s super memorable and very important to Pixar. So when we brought her back to life, we had to make sure that we respected all of the choices the artists made back then: the color of her dimples, the presence of her freckles, the shape of her anatomy—not only when you sculpt it, but in every single pose she makes.
“There’s a lot of subtlety in how Dory’s eyes and cheeks interact to give a sensitive, appealing look,” Talbot continues. “We were able to bring the 3D model out of the old software into our new software to compare her facial expressions.”
ACT LIKE A FISH
As animators came on the show, they were tasked with doing a fish-swimming test, an exercise that challenged them to match video of an actual blue tang in motion. Says animation supervisor Michael Stocker, “It’s harder than you’d think.
“From there, we’d ask them to put some acting in the shot,” continues Stocker. “With fish, you’re given a giant face—mouth, eyes, brows, which fish don’t really have, and fins. The trick is to caricature human behavior by using fins as hands. But they can’t be hands all the time, because they need to flap around for swimming. It’s all about finding balance between being a fish and gesturing like a human.”
According to Stocker, however, the quality that makes Dory uniquely Dory is her sincerity. “She immediately connects with others,” he says. “She’s never dismissive. It’s like Improv. She receives whatever is being thrown at her and reacts genuinely. It’s very pure. That’s what’s so great about her.”
MARLIN may have traveled across the ocean once, but that doesn’t mean he wants to do it again. Albert Brooks once again lends his voice to the uptight clownfish. “Dory remembers that she has a family and she wants to find them,” says Brooks. “But Marlin doesn't want to go on another big journey and he certainly doesn't want Nemo to think it's a good idea. Marlin is a homebody. He'd really like to just stay home. I tried to negotiate that with [director] Andrew [Stanton], but he said no. So Marlin has to help Dory.”
Marlin, of course, knows how it feels to lose family, and it was Dory who helped him find Nemo not so long ago. The clownfish may not be funny, but he’s loyal, and he realizes he has no choice but to pack up his nervous energy and skepticism and embark on yet another adventure across the ocean.
According to Stanton, Brooks embodies the character in his signature way. “He brought so much to that character in ‘Finding Nemo.’ I didn't have the luxury of writing for him. I don't know if you can. Albert is so unique in his mannerisms and joke telling—his whole perspective. There's nobody like him. He improvises everything. It's not that he's trying to go off book, he just wants to plus everything. He's not satisfied unless he thinks you've got what you need in the can. He's such a workhorse.”
UPDATING MARLIN’S LOOK
Like Dory, Marlin had to be created in contemporary software, while maintaining the look established more than a decade ago. “Marlin’s face has distinct bags under his eyes,” says character supervisor Jeremie Talbot. “He also has very distinctive eyebrow furrows.
“The way we light characters now is completely different than the way we did back then,” continues Talbot. “The areas of his skin that were wrinkled or worried were very prominent, so we had to make sure that the way he illuminates would read the same and feel like the original artists intended.”
Fish presented a unique challenge to the animators, who installed a fish tank in the animation department at Pixar. “Our job is to sell the fact that they’re in liquid,” says supervising animator Michael Stocker. “There needs to be a sense of friction, though they’re actually floating in space when it comes to the computer world. We had to make it look like they’re in water, honoring the viscosity of water. Marlin pushes his tail one way and goes the other.”
Animators spent a lot of time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and also consulted with Adam Summers, aka “The Fish Guy,” an expert who offered detailed explanations on how fish move. “He taught us how to repel flappers and rowers,” says Stocker. “Different kinds of fish propel themselves in different ways.”
Although filmmakers are telling Dory’s story, Stanton says Marlin remains a special part of her world. “I wanted to make his journey essential to advancing Dory’s,” says the director. “They're the family we already love, even though, intellectually, we want Dory to find her parents. But Marlin and Nemo won our hearts a long time ago. It was crucial that they—Dory, Marlin and Nemo—discovered how much they matter to each other. Dory has a bigger family than anyone realizes.”
DORY’S BIGGEST FAN
One year after his big overseas adventure, NEMO is back to being a normal kid: going to school and living on the coral reef with his dad and their blue tang neighbor, Dory. His harrowing adventure abroad doesn’t seem to have sapped his spirit. In fact, when Dory remembers pieces of her past and longs to take off on an ambitious ocean trek to find her family, Nemo is the first to offer his help. He may be a young clownfish with a lucky fin, but Nemo wholeheartedly believes in Dory. After all, he understands what it’s like to be different.
Filmmakers called on Hayden Rolence to provide the voice of Nemo this time around. “I loved working with Alexander Gould on the first movie,” says director Andrew Stanton. “But time marches on: he went from being a cute 6- or 7-year-old to a 21-year-old, so that wasn’t going to fly. I thought it would be very hard to find somebody that matched his voice, but Hayden not only sounds just like him, he acted just as strongly as Alexander did.”
Adds producer Lindsey Collins, “He’s a total professional, performing nonstop for four hours … most adults can’t do that.”
As for Gould, filmmakers felt he was part of the family. “We gave him a cameo,” says Stanton. “He has several lines toward the end of the film.”
THE CURMUDGEONLY COUNTERPART
HANK is an octopus. Actually, he’s a “septopus”: he lost a tentacle—along with his sense of humor—somewhere along the way. But Hank is just as competent as his eight-armed peers. An accomplished escape artist with camouflaging capabilities to boot, Hank is the first to greet Dory when she finds herself in the Marine Life Institute. But make no mistake: he’s not looking for a friend. Hank is after one thing: a ticket on a transport truck to a cozy Cleveland facility, where he’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful life of solitude.
“Hank tests Dory,” says director Andrew Stanton. “He questions her optimism, her bravery. He brings out the best in her, and she does the same for him. He’s reluctantly kind. He has a heart of gold that Dory seems to sense from the start.”
Filmmakers deliberately developed Hank’s personality to contrast Dory’s bright disposition. “We can get a lot of comedy out of pairing opposites,” says co-director Angus MacLane. “Hank is actively trying to get away from connection, while Dory is striving to make one.”
“Hank would be happy living out his days in a secure aquarium all by himself,” says Max Brace, story supervisor for the film. “He’d do anything to avoid going back to the ocean—even if it means escorting Dory through the Marine Life Institute.”
“They need each other,” says Ed O’Neill, who voices the cranky character. “Hank never thought he could make friends, but he’s slowly drawn in by Dory’s charm. Through a lot of adventure, danger and fear, they bond. They become friends through their experiences.”
Stanton says O’Neill captured the character perfectly. “His voice carries that duality of curmudgeon and softie,” says the director. “Ed nailed that in one way in ‘Married with Children’ and an entirely different way in ‘Modern Family.’ We never thought of anybody else.”
O’Neill, who voiced a character in Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” says the key is having an open mind. “There isn’t really a way to prepare for animation,” he says. “I did do one thing: I Googled ‘mimic octopus’ and found this creature I didn’t even know existed. There are several different types of octopus, I learned. The one I’m playing is a shape-shifter. It’s crazy.”
NO SMALL FEAT
While an octopus gave filmmakers all kinds of benefits in terms of moving between land and water, actually creating the character proved immensely complicated. “It was both scary and exciting from the get-go,” says Stanton. “Once you’ve been at Pixar for a while, you realize the problems can be conquered: suddenly water isn’t so hard to do anymore, simulated cloth is easier to come by, humans aren’t as hard as they used to be. But a main character like this—an octopus with multiple arms and the kind of movement you’d expect from an octopus—we’d never done before. We knew it would be scrutinized because Hank is on screen so much. There was nowhere to hide.
“The time spent to make him work was the equivalent to making another movie entirely,” continues Stanton. “Our first shot took six months.”
A mimic octopus—the inspiration for Hank—has the ability to transform itself, mimicking other creatures—a sea snake, flatfish or lionfish, for example—to ward off predators. Likewise, it can camouflage itself against its background, from jagged coral to a sandy sea bottom. It can streamline its body and fold onto itself. Its arms are covered in hundreds of suckers, which have the ability to attach to almost any surface, giving the animal unmatched mobility, as well as an uncanny ability to manipulate items like the lid of a jar.
Filmmakers studied real octopuses at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, where several members of Pixar’s team were invited to interact with the animals. “One octopus wrapped around my arm and stuck to me,” says characters supervisor Jeremie Talbot. “It’s so delicate, but so strong at the same time—it was nearly impossible to pull it off—and when I did, it sounded like a bathmat coming off of the tub bottom.”
Talbot says the octopus’ suckers are like tiny vacuums, each tasked with bringing items to its beak. “If you put a penny on the end of a tentacle it would eventually make it to its beak just by the suckers handing it forward, which is crazy.”
Producer Lindsey Collins says the team was inspired by real-life accounts about the octopus’ behavior. “Its ability to camouflage and their knack for opening enclosures and slipping through the smallest of cracks was unbelievable,” says Collins. “We heard stories about an octopus escaping in the middle of the night. The security guard would think it’s a piece of trash in the hallway, until he’d reach down to pick it up. It was like a horror film.
“These guys are crazy smart and completely unique,” continues Collins. “But when it came time to actually make an octopus in CG, it was both a dream and a nightmare.”
A GOOD LOOK
While real-life octopuses were incredibly informative, they also possessed a quality that stumped filmmakers. “They’re a little gross,” says Collins. “And up on the big screen, that kind of authenticity tends to work against us.”
Artists struggled to achieve the look of the unusual creature. “We had to find that sweet balance on a textural level,” says production designer Steve Pilcher. “It was easy to turn him into a gummy bear if we went too far one way. And if we went too far the other way, he became unappealing.”
“Hank was probably the hardest character I’ve ever worked on,” says character art director Jason Deamer, “but the coolest, too. I always thought of Hank as a reluctant superhero. I knew I was onto something when the character team basically passed out. Their attitude was, ‘It’s going to be impossible, but we can’t wait to do it.’ It’s Pixar’s character team at their finest.”
Deamer’s designs showcased Hank from every angle, and like real-life octopuses Hank originally had eight arms. “I designed the arms isolated from the body to add this nice flattering taper to them,” says Deamer. “But when our modelers built them in three dimensions and stuck them in a circle to try to attach them to the body, they could only fit seven. They called me in and asked if we could change the shape of the arms to be more like a tube. I didn’t like the look and suggested we just give him seven arms. We pitched the idea to Andrew [Stanton] and he thought it was not only funny but made sense for the character, who’s in a rescue and rehabilitation facility. It was serendipitous.”
Hank’s coloring was developed through a combination of artist preference and an effort to steer clear of the rainbow of hues already in play. While a warm red-orange shade for Hank contrasts nicely with Dory, artists had to be careful to differentiate from Marlin and Nemo’s orange palette. Likewise, Hank’s eyes—which are stunning with flecks of green and purple—had to be just the right shade. “His eye color needed to be different from Dory—more turquoise and bright” says Pilcher; “their competing colors had to remain unique and special. They are in a lot of close-up shots together and Hank’s eyes are about the same size as Dory, so it was very important that we differentiate.”
Of course, Hank has no intention of sticking to his original color anyway with his uncanny ability to camouflage. “He can change his texture and his color much like an octopus can, although we take more liberties,” says Pilcher. “Hank travels through environments no normal octopus would be in, which presented us with fun and imaginative camouflage challenges.”
According to effects supervisor Chris Chapman, there were a lot of variables involved in achieving Hank’s camouflage. “We had to control what colors were on his skin from the object he was on while controlling how much of the lighting on the environment was on him.”
“The trick was to show the transition from normal octopus mode to camouflaged octopus mode and back again,” adds Pilcher. “We didn’t want to make him look invisible, so we had to make enough visual information of the object that he was mimicking blend with his form. You still notice his shape, but he could be overlooked because of the camouflaged pattern, texture and color. Once we figured it out, it resulted in some funny moments.”
“If you watch a real octopus camouflaged against a rock transforming back into itself, it looks like it’s computer animated,” says Chapman.
HE’S GOT MOVES
Building limbs that move like octopus arms move was among the biggest challenges in the production. “We did tentacle animation on ‘Monsters University’ with the Librarian and some background characters, but it was very limited,” says Talbot. “We really wanted to mimic a real octopus, but there’s no apparent structure to the way an octopus moves. One part of an arm can grab the ground, while another part holds a cup and yet another part is wrapping around you.”
“Octopuses are incredibly flexible,” adds John Halstead, supervising technical director. “They can squeeze through any hole that can accommodate their beak. We needed to find a balance between giving animators the tools to showcase that flexibility and not overwhelming them with too many controls.”
According to Talbot, another challenge with Hank was the fact that the corners of his mouth actually touch two of his arms. “We had to really be careful about how those arms manipulated his face and his facial expressions. Our articulators had to develop a system so that when he moves the arm his whole body tilts so that his mouth doesn’t distort in an odd way.”
Hank’s ultimate body shape called for a unique look to his flesh and how it moved. “If you move one point,” says Talbot, “the flesh reacts all along his body—more than any other character we’ve ever done. If you move his leg, the skin all the way to the base of his eyelid is moving. We had to make sure that all worked together so that the animators would have as much flexibility as possible.”
In addition to real-life octopuses, Pixar’s team found that snakes made wonderful reference—especially animated ones. Disney’s 1967 classic “The Jungle Book” proved inspirational when animating Hank’s arms. Says Halstead, “There's a great sequence where Kaa is mesmerizing Mowgli. The way his body moves as he slides along and through the tree was something the directors were really looking for in Hank's performance.”
“Animating Hank was probably the hardest thing we’ve ever animated,” says supervising animator Michael Stocker. “Humans, rats, four-legged characters all have joints. There are rules to how they move. There are no rules for an octopus. There is no way to deconstruct how it moves. It can do anything. And in our case, Hank has seven arms, which can end up looking like a visual mess.”
Animators used Hank’s arms like a human’s hands—allowing him to flip switches and gesture in familiar and expressive ways. “We found that we could hide several arms,” says Stocker, “giving hints that they were there. Sometimes, we’d have a shot where all seven arms came out—and those shots took weeks, if not months, to complete.”
When it came time for the character to speak, animators found another problem: his mouth. A real-life octopus’ mouth is located between his arms in the lower part of the body. Filmmakers raised Hank’s mouth slightly, but decided it was more interesting if it weren’t in plain sight. “We chose to hide it,” says Stocker, “as if under a moustache or under an elephant's trunk. We show glimpses of the mouth but we didn't want to make it a big deal.”
Adds DeVan, “With Hank’s mouth mostly hidden, we used the motion of his head—like a puppet—to underscore what he was saying. His eyes and brows had to do a lot of the work expressing emotion. They also helped show the energy behind his words. Sometimes we used certain blinks as a sort of eyelid lip-sync since we don’t always see his mouth.”
Creating the octopus for the film became somewhat of a balancing act. “A big part of Hank’s design—from character design through animation and into simulation—is to find that sweet spot between believing it’s an octopus and making it so authentic that it looks unappealing,” says Patrick Coleman, the global technology and simulation supervisor. “We simplified a lot. For example, a real octopus’ suckers are always doing something and moving, which is not only distracting in animation, it starts to look a little creepy, so we don’t do that in the film.”
Coleman says Hank’s suckers proved incredibly challenging, as they have to constantly interact with the ground. “One of the problems we had early on was figuring out how to get a sucker to stick. We knew how to simulate flesh moving and responding to things, but we didn’t know how to make flesh stick to something, because that doesn’t happen very often. One of our earliest research and development tests was just to take a cube of flesh, stick it onto a table and make it stick when we pulled away.”
Coleman’s team also had to develop systems to make the flesh simulation run faster than ever before, which wasn’t easy thanks—again—to those suckers.
DESTINY may be a clumsy swimmer, but she has a big heart. She has a big everything, actually—whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea. Destiny resides in the Marine Life Institute, where one day an oddly familiar blue tang named Dory falls into her pool. Destiny is admittedly embarrassed by her obvious lack of grace, a product of poor eyesight, but Dory thinks she swims beautifully. And Dory is delighted to learn that her supersized friend speaks whale, too.
“Destiny can’t see well,” says director Andrew Stanton. “She bumps into things and has a lot of fear about everything beyond her own pool at the MLI. She and Dory were once pipe pals: they talked to each other through the pipes of the MLI—like kids who tied two cans together or talked with old-school walkie-talkies.
“It represents a really innocent time,” continues Stanton. “I love the idea that a tiny forgetful fish in her coral bedroom could talk to this other voice that speaks whale, which explains why Dory speaks whale poorly. She learned it from a shark.”
“The secret to speaking whale is making the words as long and ridiculous as possible,” says Kaitlin Olson, who provides the voice of Destiny. “That's how all whales talk, right?”
“I’ve been a huge fan of Kaitlin’s ever since I saw the first season of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’” says Stanton. “Everyone knows the phrase, ‘the camera loves her.’ But in animation, we like to say, ‘the microphone loves her,’ which is so true of Kaitlin. She just has this great quality to her voice. It’s so charming and sweet, yet she has tons of power and incredible comic timing.”
A LOTTA LOOK
According to production designer Steve Pilcher, Destiny required fewer liberties than your average character. “A real-life whale shark is so caricatured to begin with,” he says. “Its eyes are very far apart on the far sides of its head and close to the snout. It’s almost like a spatula that’s been squared off in front.”
Character art director Jason Deamer compares the character to a big shovel or an oven mitt. The positioning of Destiny’s eyes and mouth was problematic. “You can’t have a smile go beyond the eyeballs,” says Deamer. “It wouldn’t look like a smile to audiences. We spent two weeks trying to solve that problem.”
“Destiny came into our department as a sketch,” says character supervisor Jeremie Talbot. “Our team was in charge of creating a beautiful and appealing model. Destiny’s mouth feels friendly and cartoony and even though it’s right between her eyes, it ultimately worked.”
Artists had to scale down Destiny from her enormous real-life counterpart so she’d fit into her shots with her much smaller castmates. According to Jeremy Lasky, director of photography-camera, filmmakers anticipated the issue. “From the very beginning, we ran a lot of tests to try to figure out how to place a tiny character like Dory in the same conversation with a huge character like Destiny,” says Lasky. “How do you put them in the same frame at the same time? Ultimately, we decided not to fight it and allow Destiny to be just a giant eye. We could let Dory be a small character. We realized that we would never fit all of Destiny in a frame, but that became a source of comedy.”
“It’s hard to act when you can’t see both eyes and the mouth in a single shot without moving her head,” says supervising animator Michael Stocker. “But we found ways to make it an advantage. It actually helps showcase her massive size. She has to feel super heavy. She moves slowly with purpose—even is she’s bumping into walls. And she moves like a shark, swishing her tail side to side, not a whale, who would move its tail up and down.”
Artists also borrowed Destiny’s coloring from nature. “Whale sharks have a beautiful weird blue pattern on top,” says Deamer. “It’s chaotic around their head, box-like in the middle and then organized into lines near the tail. It’s very organized.”
Adds Pilcher, “Destiny’s eyes are on the gray side of blue and her mouth is like bubble gum. Aesthetically, she’s soft and inviting, like a jumpy house.”
PLAYING HEAD GAMES
BAILEY is the Marine Life Institute’s resident beluga whale, who is convinced his echolocation is on the fritz. The good news is that doctors at the MLI can’t seem to find anything wrong with him. Bailey’s flair for the dramatic never ceases to push his neighbor’s buttons: whale shark Destiny can’t seem to get through to him, no matter how hard she tries. Maybe he’ll listen to new friend Dory, who seems to be full of crazy ideas.
Beluga whales are known for their echolocation skills, which is like biological sonar. At the MLI, it’s known as the world’s most powerful pair of glasses. “That makes Bailey the perfect counterpart to Destiny, whose eyesight is not so good,” says producer Lindsey Collins. “They complement each other perfectly—though they might not admit that.”
Ty Burrell was called on to voice Bailey. “Ty proved himself as the goofy nerd in ‘Modern Family,’” says director Andrew Stanton. “He plays a variation of that as Bailey, who’s a little nerdy and a little opinionated. He’s very dynamic, jumping from skeptical to annoying to loving—with no in-betweens. And Ty really captures that. I don’t think I’ve met an actor that has more natural comedic-timing instincts than him. He’s really got a gift.”
Adds Collins, “Ty makes Bailey super charming. The first test we did of Bailey required Ty to play around with the sounds the character might make while working on his echolocation—ooohs and aaahs. From that moment, every animator wanted to animate Bailey.”
Several members of the production team ventured to the Vancouver Aquarium to see beluga whales up close. “A beluga’s head is called a melon,” says story supervisor Max Brace. “It does undulate when they echolocate. Visually, they look very cute and a little dorky, which was perfect for the character.”
“He’s like dough in water,” adds production designer Steve Pilcher. “He’s off-white in color, and, though he has teeth, we kept them very rounded to showcase that friendly, lovable quality.”
Adds supervising animator David DeVan, “He has a soft, lazy look, but many of his scenes called for quick sharp movements. It took some work to find the right combination of energy, humor and attitude for Bailey.”
According to character supervisor Jeremie Talbot, modelers were challenged with the interaction between Bailey’s lip and his melon. “Animators wanted to move his lip in his facial expressions,” says the character supervisor. “Achieving a graceful look that behaved properly was a real challenge.”
Animators also captured the movement in a real-life beluga’s melon. “You can see them flex a muscle in their melon and point it in a specific direction,” says supervising animator Michael Stocker. “It’s squishy and it vibrates, so we added noise within Bailey’s melon that indicates when he’s using his echolocation.”
FINDING MOM AND DAD
JENNY and CHARLIE would do anything for their only child, Dory. They celebrate and protect her, striving to arm her with the skills she’ll need to navigate the world with a faulty memory. Jenny may appear cheerful and a little flighty—but she’s a protective mother and a smart role model. Charlie likes to joke around, but nothing is more important to him than teaching his memory-challenged daughter how to survive. “It just felt like Dory’s parents would be a little bit kooky and charming,” says producer Lindsey Collins.
“As far back as ‘Finding Nemo,’” says director Andrew Stanton, “I always pictured that if Dory had parents, they would be Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy.”
“Each time I went in to record, they'd show me a little something,” says Levy. “At first, they had just line drawings—a stick figure of a fish guy. From session to session, it got fleshed out. In the end, the animation is just stunning.”
Says Keaton, “Sometimes we didn't have to stick directly to the script, which really felt good. [Director] Andrew [Stanton] let me try a lot of things, but kept the action going. I really liked that because I like a lot of energy.”
The familiarity the team already had with Dory helped a lot when it came to her parents. “I tried to reverse-engineer Dory to create her parents,” says character art director Jason Deamer. “Jenny literally has Dory’s eyes—we stole the geometry from Dory and placed them in the same location on Jenny’s body. So we figured Dory probably got her mouth and nose from her dad, Charlie. I always thought of his shape like an old man’s wallet that’s been sat on for too long.”
“I'm glad they didn't put big eyebrows on Charlie,” adds Levy, “because I would've felt bad for him.”
TWO BLOKES ON A ROCK
FLUKE and RUDDER are a pair of lazy sea lions who were rehabilitated at the Marine Life Institute. Marlin and Nemo find them snoozing on a warm—and highly coveted—rock just outside the center. These sea lions really enjoy their down time and would rather not be bothered mid-nap—but their bark is far worse than their bite. “They come from this unruly gang of ‘dogs of the ocean’ where they’re kind of scrappy,” says director Andrew Stanton.
“We pushed the visual contrast of these characters to retain their uniqueness,” says production designer Steve Pilcher. “Fluke is quite dark in color, heavy and large, and Rudder is the opposite—lighter in color, slimmer and smaller.”
Idris Elba and Dominic West voice Fluke and Rudder. “They’re incredibly impressive and talented actors that could carry ‘Hamlet,’ let alone playing weird, lazy sea lions,” says Stanton. “Their first session together was a little bit of a reunion from their days on ‘The Wire.’ It was fun to watch.”
CRUSH and his SQUIRT just might be the coolest turtles in the ocean. They’re always happy to lend a flipper to a fish in need. Cruising the ocean for more than a hundred years definitely has its advantages. “We didn’t want ‘Finding Dory’ to be a road movie like the first one,” says co-director Angus MacLane. “So we needed a way to get everyone to California really quickly.
“Earlier on in the production, there was a concern that including Crush might feel redundant to the first movie,” continues MacLane. “Around this time, I went on vacation to Disneyland with my family and went to see ‘Turtle Talk with Crush’ for the first time. I was blown away by the audience’s reaction to Crush. I knew he was a popular character, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional way the audience connected with this extension of the original film. I knew that not including Crush in ‘Finding Dory’ would be a disappointment, so when I came back from Disneyland I told everyone, ‘We really have to find a way to put Crush in the movie.’ Using him to get Dory, Marlin and Nemo across the ocean ended up being the right solution to the story problem, and a satisfying and natural way to include Crush and Squirt in this film.”
The turtle dad is voiced by director Andrew Stanton himself, while Bennett Dammann helps bring Squirt to life.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST
MR. RAY, voiced again by Pixar’s own Bob Peterson, is the tune-loving teacher from the reef who takes Nemo’s education—and that of his fellow undersea students—very seriously. Nobody enjoys Mr. Ray’s class more than Dory, who serves as his cheerful, albeit unnecessary, teacher’s assistant during an illuminating field trip.
Voiced by Torbin Bullock, BECKY is an offbeat, kooky loon who takes a liking to Marlin. Although she inspires little confidence—especially from a certain skeptical clownfish—she might be smarter than she looks. The character was named after production manager Becky Neiman-Cobb, who insists there’s no resemblance.
“Finding Dory” also features Bill Hader and Kate McKinnon in a cameo appearance as a fish couple that Dory briefly encounters along the way, as well as a crew of OTTERS. Says Deamer, “They’re just so unbelievably cute that we all agreed that, one way or another, these otters were going to be in the movie. My job was not to screw them up—to make them at least as cute as, if not cuter than, real otters, without going all the way to teddy bear.”
All-New Adventure Leads to Wild New Worlds
“Finding Dory” returns to the rich undersea environment introduced to audiences in 2003’s “Finding Nemo.” According to director Andrew Stanton, filmmakers faced a curious challenge. “Our technology advances so much over time,” he says. “But we’re beholden to the production design, look and feel of the original movie. So we had to sneak in the improvements. Our lighting is more complex. The flora and fauna have more detail.
“Fortunately, we pulled off the look in the first film, even without all the technology we have today,” continues the director. “Somehow we found that sweet spot of making the audience feel as if they were underwater, and that’s something we were happy to emulate.”
Jeremy Lasky, director of photography-camera, says, “Part of Dory’s journey is taking her from the reef into the ocean and to the Marine Life Institute, which is a very human space. We wanted to capitalize on making small fish in a big world feel real. We didn’t want to ever forget that these are tiny 4-inch fish.”
Ian Megibben, director of photography-lighting, knew early on how important it would be to get the water just right for the film. “We’ve got different water for the reef, the open ocean and the aquarium,” he says. “Even within the reef, the water can run more green or more blue, depending on the sequence.
“Inside the Marine Life Institute,” continues Megibben, “the water actually becomes a light source. Humans tend to fall into silhouettes in the background and it really underscores that this is a story about a fish.”
“Finding Dory” kicks off in the familiar coral reef home of Marlin and Nemo, venturing all the way to the California coastline and into the heart of the Marine Life Institute. While filmmakers maintained the feel of the world established more than a decade ago, they created bold new locales audiences have yet to experience. “The film features multiple environments that are massive in scope,” says production designer Steve Pilcher. “We visit locations in close-up micro-level shots, all the way to wide, epic, aerial shots. “Some are all organic; some are all structural. There were many challenges on many levels in this film.”
Technology also played a key role in realizing several different water looks for the water in the film—from the ocean trek that culminates in a kelp forest, to glass tanks of all shapes of sizes within the MLI. Filmmakers had to develop all new tricks of the trade to get the right look.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF celebrates fun, family and the comforts of home. Vibrantly colored coral and seaweed provide cover for Marlin, Nemo and the newest member of their family, Dory—at least until their new adventure kicks off. “The coral reef is a slightly fancier, more dynamic version of what we saw in the first movie,” says Stanton.
Despite the fact that the reef had been done before, filmmakers still had their work cut out for them. According to sets art director Don Shank, technology had changed so much that the original set couldn’t just be plugged in and used again. “We took the whole reef model apart and reassembled it,” he says. “It’s meant to be of the same world as ‘Finding Nemo,’ but we have different needs for a different movie.”
The reef is horizontal and very colorful, featuring yellows and oranges, reds and violets. But all of that color came with its own set of challenges. “Even though we had all the colors in the world to choose from, it’s our job to help focus the viewer’s eye,” says Pilcher. “The distribution of color became very important. It took an enormous amount of work and rework, distribution and redistribution of color and shape to ensure the audience sees what we want them to see.”
“Finding Dory” is Pixar’s first feature to implement RIS, the next-generation RenderMan. Says director of photography-lighting Ian Megibben, “RIS is physically based—it wants to do everything correctly, which is a good thing overall. But we wanted to maintain the stylized version of the Great Barrier Reef from ‘Finding Nemo,’ so we had to figure out how to achieve that.”
When “Finding Nemo” debuted, one of the big stories at the time was the addition of particulate to the water, which was lauded for its ability to add dimension to the water and sell the underwater feel of the film. For “Finding Dory,” it was enhanced. “With the first film, we used noise—a technique for procedural motion generation—to make things move behind the fish,” says global technology and simulation supervisor Patrick Coleman. “This time, we ran a water simulation that allows the fish to swim through particulate. It’s a much more natural feel to how water moves around a fish.”
According to Jeremy Lasky, director of photography-layout, filmmakers used what they called a “fish cam” while on the reef with Dory, Marlin and Nemo. “We decided to shoot with the equivalent of a 16 millimeter camera, which is a smaller piece of film that creates a subtly different look,” says Lasky. “Everything feels safe and homey. Every once in a while, we’ll use the 35 millimeter camera to change the perspective in a subtle way—as if a human is watching the fish on a dive.”
TREK TO CALIFORNIA COAST
Dory, Marlin and Nemo leave the comforts of home behind, braving the open ocean en route to the Marine Life Institute. Along the way, they encounter old friends and a creature or two best left in their wake.
SHIPPING LANES are a stark and foreboding wasteland of shipwrecked vessels and shipping containers. Home to pesky hermit crabs and other creatures, the shipping lanes are filled with surprises. According to Shank, the set was designed—and redesigned—several times. “The whole set is filled with furniture, toilets, household items—random items that get shipped from here to there and for whatever reason finds itself at the bottom of the sea,” says Shank. “Our characters can’t quite figure out why humans would keep those things there.”
As the characters get farther from the familiar, Lasky and his team underscore that feeling by switching from the 16 millimeter “fish cam” to the 35 millimeter “human cam.” Although humans are not yet present in this part of the journey, their presence can and should be felt.
KELP FOREST is located just outside the Marine Life Institute. It’s murky, but magical, with rays of sunshine intermingling with the tall kelp stalks. “We always loved the idea of a kelp forest,” says Stanton. “It’s so arresting. It’s like an underwater redwood forest.”
Production designer Steve Pilcher was part of a group who took a rowboat onto Monterey Bay to study the kelp forest there. “We attached cameras on extended poles and dipped them below the surface of the water,” he says. “We noticed that the color of the kelp floating at the surface of the water is somewhat desaturated and cooler in hue. But as soon as you are below the water, the color of the kelp and water explodes with saturated golds and greens. It was a surprising observation we wanted to retain and express in the film.”
Says co-director Angus MacLane, “The kelp forest was incredibly complex to build in the computer, especially creating realistic water effects around the kelp—it would not have been possible in the ‘Finding Nemo’ days. But now, armed with new lighting and rendering tools, we were able to create more realistic lighting throughout the water that helped add to the forest’s believability as an environment.”
According to Megibben, the new rendering system was the key to the kelp. “Kelp has a jelly-like look to it—gummy and refractive at the same time,” he says. “Our kelp is backlit by the sun so that it glows like kelp would in real life.”
Jeremy Lasky, director of photography-camera, says, “We wanted to evoke that feeling of a cathedral with these huge stalks of kelp and three little fish who are lost in that world.”
Lasky adds that staging and camera placement were critical. “We didn’t want to have characters talking in front of a kelp backdrop,” he says. “We staged our characters moving through the kelp, not in front of it, and also took the camera through the kelp to feel the three-dimensionality of that space as if we were really in it.”
The MARINE LIFE INSTITUTE (MLI) is a rescue and rehabilitation center and premiere aquarium. The MLI is vast with an array of pools and educational exhibits located on the California coastline. “As many artists in animation are, we were inspired by Eyvind Earle’s California coast paintings,” says Pilcher. “We didn’t want to caricature the exterior hills so much that it felt out of place, but we liked the simplicity and elegance of Earle’s work, so we pinned up images all over the room to remind us to simplify, simplify, simplify.”
Stanton, who grew up on the east coast, wanted to evoke misty mornings he remembered growing up, reimagined for the California coast. Filmmakers accomplished this in a couple of ways. “One way to create that misty-morning look is by adding murk, or atmospheric haze, as the scene recedes into the distance,” says Megibben. “We would also do what we call diffusion, which involves adding a level of humidity to the scene. It’s a combination of volumetrics and image processing to get that soft, misty look.”
For the MLI itself, filmmakers were deeply inspired by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The MLI presented filmmakers with a host of sets, including a standard fish tank, a coffee carafe, a bucket of fish and massive pools. Characters venture through a filtration system, kids’ fountains and even a faux tidal pool. Behind-the-scenes sequences in the MLI called for authentic looking pipes and pumps, concrete and metal structures amongst many glass aquariums.
Says Pilcher, “The whole thing is designed and redesigned hundreds of times. It’s huge.”
· Designers decked out the public-facing part of the facility with sophisticated touches and an emphasis on education along with entertaining components. The palette—which does include a lot of gray to reflect the concrete found in similar facilities—was varied to change up the feel of the MLI. “We added more glass, wood and metal to create a contemporary museum-like environment,” says Shank.
With the ocean as its backdrop and a rocky shoreline, the MLI is infused with California style. Exterior imagery features docks, piers, cypress trees and ice plants. Final details including park benches, signage, kiosks, curbing and even a souvenir shop were crafted to enhance the exterior look.
· When Dory lands inside the MLI, she finds herself in quarantine, where a wayward septopus named Hank sets his sights on the tag she sports. The set is important because it launches a key relationship in the film. “It was one of the first sets we completed,” says Shank. “It became an amalgamation of what we discovered on our research trips to Monterrey Bay Aquarium. It’s a three-dimensional collage.”
· As Dory and Hank journey through the inner workings of the facility, Shank and his team were tasked with bringing the non-public areas to life, complete with offices, pipe rooms, hallways and stairwells. Artists noticed stencils on decorative pipe systems in the queue of Disneyland’s “Finding Nemo” attraction and borrowed the look for the pipes in “Finding Dory.” “It was just one of those magic situations where the real-world experiences we sought and research we did were just a perfect place to start.”
· Destiny and Bailey reside in neighboring habitats designed to support rehabilitation efforts, while also giving visitors an inspirational glimpse at the magnificent creatures up close. “You can view the animals not just from above the water, but from below, too, through a big viewing area,” says Stanton.
When it came time to light the environment, Megibben says less was more. “Destiny and Bailey are hilarious. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t interfere with their performances. Their pools are simpler environments compared to the kelp forest and Great Barrier Reef, but it still had to feel as if we’re underwater. We gave it a murky quality that’s really cool.”
· Open Ocean is an exhibit within the MLI that is reminiscent of the reef that Marlin and Nemo call home. “It’s a large central display with a multitude of sea life,” says Stanton. “It simulates what it’s like to be a fish in the ocean.”
Designers were careful to differentiate it from the film’s real-life reef. “Unlike Marlin and Nemo’s somewhat horizontal reef, it’s completely vertical,” says Pilcher, “which gave us a nice contrast and again, uniqueness. There are fewer yellows and oranges in the Open Ocean exhibit, no tabletop coral. We used a specific type of sea fan that’s up to six feet tall, pink and violet in color, only in this exhibit.”
· Not only are MLI aquariums scattered throughout the facility, Dory travels from place to place in clear containers. With each sequence, filmmakers had to figure out how to showcase glass and water in a way that would look right to audiences. “I shot a lot of GoPro footage of water in different containers to study different points of view,” says Megibben. “Reality generated some weird results. We opted to maintain some of the effects and dial back on others.”
As plans for “Finding Dory” surfaced, fans were thrilled to reunite with one of their favorite characters, while the story team was excited to create a new adventure. But supervising technical director John Halstead and effects supervisor Chris Chapman were already thinking about how their teams would tackle all that water. “Water is traditionally a difficult phenomenon to create in computer graphics,” says Halstead. “Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Adds Chapman, “The original film had one big body of water for the most part. On this show, there are dozens of bodies of water—from a small cup to tanks to the bay to the ocean. We really spent a lot of effort trying to figure out how to integrate the character interactions like splashes into each one of those bodies of water.”
“Everybody knows what water looks like in real life,” continues Halstead. “We have an intuitive sense for how water moves. It’s very complex to recreate that in the computer.”
Adds director Andrew Stanton, “When you are in a glass box with water in it, the reflections are warped in a really weird way. It breaks the image. We’re all familiar with the resulting look—audiences expect it—but don’t consciously think about it. Fortunately, we were able to use technology available to us today to do refraction and reflections in a believable way.”
Filmmakers sought to extend their creative reach beyond anything that had been done before, but doing so as efficiently as possible.
SHADING & RENDERING
Evolving what had already been launched with “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur,” filmmakers implemented a physically based water shader. It can tint water as it gets deeper, as well as handle reflections and refractions in the water. “It is as artist-friendly as we can make it,” says Halstead. “When we combined that with our new renderer, we were able to get some really realistic and believable water.
“RIS, the new renderer, provides a more faithful reproduction of how light actually works in the real world,” continues Halstead. “We can simulate more of the complicated light interactions that happen within a water volume, and how it interacts with the rest of the scene. The result is really compelling-looking water effects.”
Artists in particular welcome the new path-tracing renderer, as it allows them to create something believable earlier than previously possible. “We’re starting from a place that’s already grounded in the real world,” says Halstead, who adds that these advances made scenes that featured water and multiple kinds of glass possible for the first time. “We have sequences when we’re looking through the glass side of a tank, into water, and then into a glass beaker, and out the other side of the tank. Every time you look at glass, light refracts. It refracts again when it hits the water, and so on. This very complicated interaction between glass, water and light is a lot easier than it used to be.”
The renderer freed up filmmakers to create more water effects like splashes. According to Chapman, there are two ways to get a standing wave to look good in the ocean. “One way is procedurally. The other way is simulation, which is like putting a bunch of particles that act like water in a big tank. You can put a character into that tank and let them splash around. But we can only do that in the immediate area surrounding the character, so ultimately we use both procedural and water simulation.”
Previously, artists utilized a lot of tricks and work-arounds. “If Dory jumps out of the water and falls back in, she creates a little splash,” explains Halstead. “We don’t actually have the computing power to treat that entire expanse of ocean in a three-dimensional simulation. It’s too much water for the computer to break down. In the past, we would just cut out a little hole in the middle of the ocean and use that to do a tiny 3D splash simulation, which is fine until we had to seamlessly integrate that back into the hole we’d created.”
Each had to be rendered separately and composited together. Patrick Coleman, global technology and simulation supervisor, oversaw the initial research and development of a new water pipeline. “It mathematically combines multiple parts behind the scenes,” says Coleman. “That way we have only one thing to render.”
By treating both the larger ocean and the smaller 3D splash simulation as water volumes, filmmakers were able to merge the volumes in a way that wasn’t previously possible. It eliminates the need to spend a lot of time reintroducing the smaller volume of water.
· The new renderer made white water more achievable. “We actually jammed tiny bubbles inside of the splash and allowed light rays to bounce around, which gives the appearance of being white,” says Chapman. “That’s a big step.”
Using a set of functions called Texel-Marsen-Arsloe, filmmakers were able to simulate the shapes of waves. “It takes into account the depth of the water, the speed, the direction of the wind, and produces very realistic waves,” says Halstead.
· The ability to have water break apart was also employed to improve the end look.
SOUNDS OF THE SEA
Composer Thomas Newman Returns to the Sea, While Singer-Songwriter Sia Becomes “Unforgettable”
“Finding Dory” welcomes back to the big screen Dory, friends Marlin and Nemo—and composer Thomas Newman. “To me, he was one of the cast members of ‘Finding Nemo,’” says director Andrew Stanton. “We formed a close relationship ever since, and now that he is behind the score for ‘Finding Dory,’ it fees like the last member of the family has arrived at the reunion.”
According to Stanton, scoring a film like “Finding Dory” with a composer like Newman takes the films to places he has yet to imagine. “It forces me to have to really explain out loud what my intentions are. It can lead to very intense conversation between the two of us. But I get so much out of it. I end up understanding my movie ten times better—it’s almost therapy for me. We just click.”
“There was no way I could not do “Finding Dory,” says Newman, who was nominated for an Oscar® for his work on “Finding Nemo” and won a Grammy® (best song written for motion picture, television or other visual media)on Stanton’s “WALL•E.” “It’s ironic that a movie about fish—some in aquariums, some in open water—has such a huge range of emotive possibilities—from the hysterical to the deeply profound and primally frightening. That’s exciting to ponder musically.”
According to Newman, the score is designed to support the film’s big themes of loss and the characters’ efforts to conquer their individual shortcomings. It also showcases the deeper, less sunny side of Dory’s personality. “Dory’s theme has a certain amount of quirkiness and a certain amount of sadness built in,” says the composer.
The goal, says Newman, is to complement the story. “If there’s humor or pathos, I want to bring it out, but I don’t want to re-describe it. I just want to underline it. I want to make it more of what it already is.
“I liken music to makeup on a face,” continues Newman. “At its worst, it’s garish and overdone. At its best, you don’t notice it and it brings out the best qualities.”
The “Finding Dory” score features both an orchestral and electronic approach, allowing the composer more flexibility. He employs dulcimer guitars, tympani drums and soprano vibraphones to support the storytelling in a unique way. “I have such a love of percussion color,” he says. “I like the high-metal rhythms and quirky sounds.”
The orchestra features 83 players.
Singer-songwriter Sia is on board “Finding Dory,” performing the film’s end-credit song, “Unforgettable.” American songwriter Irving Gordon wrote the song in 1951, and in 1992 won a Grammy® for it when Natalie Cole included the tribute to her late father on her album of duets. “Unforgettable” remains revered worldwide today.
Five-time Grammy® nominee Sia, who kicks off her 22-city North American “Nostalgic for the Present” tour on Sept. 29 in Seattle, agreed to sing the song when the voice of Dory herself made the request. “Dory's story makes me teary,” says Sia. “When Ellen asked me, I couldn't refuse!”
Director Andrew Stanton has long been a fan of the native Australian performer. “In the same way Robbie Williams did his own unique twist on a classic song for ‘Finding Nemo,’ Sia captures the soulful truth of the Nat King Cole classic ‘Unforgettable,’ and makes it all her own,” said Stanton. “They are a perfect complement to one another, just like the two films.”
The “Finding Dory” soundtrack, featuring Thomas Newman’s score and Sia’s rendition of “Unforgettable,” will be available from Walt Disney Records on June 17, 2016, wherever music is sold.
ABOUT THE VOICE CAST
Beloved television icon and entertainment pioneer ELLEN DEGENERES (voice of Dory) has a distinctive comic voice that has resonated with audiences from her first stand-up comedy appearances through her work today on television, in film and in the literary world.
DeGeneres has made a home for herself in daytime with her hit syndicated talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The show, now in its thirteenth season, has earned a total of 55 Daytime Emmy® Awards.
DeGeneres had the honor of hosting the highly rated 79th Annual Academy Awards® and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy® Award for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program. In 2014, DeGeneres hosted the 86th annual Academy Awards and garnered the telecast’s largest audience in 14 years, most famously breaking the Internet with the star-studded selfie that earned the title of the most re-tweets of all time.
DeGeneres also received critical success for her HBO stand-up specials. “The Beginning” received two Emmy® nominations in 2001 and the special entitled “Here and Now” was also nominated for two Emmys in 2004.
DeGeneres, an accomplished best-selling author, released her first home design book, “Home,” in Fall 2015. Additionally, DeGeneres has had three best-selling books: “Seriously…I’m Kidding,” which includes a compilation of comedic observations, quotes and stories from her life; “My Point…And I Do Have One”; and “The Funny Thing Is…”
DeGeneres recently launched ED by Ellen, a lifestyle brand inspired by her iconic style, values and personality that features an array of product categories including home, apparel and accessories. Recently, Bergdorf Goodman hosted exclusive online and in-store pop-up shops for ED where Ellen celebrated the brand. ED has also partnered with Gap Kids to create Gap x ED, a brand collaboration focused on empowering and supporting girls, and has also teamed up with leading fashion footwear distributor, Camuto Group, to create a collection of shoes. The line launched in March 2016 at Nordstrom to great success. In addition, ED also launched a line of bedding exclusively for Bed, Bath & Beyond this April. The brand's flagship e-commerce site EDbyEllen.com launched in June 2015, receiving more than 190,000 registered users on its first day, with key items selling out across multiple categories.
In 2010, DeGeneres signed a multiyear exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Television Group and she founded A Very Good Production. She teamed up with Steve Harvey to executive produce NBC’s “Little Big Shots,” an hour-long show hosted by Harvey that highlights the world’s most talented kids. With the show’s instant success, it was renewed for a second season.
Additional projects include NBC’s “First Dates,” a voyeuristic look at a variety of real first dates happening throughout one night at the same restaurant, and Dr.Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” set to air on Netflix in 2018.
DeGeneres has been successful in her feature film work, scoring unprecedented popular and critical response to her character Dory in the blockbuster animated feature “Finding Nemo.” “Finding Dory,” the highly anticipated sequel to “Finding Nemo,” opens June 17, 2016.
DeGeneres’ began her career as an emcee at a local comedy club in her hometown of New Orleans. Her acting career in television included roles in several successful sitcoms before being offered a part on “These Friends of Mine” by ABC. After the first season, the show was renamed “Ellen.” Running from 1994 to 1998, “Ellen” garnered record ratings, with DeGeneres receiving Emmy® nominations each season in the best actress category. In 1997, DeGeneres was the recipient of the coveted Peabody Award as well as earning an Emmy® for writing the critically acclaimed “Puppy Episode,” in which her character came out as a gay woman to a record 46 million viewers.
Both on and off screen, DeGeneres’ humanitarian efforts take center stage. DeGeneres brought awareness to the anti-bullying issue by creating a PSA titled “Be Kind.” Overall, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has raised more than $50 million for various causes, including global warming and breast cancer awareness.
DeGeneres has become a sought-after spokesperson and has been featured in highly successful and popular campaigns, including American Express and CoverGirl.
ALBERT BROOKS (voice of Marlin) is among the most inventive practitioners of motion picture comedy, as well as one of its most incisive commentators on contemporary life. Brooks began his career as a stand-up comic and went on to become an award-winning actor, writer and filmmaker, and best-selling author.
His first novel “2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America,” published in 2011, was a New York Times best seller.
Brooks has written, directed and starred in several feature films, many of which have been named among the best comedies of all time from numerous critics and The American Film Institute: “Real Life,” “Modern Romance,” “Lost in America,” “Defending Your Life,” “Mother,” “The Muse” and “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.”
Brooks is also known for his numerous voiceover characters, which include Hank Scorpio, Brad Goodman and Jacques the bowling instructor from “The Simpsons.” He also starred in Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” playing Nemo’s father Marlin. The filmreceived an Academy Award® for best animated feature and has become one of the highest-grossing animated films ever made.
Brooks made his feature film-acting debut in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic “Taxi Driver.” His other acting credits include “Private Benjamin,” “Unfaithfully Yours,” “I’ll Do Anything,” “This is 40,” “Out of Sight” and “My First Mister.” He earned an Academy Award® nomination for his performance in “Broadcast News.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Brooks studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University before starting his performing career in 1968, doing stand-up comedy on network television. He began on “The Steve Allen Show” and later became a regular on “The Dean Martin Show,” and performed on such variety programs as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Hollywood Palace,” and had more than 40 appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
Brooks has recorded two comedy albums: “Comedy Minus One” and “A Star is Bought,” the latter earning him a Grammy® nomination for best comedy recording. His first directorial effort was in 1972 for the PBS series “The Great American Dream Machine,” for which he adapted an article he had written for Esquire Magazine, “Albert Brooks’ Famous School for Comedians” into a short film. Following this, he created six short films for the debut season of “Saturday Night Live,” originating the short film concept for that program.
His recent role in “Drive” as the villain Bernie Rose garnered him a Golden Globe® nomination and 17 best supporting actor wins from the country’s major critics groups, including The National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. He co-starred with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac in J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year,” which, among other awards, was named best film from The National Board of Review. Brooks appeared in 2015’s “Concussion” with Will Smith.
He is married to artist Kimberly Brooks and has two children.
ED O’NEILL (voice of Hank) stars as the patriarch Jay Pritchett on “Modern Family.” The role has garnered him three Emmy® nominations for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series.
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, O’Neill attended Ohio University in Athens, and Youngstown State University. Signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, O’Neill was cut in training camp and worked as a social studies teacher before becoming an actor. He has appeared in a number of movies, including “The Bone Collector,” “Little Giants,” “Dutch,” “Wayne’s World” series and several films for Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter David Mamet: “The Spanish Prisoner,” “Spartan” and the indie film “Redbelt.”
Best known for his role as Al Bundy on the FOX Network’s long-running sitcom “Married... with Children,” O’Neill’s television credits include the reincarnation of Sgt. Joe Friday on Dick Wolf's remake of “Dragnet,” the recurring role of Baker (D-PA), a potential vice presidential candidate, on the NBC drama “The West Wing,” the role of Detective Michael Mooney on David Milch’s CBS series “Big Apple,” and that of a retired cop on HBO’s “John from Cincinnati,” from the creator/producer of “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood.” O’Neill also had stints on Broadway, starring in the productions “Lakeboat” and “Keep Your Pantheon.”
HAYDEN ROLENCE (voice of Nemo) is a 12-year-old boy from Aurora, Ill., who’s been acting and modeling since age 4. Beginning with print advertisements for various clothing, toy and children's items, Rolence has represented national brands such as Land of Nod, CVS and SC Johnson. He quickly moved to on-camera work, doing many commercials in the Chicagoland area. Some commercial credits include spots for Allstate, Professional Golfers Association and Sears.
Rolence developed a reputation for easily taking direction and being mature beyond his years. His ability to memorize and recite lines of dialogue would get him cast in many short films such as “Cicero in Winter” with Daniel J. Travanti. He’s also screen tested with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.
Particularly well suited for voiceover work, Rolence has been the voice of many commercials and children’s products. He has worked with David Lewis, Jeff France (storyco.tv), Jon Moore (Dictionary Films) and many local filmmakers. Rolence even did a live reading at a corporate event for Groupon in front of the entire company.
An avid golfer, Rolence spends his spare time playing for a local club’s golf team. He also hones his musical skills by singing and playing the piano that he has played since age 4. Rolence enjoys learning, particularly mathematics and science. Most of all, he likes to act, because it allows him to experience new things and go to new places with his parents and sister, Meadow, who takes after her brother and is also in the acting business.
KAITLIN OLSON (voice of Destiny) is one reason women are fast becoming a force in the comedy world. Well known for her unique blend of character and comedic acting, she has left her mark on some of television’s hottest shows.
Olson stars on the critically-acclaimed FXX cult hit “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which entered its eleventh season in January 2016. The press has picked up on her performance as Sweet Dee, declaring her “the next queen of comedy.” Olson can also be seen as Ashley in her much-buzzed-about role on Fox’s “New Girl.”
Olson recently appeared in Fox’s hit comedy “The Heat,” opposite Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock and directed by Paul Feig. Feature credits include Universal’s romantic comedy “Leap Year,” in which she starred opposite Amy Adams, and the festival darling “Weather Girl,” opposite Jane Lynch and Mark Harmon.
Olson has been praised for crafting unique and memorable characters that recur on several shows. On “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” she plays Larry’s sister-in-law Becky. On FX’s “The Riches,” she played the one-armed neighbor Hartley Underwood. And on “The Drew Carey Show,” she was Mimi’s nemesis Traylor for two seasons.
Also known for her Improv talent, Olson began her career with a highly coveted spot in The Groundlings Sunday Company, a training ground for such comics as Will Ferrell and Phil Hartman. The showcase led to her casting in several Improv/hidden camera shows, including “Punk’d,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” and “Meet the Marks.” She was also a series regular on FOX’s “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show.”
Olson was born and raised in Tigard, Ore., and graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in theatre arts. She lives in Los Angeles with husband Rob McElhenney and sons Axel and Leo.
With a range of performances across television, contemporary film and classic theater, award-winning actor TY BURRELL (voice of Bailey) continues to prove himself as one of the finest and most versatile actors today.
Burrell reprises his starring role as Phil Dunphy on the eighth season of ABC's critically acclaimed hit “Modern Family.” He won the Emmy® Award for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series in 2014 and 2011, and has been nominated four other times in the same category. In 2014, Burrell won the Screen Actors Guild Award® for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series and has been nominated five other times. In 2013, Burrell won the Monte Carlo International Television Festival Award in the category of outstanding actor in a comedy series. In 2012 he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for the best supporting actor in a comedy series and Comedy Central honored Burrell with the 2012 Comedy Award in the category of performance by an actor – TV. Burrell also shared the Television Critics Association (TCA) Award with Nick Offerman for individual achievement in comedy in August 2012. Burrell garnered other notable nominations from the Teen Choice Awards, the TCA Awards, the People's Choice Awards, the American Comedy Awards and the Kids' Choice Awards, all for his role on the series. “Modern Family” itself has won best comedy at the Emmy® Awards five years in a row as well as the Screen Actors Guild Awards® for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
On the big screen, Burrell will lend his voice to the Warner Animation Group’s “Storks,” with Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer. The film is set in a world where storks deliver packages for a retail giant instead of babies. The film opens on Sept. 23, 2016.
In 2014, Burrell signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind the acclaimed comedy series “Modern Family.” Under the pact, Burrell launched his production company, Wedding Punch, where he will co-create and write comedy projects as well as develop shows from other writers. The deal is strictly for writing and producing as he continues to be exclusive to “Modern Family” for acting. In September 2015, Burrell acquired his first sale with a put pilot commitment at FOX for single-camera comedy “Hosed,” a workplace comedy about volunteer firefighters. Burrell executive produces alongside the show’s writer, Luvh Rakhe, as well as his Wedding Punch partners, Johnny Meeks, Joel Spence and Mel Cowan.
Burrell was seen in Craig Johnson's indie film “The Skeleton Twins.” The drama, based on a script co-written by Johnson and Mark Heyman, also starred Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig; it was released in September 2014. Earlier that same year, Burrell voiced the lead role of Mr. Peabody in the DreamWorks Animation 3D feature “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” a film based on the classic 1960s cartoon characters that appeared as part of “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” He also starred in “Muppets Most Wanted,” opposite Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey. The film was the follow up to 2011’s “The Muppets.”
Additional film credits include The Weinstein Company's “Butter,” opposite Jennifer Garner; Christopher Neil's film “Goats”; Roger Michell's “Morning Glory,” opposite Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton; Universal's “The Incredible Hulk,” opposite Edward Norton and Liv Tyler for Louis Leterrier; “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” opposite Nicolas Cage; Steven Shainberg's “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus”; Nicole Holofcener's “Friends With Money,” opposite Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Jennifer Aniston; Finn Taylor's romantic comedy “The Darwin Awards”; David Jacobson's “Down in the Valley,” opposite Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood; the Weitz brothers' “In Good Company”; Ridley Scott's “Black Hawk Down”; “Dawn of the Dead”; and Ivan Reitman's “Evolution.”
On stage, Burrell starred to incredible reviews in the world premiere of Caryl Churchill's two-hander play “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You” at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Burrell's extensive Broadway and Off-Broadway theater credits include the highly acclaimed Signature Theater Off-Broadway production of “Burn This,” opposite Edward Norton, Catherine Keener and Dallas Roberts; starring as Lord Buckingham in the Public Theater's production of “Richard III,” opposite Peter Dinklage and directed by Peter DuBois; and starring opposite Debra Monk and Judy Greer in Paul Weitz's “Show People,” directed by Peter Askin at Second Stage Theater.
Burrell currently resides in Los Angeles.
EUGENE LEVY (voice of Charlie) has appeared in more than 60 motion pictures to-date, seven of which having topped the $100M mark. His box-office success in films like “Bringing Down the House,” “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” and “Father of the Bride Part II” have established him as one of Hollywood’s most popular comedic actors. But it was the role of Jim’s dad in the “American Pie” franchise that cemented his reputation as America’s favorite dad.
Partnering with Christopher Guest, Levy earned critical acclaim for co-writing and co-starring in “Best in Show,” “Waiting for Guffman,” “For Your Consideration” and “A Mighty Wind.” Levy has been nominated for and won countless awards, including a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a Grammy Award® for “A Mighty Wind.” He received a Golden Globe® nomination for “Best in Show” and two Emmys® for his writing on “SCTV.” Levy’s earlier films include “Splash,” “Armed and Dangerous,” “Multiplicity,” “Club Paradise” and “Serendipity.”
In 2013, Levy formed Not A Real Company Productions (with his son Daniel Levy and principals Andrew Barnsley and Fred Levy) to produce “Schitt’s Creek,” a television series for CBC/ITV he co-created, co-executive produces and co-stars in with Daniel Levy. The single-cam, character-driven comedy also stars Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott. “Schitt’s Creek” is currently shooting its third season.
Levy is a member of the Order of Canada.
In March 2016, Levy won best actor in a comedy at the Canadian Screen Awards and, as executive producer, he shared the CSA award for best comedy (“Schitt’s Creek”) with his son Daniel Levy, among others. “Schitt’s Creek” swept the Canadian Screen Awards, winning nine of a possible ten categories. Levy also received the prestigious legacy award (along with co-star and long-time collaborator Catherine O’Hara) from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
ANDREW STANTON (Directed by/Original Story by/Screenplay by)has been a major creative force at Pixar Animation Studios since 1990, when he became the second animator and ninth employee to join the company’s elite group of computer animation pioneers. As vice president, creative, he leads the initiatives of and oversees all features and shorts development of the studio. Stanton wrote and directed the Academy Award®-winning Disney•Pixar feature film “WALL•E,” for which he received an Oscar-nomination for best original screenplay.
Stanton made his directorial debut with the record-shattering “Finding Nemo,” an original story of his that he also co-wrote. The film garnered Stanton an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay and “Finding Nemo” was awarded an Oscar® for best animated feature of 2003, the first such honor Pixar Animation Studios received for a full-length feature film.
One of the four screenwriters to receive an Oscar® nomination in 1996 for his contribution to “Toy Story,” Stanton went on to receive credit as a screenwriter on every subsequent Pixar film – “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.” Additionally, he served as co-director on “A Bug’s Life,” and was the executive producer of “Monsters, Inc.” and “Monsters University,” and Academy Award®-winning films “Ratatouille” and “Brave,” plus the studio’s Fall 2015 release “The Good Dinosaur.”
In addition to his multi-award-winning animation work, Stanton made his live-action writing and directorial debut with Disney’s “John Carter,” released in March 2012.
A native of Rockport, Mass., Stanton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in character animation from California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), where he completed two student films. In the 1980s, he launched his professional career in Los Angeles, animating for Bill Kroyer’s Kroyer Films studio, and writing for Ralph Bakshi’s production of “Mighty Mouse, The New Adventures” (1987).
ANGUS MACLANE (Co-Directed by) joined Pixar Animation Studios as an animator in June 1997. MacLane has since worked on a number of Pixar’s features, including “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and the Academy Award®-winning films “The Incredibles,” “WALL•E” and “Toy Story 3.” For his work on “The Incredibles,” MacLane was awarded an Annie Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for outstanding achievement in character animation.
In addition to his work on features, MacLane has contributed his talents to a number of short films, including the Academy Award®-winning shorts “Geri’s Game” and “For the Birds.” He also acted as the supervising animator for the Oscar®-nominated short “One Man Band.” MacLane made his directorial debut with the direct-to-DVD short film “BURN•E,” released with the “WALL•E” DVD, followed by the Toy Story Toon entitled “Small Fry,” which screened in theaters with Disney’s “The Muppets.” MacLane directed Pixar’s first ever television special, — “Toy Story OF TERROR!”— and won an Annie Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for outstanding achievement in direction.
MacLane grew up in Portland, Ore., and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design. He resides in Berkeley with his wife and their two children.
LINDSEY COLLINS (Produced by) joined Pixar Animation Studios in May 1997. She has worked in various capacities on a number of Pixar’s feature films. Collins’ film credits include “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2” and the Academy Award®-winning films “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille.” Collins also provided the voice of the character Mia in Pixar’s 2006 release, “Cars.”
Collins co-produced the Golden Globe®- and Oscar®-winning feature “WALL•E” with producer Jim Morris and director Andrew Stanton. She produced the Disney Studios live-action feature “John Carter.”
Prior to joining Pixar, Collins worked at Disney Feature Animation for three years, managing creative teams on the films “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Hercules.”
Collins earned a Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She resides in Oakland, Calif., with her husband and three children.
JOHN LASSETER (Executive Producer) creatively oversees all films and associated projects from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and Disneytoon Studios, in addition to his involvement in a wide range of activities at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lasseter made his feature directorial debut in 1995 with “Toy Story,” the first-ever feature-length computer-animated film, for which he received a Special Achievement Oscar® recognizing his inspired leadership of the “Toy Story” team. He and the rest of the screenwriting team earned an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay, marking the first time an animated feature had ever been recognized in that category. Lasseter also directed “A Bug’s Life” (1998), “Toy Story 2” (1999), “Cars” (2006) and “Cars 2” (2011). He is currently directing Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” which is slated for release on June 15, 2018.
Lasseter was executive producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Oscar®-winning features “Big Hero 6” (2014) and “Frozen” (2013), which also won an Oscar for best original song (“Let It Go”). Since assuming creative oversight of both animation studios in 2006, Lasseter has served as executive producer on all Walt Disney Animation Studios’ features, including “Bolt” (2008), “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), “Tangled” (2010), “Winnie the Pooh” (2011), “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) and this year’s “Zootopia” and “Moana.” He also serves as executive producer for Disneytoon Studios’ films, including “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast.”
Lasseter has executive-produced all Pixar features since “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), including the studio’s eight Academy Award® winners: “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Ratatouille” (2007), “WALL•E” (2008), “Up” (2009), “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Brave” (2012) and “Inside Out” (2015). To date, Pixar’s films have earned $9.6 billion in gross box-office receipts, with 14 of 16 features opening at No. 1.
Lasseter wrote, directed and animated Pixar’s first short films, including “Luxo Jr.,” “Red’s Dream,” “Tin Toy” and “Knick Knack.” “Luxo Jr.” was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award® when it was nominated for best animated short film in 1986; “Tin Toy” was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to win an Academy Award when it was named best animated short film (1988). Lasseter has executive-produced all of the studio’s subsequent shorts, including the Academy Award-winning shorts “Geri’s Game” (1997) and “For the Birds” (2000), plus “La Luna” (2011), “The Blue Umbrella” (2013), “Lava,” (2015), “Sanjay’s Super Team” (2015) and the upcoming “Piper,” which opens in front of “Finding Dory.” He also serves as executive producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios shorts, including the Oscar®-winning shorts “Feast” (2014) and “Paperman” (2012), as well as “Get a Horse!” (2013), “Frozen Fever” (2015) and the upcoming “Inner Workings.”
In his role as principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, Lasseter was instrumental in bringing the beloved characters and settings of Radiator Springs to life for Disneyland Resort guests with the successful 2012 launch of Cars Land, a massive 12-acre expansion at Disney California Adventure Park.
In 2009, Lasseter was honored at the 66th Venice International Film Festival with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The following year, he became the first producer of animated films to receive the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures. Lasseter’s other recognitions include the 2004 outstanding contribution to cinematic imagery award from the Art Directors Guild, an honorary degree from the American Film Institute, and the 2008 Winsor McCay Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for career achievement and contribution to the art of animation.
Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, Lasseter was a member of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd., where he designed and animated “The Adventures of André & Wally B.,” the first-ever piece of character-based three-dimensional computer animation, and the computer-generated Stained Glass Knight character in the 1985 Steven Spielberg–produced film “Young Sherlock Holmes.”
Lasseter was part of the inaugural class of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his B.F.A. in film in 1979. He is the only two-time winner of the Student Academy Award for Animation, for his CalArts student films “Lady and the Lamp” (1979) and “Nitemare” (1980). His very first award came at the age of 5, when he won $15 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, Calif., for a crayon drawing of the Headless Horseman.
A native New Yorker, VICTORIA STROUSE (Screenplay by) is proud to have received her MFA from USC's graduate screenwriting program. After graduating from USC, she sold her first screenplay, “Mary Jane's Last Dance,” to MGM. It was later made into the feature film “New Best Friend.” Her second screenplay, “Just Like a Woman,” was purchased by New Line Cinema. In between script sales, Strouse has sold several television pilots, been hired to write for major studios, and has written on the television shows “Angela's Eyes” and “October Road.” In 2008, her script “Seekers of Perpetual Love” was featured on the prestigious Black List, and, in 2010, she was the on-set writer for Universal's “Little Fockers.” Strouse is currently writing the feature film “Tink” for Disney, and recently sold an original feature screenplay to Universal.
THOMAS NEWMAN (Music by) is widely acclaimed as one of today’s most prominent composers for film. He has composed music for more than 50 motion pictures and television series and has earned 13 Academy Award® nominations and six GRAMMY® Awards.
He is the youngest son of Alfred Newman (1900-1970), the longtime musical director of 20th Century Fox and the composer of scores for such films as “Wuthering Heights,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “All About Eve.” As a child, Thomas Newman pursued basic music and piano studies. However, it was not until after his father’s death that the younger Newman, then age 14, felt charged with the desire to write.
Newman studied composition and orchestration at USC with Professor Frederick Lesemann and noted film composer David Raksin, and privately with composer George Tremblay. Newman completed his academic work at Yale University, studying with Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie and Robert Moore. Newman also gratefully acknowledges the early influence of another prominent musician, the legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who served as a great mentor and champion.
A turning point in Newman’s career took place while he was working as a musical assistant on the 1984 film, “Reckless,” for which he soon was promoted to the position of composer. And so, at the age of 27, Newman successfully composed his first film score. Since then he has contributed distinctive and evocative scores to numerous acclaimed films, including “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “The Lost Boys,” “The Rapture,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “The Player,” “Scent of a Woman,” “Flesh and Bone,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Little Women,” “American Buffalo,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “Oscar and Lucinda,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Meet Joe Black,” “American Beauty,” “The Green Mile,” “Erin Brockovich,” “In the Bedroom,” “Road to Perdition,” “Finding Nemo,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Cinderella Man,” “Jarhead,” “Little Children,” “The Good German,” “Revolutionary Road” and WALL•E. Newman’s more recent projects include “The Debt,” “The Adjustment Bureau,” “The Help,” “The Iron Lady,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Skyfall,” “Spectre,” “Side Effects,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Judge” and Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.” Newman also composed the music for HBO’s acclaimed six-hour miniseries “Angels in America,” directed by Mike Nichols. Newman received an Emmy® Award for his theme for the HBO original series “Six Feet Under.”
In addition to his work in film and television, Newman has composed several works for the concert stage, including the symphonic work “Reach Forth Our Hands,” commissioned in 1996 by the Cleveland Orchestra to commemorate their city’s bicentennial, as well as “At Ward’s Ferry, Length 180 ft.,” a concerto for double bass and orchestra commissioned in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Symphony. His latest concert piece was a chamber work entitled “It Got Dark,” commissioned by the acclaimed Kronos Quartet in 2009. As part of a separate commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the work was expanded and adapted for symphony orchestra and string quartet, and premiered at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2009. In October 2014, Newman and musician Rick Cox released “35 Whirlpools Below Sound,” an evocative, contemporary collection of avant-garde electronic soundscapes that the two collaborators developed over a period of 25 years, and which constitutes a fascinating departure from Newman’s work in film music.
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