I did receive an all expenses paid trip to The Good Dinosaur and Pixar Studios, but all fan girling is my own.
One of the best parts of The Good Dinosaur trip was the first hand experiences that we were able to have. When you go to the movies, you usually go to be entertained and don’t really think about all the work and inspiration that goes into make a Pixar movie fantastic. One of the evenings during our Pixar Studios tour (check out the post about that Pixar Studios tour here) we had a chance to sit around the campfire to chat with The Good Dinosaur director Peter Sohn, Producer Denise Ream, and Supervising Technical Director Sanjay Bakshi. They gave us a virtual tour of their research trip. This helped them find the place where The Good Dinosaur would take place.
Since the director and producers didn’t have a time warp machine that could take them back to the times of the dinosaurs, the Pixar team had to get a little bit creative with their scene study. When brainstorming, they wanted to visit places across the United States where dinosaurs could’ve roamed. This way they could have an idea of what it would be like to be The Good Dinosaur going on a journey. For their field study, they went to Wyoming and the base of the Grand Teton Mountains. When they talk about research, they aren’t playing. They even rode on the rough and rocky trails on horseback to get the true feeling what a journey through the Grand Tetons would be like.
The Snake River was like the Yellow Brick Road in The Good Dinosaur – Director Peter Sohn
It was really amazing to see just how far Pixar goes to make sure that they get everything right in their movies. It never occurred to me that they would need to study the environment of a fictional character by going to a real place. That’s one of the things that I learned over and over again during my Pixar tour, they use so much of real life to inspire the animated movies. Movement, locations, people, weather; it all inspires what makes Pixar great.
One of my favorite parts of the campfire, beyond the great company, was a story they shared about a lost GoPro. During part of their trip, they went on a white water rafting trip. There is a scene in The Good Dinosaur that features pretty prominantly when Arlo falls into a river and it takes him far away from home. To get the sense of what it would be like to ride a raging river. (Talk about commitment)
During another boat ride, they had attached a GoPro to the front of the boat, so they could see the river’s movement. It wasn’t long before they realized that the GoPro had fallen off the boat, and all their amazing footage had found a watery grave. (or so they thought)
With a leap like lightning, their guide jumped out of the boat. He raced down the river, looking at the pace of the water as he strided to an embankment. With a galliant plunge into the water, he shoved his hand all the way to the bottom of the river, and came up with the GoPro in his hand victoriously! Needless to say the crew was dumbfounded. They had no idea how their guide had pulled off this magic trick.
What they learned is that in this area of the country it’s all about being one with the land. Knowing your surroundings can mean life or death, in this case the death of a GoPro. The guide’s ability to read the currents of the river allowed him to estimate where the camera could’ve traveled since it had fallen off, and his experience and knowledge paid off.
It was really an honor to hear the stories and tales that came from their research trips to the Grand Tetons. It really makes me want to see the whole movie The Good Dinosaur, coming out November 25th, so I can see the parts of the moving that their trips inspired. If you learn anything from my Pixar posts, remember that a whole lot of heart and inspiration goes into making films that you and your family will enjoy. Take it all in, appreciate the labor of love that Pixar puts into each and every Pixar film. Plus, go see The Good Dinosaur and see if you can spot where the Grand Tetons and the Snake River inspired the movie!
Love this post? Then make sure to check out these great posts too!
Join our newsletter
Sign up to get the latest recipes, tips, motivational articles, and crazy stories delivered straight to your inbox.