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The process of movie making entails four stages, development, pre-production, production and post-production. The development stage involves the process of creating the story line. At the pre-production level the technical challenges are addressed. It is in the production stage that the actual filming takes place and polishing of the movie is done at the post production stage. The Pixar process through which Monster Inc passes is detailed below.
Step1: This step entails explaining of the idea about the movie to the audience and the members of the development team. At this stage the originality of the idea is pivotal as it translates to how viable the movie is. The idea of Sulley and Mike working for Monsters Inc is an incredible idea and so is the inclusion of Boo. The work was developed from the two artists namely Docter and Grant. The adult man had the childhood drawings come to life and start plaguing on his existence. He could see the monsters but the other could not. The monsters represented the fears he had to deal with as a kid and which he did not. However, these monsters disappeared at he continued to overcome these fears.
Step 2: this idea is then written down in what is referred to as ‘text treatment.’ It also worth mentioning that it necessary to come up with many text treatments as they help in opening up the possibilities available. In addition, such treatments help to refine the main idea of the story. For instance, the initial idea was to have a 32 year old man who could see the monsters but which was later changed to an innocent girl.
Step 3: Elisabeth (12) defines storyboards as the graphic organizers which could include illustrations and images and are necessary in the movie making process for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture. It is a tedious and intricate process and was developed in Walt Disney Studio in 1930s. This concept of story boards is credited to Webb Smith where scenes would be drawn in different sheets of paper and would be pinned on a bulletin board (Mark 65). This proved effective in telling a story in a sequence. The Monster Inc incorporates story boards and is better described as a hand drawn comic book version. The artists receive the scripts and they are then expected to make the drawings. The sequences by the artists utilize the emotions from the scripts to be able to make the illustrations. The drawn out sequence is then handed to the director of Monster Inc.
Step 4: In making of the Monster Inc movie the scratch voice is used to the story board reels. However, professional actors are hired when the story and the dialogue have been perfected. It is also worth noting that the actors hired need not depend on the script alone but also need to improvise to make the movie interesting. The actors hired for different role in Monster Inc then record the lines in different ways and the best ones are chosen. However, if the scratch voices are good enough then there will we no need to follow the rest of the process. Sulley the massive monster who finds himself in trouble was played by John Goodman who had a rich and wide vocal range. His voice also similar to that of a bear and it seemed to fit to this role. Finding the voice for Boo was challenging and it is the voice of Mary Gibbs who plays this role that brought the energy needed. In addition she was playful and fit in well in this role.
Step 5: This is the stage where by the illustration by the story board is developed into a reel. The reel is able to tell a story without the need to have a pitcher person to tell the story behind the shooting of Monster Inc. This process is pivotal in the making of Monster Inc as it helps in validating the sequence of the story. The editorial of Monster Inc also takes this chance to ascertain the elements required for each shot. For instance, in this movie Joe Rauft did the story board and also was the scratch voice of Sullivan.
Step 6: The art department utilizes the work from the above process and brings life to the scenes. In particular this involves creating inspirational art, illustrating the world and the characters. In addition, the artists also design sets, props, visual looks for surfaces and colors which will be necessary lighting. In looking for the style of Monstropolis the production designers had to go to view different locations which could inspire the design of the movie. 22 different sets were designed for the movie and some of theses sets included the Boo’s bedroom, sushi eatery, Harryhausen’s and home of yeti.
Step 7: This step is another tedious task in the making of Monster Inc. The characters, sets and props to be used are sculpted by hand and then scanned in three dimensions. These elements are then given avars and the animators use them to make the movements. In this movie the clay sculptures were made and then digitized for the main characters. For the rest of the monsters they were created by the computer using the kit of virtual parts. It is also worth noting that in order to give the animators a lot of movement those modeling the characters used Geppetto; a program used to add more controls.
Step 8: This is an interesting stage where the sets are dressed with prop models in bringing out a realistic scene. It also worth noting that those charged with this task, work closely with the director in ensuring his vision of Monster Inc is being actualized. For instance in making the monsters colorful, the city and the factory had to be muted.
Step 9: The real work of taking shots then starts and the story is translated into 3-dimensional scenes. This stage is involving for the layout crew of Monster Inc, who use a virtual camera to create shots while capturing the emotion of each scene. Multiple shots are created for each scene and this helps the editorial team to make the best choice of the shots that will give the maximums story telling effect.
Step 10: At this point the layout, dialog, sound, character and models are already done and the animators choreograph the movements and facial expressions of the characters and this is done for each and every scene. Computer controls are used and avars are also necessary at this point. The movement of the Boss shirt and Sullivan long fluid fur posed a great challenge. How do you animate every wrinkle in both of theses two characters’ clothes? This required the use of simulations that would automatically generate such movements. Similarly, for Boo having the hair was another problem and Docter found a ‘temporary solution’ by use of pigtails which were easier to animate. However, this was also complicated by the fact that these movements needed to be realistic. In particular, the Boo’s shirt had to drape in an aesthetically appealing way and Sulley’s hair had to stick out attractively as well. The animator John Kahrs was in-charge of Sulley and lead animator for Boo was Dave DeVan.
Step 11: At this point the shading is done to bringing out different color effects. In shooting of Monster Inc this was done by using software which allowed complex variations where the color shifted with the lighting.
Step 12: It is the lighting that completes the whole picture and at this stage the key, fill and bounce lights become important in enhancing the mood and emotion of the characters in the scene (Richard 45). The room ambience is also defined in creating a realistic and giving out the right impression.
Step 13: At last the sets, colors, character movement are put in one frame. The Pixar’s process used in making the Monster Inc utilized a huge computer system which interpreted the data and incorporated the motion blur. After this was done the completion of Monster Inc required final touches from the various departments. For instance the special effects and sound effects were added. In particular, the photo-science department recorded the digital frames in readiness for projection.
Elisabeth, Weis Film Sound: Theory and Practice. Columbia University Press, 1985
Mark, CottaVaz. The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting, Chronicle Books, 2004
Richard, Reckitt. Special Effects: The History and Technique, Billboard Books; 2nd edition, 2007
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