The Good Dinosaur: Pixar’s Natural Landscapes


A brief analysis of the natural landscapes of Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. Specifically, I take a look at how and why they generated such realistic terrain.


Transcript Provided by YouTube:

00:02
[Music]
00:04
with their impeccable storytelling and
00:07
emotionally complex characters Pixar’s
00:09
come to dominate the animated feature
00:11
industry and in spite of the child
00:13
oriented narratives the moviemaking
00:14
powerhouse in beers each of their movies
00:17
with a certain maturity but if you look
00:19
past the narratives and unique
00:21
characters and Lamont network
00:23
masterfully lit textured and modeled
00:26
landscapes helped to bring the world to
00:27
Pixar’s films to life and nowhere is
00:30
this more true than the natural
00:31
environments of the studio’s 2015 movie
00:34
The Good dinosaur movies landscapes
00:37
force your jaws to drop and at times
00:39
seem to be indistinguishable from their
00:41
real-life counterparts so today I want
00:43
to dive into how Pixar has managed to
00:45
create such beautiful computer-generated
00:47
natural imagery and also interrogate why
00:50
movies like The Good dinosaur strive for
00:53
realistic natural world when everything
00:55
else is so stylized in part the photo
01:01
realism of the good dinosaurs landscapes
01:04
can be attributed to extensive location
01:06
scouting and geological research and the
01:09
redirector and some of the crews spend
01:10
time exploring the wilderness areas in
01:12
and around Jackson Wyoming in hopes of
01:15
gaining inspiration for the movies
01:17
imagery and tone and Wyoming’s natural
01:20
vistas clearly made their mark in
01:22
conjunction with this fieldwork set
01:24
supervisor David Mooney and his team
01:26
adapted over 64,000 square miles of
01:29
terrain data from the US Geological
01:30
Survey in order to accurately reflect
01:33
America’s natural environment needless
01:36
to say a lot of time and technical
01:38
expertise went into making a
01:39
computer-generated world seem like a
01:42
real one but the natural landscapes of
01:44
the protagonists are low traverses
01:46
aren’t just there to look pretty they
01:48
actually play a key role in shaping the
01:50
emotional themes of the movie
01:52
indeed the environment of the good
01:53
dinosaur demonstrate the visual power of
01:56
nature to imbue scenes with emotion in
01:58
speaking about the movies environments
02:00
director of photography Sharon Callahan
02:03
notes we want to support the film
02:05
emotionally it’s more than just the
02:06
light it’s how the weather and the
02:08
colors and everything makes you feel and
02:11
you see this use of landscape
02:13
sentiment in shots like this here are
02:15
low finally realizes just how far from
02:17
home he really is the helicopter asked
02:20
shots position are low in such a way
02:22
that he seems to be almost consumed by
02:24
the surrounding trees and mountains give
02:27
a sneeze simultaneously becomes a
02:29
beautiful image and a seemingly
02:30
insurmountable obstacle so just by
02:33
seeing the endless expanse of trees we
02:35
immediately empathize with our lows dire
02:38
situation the photo realism of the good
02:40
dinosaurs landscape also lends a certain
02:43
reality and urgency to our loads world
02:45
because we can almost reach out and
02:47
touch the swaying trees or flowing water
02:49
the movie games of physicality despite
02:52
the stylize aesthetics of its characters
02:54
Callaghan reveals that Pixar one of the
02:57
movie to be believable if Arlo fell in
03:00
his knee it would hurt that the water
03:02
seems cold but you can breathe the air
03:04
and feel the wind so Callaghan lends
03:07
authenticity and tangibility to an
03:09
otherwise supernatural world by placing
03:11
the protagonist in photorealistic
03:13
environments that echo ones many of us
03:16
have experienced thus when we see the
03:18
computer rendered image of clawtooth
03:20
mountain we know what that might feel
03:22
like because we’ve seen or experienced
03:24
the Tetons in Wyoming or when we watch
03:27
Arlo and his friends wrangle a herd of
03:29
Longhorns we’re reminded of imagery of
03:31
Buffalo roaming the Midwestern Plains
03:33
and can immediately conjure up the smell
03:35
of dust in the air or the sight of a
03:37
wide-open sky ultimately the good
03:40
dinosaur is groundbreaking natural
03:42
elements reveal a common theme among
03:44
movies that invest time in highlighting
03:46
the grandeur of the protagonists
03:48
surroundings it not only shows that
03:50
nature imagery can at times capture the
03:52
essence of emotions more effectively
03:55
than any dialogue ever could but it also
03:57
lends a realism to an otherwise unreal
03:59
experience this video is made possible
04:06
in part by the wonderful people who
04:07
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04:09
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04:10
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04:13
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04:17
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04:19
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04:21
always if you like what you just saw
04:22
shared around
04:23
and subscribe thanks so much for
04:25
watching and I’ll see you next Friday


This post was previously published on YouTube.

Photo credit: Screenshot from video.