What Does Joy Have to Do with Pixar’s Inside Out?

I present to you: Joy, the star of Pixar Animation Studios’ newest film, Inside Out! Voiced by the lively Amy Poehler, this delightful, glittery character works alongside the other emotions to power Riley’s mind!

 Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.14.12 AM

The genius behind these adorable, quirky emotions? None other than Albert Lozano, Pixar’s resident Character Art Director and production artist (Up, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo). On Tuesday, April 14th, Lozano visited the USC School of Cinematic Arts to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie from storyboarding, casting and drawing to post-production! Director Pete Docter reeled Lozano into working on another film by telling him that he’d get to design emotions in a young girl’s mind: “I was sold,” Lozano recounted. Having wrapped their work on the Oscar-winning animated feature Up, Docter and Lozano took to Pixar’s chaotic, imagination-fueled Headquarters in Emeryville to create their next big hit.

Boo and Ellie, courtesy of Disney Wiki and Polyvore“I swear to god, we work hard!” Lozano laughed as a promotional video showed Pixar employees playing dodgeball, pie-ing each other in the face and prowling around like monsters in CGI suits. With the help of Disney nerd and producer, Jonas Rivera, Lozano and his team designed Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear, a dynamic team of characters who reside in the Headquarters of Riley’s mind.

Inside Scoop!

Lozano divulged that Riley is based on Pete Docter’s daughter, Elie, who served as the inspiration for little Boo in Monsters, Inc. and actually voiced Up‘s Ellie when she was younger! According to Lozano, Inside Out follows the other movies to help track the development of a young girl’s imagination and aspirations, much like the Toy Story trilogy’s monitoring of Andy’s attitude toward his toys over the years.

On the visual front, Inside Out’s animators and storyboard artists aimed for a more abstract, “less biological” representation of Riley’s mind, casting dendrites and neurons aside for colorful memory orbs, an inspired Dream Productions studio and neighboring Memory Bank, managed by two pesky Denizens who decide which orb memories should be permanently discarded!

While the inside of Riley’s mind is vivid and chromatic, the “real world” is characterized by muted colors to match the uncertainty of her new life in San Francisco, the fog-blanketed city right in Pixar’s backyard. The design team took to SF for research, taking inspiration from the city’s laid-back, communal living scene and its exorbitant shopping districts in equal amounts.

4 years of late nights and 15 re-writes later, Lozano is ready to share his gaggle of animated characters with the world! When I asked how Riley’s Joy differed from that of her parents, he told me that they aimed to make the emotions homogenous across minds for recognition purposes, but that I might be able to recognize some minute differences in the emotions if I looked hard enough!

If you watch this trailer closely, you might just see them!

Inside Out hits theaters on June 19th!

Stay Joyful!

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