Human emotions are a riddle – a never-ending game decorated with slip-sloppy fear, smothering sadness, red-hot anger, sour disgust and hopefully, enough experiences that transcend happiness to reach joy and make it all worthwhile.
Who better to explore the lopsided terrain of the mind and inscribe it with characters beyond imagination than the rambunctious crowd at Pixar Animation Studios?
The new Disney-Pixar movie “Inside Out,” written and directed by Pete Docter, has 11-year-old Riley battling orders from a tumultuous headquarters where emotions run the control system. Torn from her steady Midwestern life when her father’s job moves the family to San Francisco, Riley and her primary partner, Joy, find their way through Long Term Memory, a literal train of thought and other neurological neverlands.
The movie is a fun excursion, and for those who want more, there’s a new book, “The Art of Inside Out.”
Concept art — ink, pastel and pencil sketches, clay and paper models, color scripts, storyboards, digital paintings and marker renderings — shows the developmental spectrum the Emeryville-based animation studio uses to create award-winning films such as “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Up.”
Featuring a foreword by actor Amy Poehler (the voice of Joy) and introduction by Docter, the book’s artwork (accompanied by sparse text) reveals the lengthy visual trek from paper to pixels. Docter writes, “We decided to let the artwork speak for itself.”
Although it’s tempting to wish for more context— perhaps recollections from the numerous artists involved in the collaboration or brief explanations of how an idea took flight (or why it bombed) — the lack of words forces visual detective work.
Catch the “9-22-09” on early pencil sketches by Ronnie Del Carmen and marvel at the six-year slog of a 2015 film release. Flip through the book, and as pages fly by, notice the purple, olive green and pulsing yellow palette that emerged early on and held true to the end. Find proof of animation’s well-known collaborative muscle in Post-it drawings that correct hand positions. or handwritten notes with instructions to “figure out buttons, build owner’s manual” for an imagined element.
“Inside Out” sprang largely from the mind of Docter, himself a transplant from Minnesota hockey rinks to the Bay Area. Fans of the studio will enjoy a glimpse into the kingdom of Pixar’s imagination.