Pixar Team Reveals 'Inside Out' Character Inspirations at Siggraph

'Inside Out'

Oscar-winning director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up) will share a sneak peek of his new film Inside Out with the Annecy audiences. The Pixar release won’t hit big screens until 2015, but the festival will feature concept artwork, as well as work-in-progress shots and behind-the-scenes shots from the film that explores the conflicting emotions inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, as voiced by an all-star cast of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith.

Characters including April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation as well as performers such as Audrey Hepburn helped to inform the designs of the five emotions in Disney/Pixar's hit Inside Out, members of the creative team revealed Tuesday at CG conference Siggraph, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The animated film goes inside the head of a young girl, where five different emotions — joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness — manage their 11-year-old, Riley. Led by Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), the emotions also maintain the girl’s memories at their "headquarters."

Character art director Albert Lozano took attendees through the character design process, sharing references that informed the final looks of the emotions, which evolved after starting as ideas in basic, simple shapes. Joy was about being ageless, inspired by Audrey Hepburn and was given movements that took cues from gymnasts.

Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) started with the idea of a teardrop, but evolved using early references from characters including Saturday Night Live's Debbi Downer and The Addams Family's Wednesday Addams. Anger (Lewis Black) was fairly clear — square, with a head that catches fire.

Work on Disgust (Mindy Kaling) was about finding a look and feel along the lines of characters such as April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation and Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The idea for Fear (Bill Hader) was to make him bug eyed, taking cues from Don Knotts and Mr. Bean.

For Riley, Pixar showed the audience a range of early possible looks that included pigtails and glasses. Lozano chuckled when he admitted that in the end, the character ended up looking a lot like Inside Out director Pete Docter's own daughter.

During the session, the artists also discussed some of the more technical aspects of areas including animation, visual effects and lighting. They also revealed a few Easter Eggs. The Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story — which famously appears in cameos in Pixar films — can be found in one of the memory spheres in a sequence when Joy drops several spheres while trying to carry them back to Headquarters. And the formation of a dinosaur, which appears in the sequence when Riley and her family drive to their new home in San Francisco, is a nod to Pixar's next release, The Good Dinosaur, which opens Nov. 25.