How Pixar Solves Problems From The Inside Out

Inside Out is the story of a young girl named Riley who moves to San Francisco from the midwest with her parents. To some extent, the story is about how she adjusts and how her relationship to her family changes along with their locale. But, in parallel, there is an internal story being told about her emotions — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. Emotions which influence how Riley feels, acts and reacts to events in her life — as reflected by some very clever construct building that I won’t spoil here. This dual story led to some sticky issues when it came to representing and differentiating them in ways that contributed to the story. I spent some time at Pixar recently, watching just under an hour of Inside Out and talking to some of the creative people behind the movie. Though there were dozens of anecdotes, a couple of them stood out to me as unique examples of Pixar’s ability to solve technical and creative problems through tool building.

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