Mark Andrews: "Brave", Talks at Google


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 22.06.2012

Transcript:
>>Male Presenter: OK, hello everybody. Thank you for coming. And for waiting. We're here
with the director of "Brave." The new Disney Pixar movie. It's terrific I saw it yesterday.
Mark Andrews, thanks so much for joining us.
[applause]
>>Mark: Hi. Hi.
>>Male Presenter: And you're a long time animation veteran. Worked as a story supervisor of "The
Incredibles." Worked on the story for "Iron Giant." For a couple of the Pixar shorts "One
Man Band" and "Jack-Jack Attack" which are really hilarious. So it's just an honor to
have you here at Google and thanks again so much for coming.
My name's Ryan. I don't know if anybody cares but I lead the Google doodle team and we're
all Pixar sycophants on the team. And we love everything that you guys do.
>>Mark: [laughing]
>>Male Presenter: And again, it's an honor to have some time to talk with you.
>>Mark: Great. Great.
>>Male Presenter: So, I realized you also use some Google products yourself. You have
a blogspot blog?
>>mark: Uh-huh.
>>Male Presenter: And it's mostly pictures of you sword fighting.
>>Mark: Uh-huh.
>>Male Presenter: And videos of you sword fighting. And so, you sign your name "Mandrews"
on your blog posts. Is that, do people call you Mandrews inside of the Pixar universe.
>>Mark: Yes. Yes. That's just my you know when you get to Pixar you get your email things.
So it's just you know, M. Andrews and it just turned out to be Mandrews. So it just kinda
stuck. So now I'm Mandrews.
>>Male Presenter: That's good, that's awesome. And so if people need to email you
>>Mark: They just say Mandrews.
>>Male Presenter: Mandrews. Awesome. And then I read that you didn't originally plan to
be in animation. Can you kinda give us a little of your epic journey and how you ended up
in, not just the industry, but in one of the most coveted and storied traditions in all
of history.
>>Mark: Ooops. Ah. I've been drawing all my life. You know, ever since I was three. My
dad worked in Lenwood, California. He was a schoolteacher and counselor and dean of
the high school there. And computers were just coming out. So he would bring home the
reams of the white and green computer paper. 'Cause they would only print whatever numbers
on one side, so he'd bring home stacks of this stuff for me. That was just folded, you
know. Reams of it. And I would just draw on it and draw on the opposite side. So I've
been drawing all my life and did high school and stuff. I'm not ambitious. I didn't have
any aspirations to do anything. I didn't know what I was gonna do after high school. I just
drew. I was gonna be a Marine after high School. All my friends were goin' in the armed services.
My best friend's in the Navy. I have other friends who were in the Marines.
>>Male Presenter: That explains some of the sword fighting.
>>Mark: Yes. Well I've been doing martial arts all my life. And sword fighting. And
so out of high school, I didn't take any college prep classes or nothin'. So high school ends,
and I'm all "What do I do now?" So I'm talking to a Marine Recruiter. I'm not ready to go
right into the Marines right then and there. So I'm all "Ahh, well, City College I guess."
So I went to City College and that's where I got my first formal training as an artist
and life drawing, perspective, and just drawing. Which was more like rendering. You know, crosshatching.
And I did two years of City College. And this was all in Santa Barbara. And one class, one
semester this guy was offering this animation course. And I'd been into Japanese animation
my whole life. You know, Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, Star Blazers, RoboTech. You know
all this stuff. Akira had come out when I was graduating high school and I was just
"Whoa, this is amazing!" So I'm doing animation class and I'm doing my own kind of anime type
stuff that's just ultraviolent. You know. Fun thing.
And he tells me, the instructor tells me about Cal Arts, which is up in Valencia. California
Institute of the Arts. And I'm all, "You can actually do this for a living? Wow. I better
apply." So me and my brother applied at Cal Arts and we got in and I remember calling
my recruiter the Marine Recruiter and saying "Sorry man, I'm goin' to art school." So,
he was kind of upset. [laughter]
So I did four years of Cal Arts and got my degree in film. Whoopee. And got out and starved
for a year.
>>Male presenter: Yeah. What was starving like for you? How did that
>>Mark: oh, it was fun. It was livin' off a credit card and eating potato chips and
hot dogs. That's it. That was the cheapest food I could find that was kinda substantial.
I couldn't do ramen every day.
>>Male Presenter: Even though you had a predisposition for Japanese culture.
>>Mark: Yes, yes. But not a predisposition for Japanese food.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. Yeah.
>>Mark: I like things that are cooked. So, all my friends got jobs in the animation industry
and I was the only one who didn't. I went to the Disney internship right out of school.
I was the only one out of five who didn't get fired because I rocked the boat.
>>Male Presenter: I read about that. And I'm kind of curious. I mean, like, how did you
rock the boat? I mean, were you a punk? Or were you
>>Mark: They. No. No. I was just being me.
>>Male Presenter: Was it the hot dogs?
>>Mark: It was the hot dogs. I was just me, and at the end of the internship they want
you to kind of do a presentation, right? That this is what I wanna do. And they were really
looking. I mean this was the hype. They were animating Lion King when I was there. And
they were rolling out Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame and all these things were just
comin' off of Beauty and the Beast. So it's startin' to go up. And DreamWorks is just
being created at this time. So this was like Golden Age of animation. So they wanted animators
'cause they didn't have enough. And I could animate. But what I was really falling in
love with was story boarding. So I was the only one out of five interns who presented
two presentations. And because I presented two presentations, one in animation and one
on story, they don't like to make a decision at Disney. And that's rockin' the boat. So
they came in and looked at it. And I thought you know, you guys pick. Either or. I'm happy.
But they couldn't. And that just totally threw them and so I was the only one who didn't
get hired. And then I was blacklisted at Disney. And they wouldn't hire me.
>>Male Presenter: I mean it sounds like, I mean blacklisted seems like you would have
to have punched somebody named Disney in the face.
>>Mark: Yeah. I don't know. I was automatically branded a rabble rouser
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. That's like
>>Mark: For doing two presentations. You know, and then I went off and starved for a year.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: And then I got into TV animation. I was working at Hanna Barbara. Well, I went
back to Cal Arts where I was teaching a sword fighting class and fencing. To make some money
to eat and live. And then I got a job on TV.
>>Male Presenter: So Disney now, I mean obviously as Pixar is part of the Disney family
>>Mark: Yup
>>Male Presenter: Are there people in the hallway you've gotta like avert eyes with
because they were
>>Mark: All those people are gone.
>>Male Presenter: They're all gone?
>>Mark: Yeah. Who blacklisted me. They're all gone. And I survived!
[laughter]
>>Male Presenter: I would imagine, and how much is sword fighting actually? I mean that's
a good survival skill. I mean you know, even if things would
>>Mark: If zombies attack.
>>Male Presenter: Even if things really go down.
>>Mark: I'm good.
>>Male Presenter: But in corporate, I mean, the machinery of corporate.
>>Mark: It's like "The Book of the Five Rings." You know. You treat it like that. Kind of
you know. Hit first.
>>Male Presenter: So, but then you went into TV animation but then it's still like you're,
I would imagine that's starting from the ground up. Kind of bottom of the heap?
>>Mark: The good thing about the TV animation, was you're turning around, you're doin' half
an hour episodes in like eight weeks. So I have to story board a half an hour of stuff
in eight weeks. So. And you don't get to redo it. You kinda do it and it goes off to Korea
or Japan to be animated and that's that. And then it airs on TV. So I did five episodes
for "the New Adventures of Johnny Quest." Which is a great learning process because
you're just doin' it from your gut. And then Warner Brothers' animation started
up because DreamWorks started up and it was being successful. So now everybody in Hollywood,
all the studios wanted their own animation business. And they still kinda do. So, I met
a bunch of great people at Disney who left Disney to start over at Warner Brothers. Bill
Perkins is one of them. He was the art director on "Aladdin" and he's fantastic. So I got
to know him with my friends who were working at Disney. You know, of the internship. And
he went over to Warner Brothers and called me and my brother. And says "Come on over
here, guys. This is going to be wildly different." So we went over there and got hired with Warner
Brothers and then started doing "Quest for Camelot" which nobody ever saw. So don't.
And then "Iron Giant" with Brad Bird. And that's when I met Brad Bird for the first
time. And then I stayed to do, I was head of story on "Osmosis Jones." And then I got
called to work on the first "Spiderman" movie with Sam Raimi.
>>Male Presenter: Wow.
>>Mark: And so I went into live-action storyboarding.
>>Male Presenter: What was that connection? How did you get hooked up with that?
>>Mark: Jeff Lynch, who was my head of story on "Iron Giant." After "Iron Giant" was over,
I'm doing "Osmosis Jones" for the next two or something years. He went on and Sam Raimi
was starting up some movies there at Warner Brothers. So Jeff got hooked up with him and
Jeff went on to be his story board artist and second unit director on "Simple Plan",
"The Gift", "For the love of the game", and then finally they got, there was a whole Spiderman
controversy. Of what studio gets Spiderman. And Sony came out on top after getting all
through the red tape. So I'm at home workin' on my graphic novel "Tales of Colossus" you
guys can get on
>>Male Presenter: Blogspot.com
>>Mark: Yeah, blogspot. You can check it out. "Tales of Colossus" You can get on Amazon.
$14.99. And, put my kids through school, please.
And so I'm sittin' there working on my comic, my graphic novel. And I get a phone call and
I pick it up and it's Jeff Lynch. He's all "Hey, I want you to come down and work on
Spiderman." I'm all "Totally, I'll be down tomorrow!" He's all "Fantastic!" I hang up
the phone, I walk down the hallway, I'm tellin' the truth. I walk down the hallway to go back
to my little office and the phone rings again. I'm all "Oh, it's Jeff telling me what gate
to go to at Sony."
>>Male Presenter: Mmm-hmmm >>Mark: So I come back and pick it up and
it's "Hello?" "Hey, Mark, it's Brad!" "Hey Brad!" Brad does the same exact imitation
of me. The exact [laughter]
>>Male Presenter: Raspy voice?
>>Mark: Same raspy voice. His imitation of me, my imitation of him is identical. So we
don't sound like this.
"Hey Mark! What's goin' on?" I'm all "Brad, what's going' how's it up at Pixar?" 'Cause
he'd been, you know just started up at Pixar. He's all "How's the North Bay?" He's all "Oh,
man, I love it! And you know what, I love it so much, I want you to come up here and
be head of story on Incredibles." I'm all "Totally, dude! I'm totally, I'd totally come
up! I'd check in with my wife and we'd totally move up there to work with you so, when do
you want me?" He's all "Uh, kinda now." I'm all "Uhhhhhhh, I kinda' accepted a job already
on Spiderman. Do you really need me?" He's all "What??" I'm all "Jeff Lynch called me."
He's all "That, Jeff Lynch." I'm all "So when do you need me?" He's all "No worries, you
got some time. About nine months." And I'm all "OK, great." So I did back to back superhero
movies. I boarded on "Spiderman", boarded on most of that movie. And then I moved up
north with my wife and my newborn and started on "Incredibles."
>>Male Presenter: That sounds
>>Mark: And then been at Pixar ever since. Twelve years. So.
>>Male Presenter: That's incredible. I'm a big fan of "Iron Giant." That was just like
a
>>Mark: Oh great.
>>Male Presenter: a beautiful, wonderful movie.
>>Mark: Thank you.
>>Male Presenter: and of course "Incredibles" is one of my favorites from Pixar as well.
So you weren't a Disney guy, like dyed in the wool. Like you weren't, you didn't see
"Pinocchio" 45 times.
>>Mark: No, no.
>>Male Presenter: And it wasn't your dream.
>>Mark: Nine old men? Who? I didn't care.
>>Male Presenter: and you were more actually into the anime. Japanese stuff. What kinda'
pulled you towards that as opposed to the traditional or the resurgence of Disney animation
[inaudible]
>>Mark: Yeah. Well, the. I mean, I appreciate all that stuff. I've seen all the Disney movies.
But to me as a kid, when I was a kid, cable TV just started. It was ON TV. Anybody remember
ON TV? It was the first cable channel ever. And they had three kinda stations. And my
uncle who was a professional bachelor, he was married eight times like Henry the Eighth.
He'd date. Marriage was like dating to him. But anyway. He was the coolest guy ever. Sports
cars, and. But he had ON TV, he had all the best. And we would, my brother would look
at the TV Guide and see what was ON TV, and he's all "Look, dude, the Apple Dumpling Gang
is on at eight o'clock. But at the same time at ON Channel 3 is Mad Max." Which is rated
R. And we're like 10 at the time.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. No question there.
>>Mark: I'm all "Dude, we gotta go over." So we would lie to our parents and lie to
my uncle and say "We wanna come over and watch Apple Dumpling Gang" on TV. And he'd go, “Yeah,
sure. Come on over.” So my parents would drop us of. He'd go off on some date.
>>Male Presenter: Like, hang gliding or something.
>>Mark: Yeah. And we'd sit there and as soon as he'd leave. Click! And then we'd turn on
Mad Max. So I grew up on R rated movies when I was a kid. [laughs] So to watch Bambi or
Sleeping Beauty I'm like "Hoooo-huuum." I mean, I appreciated the animation but I could
never, you know, get behind it because of the level of the intensity of the stories.
Then I find Japanese animation and it's
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. It's the real deal.
>>Mark: it's insane. It's insane. I'm all "Supernatural Beasty City, are you kiddin'
me? This thing's insane. Ninja Scroll? These guys are nuts. Akira? Oh my God." So that
was what I really appreciated about Japanese animation is that in that culture, animation
isn't just for kids. It's for everybody. Right?
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: It's an art form that you can tell any story in. And the different levels of
intensity of the story and the film-making behind those, to create that intensity was
right up my alley.
>>Male Presenter: But it, maybe it, was it important you actually saw that as a kid?
So I mean, did that impact the way you thought of children's entertainment? Or what children
are capable of enjoying? Or?
>>Mark: Totally. I mean, I think that. My littlest kid, he's six now. Ford. I have four
children. I have a daughter and three boys just like Fergus in the movie. But he is kinda
grown up with his older brothers and sisters. So he watches like, Ghost Rider and Wrath
of the Titans and, you know. He's watching these movies and he'll turn to me and I'm
all "Whaddyou think, Ford?" And he's all, "It's alright."
>>Male Presenter: [laughs]
>>Mark: you know, PG-13 movies. But every once in a while he'll regress, so we'll get
back home and he'll have me read him "Hop on Pop". You know, 'cause he needs a little
bit of that too just to balance.
>>Male Presenter: Pressure down. Yeah. A little bit of a kid.
>>Mark: Just to take it down a notch.
>>Male Presenter: Dr. Seuss is pretty cool.
>>Mark: Yeah. Dr. Seuss is cool. Just not violent.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. Well, ah
>>Mark: I mean, blood spraying, fine. He's like, I didn't, they lacked the motivation.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: You know, and I'm all "OK, six year old."
>>Male Presenter: I mean, it's a funny thing in children's entertainment. You know, there's
like, Brothers Grimm and
>>Mark: Yes. Pretty dark stuff.
>>Male Presenter: Historically.
>>Mark: Yeah. Yeah.
>>Male Presenter: What is it about professional storytellers that want to terrify children.
>>Mark: Well, I think it's good for them to get terrified.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: I mean because that's what's comin' down the pike. You know. I think we shelter
our children too much.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: I think we shelter our children a little too much. 'Cause we don't wanna deal
with the crying or whatever. The nightmares and them getting out of bed and sleeping in
your bed. So, I think what the Grimms and the folk tales or Aesop's fables, they're
saying "Look, we're gonna put it in a form that you can digest. But the lesson is real
because when you grow up, there's people out there that are gonna hurt you, rob you, steal
you, kill you, take advantage of you. And you need to be prepared so that you're not
naïve. And there are real consequences out there in the real world."
>>Male Presenter: It kind of shows in "Brave" in a way, it's sort of an anti-princess story
in a way.
>>Mark: Absolutely. From top to bottom, that's one thing that we were doing. Because, and,
you know, bless Pixar for being one of these companies that is pushing the bounds of animation
today.
>>Male Presenter: yeah.
>>Mark: That we can do something darker. Because every Pixar movie there's an honesty in it.
There's an honesty in the message. There's an honesty in looking at the characters and
what they have to go through. We don't have a lot of villains in Pixar movies. It's the
main characters, their own problem. They have to get over their own self. Just like we all
have issues. And there's something more real about that and relatable, right?
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. Definitely.
>>Mark: I don't have a nemesis in real life, you know? So, watching movies with a nemesis
you're just all "So what?" you know?
>>Male Presenter: It's too easy.
>>Mark: But for "Brave" we were telling that darker tale and we were embracing that darker
tale because it's important. This kid, Merida, she's a teenager. She's on the cusp of adulthood.
She's at that transitionary spot. I like to talk when we were making I referenced Peter
Pan all the time. I said "It's Peter Pan with teeth." Because that's that same story in
Peter Pan. It's Wendy's all, her biggest dilemma, she's getting kicked out of the nursery. Sleeping
with her two brothers. Boo-hoo. But she goes on this journey and she realizes "Oh yeah,
these guys are childish and idiots and stuff and I'm above. I'm ready for more. I am an
adult". Merida has to go on the same journey but in a more hard-hitting way.
>>Male Presenter: So I wanna talk a little bit about the star of the movie.
>>Mark: Uh-huh.
>>Male Presenter: Which is definitely Merida's hair.
>>Mark: Uh-huh
>>Male Presenter: Tell me, I wanna know a little bit about the animation that went into
that. And the sort of symbolism of hair in this film that seems to be there. Give me
your thinking about that.
>>Mark: Well, you know, movie making is a visual story telling medium. And everything
that we do supports the story. The design of the backgrounds, the design of the castle,
I mean, what we're trying to say about the land. About the characters. It's all in the
design. And for Merida, right off the back we knew she was gonna have this relationship
with her mother where they were at odds. And if her mother is the queen, who's going to
be regal and noble and wear these long flowing gowns that are bejeweled and a crown and this
long hair that's tied up in a braid and she's very much in control, what's the direct opposite
of that? That's the rough hewn dress that looks like it's tearing open and ripping with
the puffy sleeves. And this mass of curly, unbridled wild hair. You know. It just had
to be red. Because she's passionate and fierce and independent. So that as soon as she walks
out on-screen you know exactly what her story is. Without the filmmakers having to go into
any exposition to see what her character is like. And everything that she does reinforces
her look. She's spirited, she'll talk back, she does things her own way. She doesn't make
any excuses. And she doesn't compromise so we can have fun with this character and really
get behind her and get behind that look. And it's really iconic and dynamic as much as
she is.
>>Male Presenter: So I saw the extra clips in "The Incredibles" and in that you have
very closely cropped hair. Maybe more like Marine style.
>>Mark: Yeah.
>>Male Presenter: Now you're growing your locks a bit. What does your hairstyle tell
about your character.
>>Mark: Well, you know, since it takes place in the middle ages, I just wanted to grow
my hair out. To just kind of grow it out and be in the spirit of the movie. I instituted,
when I came on board to direct, "Kilt Fridays" So everybody started buying up kilts and we
wore our kilts every Friday. At work.
So it's just to motivate. And, 'cause we know we're workin' on somethin'. Everybody's been
workin' on it for a long time. To kind of keep that passion and energy goin' 'cause
it ain't done yet. You kind of go out of your way to kinda do this things to kinda pick
up the energy and things. Because we knew we had something very special with this movie.
And everybody who's working on it really dug it. Knew they were workin' on something special
and workin' on something kind of new. And we're pushing the boundaries on what we've
done before. 'Cause we've had hair. We've had cloth. And simulators and stuff. We've
just never had this much before. To the levels that we're doing. I mean even the backgrounds
with our effects team was amazing. The stuff that they had to do in the movie that's pretty
much invisible. Rain and water and the fires. Hard as hell to do. I mean, there's lots of
organics to sell this kinda time period and place. And that's everything that the computer
hates. The computer hates organics. It wants straight clean Tron-like lines. You know?
>>Male Presenter: So Google's kind of a nerdy company. Lots of engineers. I heard another
interviewer speaking about, you guys rewrote almost the entire software after this for
the cycle. What went into that?
>>Mark: Yeah. Yeah. It was 25 years old, right?
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: We don't even have cars that are 25 years old
>>Male Presenter: [chuckles]
>>Mark: without hefty overhaul. So it was time at the studio they decided we needed
to revamp the system and kind of create it anew. And give us all these more powerful
tools and stuff like that. So, but when do you do it? We gotta make a movie? Right? We
gotta use this software. So "Brave" kind of got assigned to do that. And everybody said
"Yeah. OK. Yeah let's do it." Which kind of added to the development of "Brave” because
we're developing a software system at the same time. So that kind of made the movie
in production increased the length that it was in production. To make up the stuff. I
mean the software just to do her hair was two years to develop.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: The water. So there's a scene where they're playing in this river. To do that
scene it took a year just to do the water effects for that scene.
>>Male Presenter: I'm sure, yeah.
>>Mark: It just took us a long time. But there's lots of other stuff. There's animation controls
and things that we did with rigging. We had to rewrite the software that we had for her
hair, to create the hair. Just create the hair. And then we had to have a whole new
software package to move the hair. And simulate the hair. That went into the dresses and the
clothes and stuff .And if you looked at "The Incredibles," the first time that we're really
doing humans throughout the movie. We had hair, and we had cloth sims. And they were
wrestling matches to do it. And that was just a "super suit". That was nothing. It was one
layer. And Violet had that long straight hair. And then Merida has all this big curly locks
and everybody's go seven layers of clothing on. Fergus has got seven layers on. That's
all simmed. And it's all talking to each other and stuff, and reacting to each other. So
we've come a long way since "Incredibles."
>>Male Presenter: So I mean, it seems that story is the, sort of, sort of leads the way
at Pixar. Which is I think why your movies are so incredible.
>>Mark: um-hum.
>>Male Presenter: have there been times you tell the engineers you wanna do something
and they curse at you and kick and scream? I mean, what's the example
>>Mark: [laughs] Right.
>>Male Presenter: of where they told you like, you're insane. Do they have to take a walk
and suck it up or is it something that they actually can win a battle or two?
>>Mark: They never say "No." Because they like the challenge, too.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: I mean, who wants to work on the same old thing all the time.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: That's one thing I really like about Pixar as a company is that they never wanna
plateau. They never wanna be comfortable. As soon as they get comfortable and they get
complacent, we're not gonna be doing good movies at all. So we constantly wanna push
it. And the technology is always driven by the story. So we show up and we go "We wanna
do this thing in Scotland with hair and kilts!" They're all, and they go "OK. How do we do
that?" and they go over hear and talk.
I'll be in the room and I'll say "I want wolves!" and I walk out. And they'll be all "How do
we do wolves?" [mumbling] And they start talkin' and drawing diagrams and math comes out. Which
is one reason I leave the room
>>Male Presenter: Sure.
>>Mark: and technical diagrams. And we have physicists. And all kinds of people that are
workin' at Pixar. One of our SIM guys made a nanotube radio. At Berkeley. That's what
he did before coming to work. I'm all "How does this compare?" He's all "This is so much
more fun!" I'm all "OK." Just makin' things go, you know, like this. But they love the
challenge and they go for it and they'll come back and say "We can't do it. We can't do
that. But we got this other thing." And then you find ways of getting what you want. But
they usually don't say, throw down their fists and pound the table and get upset. They're
like "How do we do that?"
>>Male Presenter: They know you're a sword fighter.
>>Mark: Yes. Yeah. I'm super intimidating. At work.
>>Male Presenter: [laughs] Yeah. You mentioned Kilt Friday's. And other ways you try to keep
the crew motivated. You know it's' a very long development cycle for a film, compared
to what we work on
>>Mark: It can be. Yeah. Sure.
>>Male Presenter: at Google. So, you know, how do you sustain the excitement years in,
you know? To keep people motivated and fresh.
>>Mark: Right.
>>Male Presenter: 'Cause when it comes out it seems like, you know, there's a beautifully
crafted thing. And you don't get a sense of the labor.
>>Mark: Right. And you shouldn't.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: But, it's just, I think, I mean for me, I like the challenge. And I like the problem
solving aspect of story. You know, how do you take an idea or develop an idea from scratch
and get an audience to care about it and emote and react to it? And there's a billion and
one ways to skin a cat. There's so many potential ways to go on a movie to show off a character
or to describe this bit of information.
But what's the right way? So that everything falls in line and the audience is with you.
You know? And this crying or laughing or on the edge of their seats. So I love that problem.
And I think everybody at Pixar kinda has that fascination to solving the problem. You know?
And especially when we have these stories that we ourselves dig and we're fans of. We're
our harshest critics at Pixar. We put up the movie and storyboard reels and we watch it.
Everybody together. And we go "That totally blew. What did we do wrong?" and we tear it
down and we do it again. And we do this constantly. Look at it because one of the lessons we learn
is that the proof is in the pudding. So you can talk about it all you want of what the
scene should be or what the story should be or the direction you should go. But until
you actually see it playing in time in context, with everything involved working, or not working,
that's when you know. I mean, you guys all see movies right?
You guys all see movies? How many people saw a sucky movie recently.
>>Male Presenter: [chuckles]
>>Mark: What do you see after you see a sucky movie?
>>Male Presenter: Gripe about it. >>Mark: You gripe about it. And you talk about
what they should have done, right? That they dropped the ball or it wasn't invested or
it wasn't interested. That's what we do all day. That's my job. Is to make a movie, a
sucky movie. Look at it, and then gripe about it. Say "Man, they didn't have any motivation.
That character was totally pointless in the movie. Why did they go here, they should have
gone here. Hooooooo." And then take it down and do it again and stick it up and go "Less
sucky. But still the ending I'm not. I don't care." And then you take it back and put it
back up and that's what we do.
>>Male Presenter: You mentioned all the details that go into the Pixar films. And I just wanna
say that they're appreciated. Like it's really wonderful to see so many things put together.
And you know, the one of the triplets lip-synching to the story is awesome. 'Cause the triplets
don't speak in the whole film, but that's the one time they get to speak
>>Mark: Yeah.
>>Male Presenter: and it's just, there's so many terrific moments like that. I'm looking
forward to seeing it. Seeing it several times actually. You mentioned, I've heard you say
a few times that story is hell.
>>Mark: Yep.
>>Male Presenter: Why is story so hard.
>>Mark: It's the 666th layer of the abyss.
>>Male Presenter: [laughs]
>>Mark: Because you can't pin it down. Because there's so many possibilities. And what's
the right possibility? And we kind of go into it intellectually, of what we need it to be
about these characters. And their purpose. And how do we get the information to the audience?
You know. In an economic and clear kinda way so that they get all these ideas and the themes
and they have an experience. That's a tall order. And it's trial and error. I mean the,
I teach, too. I teach visual story telling and storyboarding. And my students are always
asking me for the silver bullet. "What's the silver bullet? What's the silver bullet? What's
the secret?" I'm all, "The secret is just a lot of hard work. It's banging your head
against the concrete until you make a hole in the wall and you can go through." Is basically
what it is. You just have to try stuff on for size and see that it doesn't work and
try it again and try it again and try it again.
Michelangelo talked about looking at the big thing, square of marble and seeing the inside.
We don't know what it is. We don't know what it is on the inside. We start chippin' at
marble and then we ruin that entire piece of marble going "I don't want David. I want.
Oh, now I know what I want!" And we'd start on another piece of marble. I like to refer
to it as alchemy.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Mark: We're changing lead to gold. And as soon as we have gold, we go "Haha! Yes! How
did we do that? I don't remember. " I have no idea what the formula was. And we can't
replicate that formula so every time we go into another movie it's a new set of problems.
It's a new set of variables. And it's different every time. I mean, there are. You have all
these experiences from making the movies.
I have my executive producers John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. And they're
walkin' around with their Academy Awards. They bring 'em into the office and say "Knk.
OK, you're gonna do it this way buddy." They don't do that.
[laughter]
But they have all this experience so they kind of know where the pitfalls are, before
you get there. But they also don't have all the answers either. [snapping] Or else these
films would not take the time that it takes to do them and we'd be out the door. With
five films a year. No problem. But everything it's difficult. It's really, really, really
difficult.
>>Male Presenter: Do you ever worry that the seams are gonna show? I mean is that a fear
for you that a movie is gonna come out and people are gonna, you know.
>>Mark: Oh yeah. There's tons of stuff in here that the seams are showing. And I'm just
goin' [chomps teeth] You know? Is anybody in the audience gonna notice? Because again,
we're our own harshest critics. We know what's half-baked.
>>Male Presenter: Sure
>>Mark: And what's not fully cooked. There's that scene in "Tucker", the movie "Tucker"
where they present the car. To show it off. But it doesn't have an engine on it and it
can't even move? That's kinda how we feel sometimes. Because it's not, you can still
work on it. Or is that the best solution I have for that moment? Or to tell that story
or that part of the story? 'Cause there could have been something just around the corner.
>>Male Presenter: Right.
>>Mark: and that's the other thing. I like working in the parameters.
>>Male Presenter: Sure.
>>Mark: And that's what I learned from TV, is that, if you don't have time, you kinda
get more creative and what really happens is you get more objective.
>>Male Presenter: yeah.
>>Mark: So you're willing to kill your babies faster. 'Cause you make a baby and then you
kill it, 'cause that's not, you didn't want that one. I know, it's a violent process.
Stories are a violent process.
>>Male Presenter: We've done that at Google doodle where you have the letters and we "kill
babies" all the time.
>>Mark: Yeah. Oh yeah. You're going "No. No." I mean, when I used to work on paper, I wouldn't
even bother when I did a drawing, I wouldn't even bother putting it in the trashcan. I'd
be working so fast, it'd be "No. No. No. Oooo that's interesting. Save. No. No." And you
come into my room and it's wall to wall drawings. The animators would come in and pick through
the drawings of these rough half-baked ideas and steal them and go away. Every once in
a while, every three months, I could literally roll up my floor. I start at one corner, because
they're all interlaced, all these pieces of paper. And I just start rollin' it up. And
I walk out with this six foot roll of storyboards and dump it in the trash.
But it's that. It's being objective. It's finding the thing. The kernel of an idea that
I get excited about as an audience. I have to be the audience. And go "Oo! Oo! I love
that! What does this mean? I don't know yet, but it's something." And then I'll figure
out how to put it in.
>>Male Presenter: And then so years of effort, many six foot tubes of drawings
>>Mark: Yes.
>>Male Presenter: A film comes out. What does success mean to you? How do you feel like,
a job well done? I mean, you've been part of so many incredible films.
>>Mark: Right. I think, when we have our wrap party. And the crew is seeing it finished.
Totally completed. And they're laughing and crying and on the edges of their seats. Because
they're the harshest critics, you know? And they come up to me and say "I love the movie,
Oh my gosh, that was so great!" They could be lyin' in my face. But I hope they're not.
And so when they said "I love the movie, oh my gosh it was so good." When I have Brad
Bird goin', "Mark. No. Really." You know, then I've done my job. When John's sittin'
there going "Ah-ahahahahahah!" and tears are in his eyes
[laughter]
A multi Academy award winner. I'm done. I've done my job and I'm ready to get on to the
next one. If it comes out and it doesn't make a dime, I don’t care.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. I cried on, I'm gonna admit to you I cried. But I hedged my bets
because my girlfriend was sitting next to me.
>>Mark: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: And I sort of tilted my head so the tear, it was more of like a single
tear running down the side. And she was on the, she
>>Mark: She didn't see it?
>>Male Presenter: She heard me sniffling. She's like "Oh, are you crying." And I'm like.
And I could do this sort of like, you know.
[laughter]
>>Mark: Like, right. Right. With your drink. [slurps]
>>Male Presenter: Right. Use like a straw, like [slurps] Suck it up.
But I think the movie is gonna be a big success because it's terrific.
>>Mark: right. Thank you.
>>Male Presenter: Again, thanks so much. I think now we can open up for questions.
I've satisfied my immediate curiosities and anybody in the audience might also have some?
There's some questions online that we can ask as well.
>>Mark: Well. Sure. Sure.
>>male #1: Alright, my name's Tyler. So coming from the perspective of a storyteller, animator
and storyboarder, how do you adjust that when it comes to 3D. Now that 3D is an aspect.
Does that have an effect on the story at all?
>>Mark: Yeah, and that's a great question. 3D is just another visual tool right? When
I saw, I don't like 3D particularly because I think there's weird things happening with
my eyeballs, 'cause I'm already seeing depth, and then you're putting this kinda fake depth
on there. But when I saw Avatar, 'cause James Cameron, love James Cameron and he loves 3D.
And I'm going "Why does he love 3D?" When I see Avatar, what he was doing with the 3D,
I'm pullin' off my glasses goin' "There's no 3D in this scene. Oh, there's 3D. Oh, there's
no 3D here." He's using it as a tool to help tell the story. He's using it to impact the
experience. The emotional ride. The, you know, when there's a lot of depth because the character
is going through some intensive moment, he cranks up the 3D. And when it's just talking
heads he doesn't. Or when there's lots of things crossing, to enhance that visual space.
He's using it as a tool like I use color or the camera move or editing or design. These
are all visual tools to help tell a story. So that when we were doing 3D on this, with
Bob Whitehill, our stereo-, stereog-, [garbles] guy. See, the no school.
[laughter]
Art school.
>>Male Presenter: same here.
>>Mark: Our stereographer. I would always, we'd look at the pieces like "OK, OK. Here
I want almost zero depth. Because it's not dynamic. Here she is riding through the forest,
we're totally dyna-, I want all the depth you can give me." And dialing in and out of
that. So it blooms. 'Cause if it's 3D all the time, and depth all the time. Then what
is that statement to the viewer? That would be like listening to something on absolute
loud all the time. And there has to be variation and rhythms just like there's variation and
rhythms in the storytelling. So the visuals have to support the story. So 3D is just another
tool to help do that.
That's how I'm usin' it, anyway. You're not gonna catch the same thing on "Clash of Titans"
or anything like that.
Yes!
>>female #1: Hi, I have a couple questions that were submitted over the internet. And
they're similar so I'll read em together. Pablo from Vancouver says "Hi, as a screenwriting
student I would like to know how the writing process of 'Brave' was. I see four people
have screenwriting credits. Did it change when you joined as director?" and also Connor
from Sicklerville, New Jersey wants to know how much did the story change since its original
conception in 2008.
>>Mark: Great. Good questions. Uhhhhh. How did the story change? The bones has always
been the same of the story. Brenda Chapman, my fellow director, who started the project,
it was her original idea and concept. That was based off of her experience as a parent
with her six year old daughter who's this very feisty, spirited, willful, talkback child
at six. So she kind of projected ahead to when her daughter was going to be a teenager.
And kinda went "Oh my God, what is this gonna be like?" So it was that kind of core relationship
of that parent and child during these very transitional time period as a teenager, was
always at the heart of the story. Setting in Scotland was always at the heart of the
story. And this magic that was going to happen in the story. I don't wanna ruin it for anybody
as you'll see in the movie. We're keepin' the secrets. Was always part of the story.
And like I was talking about before. How exactly do you tell that story? You go in and out
and you try different things. There was this, there was competing characters at one time.
Merida, mom and dad were kind of competing for Merida in a sense. Is Merida gonna be
more like her dad Fergus, or is Merida gonna be more like her mother? And they were kinda
pulling her attentions And those types of things. So when I came on, what I did was
there was this kind of like 18 month deadline. And
>>Male Presenter: Wow.
>>Mark: The story wasn't going. It wasn't where it needed to be at 18 months before
we released. So and this had happened before on "Ratatouille" on "Toy Story II". We've
had director changes at Pixar before. And Pixar will do whatever is necessary to tell
that great story. Whether it's push back the release date, or unfortunately, have a director
change. So Pixar asked me to jump on board, to take over directing on "Brave" and so what
I did is, I looked at it as an adaptation. I'd just come off of adapting "John Carter
of Mars" And writing that with Andrew. So I looked at it as an adaption where there's
thing that definitely worked in the story and things that didn't. So clearing those
out kind of left spaces. And I can do that coming in and being objective. Because it
wasn't mine. I didn't create it. So that left holes. You know, to go to the comment about
the script writing. There were still elements of the script that were kept and then I wrote
the script with Steve Purcell who was the original co-director with Brenda. So there
was a continuity there. But we would rewrite the script. On lots of scenes. Mordu, that
whole element came up. What exactly the magic was and how it worked changed. And the main
thing I did was made it just Merida's story. Just made it about the teenager so I could
have that straight through line. And kinda clean up the balance of the story. Because
there was a lot of characters drawing the balance away from the main conflict.
So the screenwriting process is again, it's trial and error. I write, I pass it out to
the storyboard guys. They visualize it. So they story board it and put it up. And then
we look at the scene and I go "No, no, no, no. This doesn't work. Let's try this that
and the other thing. " They do the notes, I put it in editorial. We watch it as it's
timed and edited. I'm going "You know that line doesn't work and da, da, da." And you
constantly are in this state of evolution and changing it.
>>Male Presenter: Those are, the creation, but those are big changes. Top down. Director
changes. What about the kinda bottom up changes, like you know, gags that come in from the
story artists.
>>Mark: Right, Right.
>>Male Presenter: Does that ever turn into like a dramatic shift in the story? Or like
a tone in the scene? Or? How does that go down.
>>Mark: Sure. Yeah. Absolutely. 'Cause we're constantly looking for what the entertainment
is. Of this scene. So is there a chance to make it funny? Or, or, or, it's not really
working. Well, because the action of the situation isn't entertaining. So let's change the action
of the situation. Oh my gosh! It's totally entertaining.
I can't use this one. Oh, yes I can. So there's this one idea that we had where Mom is griping
to Fergus about her daughter.
>>Male Presenter: Sure.
>>Mark: Right. 'Cause the parents always talk about the kids right, when the kids are away
or in bed. We always talk about
>>Male Presenter: I know where you're going with this. This is a cool thing.
>>Mark: Yeah. And Merida had her own scene where she's griping and worried about her
future of this getting married and being pushed into this. And they were two separate scenes.
And we knew we had to have this information. 'Cause we need to get behind the Mom and we
need to understand what Merida's fears were and her concerns about losing herself.
But they were two separate scenes and they had been for a while. And it was this huge
road bump. Like how do we get, they're not working. But the information is right. We
have to have this information. So we're arguing about it in the story room. Me and the story
guys. Just hammering on it and hammering on it and hammering on it. I'm going "Wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait a minute." 'Cause somebody goes "Well, if they just talk to each other,
the movie would be over.
>>Male Presenter: [chuckles] That's true.
>>Mark: And I'm all "Why don't we have em talk to each other? " And they're all "What?"
I'm all "Let's have 'em talk to each other." They're like "What are you talkin' about?"
And I'm all "Listen." And then I pitched them the scene in the movie where Eleanor, the
queen, is talking to Fergus, as if Fergus was Merida and Merida is talking to her horse,
as if the horse was Eleanor. But I intercut that conversation so they're talking to each
other. And it instantly made it super entertaining. And we got all the information out in this
very economical way. Those things happen all the time. Right? And that's that gold when
you find it. You're all "Bingo! Voom! Done!' and when everybody saw it they're all "Whoo-hoo!"
>>Male Presenter: yeah. Awesome.
>>Mark: I hope that answers your questions internet guys.
[laughter]
>>male #2: Hi. Every few years there seems to be either a trend or a breakthrough in
effects that centers around a certain technology. Like 10, 15 years ago, it was cloth and hair.
And then crowd simulations. What a digital and compositing and particle systems. VOX.
And all these kinda things. And it sounds like you rewrote everything for Brave. What
would you say the next challenge or trend is? In, or, big challenge for animators? Especially
around effects.
>>Mark: Right. Right.
>>male#2: What's the most difficult thing that people are trying to attack right now?
>>Mark: Right. Well that's a great question. I know that we're working on lighting right
now. Real interactive high speed lighting. So that, 'cause in animation I can't just
put, we turn on these lights, they hit me they're hittin' you. They're bouncin' across
the floor. The bounce light from the floor is hittin' the chairs. It's lighting the chairs.
We've got the sunlight comin' in from there. I mean everything's splashing around and doing
stuff for free. We don't need to do anything in real life. In animation, that's its own
light. And what it's doing to me, I have to have another light and what it's doing to
the wall, I have to assign a quality to that wall so that it operates the way that this
paint should versus the carpet. You know all that stuff. So what they're tryin' to do right
now is develop, like real light source reacting. So that everybody already has assigned things
so when the computer turns on the light in the virtual world, it's go, "Oh, plastic.
Chair. Carpet. Skin. Levi's. Watch. Reflective surface.” All that kinda stuff. And you
kinda get it for free. So we don't have to manipulate and put all these little lights.
These invisible lights all over the place. So I know they're working on that.
But that is just a small step to get towards the bigger step which is context. Right? Animation
is movie making in slow motion. Because we're constantly building the context. We get nothing
for free. So what they're trying to do is, when the animators get it, it looks like done.
And can animate done. With the lights done. And the set done. So we could look at it,
constantly in context. So I think that is the next big step.
>>male #2: So you mean like animating in a real time render.
>>Mark: animating in a real time render. And there's some gaming companies that are kind
of doing this already with their game engines. They're makin movies or cinematics in the
game that they built. I saw "Half Life II", I'm all "Whoooooooooaaaa". I mean, the things
and my guns shooting and it's moving stuff on the walls and it's interactive and it's
real. It's real time. I'm all "We can make a movie in this!" People are actually doing
that. They'll play the zombie game and they'll have one guy out there zipping zombies with
their cheated bazooka gun while the crew is inside actually shooting on the set. It's
crazy. They're using the game engines so they can bring in the animation and have the guys
stand around and that. And they have to go back and touch, for lip synch and things like
that. But they can more the camera around and they shoot coverage and things and they're
on the walkie talkies "OK, I'm comin' in now. Get ready. And, action!" and they do all the
stuff just like you do. So that's fantastic. And that's the kinda stuff that I wanna do.
You know, using motion capture to get to those answers quicker. Right? Because we can go
down so many paths. When I was shooting live action on "John Carter" we had spontaneity
like this [snaps] all the time. I could tell Taylor Kitch or Earlan Collins. "No no, no,
no. Come in different. Even more frazzled and harried. This is, life is on the line.
Come in you're totally defeated. Now, lone kid. That, that's' good. I got that one, come
in totally defeated." And you're finding the scene in the context.
In animation we have to [chuckles] build the context and then find the scene as we're goin'
along. We have to put in the serendipity. So any camera shake or out of focus things
that you see in an animated film isn't a mistake. I wanted it in there to give it that organic
feel. So I think the next big technological feat is we're gonna be making animated films
in context.
>>male #2: Do you think that's gonna shorten the amount of time it takes to make an animated
film, or just give you more
>>Mark: You would think that it would. But it's probably not.
[laughter]
Thank you.
>>Male Presenter: Thank you. It, follow up on that. If story is really the most important
thing.
>>Mark: Yes.
>>Male Presenter: and you can tell a story with stick figures.
>>Mark: Yes.
>>Male Presenter: Why spend ungodly some of money and years to get the type of realism
and the type of wall you need?
>>Mark: Because the stick figures, it would have to be a really, really, really, really,
really fantastic story to get carried away with stick figures.
>>Male Presenter: sure.
>>Mark: I don't think a story exists that can get you carried away with stick figures.
We're compelled by what we're watching. And we wanna be transported. So, which is why,
I mean, they have motion pictures. You know and they get a camera out there. And we could
emote with these real life people on experiences we don't normally have. I mean there are things
that work. I mean you watch the old Peanuts things and old cartoon things. And you're
feeling of these things that are very simple. But that can only go so far. So when we're
makin' movies. When we're sketching. That's just a rough idea to, because I'm projecting
ahead. With what it's going to look like. And that, once the audience finally sees it
all done and lit and everything like that, they're transported to that place. To that
world. With these characters. You know, and they're really living it.
Yes,sir.
>>female #1: we just have time for one more question and that will be Justin.
>>Male #3: So I saw the Japanese trailer for "Brave" on YouTube. And the impression one
gets of the movie is a lot darker and more mystical and consequently more interesting
than the American trailer gives. And so, it's just seems unfortunate with all of Pixar's
success in making animated features that appeal to adults they still have to be marketed to
kids. Do you see any indication that that's changing over time or will change? Down the
road?
>>Mark: Oh yeah. I think so. I mean the Japanese audience is a very different audience than
the American audience. Just like the Russians are very different. And the French, you see
the French things, it's crazy. You know, the Norwegians are very different. So the marketing
people have a challenge to how do I take this one movie and give it these different guises
to appeal to all those different markets. To get their butts in the chairs. 'Cause that's
what they need to do. We need the awareness. We need to get the butts in the chairs so
they can see it. Spend their moolah. Gonna love it. Hopefully see it again. Spend more
moolah. So we can keep making movies.
I think, so the reason that our trailers are done here the way they are is pretty much,
is what the audience wants. And it's what they react to. And it's again, it's this weird
alchemy of predicting what the audience needs. I've been doing a lot of PR during my, I'm
here with you guys today. But to talk more about the movie. But one thing that I keep
getting from journalists is they're very impressed with how much, after they've seen the movie,
how much of the movie is not in any trailer. How much we're keeping stuff, we're withholding
things and keeping it a secret. And I really have to give our Disney marketing teams and
Pixar for wanting to do that a lot of props. Because I wanna give the audience a ride.
I wanna give them an experience. And be like telling your kid on Christmas "Here, I gotcha
that thing that you wanted. The Lego Death Star. Go ahead and unwrap it." They'd be like
[pause] "Yeah, it's a Lego Death Star. Thanks. I wanted to unwrap it and find it and discover
it." And that's what a movie is. When you go in, you should know just enough to have
gotten you in the seat. And then not know what to expect beyond that. That it could
go anywhere. And I think a lot of trailers today, all over the world, for all kinds audiences.
Especially for American audiences. They say everything about the movie. You know? You
get the beginning middle and end. You're just goin' [slaps knees]. You know, and if it's
a comedy, forget it. Because you saw all the most funny parts. So when you go and see the
movie you're all "Well, I saw all the funny parts in the trailer. What's left? This? Pfff.
Why'd I come see this? I thought there was gonna be more." So by withholding that information
in a trailer, especially in the "Brave" trailer, you know, it's giving the audience that. I
think that is the first step, to go to your question, that's the first step in kind of
pushing that boundary of trusting the filmmakers and the film that they're gonna put out there.
That an audience doesn't need much. I mean, I was ready to see "Prometheus", I didn't
need to see any, hear any talking at all. Just those images, I was captivated. You know?
And that's the kinda thing that gets me. And I think the more audiences respond to that,
then the feedback and the pie charts will come back to the marketing folks and they'll
go, "Oh yeah, these things were hits. It got them into the theaters to see this movie with
less." So I'm a big believer of less is more. So that you the audience have the more when
you see the movie.
>>Male Presenter: So without adding any more.
>>Mark: Without adding anymore.
>>Male Presenter: Do yourselves a favor and go unwrap the gift that is "Brave", it's an
awesome movie. And thank you so much for joining us.
>>Mark: My pleasure.
>>Male Presenter: and hope to have you back next time you make one of your movies.
>>Mark: Absolutely. Absolutely. See ya online guys!!
[applause]
>>Mark: thank you very much. Thank you very much.
>>Male Presenter: My pleasure.