Dory’s Story with Co-Director Angus MacLane & Story Supervisor Max Brace #FindingDoryEvent

Dory’s Story

By Erin

*I was invited on a press trip as a guest of Disney & PIXAR to share with you about the Finding Dory movie. All opinions are my own.*

Max Brace (Story Supervisor) and Angus MacLane (Co-Director) present at the Finding Dory Long Lead press day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Max Brace (Story Supervisor) and Angus MacLane (Co-Director) present at the Finding Dory Long Lead press day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2016 Disney•Pixar.

Back in March I was a part of a magical trip to Monterey Bay to discover how Dory’s story came to be. Story is king at Pixar Animation Studios. Whether a film revisits old friends or introduces us to some new ones, it all starts with a story that needs to be told. We had the pleasure to learn all about how Dory was developed and taken from script to storyboards to screen with Co-Director Angus MacLane and Story Supervisor Max Brace. Finding Dory, swims in theaters everywhere June 17th, 2016.

Angus MacLane, Director of Toy Toons short film Small Fry, is photographed on October 18, 2011 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Angus MacLane at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar).

Animator and Co-Director Angus MacLane joined Pixar Animation Studios as an animator in June 1997 whose work includes such beloved films such as Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, WALL*E, and Toy Story 3.

Max Brace is photographed on February 16, 2016 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Max Brace at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Max Brace joined Pixar Animation Studios in July of 1996 straight out of college as a story artist on the feature film A Bugs Life. As a story supervisor, Brace leads the story team and helps directors realize their vision for the story. In addition, he casts story artists for specific sequences, reviews artists’ work, both individually and with the director, and guides the artists to understand and execute the director’s vision.

FINDING DORY – Lighting Exploration Concept Art by Visual Consultant Sharon Calahan. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – Lighting Exploration Concept Art by Visual Consultant Sharon Calahan. ©2016 Disney•Pixar

What is a Storyboard?

Basically it is a group of rough sketches on paper used to indicate an idea. Storyboards are very tiny and not too detailed. It is just enough information for the other animators, artists, actors, and writers to get a feel for the direction they want the story to go in.  This process is gone through many times until it is perfect. After completion, the storyboard goes to the directors where they will walk through the scene together and discuss any corrections or improvements that need to be made. The storyboards are reviewed by the “Brain Trust” and studio every 4 months. These storyboards create the overall blueprint for the final film. For Finding Dory, 103,639 storyboards were generated to get Dory’s Story just right.

FINDING DORY – MLI Overview Painting (Concept Art) by Artist Tim Evatt. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – MLI Overview Painting (Concept Art) by Artist Tim Evatt. ©2016 Disney•Pixar.

It’s all about finding the story and the process of creating the story through sequencing when it comes to animation.  The story process starts with brainstorming. It was decided that they wanted part of the story to take place at the Marine Life Institute. Brace shared with us an experience he had at an aquarium with his son that ended up being inspiration for some of the scenes for Finding Dory. Seeing the touch tank with all of the kids touching, poking and prodding the poor creatures, got him to thinking, “What would it be like if Dory got stuck in the touch tank?”  The humor and horror of being in an aquarium touch pool was just too good to ignore. Hank and Dory end up in some hairy, yet funny situations that the animators created for the touch pool scene based on reality and humor. After organizing their ideas, they are handed off to the writer to write the scene. The team worked hard on the touch pool idea and went on to research and photograph the idea, then moved on to make, improve, and  create the perfect scene for the movie. It was a bit of a challenge to keep the main focus on Dory, but 240 sequences later it was accomplished.

FINDING DORY – Touch Pool Concept Art by Artist Paul Abadilla. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – Touch Pool Concept Art by Artist Paul Abadilla. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Once the storyboard process is completed, then it continues in the pipeline with camera and staging, animation, lighting, until the finished product is evolved. The entire process is extremely time-consuming.

FINDING DORY – Lighting Exploration Concept Art by Visual Consultant Sharon Calahan. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – Lighting Exploration Concept Art by Visual Consultant Sharon Calahan. ©2016 Disney•Pixar

Brace and MacLane then showed us the process of thumbnailing. It was amazing to watch the process happen right in front of us, in a matter of seconds. They were just basic visuals, but you could totally tell who the characters were and what the main idea was in each one. MacLane then gave his feedback about the sequence from a director’s point of view and offered suggestions of where the story could be improved, what should be cut out and what ideas didn’t flow very well.

FINDING DORY – Ray Trench Painting (Concept Art) by Artist Rona Liu. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – Ray Trench Painting (Concept Art) by Artist Rona Liu. ©2016 Disney•Pixar.

The story was constantly evolving. They hardest part of it all was trying to keep the focus on Dory as she is making the transition from being the sidekick from Finding Nemo to the main character in Finding Dory. It’s not always easy to pull focus to a former side-kick, but Dory had a story to tell and they worked hard to tell Dory’s story and I cannot wait to find out what the rest of Dory’s Story is!

Finding Dory Swims into Theaters EVERYWHERE, June 17th! 🙂

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