Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I am Ricky Nierva and I am an artist. I am very very lucky to say that I am a production designer at Pixar Animation Studios, which is one of the best animation studios in the world. It is hard to believe, but I've been in the industry, animation industry, for almost 20 years now. And one thing that really terrifies me, other that being on the stage right now, is this. Right here. This blank sheet of paper. This is very very intimidating to an artist, I think. Its emptiness could be very intimidating. There is so many opportunities, so many possibilities of what could be on this thing. You know, I have a little, a quick story about a theater and a director at a theater, where the director came to work, during rehearsals, the director opened the door to the theater and noticed, on the stage, that the dancers were basically doing nothing. Some dancers were stretching, some dancers were, you know, reading a book or something, but they were basically doing nothing. And the director, bewildered, walked down to the front of the stage and he noticed the choreographer had his head in his hands and he looks at the choreographer and angrily says: "What 's going on here?" And the choreographer looks at the director and goes: "Nothing is happening. It's nothing, you know, it's just not working. Nothing." And the director looks at the choreographer and says: "Well do something, so I can change it!" (Laughter) So, being a production designer is a very intimidating thing. A production designer is basically in charge of the overall look of the film. And that's very scary because at Pixar a colleague has said to me, his name is Jason Deamer, he's an art director at Pixar, has said: "Pain is temporary, suck is forever". (Laughter) So, I'm gonna do, the theme here is "Uncharted Waters" and do something crazy and I just said "suck", so I'm gonna do something that hopefully doesn't suck too badly and I'm gonna make this more relaxing to me. So I'm going to just-- OK, that sucked but, there's a point behind this. Basically, where do you begin, right? Apple and Pixar founder Steve Jobs has said, let's see here, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works." Film making is a purely collaborative art form, and that's why I love it so much. To make a film's design work, the art must support the story. and at Pixar we try to tell the best stories that we possibly can. You know, the first time I got to production design was on the movie "Up", and for those that have not seen it, you need to leave right now and watch it. (Laughter) But I apologize if I ruin the film for you, when I say, it's about a story, about a man named Carl Fredricksen. And Carl Fredricksen, in the beginning of the film, we meet him as a very young child and he meets the love of his life, her name is Ellie, they fall in love, they get married, they go through all the trials and tribulations of life. You get to a point were they get old and Ellie dies. Again, I'm sorry if i ruined it for you, but, that's in the first five minutes of the movie and I think it's the most beautiful five minutes of the movie. It's a really powerful setup to Carl Fredricksen's story. And then Carl, basically, at that point starts being boxed in, starts being stuck in his ways. He's basically unchanged man. So, the approach I took to designing that is all based upon that idea, and if you bear with me here, I'm gonna show you a bit about how I think about designing for that movie. And it all started with this. A simple square. Basically, I go to work, I draw that, I show the director and then I go home and turn on the Internet. OK that was a joke. (Laughter) It takes some time to translate the jokes, I'm sure. No, it starts with a simple idea, the square. And the square to me, while I'm designing, it's static, it's not dynamic, it's solid and stable, but it's also basically boxed in. So, as I'm thinking of these things while I'm designing on the shape, things come together. And all of these ideas, and here's some square glasses, is supported by that square. He's got square ears, and this is basically Carl Fredricksen see, hold your applause, I'm not done yet. (Laughter) He's got a square body. Uncharted waters, I don't normally draw in front of people like this. So, you're getting first time stuff going on here. He's got square hands, a lot of squares to support that simple, simple idea. Carl Fredrickson. (Applause) So, another character that takes Carl through his journey and actually tries to change him and make him a more well-rounded character, is a character named Russel. And what's simpler shape that contrasts that square but a circle? So, I'll get here So, the circle symbolizes positivity and moving forward. It's a very dynamic thing, It's all of these things that need to help Carl get more well-rounded. So Russel was based upon this idea. It's kind of like a balloon shape. And Russel, is this wilderness explorer. A very positive kid. And he's got all these circular motifs all around his body. Like that. And he has, well, I'm not done yet. (Laughter) I wanted to show you all the details around his body, which are very circular. And we think about all theses things, you know, he's got this sash, and part of the story is that he's collecting all of these badges as a wilderness explorer and it's all these circular things and each badge has a story, but right here is this empty one. He's trying to get the "Assisting the elderly" badge, and by design it's over his heart. And one of these things is that they would work with each other. You have the square and the circle. But for Carl there's also a story point of this circular symbol right over his heart, and that's the Ellie badge. So you need to watch the movie in order to understand what's going on there. But, you know, we think about all of these things as we design and it's a very long process. You know, it takes an average of four years to make an animated film at Pixar. And we also, while we are thinking of making the movie, we have fun putting these simple shapes all over the movie. So you can see here, where Carl wakes up, on his side of the bed are the square symbology, and on her side is this circle symbology. And so, you know, it's fun to do this and we have kind of these ideas, but the main point is to not see it while you are watching the movie, but you should feel it. If we do our job right, you don't notice this stuff, but you feel it. It's also here, in picture frames around the house. If Carl is by himself, he's in a square picture frame. If Ellie is in the picture frame by herself, she's in an oval picture frame. Someone asked: "What if they're in the picture together?" Well, it's a square frame with an oval mat. (Laughter) You can see in this image, Russel is literally separated from from Carl with lighting. It's just cut right through the shot. And all of these things support that simple idea, basing upon that simple idea of circle and squares. You can see the circular motif all around his design and his very colorful, very saturated color. And Carl's desaturated. So he's trying to get color back into Carl, he's trying to get him more well rounded. Very clearly it's in the prop design. Carl and Ellie's chair, you can see the circle and square shape vocabulary there, shape language. And at the end of the film, after Carl has gone through his adventure, you can see that he's a more softened character. He's more well rounded. You know, he's tanned, he has more life in him. And the idea of this, is that it's a process of making things simple. But we all know that simple is not necessarily simpler. Pablo Picasso, the famous artist has said: "It has taken me four years to paint like Rafael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." You know, kids have an amazing directness to the way they draw and express themselves. This is a beautiful drawing by my daughter Olivia, who's actually in the audience right now. (Applause) Sleeping, bored. (Laughter) Uncharted waters, this is what it's all about. (Laughter) She's never gonna forget that. I'm never gonna forget it. Oh my gosh, this is amazing. Let me tell you about how amazingly full of life she is. (Laughter) No, she drew this drawing and, you know, young kids, they just jump in. They're joyful when they create. You know, Eugene was talking about that, about the kids, very young kids will just dive in. You know, they're not afraid of that blank piece of paper. They can't wait to fill that blank piece of paper. They simplify down to it's purest essence. You know, pure drawing comes from the soul. It comes from deep inside of you, and that's how you can communicate. You know, I've been drawing, my first drawings are when I think I was three years old. I asked my mom: "Who did these drawings on my bed?" and she said: "You did". "You found a permanent marker, you destroyed your bed, and then you went to the walls. You kept going around the house". And my mom, instead of getting angry, she brought home paper for me to draw on the paper instead of her walls. So I'm very very thankful and appreciate that she's an enabler and she supports my addiction, and, OK that was a joke. I love my mom for doing that, really. I would get completely lost when I was a child, and it's called "Getting in the zone" where the world would just disappear, and I would make sound effects and I would just completely lose myself and, you know, as an artist, that's the thing you try to strive for. You know, getting in that zone. Kids also, in terms of drawing, they get to the heart of it.