Inside Out is all about the visual contrast between Riley’s inner and outer worlds. This allowed Patrick Lin (DOP for layout) to explore different camera techniques to shoot the two worlds. “From the very beginning, we wanted to design a visual language that could clearly define each world but at the same time contrast them and keep them separate,” explained Lin, who collaborated with Kim White, DOP for lighting .
“The outside world is based on San Francisco and Minnesota. It’s realistic; the camera is imperfect and flawed. The inside world is imaginative and virtual so it can be perfect.” They used lens distortion to separate the look of the two worlds, alternating between the Cooke S4 for the outside world and the Arri/Zeiss Ultra Primes for the inside world of Riley’s mind (this marks the first time that Pixar modeled virtual lenses after real ones).
For the outside world, they sought a more organic vibe using zooms, Steadicams, or hand-held shots. For early scenes in Minnesota when Riley and her parents are happy, she’s centered in the frame between them. Later on, in San Francisco, when Riley becomes despondent, she’s framed off to the side to emphasize the disconnect from her parents.
Meanwhile, Lin and his colleagues expanded the use of camera capture introduced on The Blue Umbrella short: They used gearboxes with different rigs to emulate cranes and Steadicams along with a focus ring for live focusing. “We moved to a bigger room, we switched to infrared sensors, which is more accurate, and improved the workflow. We had to optimize the sets and optimize the shots,” added Lin.