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Immersed in Movies: Visualizing ‘Inside Out’ with Two Styles and New Camera Capture

Immersed in Movies: Visualizing 'Inside Out' with Two Styles and New Camera Capture

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).

The cinematographers chose imperfect and spot-on focuses for the outside and inside worlds. They additionally went for very controlled, mechanical camera movements inside the mind, using dollies, tracks, booms, or cranes, which emulated classical filmmaking. They even devised “moving master shots” to combine several actions in one sequence (the longest of which is 48 seconds or 1,200 frames).

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.

Lin also graphed emotional arcs for Joy and Riley based on intensity (from 0-10). At the beginning they’re in sync. Then in act one and two their worlds are driven apart until they are completely opposite. And they naturally have to come together in act three.

“The fun part of this is that it’s two stories and I can contrast the two,” Lin continued. “I really like the classical style. And when I worked on Blue Umbrella, I really liked that cinema verite style. It was freeing to move the camera. And so bringing the two together is super fun. In act three, that’s the payoff when the two camera styles come together and the cuts are much quicker. The camera outside is hand-held but inside it’s really fast with tracking and craning moves. The tension’s incredible.”

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