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Moving Up at Pixar

Moving Up at Pixar

When Scott Clark RISD 96 IL first did an internship at Pixar during his senior year, he had no clue that more than a decade later he’d be leading the world’s premier animation crew and helping the company produce one extraordinary hit after another. His incredible line-up of films includes A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Cars and most recently, Up, the studio’s 2009 award-winning crowd-pleaser.

Clark worked as the supervising animator on Up, managing the efforts of three directing animators and a team of nearly 70 at the peak of production. As with his other Pixar projects, he enjoyed the challenges involved—in this case, making a film starring a curmudgeonly 78-year-old named Carl Frederickson, voiced by Ed Asner.

“As soon as we had Ed on board to do the voice, we had Carl,” Scott says. “You heard him and you had the character. It gave us something to hang the animation on.” But when co-writers and directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson wanted their protagonist to look like an old man “who had literally shrunken in his suit and was swimming in it,” Scott explains, the animators came up with a guy who initially “didn’t look like he had any knees or elbows.” So he worked with his team to lengthen the character’s limbs, which enabled people to see a break in the cloth where his arms and legs bend.

“Carl is probably the most caricatured animation we’ve ever done,” Scott says. “But it’s a real testament to our animation crew that they could actually get complex emotions other than just cute or happy out of Carl and Russell [his 8-year-old cohort]. They do some pretty heavy scenes, with great acting.”

Audiences and critics agree. In addition to winning the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, Up was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two: Best Animated Feature and Best Music.

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