SOUL landed today on home release and in celebration of the arrival, we had the chance to sit down with Pixar Story Artist Michael Yates to learn more about his involvement on the project.
The life of a Pixar Story Artist is one that requires not just talent and skill but also patience and understanding. At any point during the intensive process of bringing an animated feature to life, it is all but guaranteed that something you’ve worked on for hours, days, or even weeks could be aborted or completely changed.
Oddly, that is not as proverbially soul-crushing as it may seem. Yates reassuringly shared, “You’re never criticized for having an idea that doesn’t work.” Whether it’s a style choice, perspective change, or even just a tweak in story flow, there’s always evolution during the process of finding the story. In the end, all the tweaks move towards the goal of strengthening the end product.
Still, sometimes serendipity does strike with a concept going nearly identically from the initial storyboard to the screen as Yates was proud to say was done for a scene he worked on in the final act with 22 chasing Joe in the subway. This is usually far more the exception than the rule, though.
Although the contributions of the many Pixar Story Artists are front-loaded onto a “show” (the in-house lingo for the movie on which they’re working), the evolution obviously doesn’t stop after they put down the digital pens. While the basic foundation of what is created by the story artists at the outset typically remains in place, other departments continue to shape the final product. One such evolution, unsurprisingly, was with the design for the film’s protagonist, Joe Gardener. When Yates was working on the project early on, Joe’s face was a lot more linear (almost pill-shaped) vs his final look which would decidedly become more cheeky (literally) with a more bean-shaped head.
Unsurprisingly, a character’s design evolves throughout the creative process. When Pixar Story Artist Michael Yates was working on protagonist Joe Gardener he had a straighter, less round face.
It takes hours and hours of brainstorming and collaboration and literally thousands of drawings to get to the final product on the screen and the early work by Pixar Story Artists is just one of the important steps in the process.
There’s so much to appreciate about Disney-Pixar’s SOUL and if you haven’t seen it yet you’re running out of excuses. The film has been available on Disney+ since Christmas and is available in home release starting today!
SOUL is available on digital, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on March 23, 2021.
If you’re a collector of physical versions, the film will be packaged as a collectible SteelBook® at Best Buy and packaged with a limited-edition gallery book at Target.
Otherwise, you can enjoy it digitally through Amazon or with your favorite provider.