A Look Inside the Making Of WALL-E

Check out early sketches of the characters from Pixar's space odyssey, now on DVD.

by | November 19, 2008 | Comments

With the release of WALL-E on DVD this week, Rotten Tomatoes is giving you an inside look into the making of the best-reviewed wide release of the year (Certified Fresh at 96 percent). We toured Pixar studios in September, and learned about the process of crafting this animated sci-fi romp from director Andrew Stanton and others. Click through for a look behind the scenes, as well as some early concept art from Pixar’s latest wonder.

In crafting a feature, Pixar usually spends two to three years on the story. Starting with a script, the film is subsequently storyboarded. The studio used 96,000 storyboards for WALL-E. (Director Andrew Stanton is pictured above, to the right.)

Artists hand-draw storyboards directly into computers, and save them as digital images. Once the storyboards are completed, they are put to reels, or filmstrips of the storyboards, which include scratch dialogue recorded by Pixar employees. The filmmakers never go to the final animation process without recording temporary dialogue.

Character art director Jason Deamer led a small group of artists that designed the look of the characters. The designs go through a series of revisions as the director evaluates them. “We bring it all to the table, and then it’s a selection process,” he said. “I like to think of it as a big ship, and they’re steering it.”

In designing WALL-E and EVE, the artists got a better feel for how the rest of the robots in the film would look. “There was a big evolution with the main characters, because we focus the most attention on them,” Deamer said. “There’s a lot of work there that doesn’t see the screen, but it’s a process that defines not only those characters, but what the rest of the cast will be.”

“Robots are a huge challenge, because robots are function-based machines,” Deamer said. “When you’re drawing them, you can only make up so much stuff that doesn’t actually function, or the person looking at them, even if they’re not engineers themselves, they’re going to notice that that joint wouldn’t actually work. So it became important to look at actual robots. You can only make so much up out of your head.”

In order to create the trash-strewn environment WALL-E inhabits, artists trolled dumps around Oakland, CA, studying the textures and colors of garbage to determine what the main character’s world would look like. “As fantastical as the worlds we create are, we try really hard to bring a sense of reality to them,” said Adrianne Ranft of Pixar University. Though researching the look and feel of the environs is essential for the films, some assignments are better than others. “It was nice for the Ratatouille folks when they took their research trip to Paris,” she said.

More character sketches.

Early takes on the Axiom.

WALL-E‘s vision of outer space.

Stanton was profoundly influenced by silent comedy. Since WALL-E has next to no dialogue, the story had to be furthered in another way. “We went and watched one Buster Keaton and one Charlie Chaplin movie per day,” he said. “What it did was confirmed our gut [instinct], which was that there’s nothing you can’t get across if you ripped away everything and could only do it visually. Those guys, through staging and edition and pantomime can convey anything. It gave us the courage to say, ‘There’s gotta be a way to get this across.'”

The WALL-E DVD contains two deleted scenes, which is rare for Pixar. In each case, Stanton recognized late in the process that the respective scenes didn’t fit with the overall picture. “We have more of what you’d expect a deleted scene to be than the other movies,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that we only animate a section of a film when we know it’s working. It’s so expensive to animate it. At least we recognized it and we fixed it. We just fixed it so much later than we’re used to.”

For RT’s interview with Stanton and sound designer Ben Burtt, click here. To take a look inside Pixar Studios, click here. For all of RT’s WALL-E-related headlines, click here.

Tag Cloud

Mindy Kaling Masterpiece toronto natural history 45 Toys Thanksgiving YA Paramount Network boxoffice Turner Classic Movies HBO Max cancelled X-Men GLAAD strong female leads Hallmark Christmas movies diversity Awards Tour cancelled TV series Creative Arts Emmys Song of Ice and Fire Warner Bros. composers Country halloween ABC emmy awards Showtime 2020 Infographic Ellie Kemper franchise Logo BBC One The Witch indiana jones Apple TV+ 2015 Disney Amazon Prime Video Brie Larson MTV asian-american dramedy talk show Martial Arts Rocketman Columbia Pictures Best and Worst DC Comics Pet Sematary Comedy Central 2019 stand-up comedy Binge Guide The Walking Dead versus series The Arrangement Nat Geo crime thriller cinemax reboot RT21 Peacock ratings BBC TBS DC streaming service revenge Summer supernatural Box Office mockumentary television name the review romance Cartoon Network Film Festival TruTV Fox News sequels dark Rocky aliens game of thrones dragons VH1 FX on Hulu El Rey Photos CBS Pixar screen actors guild Bravo Kids & Family satire Academy Awards cartoon latino adaptation hollywood spy thriller politics New York Comic Con The Purge Baby Yoda Premiere Dates golden globes zero dark thirty crossover remakes 4/20 IFC Films BAFTA finale space anthology Certified Fresh vampires DGA crime Polls and Games Fantasy Star Trek Sundance TV Amazon parents Hear Us Out teaser National Geographic Family Sci-Fi biography video Action Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Epix obituary Starz SDCC independent Reality Competition indie Rom-Com doctor who Holiday IFC canceled TV shows Chernobyl TV renewals Trailer BET comic video on demand Hallmark Biopics true crime criterion E! Podcast USA Network movie batman stoner Western binge Amazon Prime Trivia Comics on TV crime drama spinoff casting venice Ghostbusters zombie cancelled TV shows medical drama Mary poppins Lifetime documentaries sequel transformers 71st Emmy Awards renewed TV shows Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Tomatazos 007 72 Emmy Awards justice league Lionsgate Tumblr concert Hulu jamie lee curtis movies VOD toy story twilight blockbuster what to watch 24 frames serial killer psychological thriller Comic Book war festival Spectrum Originals Cannes 2016 CBS All Access blaxploitation Emmys Apple TV Plus hispanic psycho CNN universal monsters WGN films fast and furious breaking bad Watching Series MCU stop motion Reality FOX AMC FXX romantic comedy Year in Review Film Red Carpet FX President zombies Disney+ Disney Plus docudrama dogs Sundance Now Dark Horse Comics werewolf Crackle football adventure joker historical drama Nominations social media Classic Film TIFF San Diego Comic-Con cops children's TV American Society of Cinematographers WarnerMedia cults Countdown south america Arrowverse Musicals Grammys Shudder VICE Set visit YouTube travel BET Awards OWN comics Elton John news The CW Ovation TV Land Netflix Christmas movies USA Writers Guild of America Stephen King Turner critics award winner CW Seed miniseries Tarantino First Look MSNBC Pop Avengers a nightmare on elm street Superheroes spider-man Travel Channel based on movie green book superhero reviews hist Video Games ESPN 21st Century Fox streaming spanish language Nickelodeon A&E Super Bowl Crunchyroll Comedy Animation cancelled television Christmas Drama HBO CMT Mudbound OneApp spain police drama festivals Musical Marvel Studios DirecTV Acorn TV Pop TV Mystery Opinion Walt Disney Pictures SundanceTV GoT Holidays A24 disaster comedies Marvel 2018 Captain marvel Women's History Month Mary Poppins Returns richard e. Grant nfl unscripted TCM TNT Emmy Nominations book cars theme song Music comiccon Quiz Superheroe game show TCA Awards Winter TV Sneak Peek Disney Plus cats Anna Paquin Rock dceu First Reviews Black Mirror robots YouTube Premium animated mission: impossible Vudu chucky Adult Swim TCA 2017 cooking Star Wars anime Food Network Spike Election foreign Oscars TLC free movies Endgame APB Pirates Britbox Lifetime Christmas movies Esquire LGBT worst movies sports Netflix canceled TCA Disney Channel rotten movies we love Character Guide scary movies Amazon Studios tv talk sag awards DC Universe PBS ITV Disney streaming service christmas movies Teen directors mutant PlayStation Schedule Universal Trophy Talk TV Valentine's Day Cosplay Calendar science fiction See It Skip It kids Interview Heroines 20th Century Fox facebook slashers Television Critics Association Extras singing competition Mary Tyler Moore elevated horror Awards child's play scorecard Discovery Channel TCA Winter 2020 PaleyFest Lucasfilm Marvel Television YouTube Red E3 sitcom period drama Fall TV Marathons worst Sundance Pride Month Horror screenings quibi laika Freeform nbcuniversal Black History Month classics History witnail NBC HBO Go Tubi RT History best ghosts thriller die hard SXSW 2017 GIFs discovery LGBTQ nature documentary political drama technology Winners Shondaland Spring TV harry potter dc rotten Funimation BBC America NYCC Apple all-time Sony Pictures Television Academy Syfy ABC Family Paramount