Design Students Get a Sneak Peek at Pixar’s Latest Film

Promotional poster for Pixar's CoCo

Students in the College of Design got a sneak peek at Disney Pixar’s latest release, “Coco” more than a week before its Thanksgiving release. As part of Disney’s Artist Tour, Sets Supervisor Chris Bernardi visited McNeal Hall to share clips from the movie and describe the process behind the design and development of the film.

Centered around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), “Coco” tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel and the generations-long ban that his family has placed on playing music. Desperate to become a famous musician, Miguel makes a mistake while pursuing his ambitions and ends up in the Land of the Dead. There he must rely on the help of his ancestors, new friends, and magical alebrije (spirit guides) to find his way back home.

Students were treated to a number of unreleased clips from the movie as well as a talk from Bernardi on how the sets for Pixar movies are developed. “At Pixar research is very important. For this is film, we traveled to Mexico to get a deeper understanding of Dia de los Muertos. That trip influenced every aspect of the film,” explained Bernardi.

Using their research, the art department for the film created multiple concepts for the design of the film and presented those concepts in paintings and renderings. Once the direction of the art was decided, Bernardi’s team took the artwork and created 3D models for each shot of the movie. “Building the the Land of the Dead created unique visual challenges,” he said. “We paired a technical artist with the art department to flesh out how to capture all of the details of the conceptual artwork on the screen.”

Students also had the chance to ask Bernadi questions about the process and his role at Pixar. He even provided some career advice, “Work hard and know what you love.”

“Coco” is out now in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Pixar.

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