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Video transcript

- Hi, I'm Christian Roman and I'm a story artist at Pixar. (bell dings) I'm your host for this second lesson on storytelling, which is on character development and I have a few friends joining me. - I'm Austin Madison, I am a story artist. - My name is Aphton Corbin, and I'm a storyboard artist. - My name is Louise Smythe, and I am a storyboard artist. - My name Ronnie del Carmen, I am a story person, director, designer, and all around troublemaker around here at Pixar. - The goal of this lesson is to explore our character development process by which we go from simple character concepts such as a robot or a fish or a girl to complex characters people can actually care about. Take Wall-E, he's not just a robot, he's a lonely, curious robot who fears, thinks, and ultimately loves. Or Nemo, he's not just a fish, he's a young fish who craves independence from his father, but endangers himself in trying to achieve it. Or Merida, she's a young princess who wishes to pursue her own hopes and dreams rather than conform to her parents' expectations. We can call these characters fully developed. This means we've gotten to know them so well that we can imagine them in almost any situation. Creating a fully developed character isn't easy. You're basically creating a new life from scratch, but it's really special when you get there. So, how do we begin character development at Pixar? - We can talk about characters in two ways. They have their external features, which is their design, their clothes, what they look like. Then much more interesting is the internal features. Are they insecure, are they brave, are they jealous? - I will pretend like I'm having a conversation and getting to know a friend and think okay, well what do they like to do? What are their beliefs, what do they enjoy? What do they not enjoy? - I think actually I work more externally first now that I think about it. You know, what they're wearing, how they style their hair, and that kind of informs internally what's going on. - One of my favorite Pixar characters is Syndrome. You look on the outside and he actually kind of looks like a superhero. He's got the superhero costume on, he's got a cape. He's got this dazzling hair. But inside he's totally a villain and he wants to actually do away with all the supers. So you kind of have that great little contrast there with that character that makes him feel really rich and really real. - Characters have to come from authentic human emotions and experiences. - And it doesn't necessarily have to mean make every character you, it could also be draw from people you know, things from real life. - Listen to that little voice saying. "Oh, that's just like "what my mom used to do." Or, "Oh that's just like this friend I had in high school." Or, "My little brother was like that "when we were growing up." - Because it's much easier to go from your family members or a friend when you're trying to search for a character. The specificity that people bring that you can't make up on your own is something that I look forward to and I enjoy when I'm trying to pinpoint down a character. - I was working on Up. I was the story supervisor. Now I'm a little invested in Carl's journey because back then my father was not well. He also had a full head of white hair. When he gets to the tepui, Carl actually has to be alone in his house essentially looking back at the life that he had lead with Ellie. He does this silently. At that point when I was storyboarding that sequence my father was already in the hospital and he was unable to speak. And when I actually talked to my father he can only communicate to me through his eyes, and with smiles and facial movements. That actually helped me accurately storyboard those moments when Carl silently thinks about his life with Ellie. And without dialog we understand the emotions that he's going through. Without my experience with my father I wouldn't have been able to actually tackle that moment in the movie and storyboards credibly. And I told him that Dad, I'm drawing you as Carl. - Understanding a character, both inside and out will help you figure out what the character really desires, which is what drives them through their journey. In this first exercise you'll have a chance to think about the difference between internal and external character traits. Remember, the more you know about your character, the more real that character will feel.