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Docter Talks UP and Monsters, Inc. Going Blu

In anticipation of tomorrow's home entertainment releases of both UP and MONSTER'S, INC. (Walt Disney Home Ent.), we spoke with Pixar director Pete Docter about going Blu.

In anticipation of tomorrow's home entertainment releases of both UP and MONSTER'S, INC. (Walt Disney Home Ent.), we spoke with Pixar director Pete Docter about going Blu:

Bill Desowitz: So was there any special prep when making UP for the Blu-ray release?

Pete Docter: We purposely pushed things dark or whatever and so even as we were lighting it, we checked how it would appear on each media so it would still work. We're always thinking ahead that way. But, man, the Blu-ray we just saw is fantastic! I mean the clarity and the color is just pretty astounding.

BD: Are you actually present for the Blu-ray mastering?

PD: No, most of that I trust to our Lighting Supervisor, JC Kalache. He has such a great eye and has been more intimately involved with the lighting all along the way, so he's got a great memory for color and anything that would be possible to drift off.

BD: When you looked at both UP and MONSTERS, INC., what stood out for you?

PD: On MONSTERS, I'd gotten used to the DVD, so when you see it on Blu-ray, it's got all this clarity and sharpness that you don't get. With UP, it was really like going back and sitting in reviews. That's the image I was trying to get as we were having our various shading reviews and lighting reviews. It's able to capture all of that. It's really the closest you can get to seeing the movie we were intending to make.

BD: What would you recommend that viewers pay close attention to?

PD: If you've seen it in the theater, you're getting everything that you saw there in terms of crispness and whatnot. You're only missing the communal experience watching your Blu-ray at home.

BD: If I recall, Sharon Calahan talked about the neon reds for RATATOUILLE in addition to the extra brightness.

PD: Yeah, and I know a lot of times we tend to ignore all of that as we're creating the images: we just pick the colors that we want and move forward and then later you end up realizing that "this green has to drift just a bit to the yellow side or the blue side." Blue is especially problematic: things like the sky color gets dropped down in saturation or has to drift one way or another. But I think the choices that JC and the colorist made worked really well. It seemed like there was a lot less compromise that way with Blu-ray: the colors available in that format just seem more flexible so we're able to get what we wanted.

BD: And UP and MONSTERS have such different palettes.

PD: Yeah, both of them have pretty high saturation levels and the contrast levels we were able to push pretty well on UP from MONSTERS -- that's cool.

BD: What was it like watching MONSTERS again?

PD: I don't watch them at home, so it had been a while. If anything, I watch the classic Disney films. But I don't watch the Pixar stuff until you have a reason to. So it was cool to go back and realize that a lot of it still works well. I would want to push this in that direction if I could now, but it's pretty neat.

BD: What's been the biggest improvement you made as a director?

PD: That's a good question: Well, I think I got better at communicating and understanding what everybody brings to the party and what information they need to do their job. It became more efficient and I was able to speak more clearly and hopefully allow the artists to bring more of their ideas to the table. You start to realize --and I've really known this all along -- they have great ideas. Instead of telling them to change [this frame or that frame], I can tell them more generally that I need a sense of anxiety.

Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.