The next Pixar movie? ‘Turning Red’ directed by Domee Shi

Shi assembled Pixar’s first all-female leadership team to make a 2D film, inspired by the anime and reference “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”


It turns out that Pixar director Domee Shi’s Oscar-winning short “Bao” is actually his pre-meal appetizer.Turn red,” her animated feature film debut (premiering March 11 on Disney+). Both rely on strange transformations to represent the identity crises of growing up as a Chinese-Canadian in Toronto. However, “Turning Red” allows her to fully explore her awkward teenage experience through 13-year-old Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), who transforms into a giant red panda whenever she can’t contain her feelings about boy bands, pop music, her best friends, and escape from her overbearing mother, Ming (Sandra Oh).

“Where did this weird story come from? Back in 2017, when I was advertising [‘Bao’], a lot of people keep asking me: Why is Bao a boy? Because I only had eight minutes to tell the story,” Shi said. “For the story of a mother and daughter, I needed an entire feature film to unpack that. And, fortunately, I was soon supported when Pixar asked me to come up with three ideas, and here are the ideas that were chosen. [and greenlit shortly before Pete Docter took over as Pixar’s chief creative officer]. ”

“Turning Red”, like “Bao”, was inspired by Shi’s close relationship with her mother. Also, like Shi, Mei was an only child who immigrated to Toronto from China as a toddler. “But then, like all kids, I started to grow up, I started to change, I started getting into anime, manga, [hanging] out with my friends more and less and less with my mother,” she added. “She didn’t understand why I was so obsessed with these fictional characters that I drew over and over in my sketchbook with their big eyes and colorful ruffled hair. And ‘Turning Red’ is inspired by this global struggle to grow up and figure out how to handle it to honor your parents but also be true to yourself. And, for Mei Lee, the red panda is the magical spark that sparks this inner conflict within herself. “

MAYHEM HIGH SCHOOL - In the brand new Disney and Pixar original feature film, “Turning Red,” 13-year-old Mei Lee, a confident but impatient teenager, is surviving a tumultuous time in high school. two with little help from her close group of friends. Featuring the voices of (left to right) Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya, Rosalie Chiang as Mei, Ava Morse as Miriam, and Hyein Park as Abby,

“Go Red”


At the same time, the fluffy and slow red panda serves as a metaphor for puberty, when “suddenly, we’re covered in body hair, we smell their funny, emotional feelings We’re all over the place, and we’re as hungry as ever. That’s why she wanted “Turning Red” to be unique to Pixar: a surreal teen comedy set in 2002 Toronto and starring a seventeen-year-old girl. first. “I really wanted the world to reflect her personality: colorful, well-dressed and cute, bold and your face… The term I used a lot for the crew was a dream of a storm. Asian tween sauce.” This was not only a period of boy band popularity, pop craze, and growing sexual awareness for Shi, but also a “simpler age of flip phones, discs and more.” CD, jelly bracelet and Tamagotchis”.

Aesthetically, Shi turned to the 2D look of the anime as the stylistic driving force behind “Turning Red”. This meant adapting the surreal standard at Pixar to fit her vision: bending the way they model, shading, and lighting for more graphics. To achieve this, Shi – the first female solo director at Pixar – assembled the studio’s first all-female leadership team, including producer Lindsey Collins (host of experimental SparkShorts), designer Production designer Rona Liu (“Bao”) and cinematographer-VFX supervisor Danielle Feinberg (“Coco”) head. Outside, cartoon Supervisor Patty Kihm (“Toy Story 4”) splits the assignment with Aaron Hartline (“Lightyear”).

“We will never exactly copy 2D into 3D,” Shi said. “But how do we use the powerful tools we have today to stylize the look of a movie in 3D? How do we abstract the world enough to feel unique while also being rich enough to feel as immersive as if you were in the family temple or you were in the thick and heavy panda fur odor? ”

WE GIVE YOU (FLUFFY) BACK - In the all-new Disney and Pixar original feature film

“Go Red”


Of course, they studied anime’s watercolors and visual language, but they also referenced live-action films, especially “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” by Edgar Wright, also set in Toronto. “I always liked how that movie used a lot of comic stylization when it came to the fight scenes, when it came to cropping and camera movements and fast zooms, even fast paced humour,” added Shi. “It’s really cool to see how he can get that energy in live matches. we [also] mentioned it a lot in terms of the camera being a character in and of itself and following the character’s emotions. “

But converting anime graphic styles to CG involved retooling the software and tweaking the whole process. This includes making Chinatown architecture look classy with pointed roofs like cat ears, adding color variation and tint to materials, changing the tone of the pastel background to make Characters stand out and cast a slightly pinkish cloud to enhance the fantasy sequence. More complicated is providing characters with moon eyes and cat mouths, and then changing the size and shape of the eyes or adding stars for a better graphical representation.

But, of course, Mei’s alter ego, Panda Mei, poses the biggest challenge in terms of animation. Although fur has long been conquered by Pixar with “Monsters, Inc.” and refined ever since, but this is a new beast. At first, the chunky cute shape is unwieldy, and working with large and soft sizes is counter-intuitive. In addition, expressions and movements also need special attention while still matching Mei’s appearance and personality.

Mei Lee

“Go Red”


“We need to address the metaphor of being big, hairy, and uncomfortable in your body,” says Shi. “And that made it difficult to shoot her in a lot of the sets we did because she was so big. You don’t notice it when you watch the movie, but a lot of times, when she’s in the interior space, we had to shrink her by 10-15% so she could move and act and not intersected with other parts of the set”.

Meanwhile, the music captures that period along with Mei’s personality. For the fictional boy band, 4* Town, Shi, and Collins went after Billie Eilish and FINNEAS before they hit stardom, with the director putting together a scrapbook of Mei to entice them. They wrote three original songs, including “Nobody Like U” (introduced in the trailer), and FINNEAS voiced one of the band members 4*Town. And Oscar and Emmy Award-winning Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther,” “The Mandalorian”) delivers a score for conveying Mei’s powerful through a combination of new swing jack and oriental instruments.

Yet despite her ambitious vision and unconventional ideas, Shi welcomes the mentorship of Pixar’s gentle leader, Docter, to guide her along the way. “He is very quiet and one of the things he always reminds me of is the importance of showing and not being told,” Shi said. “And that’s hard to do when you have to spend some time narration setting up the rest of the movie.”

Turn red

“Go Red”


This is especially true for the initial opening scene of a very young Mei and her mother posing for a photo together during a photo session, which was cut after being fully animated. Sitting together during the screening, Docter gently suggested that the opening would be stronger if she saved the introduction of the mother-daughter bond until later. “Pete was really brilliant when he came in and said all the reasons why he loved the scene and then added on to it,” Shi added. “The story changed gradually throughout production and we didn’t need this scene. We wanted to meet Mei and her girlfriends from the very beginning. “

However, after making “Turning Red” such a classy, ​​unique Pixar movie, there will be no cinemas as a result of the omicron increase. This is the third Pixar film in a row to receive the Disney+ rating. “These are long-term plans that you have to commit to with no real sense of clarity going forward,” says producer Collins. “So we just did what felt smartest in terms of getting the most viewers…. And that’s a huge relief because the worst thing in the world is to spend all the effort and time making this movie and then no one watches it. Terms [the future]I think LA will make a short run for the Oscars. And then we all hope that at some point, maybe once the cinemas open, we can show ‘Soul,’ ‘Luca,’ and ‘Turning Red’ across the country at a Disney festival or something. “

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Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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