D23 Expo First Impressions: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY takes us back in time

While there was no footage shown from MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, there was plenty of concept art and insider information from the panels to pique my interest for the upcoming prequel.

When revisiting the world of MONSTERS INC., Pixar decided to explore the foundations of the Mike and Sully friendship – starting as competitive rivals and somehow blossoming into the close friendship we saw in MONSTERS, INC.  How did they become life long friends? When did Randall’s antagonism begin? These are hopefully to be answered in 2013 when MONSTERS UNIVERSITY hits theaters.

The Pixar team had the unique challenge of making an animated college movie. They “monsterized” standard college tropes like stereotypes, teachers, and buildings. What does it mean to “monsterize” something? It’s the process of taking real world elements and fitting it in to a monster inhabited universe – meaning doorways had to be varying sizes to accommodate the monsters of all different sizes, jock and geek groups become something that fits the monster roles like “Scarer.” Scarers are the social equivalent to our rock stars and astronauts – everyone dreams of becoming one, but only the cream of the crop reach that goal.

The rivalry between Mike and Sully stems from the fact that they both want to be professional scarers and are fighting their way through to top to be admitted in to Scare University.

The major voice actors are all back – John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Billy Crystal (who showed up at D23 briefly to hype the film), along with a new cast of actors to fill the college landscape like Dave Foley, Peter Sohn, Julie Sweeney, and Joel Murray.

The panel went into great detail about the character designs for Mike and Sully and how to make these familiar characters young and fresh, but still the same at their core. The technology has greatly improved in the 10 years since the first film, and it’s allowed the characters to be even more detailed and expressive than before.

To make the characters look younger, they took painstaking detail in making them slimmer, less wrinkled, brighter colors and just an overall enthusiasm and youth in the way the characters move and react.

They showed some great art illustrating the changes the characters went through during the development process. Sketches dating back to 2008 reveal that this has been in development far longer than originally believed. It’s crazy how long it takes for Pixar films to make their way through the pipeline, and it’s all because of their commitment to the story and making sure it’s top notch.

We’ll be posting the concept art as soon as images become available online. 

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