Pixar: 20 Years of Animation

12 / 19

Designing Monstropolis. Monsters, Inc., 2001

Geefwee Boedoe, Harley Jessup, Tia W. Kratter, Dominique R. Louis
Designing Monstropolis
Monsters, Inc., 2001
DVD, 13-minute loop
© Disney/Pixar

Narrator: A huge part of every film is working out where it happens – the detailed look and feel of the world the characters live in. Harley Jessup was in charge of the design team that developed the world of Monsters, Inc.

Harley Jessup: At the very beginning of the process as story is developing, we're trying to contribute visual ideas at the same time.

Narrator: The artists thought about the Scare factory, where monsters frighten kids and collect their screams to power the city of Monstropolis.

The art in the case here deals with the factory’s door vault. It houses the kids’ doors monsters must go through to collect the children’s screams.

Harley Jessup: There were questions like how are millions of doors stored and sorted? And, how are they transported to the scare floors? And then, what does this huge vault look like? How do we show a space that's about a thousand feet tall and a mile deep? And then we were interested in contrasting the delicate colors of the kids' closet doors with this hulk of a concrete building.

Even if you’ve seen the movie, many of the visual ideas here will be new to you. There are still more ideas for the monster world to the right, on the monitor.

Harley Jessup: The visual possibilities were really wide open. There was a whole idea that Monstropolis is a company town, almost like Pittsburgh, that grew up around one industry.

Narrator: That’s why there are photos of human factories and workers among the sketches for the film. 
The artists were encouraged to think about how monsters lived and what they might need. In fact, they were encouraged to think like monsters.

Harley Jessup: We talked with little kids for their thoughts of where monsters come from, how they live, that kind of thing. We did a lot of research on monsters in literature. It was just a really juicy project, to turn the real world around us into the monster world.