From the beginning, the filmmakers had wanted a Western-themed opening for Toy Story 3. Taking a visual cue from the original wallpaper in Andy’s bedroom, the big blue sky provided the canopy for Woody’s heroic runaway train rescue set in the desert Southwest. But for the third cinematic Toy Story opening sequence, the Pixar team took the action majestically over the top with spaceships, dinosaurs, and a memorable Death by Monkeys finale.
The choice of a landfill for the climactic sequence fit director Lee Unkrich’s notion of Toy Story as a life-cycle trilogy. For the characters, the dump would be the equivalent of Dante’s Inferno: a grim, dehumanized landscape and final destination. Pixar artists studied real dumps to emulate, but they also heightened the elements to maximize the drama.
According to Lighting Art Director, Dice Tsutsumi, “The dump is the one scene out of all the Toy Story films that needs to feel absolutely real, believable, and scary.”
By now Andy’s room has become an emblem of the Toy Story movies and of Pixar itself. The idyllic blue sky and white cloud wallpaper of Toy Story gives way to a galaxy of stars in Toy Story 2. For Toy Story 3, the artifacts on the walls, and even the more subdued sunlight streaming into the room, conveyed the realm of a teenager and the new problem facing the toys: Andy’s imminent departure for college.
Bonnie’s room presented a major challenge for the Pixar team. They needed the audience to immediately like the new little girl character and relate to her own collection of toys. Bonnie’s room had to be viewed as a place of safety and imagination, where toys are cherished, respected, and played with. And they had to do all this without giving away the ending. While critical story elements would take place in Bonnie’s room, it had to be treated as a speed bump in Woody’s journey home.
Sunnyside Daycare had to play two crucial roles in the film: a warm and welcoming environment one minute, an oppressive prison lockdown the next. Either way, the Pixar artists had to make Sunnyside always appear as a credible day care center. The crews took field trips to various child-care facilities in the Bay Area where they identified patterns in the organization and structure of bins. It also proved valuable in getting the child’s perspective. “Being there is great," said Production Designer Bob Pauley, "because you notice, wow…that chair’s tiny. Those toilets are tiny.”
For authenticity and inspiration, the Pixar team engaged in several field trips. With much of the film taking place at Sunnyside, the filmmakers toured multiple day care centers. Figuring that a day care center might feel like prison to a toy, they also took an outing to Alcatraz.
The Pixar team also spent hours scouring the local dump for angles. “The Ratatouille artists went to Paris. The Paris of Toy Story 3 is the dump. The Ratatouille crew got a better deal,” said Production Designer Bob Pauley.
A colorscript is a sequence of small pastel drawings or paintings used to emphasize color in each scene and establish a film's
“I embrace what John and everybody else had done for Toy Story and Toy Story 2 because both films are fantastic. As I studied the earlier movies, I found that so many elements of the art direction had a lot of thinking behind them. Those visuals aren’t the result of intuitive or arbitrary choices: the artists were thinking about how to best support the story,” said Art Director
Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi.