Disney Pixar's Turning Red

Disney Pixar's Turning Red


Many of you by now may have gotten to see Turning Red the new Pixar movie that is now streaming on Disney + and if you haven’t then I beg you to ask a friend to come over for a viewing. Turning Red is not just a coming-of-age film but Pixar's first film with an all-female leadership team.

The film tried very hard to create a unique take on adolescence and puberty. It takes the changes a teenage girl’s body goes through and makes it quite literal by transforming Mei into a red panda at the most inopportune time. Because of these changes, Mei is much more emotional and has a hard time composing and controlling herself. This is something everyone goes through in their life, making this movie extremely relatable.  I have read a lot of bad views about the movie as well but quite frankly, I think it is about time that the topic is discussed in some way and I felt that this was an appropriate not in your face way of doing just that. 


Being an illustrator myself, I watch Pixar movies, DreamWorks films plus many more like they are study guides. I watch the lighting, swoon over textures, and fervently take notes during the credits, who I can research on the internet to learn from. I admit it is a very specific guilty pleasure.

That is why when I watched Turning Red I was floored.  I knew going in that I would be captivated by that deliciously furry red panda but aside from that, I had known nothing else about the film.

 I immediately was mesmerized and taken in by the atmosphere,  We are all well aware that Pixar is a pioneering powerhouse. From creating the first entirely CGI feature film in Toy Story to crafting family-friendly movies with rich, grown-up themes like Soul, the Disney subsidiary has been spearheading a modern golden age of animation for nearly 30 years.

So of course nothing less was expected, however, there was something different. The movie's plot as I said was a  fresh take on the universal coming of age tale, it tells the story of 13-year-old Mei Lee, metamorphosing into a giant red panda whenever her teenage emotions get the better of her and it is adorable!


Disney Pixar's Turning Red

One of the MANY things that made this film unique was that it had all-female leadership the company's  25th animated feature, Turning Red is the studio's first film to have an all-female leadership team, with a female director, producer, visual-effects supervisor, and production designer among its lead creatives. How fantastic is that!

Pixar President Jim Morris told a Hollywood Reporter that bringing the all-female team together “happened very organically. It wasn’t like we decided, ‘Let’s make sure that that happened.’”

“One of the fastest films ever in terms of getting made at Pixar — which means it only took four years,” Morris chimed in.


Domee Shi  The Chinese-Canadian animator, storyboard artist, and director has worked for Pixar since 2011, contributing to films including Inside Out and Toy Story 4. Her first venture into directing came in the form of 2018’s Bao, which earned her the accolade of the first woman of color to win an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Turning Red is Shi’s first feature.

The women of "Turning Red" are as follows: Director Domee Shi, Producer Lindsey Collins. Danielle Feinberg, Sabine Koch, and Rona Liu, Lisa Fotheringham and Patty Kihm.Deborah Coleman / Pixar, composite by Kirsten Acuna/Insider

Turning Red threw Pixar’s conventional animation manual out of the window. A mix of 2D and 3D animation – combining hand-drawn anime elements with 3D lighting, character and structural designs, and general atmosphere – was decided early on. The occasional use of 2D character profiles, where viewers would only see one eye, proved to be a difficult technique for some veteran staffers to understand.

It was an animation technique called ‘isolated motion’, though, that proved most difficult to execute. Pixar animators were used to moving multiple character limbs to embellish their reactions on the screen. However, isolated motion required animators to move a single limb, such as an arm, while the rest of a character’s body remains stationary. For a few crew members, this new animation technique was difficult to master. That is until a new piece of animation software – Profile Mover – was introduced.

“Profile Mover was a huge game-changer in how we make characters move,” Collins reveals. “The 2D elements aren’t typical for us but were driven by Domee’s desire to play in this new sandbox. We were very conscious of making this look overly simplistic or even cheap, so we spent a lot of time proving this could work in the testing phase and creating a holistically styled look for the movie. Profile Mover helped our animators to relearn what was possible from an animation perspective. I think it’s going to be used in all of our films going forward.”

Pixar Developed Technology To Bring More Diversity To The Background Of Every Turning Red Scene

Disney Pixar's Turning Red


The Story follows Mei’s coming-of-age story growing up in Toronto, Canada. Shi also stated that “We wanted to tell an adolescent story without having to deal with social media,” Shi says. “If you told it in the modern age, you can't ignore that, and I wanted a blank canvas to tell this coming-of-age tale. The aesthetic of the late 90s and early 2000s was really fun and colorful, so it just felt like a really cool time period to try to depict and stylize.”

" Diversity in the background [of scenes] is hard to do because you literally have to build different hair, different body shapes, and different faces, but they were able to create such an amazing, diverse cast of background characters with the limited time that we had and it really feels authentic. When you watch it, it feels very much like Toronto which is awesome. The [team} would come to us and give us suggestions on representation because even though I’m an Asian Canadian woman, I too will have blind spots and things I don’t normally think about. They’ll come in with opportunities like ‘What if we had a person in a wheelchair in this shot’ or make sure that in our sets we have ramps going into the temple, which is like ‘Oh my gosh, duh! Of course.’ But I never would have thought about this stuff."


For example, in one of the trailers, we feature a background character with an Insulin pump that was from the crowds' team and it was huge. People really responded well to that. It’s so awesome that people can see themselves.


Disney Pixar's Turning Red

.The movie overall is entertaining for the whole family and in my opinion, you will not be disappointed if you go in with an open mind and an appreciation for the work that went into making this feature. 



No comments posted.