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Monsters University Scare School 101 #MonstersUEvent

During my time at Monsters University, I took many classes. I quickly became top in my class getting a great recommendation from Dean Hardscrabble. While in, scare school 101, I learned all about the making of Monsters University from the creators of the film themselves. There were 100,856 storyboards used in the making of Monsters University – the highest number used in any Pixar film.

Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Pixar Animation Studios. Emeryville, California. April 10, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland/Pixar)

Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Pixar Animation Studios. Emeryville, California. April 10, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland/Pixar)

Monsters University was founded in 1313. There are six different schools of study at Monsters University including School of Scaring, School of Engineering, School of Liberal Arts and Monstrosities, School of Science, School of Business and School of Aquatics. During my time at the University I had the pleasure of attending many of these classes and after school clubs.

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

My first class at Monsters University was English 101: How to Tell a Great Story. I got a chance to learn how to draw Mike Wazowski while learning about the story process from Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann. Kelsey Mann worked on the project for four years. During class, we were brought through the entire story process. They first began with a big empty scary white board and worked to get it filled with ideas for the story as fast as possible. They would talk about the movie, and bounce ideas off of each other. The writers helped to influence the story board pages as they worked together to make the film. They main goal when working on the story boards was “How is it entertaining?” says Mann. The ideas are not always constantly flowing when working on the story boards. There were times when they would find themselves just staring at each other waiting for ideas, and this is when they start drawing goofy photos of each other to start getting the creative juices flowing again. The storyboards artists are the first designers of the film before they begin working on the script and continue to play a role throughout the entire process. One of my favorite quotes from Kelsey Mann was, “When stories zig, we zag.”

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann talks to press about the story process and gives a drawing lesson at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

After learning how to draw a monster and the storyboard process, I headed over to Physics 250: Global Illumination with my classmates. The instructors for this class were Jean-Claude (JC) Kalache, Sanjay Bakshi and Christine Waggoner. There was a staff of 100 technical directors working on the film. The render farm is where a lot of the magic happened, and it is a room full of computers that they doubled when working on the film. Over 100 million CPU hours went into rendering Monsters University they were able to put that into perspective for us by telling us that if we were to purchase one computer to start working on Monsters University today, it would take over 10,000 years to complete it. There are 24 frames in every second of the film, and each frame takes 29 hours to render. There were 400 characters designed to populate the campus, and on average there were 25 characters in every shot, which is more than double of the average 10 characters per shot in most Pixar films. It was a fascinating class. After taking this class, I will appreciate every second in an animation film knowing the amount of work that goes into every aspect of the rendering.

Simulation Supervisor, Christine Waggoner talks to press about the technical challenges and achievements of the film at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 10, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Simulation Supervisor, Christine Waggoner talks to press about the technical challenges and achievements of the film at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 10, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Next it was time for Sociology 203: The Deconstruction of a character with Production Designer Ricky Nierva, Character Art Director Jason Deamer and Character Designer Daniela Strijleva. Both Jason and Ricky worked on the first film together, Monsters Inc. “It was like being reacquainted with old friends,” says Nierva. One of their biggest challenges on the film was making the characters look younger and at a College age. One of the biggest questions they kept asking themselves was, “How do you make an eyeball 18 years old?” They started the design process by asking the entire crew to bring in their senior class portraits to examine what makes features change on the characters. With Mike, they took away as much weight as possible from him and thinned out his arms and legs. They also make his arms and legs longer and his feet and hands bigger while shortening his horns with the thought that they might grow with age. It was not an easy process for this team as they continued to design other characters in the film including Squishy, who was designed after the popular Mochi candy. It was exciting to see how much work goes into designing every character on this film from the designers themselves.

Character Art Director, Jason Deamer talks to press about character design at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Character Art Director, Jason Deamer talks to press about character design at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Shading/Lighting Art Director, Dice Tsutsumi talks to press about "monsterizing" the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Shading/Lighting Art Director, Dice Tsutsumi talks to press about “monsterizing” the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Then it was time for the fun class Anthropology 152: Monsterizing the World with the shading/lighting art director Dice Tsutsumi and Sets Art Director Robert Kondo where we learned about “monsterizing” the world of Monsters University. When watching the film, keep an eye out for all of the hidden monsters in the architecture of the buildings in Monsters University. Since Monsters are usually heavy, they went for a “heavy” motif style of the buildings throughout the campus. They played with the vegetation adding horns to trees and hedges while playing with the vines that crawl over the different buildings. The campus expands to include underwater and flying monsters making it a truly magical place for the characters in the film.

Sets Art Director, Robert Kondo talks to press about "monsterizing" the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Sets Art Director, Robert Kondo talks to press about “monsterizing” the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Sets Art Director, Robert Kondo talks to press about "monsterizing" the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Sets Art Director, Robert Kondo talks to press about “monsterizing” the world of MU at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Finally, the last class at Monsters University was Dramatic Arts where we got to see Supervising Animator Scott Clark bring a character to life. We learned all about the process through an interactive demonstration.

Supervising Animator, Scott Clark talks to press about the animation process at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Supervising Animator, Scott Clark talks to press about the animation process at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Supervising Animator, Scott Clark talks to press about the animation process at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

Supervising Animator, Scott Clark talks to press about the animation process at Monsters University Long Lead Press Days. Emeryville, California. April 9, 2013 (Photo by Jessica Lifland/Pixar)

I graduated at top in my class from Monsters University with memories that will last a lifetime. Monsters University will be in theaters on June 21st.

Disclosure: We attended a press event with Disney. All of our thoughts and opinions are of our own.

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