For Matt Nolte, the character art director for Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming film “The Good Dinosaur,” getting to draw dinosaurs was a dream come true for him.
“I’m a total dinosaur nerd,” Nolte said.
He talked about his infatuation with dinosaurs during the ‘80s and his work on the latest Pixar film in a behind-the-scenes presentation at the Tyler School of Art Nov. 5, as part of a nationwide college campus tour.
In “The Good Dinosaur,” releasing Nov. 25, the asteroid that supposedly causes the extinction of the dinosaurs never hits Earth, and life goes on as dinosaurs continue to inhabit the world. When Arlo, a young Apatosaurus, is suddenly separated from his family, he meets a human friend Spot and tries to survive as he makes his way back home.
Nolte said he had been drawing ever since he was little, with the constant support of his father and mother, who was an artist herself.
“I really just loved it as a kid,” he said. “I just wanted to draw … so I just drew all the time.”
He attended junior college in Idaho and later graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with an animation degree. He eventually caught Pixar’s attention, secured an internship with the studio and started animating “Cars” in 2004.
Eleven years later, Nolte has worked on films like “Ratatouille” and “Brave,” the first Pixar film to star a female protagonist, Merida.
With his work in “The Good Dinosaur,” Nolte stressed how collaborative the movie-creating process is, like with animators bringing his 2-D character drawings to life.
“Because it’s a collaborative art form, not all of the pressure is on me,” he said. “The pressure is equal on everybody. We have our pressure when we’re designing, but if we do our best to make it relatable, other people will do their best at a certain stage to make it relatable too.”
And working at Pixar, he said, is not an impossible task.
“I love [talking to college students] because I feel like, hopefully I can help them realize that these things are possible, because I was a scared college student,” he said. “I never thought I’d get this job.”
Alan Ming Au and Julie Lam, both junior graphic design majors, skipped an art history class for the presentation and felt it was worth learning about what goes into a Pixar film.
“I thought it was amazing how he showed us the facial features of the two main characters and just how much movement and detail goes into going from a neutral expression to happy, angry, sad,” Ming Au said.
“Movies aren’t just [artists]—they have other people to convey those emotional stories,” Lam said. “I think that was the best part about it.”
Albert Hong can be reached at email@example.com.
Video shot by Eurica Yu and Edited by Sean Brown.