Recently, I saw Lightyear in IMAX and I loved the movie. Thanks to our friends over at Disney, I also had the absolute privilege of speaking to some of the Canadian animators who worked on the film, including Emilie Goulet. Emilie is no stranger to Pixar as she’s worked on films like Toy Story 4, Onward, Luca, Coco and The Incredibles II. Lightyear is her sixth film with the company and I was able to sit down with her for a few minutes and talk to her about work on Lightyear. She was an absolute joy to speak to and I really wish I had more time because she was full of energy and gave me some great answers! Read our full interview:
BSL: Hi there Emilie. Before we start, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your contributions to this film. I saw it last week and I loved it.
Emilie: Awesome, yay!
BSL: Okay, so sorry I just gotta get my question up here. Alright, so, I read that you were with this film since pre-production. What’s it been like to bring this film about such a beloved character to life?
Emilie: So I worked on the movie for a year and a half but I knew that the movie was being prepared for five years so I was very excited to work on the pre-production. In animation, pre-production is when we prepare the characters so that they can be animated later. So there’s a there’s a small team of animators that work on the characters and it was my first time doing pre-production, so It was kind of like I’m in some sort of a training thing *laughs* I was a rookie like in the movie. I worked, mostly on the background characters for the more intensive preparation that was great because you get to work with the character artist, which is a different department in animation and they’ll work on model and the skeleton of it, so that we can animate it so we just test the puppet make sure that demotions the range of go like this, like all the range of motions are possible with the characters. Then later on, they’re handed out to the animators and then we start animating the movie and it’s just really fun to bring those characters to life once you’ve worked so hard on the like the digital puppet of it.
BSL: I’m sure it is fun. Speaking of characters, this actually leads into my next question. Buzz Lightyear and Zurg are the two main characters of this movie. They’re iconic characters and so are their designs. Did it out all feel strange seeing Buzz or Zurg with different designs and looks after seeing them in a specific way for the past 27 years?
Emilie: It did at the beginning I felt it was really interesting because it’s not like a one-off right? They did a lot of iterations to get to the final model and it’s as if it was sometimes way too, realistic and then, oh no, we need to stylized it a little bit and finding that that sweet spot between the two is great. But you know, you bring up a really good point because, once you have Buzz you need to make sure that all the characters also feel part of the same world right like Izzy and Alicia and you know? They need to feel like they were born on the same planet as Buzz if that makes sense. That’s also a challenge.
BSL: I noticed that you also among other films you worked on Toy Story 4. What was it like to return to the Toy Story universe so quickly?
Emilie: It was great. It was really fun, it was really fun because it’s returning to the world of Toy Story, but at the same time it’s it’s different because it’s so realistic, and it is the movie that Andy would have seen. You know so there’s there’s there’s stuff about was his personality that we see in the movie Lightyear but at the same time he needs to feel like a real human so he’s very he needs to feel grounded in reality right?
BSL: Sort of like how, in Toy Story Buzz still thinks he’s a Space Ranger and then he learned he’s a toy, but in this movie Buzz is actually the Space Ranger and you need to give them those emotions?
Emilie Goulet: Yeah, exactly.
BSL: I’m told I have one minute left so my last question is, who was your favorite character work on and why was it Sox?
Emilie: *laughs* It was actually Alicia. I loved watching Sox being worked on, I had a couple of shots with Sox but he didn’t have any lines. Alicia for me, was a very important character. She’s Buzz’s best friend and commanding officer and she’s an inspiring character and for me, when I watched the first reels of the movie I really wanted to work on Alicia because, as a kid I knew that this is the kind of character that I would have loved to seen in the movies too and I hope that she inspires others as well.
BSL: I think both of the Hawthorne’s are definitely going to be great role models for young girls watching the movie. Alright, that’s all I have to ask. Again, thank you so much for your contributions, I really did love the film.
Emilie: Glad you loved it and I loved your questions.
BSL: Thank you so much, this is actually my first one on one I’ve ever done so, I was really nervous and very excited to talk to you! Thanks for your time.
Emilie: Of course, take care, good luck with all the other ones.
Although I only had 5 minutes with Emilie, I wish I had more. She was very chatty (in a good way) and gave me some really fun and insightful answers on Lightyear and her experience working on the film. If she ever works on more stuff for Pixar, I hope I’ll get to talk to her again.
Lightyear releases in theatres June 17. Be sure to look out for the rest of our interviews coming soon!