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CARS

About The Production
John Lasseter had some very specific words for the designers, modelers, and animators who were responsible for creating the film's car stars: "Truth to materials.” Starting with pencil-and-paper designs from production designer Bob Pauley, and continuing through the modeling, articulation, and shading of the characters, and finally into animation, the production team worked hard to have the car characters remain true to their origins.

Characters department manager Jay Ward explains, "John didn't want the cars to seem clay-like or mushy. He insisted on truth to materials. This was a huge thing for him. He told us that steel needs to feel like steel. Glass should feel like glass. These cars need to feel heavy. They weigh three or four thousand pounds. When they move around, they need to have that feel. They shouldn't appear light or overly bouncy to the point where the audience might see them as rubber toys.”

According to directing animator James Ford Murphy, "Originally, the car models were built so they could basically do anything. John kept reminding us that these characters are made of metal and they weigh several thousand pounds. They can't stretch. He showed us examples of very loose animation to illustrate what not to do.”

With the limitations of movement imposed by the metal frames, the animators had to be inventive and resourceful to create the wide range of movement and expression required for the story.

Directing animator Bobby Podesta observes, "The really cool thing about cars is that they could be a lot of different things. They can move like a car when they're driving around. But we could make them appear almost animal-like at times and have them gesture or do something that humans can do, while staying true to car materials. For example, there's a scene where Mater creeps across a tractor field, and he's suddenly like a lion in Africa sneaking up on his prey. You find yourself relating to the car in a different way.”

From the thrilling opening nighttime race to the dusty, faded façades of Radiator Springs' Main Street and revving up to a climax with the action-packed daytime race in California, Pixar's production designers and artistic team went into overdrive to capture the diverse moods and settings of CARS in a stylish way.

A great believer in research and first-hand experience, Lasseter took his key creative team on a road trip along Route 66 in 2001 to help them prepare for their assignment. Nine people, nine days, four white Cadillacs. For good measure, Route 66 expert Michael Wallis led the expedition and provided a running narrative via walkie-talkies along the way.

Production designer Bob Pauley, a Detroit native and lifetime car enthusiast, who oversaw the design of the car characters and the two racetrack environments, recalls, "Michael told us at the very start of the trip, ‘You don't know what's going to happen out there. All sorts of new things and experiences are going to happen, and you just have to roll with it and enjoy it, and be open to it.'And it was true. Typically, we'd go into a town and we'd hear all these wonderful stories from the locals. We'd soak it all in while getting a haircut at the barbershop, or enjoying a sno-cone, or taking the challenge to eat a 72-ounce steak at the Big Texan. We even took soil samples. It was unbelievable—purple, red, orange, ochre. So many wonderful colors!

"One of the most meaningful moments for all of us occurred at a stop somewhere in Arizona,” continues Pauley. "We were on the side of a road close to the big highway. It was a beautiful road that wound perfectly around the environment. It turns and goes right through this gorgeous butte. As we were sitting there, a truck pulled up with an older Native American and his grandchild. He asked us ‘How do you like our land?'We t

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