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Origins of the Project
As "Toy Story" was entering its final year of production in 1994, John Lasseter and his team began actively exploring ideas for their next feature project

As "Toy Story" was entering its final year of production in 1994, John Lasseter and his team began actively exploring ideas for their next feature project. A film involving insect characters had been discussed and seemed a natural because it could utilize the strengths and advantages of computer animation.

The spark of the idea for "A Bug's Life" came one day as Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft were having lunch. They began talking about the classic Aesop fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper, in which a starving grasshopper, fiddle in hand, drops in on a family of ants and begs for a bite to eat. When the grasshopper confesses that he spent the summer months making music, the industrious ants turn him away and suggest that he spend the winter dancing. Aesop's conclusion was "there's a time to work and a time to play." Stanton and Ranft concluded that it might make for a pretty interesting scenario if the grasshopper, being much bigger than the ants, decided to just take the food. Their active imaginations began racing and they laughed at the humorous possibilities.

Lasseter shared their enthusiasm and helped flesh out the idea. Soon after, Stanton began drafting a treatment and a screenplay. Screenwriters Donald McEnery & Bob Shaw, who had worked on Disney's feature animated version of "Hercules," collaborated on a subsequent version of the script. Ranft joined the team in 1996 as story supervisor and began fleshing out the story and corresponding visuals through the storyboarding process.

"Kids love bugs," says Lasseter. "I know because I'm a kid at heart. I have five sons and they've all spent time in the yard playing with bugs. We have lots and lots of jars with holes poked in the top. The insect world is such a fascinating one. I remember when I was a kid, I would get down really low and picture myself tiny and think that the grass was like giant trees that were part of a big forest. Looking at the world that we know from an insect point of view was very intriguing to me. I thought it would make a really interesting film. And with computer animation we have the ability to make worlds that are so dimensional and almost realistic looking with reflections and shadows and textures."

Stanton adds, "There was something about the way bugs look and the way nature appears up close that seemed very compatible with computer animation. We felt we could play off the most fascinating aspects of photorealism and create something that was more like a caricatured version of reality. We call it hyper-realism. We did all this research on ants and grasshoppers and became amateur entymologists in the process. In the end, we would always fall back on common knowledge and the things that most people remember about bugs."

From its inception, the filmmakers envisioned "A Bug's Life" as a David Lean-style epic adventure that unfolds in a vast natural setting. From a bug's perspective, blades of grass would appear to be a forest of tall trees; a tree would appear to be Mount Everest; microscopic areas would appear as endless panoramas. The decision was made to produce the film in a wide-screen CinemaScope format to emphasize, exaggerate and have fun with these elements of size and scale. Many on the production team, especially production designer Bill Cone and director of photography Sharon Calahan, screened a variety of wide-screen classics to study the composition and movements tha

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