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Production Design
Whereas the main action for the original "Toy Story" generally took place in Andy's room, Sid's house, Pizza Planet and a few exteriors, the sequel is a more ambitious cinematic adventure which takes its principal characters well beyond the secure confines of Andy's room. Among the dangerous and uncharted territories the toys venture to are Al's Toy Barn; his Art Deco apartment; the busy streets of Downtown; the mechanical inner-workings of an elevator shaft; and an airport cargo handling area. In the film's opening sequence, the audience even gets a glimpse at Buzz Lightyear's intergalactic travels. This wide assortment of sets and locations provided production designers Bill Cone and Jim Pearson with many challenges and lots of creative freedom. With their team of artists and set dressers, 18 different sets were created along with more than 1200 model packets to define the various objects in the film.

According to Cone, "In 'Toy Story 2,' Andy's room represents kind of the safe haven for the characters. It's very familiar with its wooden floors, furniture and soothing blue walls. The room represents a happy world for plastic toys. You never really have any dark spaces in there. It's pretty well lit overall with a lot of primary colors — blues, yellows, reds. It feels kid-like and absolutely non-threatening. From there, we created a wider range of environments that are darker and moodier. As the toys go out in the world, things are different and more threatening. For Al's apartment, we use cooler grays and blues. The colors for the various settings reflect the emotional arc of the film. We tried to vary it with peaks and valleys.

"We learned a lot from 'A Bug's Life' which we could bring into this film," adds Cone. "A lot about lighting and shading. Although 'Toy Story' is a simple world that didn't require as much detail, we spent a lot of time making the world bumpier and dirtier and not have it look like it was made in the computer."

Ash Brannon, the film's co-director notes, "We wanted to evoke the same feeling of the sets in the first film, but we were able to incorporate some amazing advancements in technology. The lighting is more natural and the depth of field really helps you concentrate on the important details of the shot. Each frame doesn't look so busy."

Jim Pearson helped to conceptualize many of the main sets and oversee the design of the new characters. He observes, "Another thing that 'A Bug's Life' did so successfully, and which helped us immeasurably on this film, was the definition of organic objects. Obviously it's much more difficult to define, build and paint things that are made by nature. A lack of right angles and hard edges makes it much more difficult to build in the computer. 'Toy Story 2' has such a rich look because we were able to give new life to things like rocks and pebbles and grass. In one scene, we originally had a static tree which Buzz and the characters walk across. After looking at what was done on 'A Bug's Life,' we said, 'we can't have a still tree.' So now there's a beautiful shot where there's this gentle wind blowing into the leaves and it's just breathtaking."

Pearson and his team had a field day designing the ten square block downtown area, which is home to Al's farm-themed toy emporium and his home/museum. Al's apartment building is a 23-story 1930s Art Deco high-rise, which has all the accoutrements and embellishments of that period. The Toy Barn is a wacky and irreverent caricature of the ultimate urban toy warehouse.


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