32 Fascinating Facts About How Inside Out Was Made

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that's unlike anything you've seen before. Pixar's new film, Inside Out, is one of those films. The story centers on Riley, an adolescent girl, and the emotions that follow when she moves from her home in Minnesota to San Francisco. As the audience, we bounce between the normal human world and Riley's mind world, which is controlled by her five emotions: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, and Joy. These emotions are actual characters that talk and walk, sing and dance, play and fight.

Pete Docter directed the movie alongside producer Jonas Rivera; the talented duo has created other classic Pixar animations like Up. Recently, we had a chance to speak with them and other filmmakers — animators, photography directors, story supervisors, light experts — to learn how it all came together at Pixar's incredible campus. What we found was that the behind-the-scenes details are just as fascinating as the movie itself. Check 'em out for yourself, and watch the trailer if you haven't already.


  1. The movie centers on five emotions, but filmmakers originally thought of many more characters.
  2. They considered pride, schadenfreude (joy at someone else's pain), love, hope, and surprise, who would yell "BAH!" anytime someone spoke.
  3. The personalities of the five emotions were inspired by Snow White's seven dwarfs.
  4. Riley has five islands of her personality — family, goofball, friendship, hockey, and honesty (seen in this picture).

  1. The film is based on Pete Docter's experience with his own daughter. When she was 11, he noticed her go from a happy girl to a moody preteen.
  2. There's a scene when the family is at the dinner table; the dad is thinking about sports, and the wife says, "Isn't that right, honey?" to get his attention. This comes from Docter's own experience.
  3. Riley and the family move from Minnesota to San Francisco; the director is also from Minnesota and lives in the Bay Area.
  4. Camera details reflect Riley's life; she's often out of focus when she's upset about something.
  5. In Minnesota, she is framed in the middle of the family 90 percent of the time; in San Francisco, she's not, which reflects how the family is going through problems.

  1. Headquarters is where the emotions live in Riley's mind.
  2. The memory balls on the shelves at Headquarters are filled with scenes from other Pixar movies, like the wedding sequence in Up or when Ellie ties Carl's tie.

  1. Anger reads newspapers with headlines about Riley's day — such as "No Dessert."
  2. It's hard to see, but there are words beneath the headlines that look like articles; they say things like, "Experts agree on no dessert."
  3. There's a purple door in Headquarters that's supposed to be Anger's time-out room. It looks like a furnace.

  1. Producers held daily meetings to go over animations and correct tiny details, like a drooping shoulder or stretched arms.
  2. Forty-five animators worked on the film.
  3. They finished three seconds of final animation each week.
  4. Other details took time: they considered 284 designs of a train before deciding on one. It took eight months to make one sparkler.

  1. No other Pixar film has featured characters that look so cartoon-like.
  2. They exaggerated the emotions' appearance so that there was stark contrast between them and Riley/the human world.
  3. Joy's big and expressive eyes were the biggest challenge for animators.
  4. Artists also used lighting and saturation to differentiate between when Riley is in Minnesota and San Francisco.
  5. In Minnesota, you'll notice soft lighting and pastels. In San Francisco, the colors are darker but also muted.

  1. The film took four years to make.
  2. Three years into the film, Docter felt the film wasn't working and was afraid he'd get fired or need to quit.
  3. The producers worked out of what they called the "war room" when they had to crunch down how much time was left to make the movie.

  1. Some sequences were left out, like the emotions having Chinese food together; you'll never see them eating.
  2. Now, producers picture the emotions they're feeling as the characters in the film.
  3. Kids do, too. Before he saw the movie, one of the filmmakers' young sons was taking swim lessons and was too scared to jump off the diving board. The day after he saw the movie, he jumped. When asked why, he said, "I just felt that fear was driving and told him to step aside."