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Pixar Artist Alonso Martinez Talks Making of 'The Good Dinosaur'

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Disney•Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere, and CineMovie is talking to one of the Pixar artists responsible for bringing the characters to life on the screen. Alonso Martinez is tasked with digitally sculpting and rigging the body, face and heads in Pixar movies as part of the Modeling Rigging/Character Department.

In THE GOOD DINOSAUR, dinosaurs never become instinct and they live side-by-side with humans. The film follows a teenaged apatosaurus named Arlo who must find his way back to his family after a tragic accident. Along the way he makes an unlikely human friend, and a few fellow dinosaurs including a family of T-Rex’s led by Butch (voiced by Sam Elliott).

For THE GOOD DINOSAUR, Martinez was responsible for sculpting and rigging the dinosaurs, mainly Arlo, Spot and Butch. According to Martinez, after receiving the artist renderings of the characters, his department gets to work on digitally sculpting the body, face and heads.

“We create the digital puppets that can move around and act through controls that we build.”

“Rigging” is the most common term used in animation, but to us laymen, essentially the artists build the skeletal framework that will make motion and facial expressions possible.

Martinez, whose previous work includes Pixar’s Up, Cars 2, and Inside Out, tells CineMovie animals are more difficult to work on than humans or objects like cars. The process is the same but the challenges are different, says the Monterrey, Mexico native.

“Animals have a complicated anatomy. The face by far is the most difficult part.”

Sixty percent of their time is spent on the character’s face. Martinez explains each character has a unique smile and different expressions. They don’t use a template for all the characters.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR Blu-ray Combo Pack Review

Being of Mexican descent, Martinez admits he adds a little Latino influence to his work. His grandfather was a rancher in Mexico who had a bull fighting ring, and he describes him as very intimidating. He based T-Rex Butch’s movements and facial expressions on his grandfather.

Martinez is just one of many artists working at Pixar, and he says he’s one of many Latinos behind the scenes, but is it growing?

“Oh, yeah…at an increasing rate. Things are changing drastically and they’re hiring more people.”

While most young artists dream of making a name for themselves at a company like Pixar, Martinez’s career goals didn’t include working for the famous animation company in Emeryville. He tells CineMovie his friend made him a bet Pixar would call him in for an interview if he applied, so Martinez took that bet, and it paid off. He’s been working for Pixar since June of 2008.

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Pixar is famously known for the artist’s elaborate cubicle spaces. Many have built worlds around their work space to inspire creativity. Martinez’s space, he admits, is not as intense as most of his co-workers, but he has surrounded himself with Iron Giants. The creativity to cubicle spaces is “very serious business” at Pixar says Martinez, and the most impressive space is a plane wreckage in a jungle that tells a story of two scientists who crash landed, and must survive in the harsh environment. These cohorts are constantly adding to the environment to show the passing of time with nature creeping into the wreckage.  A fog machine is used for added effect. Now that's impressive, but what do you expect from the folks at Pixar who have given us some of our all-time favorite films.

Catch Alonso Martinez's work in THE GOOD DINOSAUR now on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. 


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