Monsters University ENGLISH 101: How to Tell a Great Story #MonstersUEvent

Pixar monsters university kelsey mann

Before I knew it I was already through my first class of the day at Monsters University and had learned all about the Deconstruction of a Character. My next class of the day was “How to Tell a Great Story” with Story Supervisor and Instructor Kelsey Mann.

  • SOCIOLOGY 203: Deconstruction of a Character with Ricky Nierva (Production Designer) & Jason Deamer (Character Art Director)
  • ENGLISH 101: How to Tell a Great Story with Instructor Kelsey Mann (Story Supervisor)
  • PHYSICS 250: Global Illumination with JC Kalache (DP-Lighting), Sanjay Bakshi (Tech Dir) & Christine Waggoner (Simulation)
  • DRAMATIC ARTS: Bringing a Character to Life with Instructor Scott Clark (Supervising Animator)
  • ANTHROPOLOGY 152: Monsterizing the World w Dice Tsutsumi (Shading/Lighting Art Director) & Robert Kondo (Sets Art Director)

While I can free hand most cartoons (especially anything Disney), and trace like no one’s business, I’m pretty sure I could never be a story writer or artist at Pixar. The skill level here is just pure genius!

Pixar has a few famous philosophies –

  1. A story is never finished, it just gets to a point where it it produced.
  2. There is nothing wrong with scrapping an idea entirely and going back to the drawing board.

And it’s these philosophies that have created some of the greatest movies ever made, but I think it takes an incredibly special person to be able to work with and adhere to them. Especially when your craft or work is creative in nature.

When creating a story at Pixar they brainstorm, brainstorm and then brainstorm some more. In a brainstorming session everyone collaborates and bounce ideas off each other. A typical session may include charting, changes, bouncing ideas off of each other, and building character game plans. During one brainstorming session for Monsters University, they even brainstormed about how monsters get angry differently than humans.

These brainstorming sessions are so important because a blank, empty canvas is one of the scariest things to see when you begin developing a story. It takes more than just knowing the storyline to begin the artwork. Story Supervisor Kelsey Mann put it best when he said “Art informs story and story informs art at DisneyPixar.” The Pixar artists are very creative and flexible, adapting their work to fit the story line as needed.

Pixar monsters university kelsey mann 1

Sometimes a storyboard artist is asked to develop sketches before a story line is even completely finished. For example, when Kelsey Mann gave the class a sample pitch just like he would a director or producer it came complete with artworks and sound effects. It was pretty amazing to see how quickly he worked and the attention to detail he always remembered to maintain. His “pitch” was fantastic – complete with voices and all. I LOVED that part!

The class wasn’t all lecture and conversation though. We got hands on when my classmates and I were shown how to draw Mike Wazowski! Mine didn’t turn out too shabby…although somehow I did forget to snap a photo. Oops. (or maybe the teacher took my phone away for texting in class…)

But all too soon the bell rang again and it was off to the next class. Check back tomorrow for my notes from PHYSICS 250!

I have been invited to attend Monsters University by Disney/Pixar and will receive a full scholarship to pay for all my expenses. I have promised to complete all my homework in a timely manner and not to cheat on tests.

monsters university

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY releases in theaters on June 21st! Register for classes online:
“Follow” Disney/Pixar on Twitter
and visit the Official Monsters University website.

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Jeana S

Jeana S

Research lab rat turned travel mom, Jeana S writes about gadgets, tech, entertainment, weddings and of course, travel. When she's not using her powers for social good, she enjoys photography, cooking and playing robots with her son. On occasion, you may also find her crocheting cute things to hide in Ben's underwear drawer.


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