“Inside Out 2” Production Designer Reveals Fun Facts During Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise

Part of the magic of a Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise is the ability to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most anticipated Disney projects on the horizon. With less than a month until the June 14th premiere of Pixar’s Inside Out 2, one of the can’t-miss presentations was “The ‘Joy’ of Production Design with Jason Deamer,” whose Pixar Animation Studios goes back to the studio’s second feature-length film, a bug’s life. Jason kicked off the hour-long presentation with an overview of his career and the important role the late Ralph Eggleston played as a mentor. It was Eggleston who invited Jason to be an art director for the first time on WALL-E, which prepared him for his first role as a production designer on the short film Piper. Working on Inside Out 2 is a bittersweet moment for Jason Deamer, who takes over the role of production designer from Ralph Eggleston, who filled that role on the original film.

(Deborah Coleman/Pixar)

(Deborah Coleman/Pixar)

In the decade since Inside Out was released, Pixar Animation Studios has upgraded all of its technology. This meant that all of the original characters had to be recreated and upgraded. Most of the changes are very subtle. For example, Anger’s tie has a more detailed pattern in the new film, and Disgust’s hair is a bit more detailed. But when you see the film, the only character who should feel noticeably different is Riley, who is now 13-years-old and has undergone a growth spurt. Jason thought back to his own middle school years, recalling how the girls were taller than the boys, which made them hunch their shoulders at school dances. It’s a trait that the increasingly anxious Riley takes on in multiple situations.

Speaking of anxiety, Jason Deamer returned to Ralph Eggleston’s geometric color-block drawing board when he began to approach the designs for the new emotions – Anxiety, Ennui, Embarrassment, and Envy. In the same way that Joy’s design was inspired by a yellow spark, Anxiety was modeled after an orange lightning bolt. Ennui is a navy squiggly line, Envy is a small, turquoise silhouette, and Embarrassment is a pink balloon. Anxiety was the toughest of the new emotions to design because she had to be an antagonist to Joy, but still appealing to the audience. Just like on the first film, the Pixar team relied on UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner to help inform the science of the emotions, who explained that Anxiety isn’t bad. He also broke down the difference between Fear (existential) and Anxiety (projected).

The new emotions aren’t the only new characters in the film. Jason’s favorite sequence involved Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Anxiety being locked away in a vault, which contains two insufferable characters that had to be suppressed. One is Bloofy, a 2D preschool animated character from a show like Blue’s Clues, and the other is a retro video game character named Lance Slashblade. Both characters break the Inside Out design scheme, and each brought their own unique challenges. Lance, for example, isn’t rendered at the same quality as the rest of the characters, which ended up being a bigger challenge than anyone predicted. Another character introduced in this sequence is known as Riley’s “Deep Dark Secret,” which Jason promised will be revealed for fans who stay through the end credits. And if you want another Easter Egg, look closely at Lance Slashblade’s sword for a hidden hockey stick, Riley’s favorite sport. The Vault sequence also contains a visual homage to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

In addition to designing new characters, Jason Deamer led the design of new locations for Inside Out 2. One of his favorite new spaces is the bedroom for the emotions, who all sleep in carved out bunks that express their personality. Jason showed off some fun details, like Fear’s nightlights and guardrails, Disgust’s bottles of hand sanitizer, Sadnesses boxes and boxes of tissues, and Joy’s origami collection. Look closely at Joy’s paper crafts to find an homage to Bing Bong, plus one of Pixar’s most beloved Easter Eggs, the Pizza Planet Truck.

Another favorite new locale is Riley’s Belief System, a concept that originated in the first film but was ultimately left on the cutting room floor. When it came time to revisit the idea for Inside Out 2, Jason was inspired by the movement guitar strings played in slow motion, which is how each belief thread behaves when Joy plucks them.

Jason Deamer opened up about a few ideas that were discarded from Inside Out 2. If they’re anything like the Belief System idea, perhaps we could see one of these resurface in a future Inside Out installment.

  • At one point in development, Riley had taken up playing the ukulele as a hobby.
  • A deleted location was a theme park inside Riley’s mind, with attractions like the Emotional Rollercoaster, Bone Stretcher, and a sweet shop called Growing Pains Taffy.
  • Another area of Riley’s mind that won’t be seen in this film is Emotional Bay, a place where the emotions could go to fish for ideas.
  • An abandoned concept involved Joy taking on a super power – the ability to refract the light of other emotions.
  • An emotion was cut from the film, Shame, who would’ve been a villain. According to Dr. Keltner, shame isn’t an emotion because not everyone has it; it’s a state of mind.
  • A sequence in which Sadness emulates moments from Die Hard didn’t make the final cut, which was referred to as “Cry Hard.”

To wrap things up, Jason showcased some of his favorite broken renders from Inside Out 2, glitches that yield hilarious results. He also pointed out a few more Easter Eggs to look for, including a 4*Town poster in Riley’s bedroom and Lenny from Toy Story being used as binoculars for the emotions. But taking it full circle back to Ralph Eggleston, there’s a flyover shot of cubicles and one of the Mind Workers bears a striking resemblance to Jason Deamer’s mentor. Known to leave pastel paint smudges all over his work space, this mind worker has left his trademark on his desk for all eternity.

See Inside Out 2 in theaters beginning June 14th.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).