When your movie is set at a college university, expect to have a lot of characters roaming around. That's exactly what the artists at Pixar were tasked with on Monsters University, a film that watched its already large ensemble cast balloon to over 300 when this fictional Monsters University had to be populated by lots and lots of actual monsters that came in all different shapes and sizes. In order to create more than 300 characters in addition to their lead ensemble, the artists at Pixar produced 10 templates and then came up with a really fun way to name all their new friends.
"Because we had to organize the characters and keep track of them, we had this naming system where every background character was named after someone on the crew," director Dan Scanlon told us. "So it's fun because you just kinda get your monster. They'd show up in the background and you can go, 'Oh look, it's my monster!'" Scanlon wasn't crazy about his monster, though. "My monster was this really tall creepy guy with a mustache. I was like, 'What's this guy even doing at the University?' he joked. "He was such a weirdo that every time he shows up in the background I find myself saying, 'Get rid of my monster. He doesn't belong there!'"
Crew members shouldn't take too much offense, though, because as Scanlon says there's really nothing to it. Because of the model system they have set up, every character has a name and this was just the easiest and fastest way to produce more than 300 of them. "It's just a naming convention. It's not supposed to be us, but it's hard not to look at them and read into it more," Scanlon said with a smirk. "Why am I this weird, creepy monster?!"
For those interested in lots more of the behind-the-scenes process on Monsters University, we highly recommend picking up The Art of Monsters University, which includes the following pages (scanned, by us) that feature many of the background monsters featured in the movie.
[Click images to enlarge]
Monsters University hits DVD/Blu-ray and Digital on October 29.
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