Soul Soul

In animation’s awards season, the limelight tends to fall on directors and producers. But occasionally, we hear from another key contributor to a contending feature, whose insights help us see the film from a new angle.

Last month, we wrote about a marvelously deep account of the production of Wolfwalkers by one of its story artists. Today, it’s the turn of Soul, whose editor Kevin Nolting spoke to Provideo Coalition about his work on the film and Pixar’s other features. Read the interview here and listen to it here.

Nolting works closely with Pete Docter, having also served as editor on Up and Inside Out, and the director’s creative approach is a big subject in the interview. “You could take Pete’s ideas and go completely serious and adult,” Nolting says. “And that’s actually our instinct at first. We’re constantly having to take the note that it’s not entertaining enough, it’s not funny enough, and trying to build that into the story.”

We learn about the meandering story development on Soul: in an early version of the film, Earth hardly figured at all. Nolting explains how problems were resolved, revealing much about how Pixar’s story process works — and how much it implicates the editor.

This, says Nolting, is the essential difference between his work in animation and in live action (where he started out): “In animation, I think it’s a little harder because you’re really writing the movie as you’re making the movie.” He’s upfront about the difficulties the medium presents him with: “Cutting storyboards is strangely difficult and requires a lot of patience and can be very tedious.”

Editing at Pixar — and in animation in general — is the subject of Making the Cut at Pixar, a forthcoming book by Bobbie O’Steen and Bill Kinder. Keep an eye on Cartoon Brew for more details.

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