Friday Eye Candy: How USGS Surveys Helped Build Pixar's New Dream World

Jody Avirgan shares insight into a new podcast with the creators of the new Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur, which reads like more of an advertisement for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

1 minute read

December 4, 2015, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A 30-minute "What's the Point" podcast puts host Jody Avirgan in conversation with David Munier, set supervisor for the new Pixar film The Good Dinosaur. A clip introducing the podcast quotes Munier describing the environment as the antagonist in the film, requiring a higher degree of realism than a completely fantasy world often offers. Avirgan describes the role of the USGS in making the landscapes come to life:

"Pixar used actual U.S. Geological Survey information to render the landscapes that Arlo and Spot (the titular dinosaur and his pet human) traipse around in. This data allowed the animators to re-create actual mountains, streams and horizons, which in turn let director Pete Sohn compose the wide-open shots he was looking for."

Part of the podcast's fascination with the film is the amount of data that the film used—one scene, for instance, used as much data as the entirety of the 2011 film Cars 2.

Also included in the podcast is a conversation between Derrick Clements of "The Pixar Podcast" and Mike Tischler, director of the USGS National Geospatial Program, about how the USGS gathers data.

Friday, December 4, 2015 in Five Thirty Eight

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