The Making of Finding Dory – Dory’s Story

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Can you believe it’s been 13 years since we first all met our favorite reef dwellers, Nemo & Marlin and then Dory? Crazy! There’s long been an urging of fans calling for a sequel (most notably, Ellen – the voice of Dory), but Director Andrew Stanton had no interest…unless there was a real story to tell. And indeed, there WAS still a story to tell – Dory’s Story! Finding Dory

Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” welcomes back to the big screen everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), who’s living happily in the reef with Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence). When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, the trio takes off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (voice of Diane Keaton) and dad (voice of Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark. Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family. Directed by Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”), co-directed by Angus MacLane (“Toy Story OF TERROR!”), and produced by Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”), Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” swims into theaters June 17, 2016.

As the name suggests, Finding Dory is all about Dory’s story and her quest to find her family! During our recent #FindingDory press trip in Monterey, California, we had the pleasure of hearing from Co-Director Angus MacLane and Story Supervisor Max Brace to discover how Dory’s story came to be, how it was developed and taken from script to storyboards to screen.

Finding Dory's StoryAs I’ve said before with getting these behind-the-scenes look at Disney/PIXAR work, the creative process that goes into making these movies is absolutely INCREDIBLE! It takes YEARS of work done by hundreds of people to get the movies just right! And one big thing for Finding Dory was that the movie is about Dory this time! She’s not a sidekick in this movie, she’s the main character! So, numerous scenes had to be re-worked where the focus was really on the other characters, thereby turning Dory into a sidekick again. Another issue is dealing with Dory’s short term memory loss. Since she forgets all the time, there are some added challenges with developing her character. Angus MacLane shared that the writers and animators then have to communicate more then to the audience about where she’s at, how she feels, what she knows and what she remembers. Both those things made it a little extra tricky for everyone on this project. In fact, 103,639 storyboards were created on this movie!! Here’s a look at some of the concept art that came from some of those storyboards…

Finding Dory Story DevelopmentThe whole storyboard process (and the fact that over 100,000 were done) is INSANE! Each storyboard process for a particular sequence in the movie starts with some basic ideas and thumbnail sketches – they seem almost like small little doodles. After getting some feedback on that, the animators/artists work on putting together a full storyboard for that sequence. This includes some larger or a bit more detailed art work than the thumbnails, along with some dialogue. Basically, the storyboard artist for one particular sequence is like the director of that sequence. Then, the storyboards are reviewed. Sometimes things go through and MANY times things get cut, revamped, changed, etc. As Max Bruce shared, “The drawings are meant to be thrown out. No ideas are too precious, and it’s really about what is best for the story.”

That’s why there’s at least 3.5 YEARS of work that has gone into the making of Finding Dory! It’s an amazing creative process that they work through! And then, once the storyboards are approved, they still have to work on bringing those sequences to life with the character voices, full animation, lighting, camera angles, sound, etc. PIXAR actually developed and used new technology and Renderman software to make Finding Dory. There’s a technical level of animation here that wasn’t possible AT ALL 13 years ago when Finding Nemo was made!

And before ANY of the storyboarding or details take place, this whole movie-making process starts with a TON of research!! As talked about in the Monterey Bay Aquarium post, the team spent a lot of time there getting ideas and really analyzing things! I think it shows when you see the concept art for the Marine Life Institute in the movie! 😉 Finding Dory Marine Life InstituteYou can definitely see how the Monterey Bay Aquarium definitely provided some inspiration here. And what’s amazing is how detailed even the concept art is here – notice the rocks, the parking lot, the roads even! So much creativity and hard work!

You can see how it all comes together to tell Dory’s Story this summer!!!

Finding Dory Movie Poster

Finding Dory swims into theaters on June 17th, 2016! Perfect for summer fun!

For more Finding Dory fun, you can follow along on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Visit the official site at

Disclosure: Disney hosted me in Monterey in order to attend screenings and to participate in group interviews & media events. As always, all opinions, experiences and  love of Disney & the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Photos in this post are all property of Disney-Pixar used with permission.

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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