Disney entertainment

Classes at Monsters University: Learn The Secrets of Pixar Animation

We took fun classes at the fictional Monsters University to learn the secrets of Pixar animation and toured the Pixar campus!


Monsters University Animation

Did you know that I got a chance to attend a few classes at my MU freshman orientation?

When you attend MU, you will get wonderful life lessons on scaring, storytelling, and most of all, MONSTERIZING. We were able to attend 5 special courses during our visit to Pixar’s headquarters, not only did we learn about the process of monsterizing, but we got to check out the behind-the-scenes work of the animation process too! I was a good student, I took notes.

Learning the secrets of Disney’s Pixar animation

Monsters University, English 101

English 101: How to tell a great story

Instructor: Kelsey Mann, Story Supervisor

You might think it’s easy to tell a story, but the Pixar folks show that it’s an extremely long and detailed process. They start with multiple brainstorming sessions and a blank canvas. Pixar has rooms full of vision boards, note pads, and plenty of ideas sparking people to get a storyline going.


They pitch out ideas, some great, some get shot down. The story is constantly changing, and the artists are able to adapt very well. Mann was able to give us a rough live draw of a storyboard idea for the movie, we also got a lesson on how to draw Mike Wazowski! Check mine out…

Monsters University sketch, Mike Wazowski, Deanna Honey and Lime


Sociology 203: Deconstruction of a Character

Instructors: Ricky Nierva, Jason Deamer, and Daniela Strijleva

Since this movie is a prequel, Pixar has to work hard to gracefully age the characters in reverse. So Mike, Sulley, and the rest of the gang were all reinvented. Each of the background characters is classified by shapes and colors and laid out on storyboards to keep them all in perspective. In working on de-aging Sulley, they made him a little slimmer and gave him a great messy hairstyle!

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY sketch art of Sulley

For Mike, they shortened his horns and also make him look a little more slender. A character with one eyeball is kinda tough to make look young, so the retainer and baseball cap did the trick!

Mike Wazowski sketch for the MONSTERS UNIVERSITY movie

A few more Monsters University cartoon sketches of the characters…

Monsters University Sketches and Early Drawings

Dramatic Arts: Bringing the Character to Life

Instructor: Scott Clarke 

Ok, so this was probably the best course of the day! Not only did we learn that it takes a couple of weeks to make a 5 second animated clip, but we also got to see Clarke dance just like Sulley does in the movie! Each animator is assigned to a character and must figure out how to make them move and look good doing it, the arms, legs, tail, and head have to be in sync.

You have got to see this guy do the cabbage patch!

Scott Clarke, Disney Pixar Animation

Physics 250: Global Illumination

Instructors: Jean Claude Kalache, Sanjay Bakshi, and Christine Waggoner

I had no idea what global illumination was, and it’s still a bit much to understand. It basically details the technical challenges of the film. Simulation is a big part of the animation process, which is the motion calculated by software that is too complex to be animated by hand. So all of the blades of grass, or little hairs on Sulley need to be animated by the computer.

Sulley has 3.5 million hairs, quite a doosey to draw! Pixar put more hairy monsters in MU versus Monsters Inc., so they had to double their computers that render the simulation. This process totally ups the quality of the movie, making it look almost real! Clear as mud?

Global Illumination in animated films, Disney Pixar Monsters University

Anthropology 152: Monsterizing the World

Instructors: Dice Tsutsumi & Robert Kondo 

In this course, we learned about creating and “monsterizing” the film. We were lead through the process of creating the Monsters University campus, where they took elements of real college campuses and made them a little more spooky. An early sketch of the school’s entrance…

Sketch drawing of Disney Pixar's MONSTERS UNIVERSITY campus entrance

Lots of fun additions were made to the scenery: trees, hedges, and ivy were transformed into motifs complete with spikes and horns. Doorways were a great spot to add monster motifs. Everything is powered by “screams” in MU, so they added pipes in the dorms. There are also underwater monsters, so they have an area for them, too!

Mike and Sulley frat houseMONSTERS UNIVERSITY


I am so impressed with the work that Pixar puts into their animated films. We all know and love them, but knowing how much time and detail they put into them makes me appreciate them even more!

My visit to the Pixar campus for Monsters University

Remember when I went to San Francisco to visit Pixar Studios for my freshman orientation? …And remember when I said that I had a wonderful time, gave you all a preliminary look at the Monsters U events, and that there’s tons more to share? From the decked-out campus, the pep rally, live band, food, and activities, to the animation process of making Monsters University, the whole Pixar experience was fascinating!

For starters, you must check out my student ID. All MU students will need their ID cards to access the MU campus…

Deanna Underwood Monsters University student ID card

Here’s a look at the entrance to the MU campus. It’s exactly the same as the one featured in the movie!

Monsters University Entrance, Disney Pixar HQ

Monsters University never falls short on school spirit. Monsters, goblins, and ghouls all love attending and have plenty of school pride. Here’s a look at the MU band that greeted all incoming freshmen.

Monsters University Band

The campus is lovely. You’ll enjoy hanging in the student lounge, eating at the cafeteria, and shopping in the MU student store.

Inside Pixar, Monsters University

Monsters University Student Lounge

Monsters University Student Store

Take a Pixar tour of the campus for Monsters University

New students can take a campus-wide tour, where you can learn about the campus’ history, see where the classrooms are located, and take in a lesson about Pixar’s animation process for the movie. The process is insanely detailed, the creativity flowing in that building is mindblowing! Side note: Pixar’s headquarters has a swimming pool!

Interested in joining a club, or pledging a fraternity or sorority? MU has plenty! This was the place to learn about them all and sign up.

Here are a few more awesome details of the decked-out Pixar campus…

Sulley and Mike, Monsters University

Classifieds in the quad at Monsters University

Monsters University School Spirit

Monsters University Band and Cheerleaders

Orientation at Monsters University

Bulletin Board in Monsters University Student Lounge

Here’s me with Mike and Sulley, my new college friends!

Deanna at Monsters University Pixar Campus

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Disclosure: I am attending all events on behalf of Disney, Transportation and lodging were provided, but no other compensation. Everything I share is all mine.We took fun classes at the fictional Monsters University to learn the secrets of Pixar animation and toured the Pixar campus!


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