Pixar's hotly anticipated "Cars 2" is set to hit theaters on June 24 and reviews are starting to come in, so we spoke with Co-Director Brad Lewis about the worldly inspirations behind the Cars Universe - destinations as distinct as Japan, Italy, France, Germany and England. We present to you, the world "car-ified."Pixar's hotly anticipated "Cars 2" is set to hit theaters on June 24, and reviews are starting to come in, so we spoke with Co-Director Brad Lewis about the worldly inspiration behind the Cars Universe taken from destinations Japan, Italy, France, Germany and England. We present to you, the world "car-ified".
Taking McQueen and crew on a race around the globe required loads of traveling by the directors and production team as they had to determine how to "car-ify" iconic locations. They couldn't just do a carbon copy of the Eiffel Tower or Tokyo's Ginza District, they had to completely transform them into the Cars Universe.
When AOL Travel asked Co-Director Brad Lewis how they determined what locations would be featured, he explained that each country chosen had to have a rich car culture (ie, these are some seriously car crazy countries and regions) to draw upon as well as recognizable world landmarks that would lend themselves to the Cars' world and character interaction and exploration.
Multiple research trips were needed by production crews with four Pixar crew heading to locations on scouting trips, followed by either members of a story and design team on a second trip. The trips had to be "incredibly efficient" and lasted any where from 10 - 14 days with a couple months of prep time. To organize these trips Pixar had to find the right mix of locals and help from the Disney International Group.
There was also inspiration from previous Pixar projects and overseas trips. Brad Lewis had spent a lot of time in Japan pumping the first "Cars" and in France working on "Ratatouille".
We tried to get a few Easter Eggs out of Brad, but he's used to getting pressed by the press for tidbits of "special" info, and was easily able to dodge our question.
We hit him with one last tough one: Pick your favorite destination from your travels.
Brad answered, "I can't do it. I can't pick a favorite" and proceeded to say great things about Italy. "I love Italy, I love it. The cars, the food, the people," he said. Japan, he added, "is just rich in culture and contrasts." And Germany: "Warm people. Giving. And of course they have Oktoberfest."
Smooth Brad, very smooth.
Check out the Gallery below for more insights about car-ifying the world from the Co-Director of Pixar's Cars 2.
Cars 2: 'Car-ifying' The World with Co-Director Brad Lewis (PHOTOS)
This photo shows the Cars Universe representation of the real bright lights of Tokyo's Ginza District. The Cars 2 production team actually individually built and lit each of the neon signs.
This is a photo Pixar took while on a production trip that provided inspiration for the Cars Universe version of Ginza District.
The National Art Center was a major inspiration for the Cars 2 team. When the production team visited to attend a major party held at the center, they were struck by the amazing views from the upper floors so they decided to include the party and have Mater and Lightning McQueen enter from the second floor to overlook the party.
Brad Lewis said England provided an amazing inspiration for the Cars Universe with its rich car history and "old meets new" architecture. Details down to the cobblestones and manhole covers were completely car-ified.
One of the locations that provided inspiration for the Cars 2 Universe was Italy's Portofino. Italy itself is a racing mecca and Brad Lewis said that the fictional Porto Corsa (inspired by Portofino, Monaco and Monte Carlo) had to feel like the "heart of racing."
To get at that heart, Lewis and the production team also embedded with a Ford Motor Team in Sardinia to get to know the personalities of real Italian racers.
Italy and Germany was their first production trip, where they checked out Formula One racing, then a drove through Italy up to Germany for the Frankfurt auto show.
Lightning McQueen takes a spin along the Italian countryside where the designers created a very upscale look for the town of Porto Corsa by mixing "French Riveria style architecture in a Portofino-type setting."
Aside from the obvious landmarks like The Eiffel Tower, The Used Car Part Market in Cars 2 is based on the Les Halles marketplace that used to be in Paris. According to Pixar: "Originally, a version of Les Halles was supposed to appear in 'Ratatouille,' but did not end up in that film, and so was resurrected for 'Cars 2.'"