At the time Brave was the grandest project Disney•Pixar had ever undertaken.
All the hard work paid off - the film went on to amass worldwide critical acclaim, set new technical benchmarks and scooped an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.
Taking in a breadth of Scottish events, from the iconic Highland games of the Braemar Gathering (that informed much of heroine's Merida's impressive archery skills) to eating haggis on the Royal Mile, Brave's animators fully steeped themselves in the local culture. This helped them capture the spirit of Scotland on film in a fashion that had never been attempted in cinema before.
Brave producer Katherine Sarafian admits the team kept journals while staying in Scotland, which proved tremendously useful when they returned to California to begin work on the project.
"We took photographs and video, sketched and wrote stories," says Sarafian. "We brought everything back and spread it all out, loaded it into our computers. We worked really hard to bring the magic, beauty and ruggedness of Scotland to life in the film through our production design, sets and environments."
Some of Scotland's landmarks proved so mesmerising for Pixar's Brave team, they actually ended up altering ideas they originally had for the movie to incorporate what they'd seen on their memorable trip.
Initially, Merida's DunBroch family castle was going to be set against a loch in the Highlands. Yet after visiting Dunnottar Castle, a stunning structure set on jutting cliff-side rocks just south of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, the team decided to imitate its staggering surrounds by making DunBroch an outpost by the sea.
Sarafian also admits the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis had a big impact on Pixar. "It felt like the perfect setting for something important to happen in the story. The stones are in a circle on a big, exposed cliff with the sky as their backdrop - it's very striking. On both trips it was really hard to get any of the artists back on the bus!"
Merida spends much of her time in Brave travelling through landscapes heavily indebted to the Highlands on her horse Angus. Much of these fantastical, fictional climes were inspired by the filmmakers' trip to Glen Affric.
With one of the largest Caledonian pinewoods, combined with impressive mountains, moorlands, heather-strewn hills and moss-covered land, the stunning glen, only 15 miles from Loch Ness, proved the perfect site to experience a slice of authentic Scottish wilderness.
The visit to Scotland also influenced the creation of the film's formidable demon bear Mor'du. Story Supervisor Brian Larsen says Scotland's love of stories was a big help while planning Brave. "Scotland is a storytelling culture-wherever we went, the locals erupted into stories of their everyday lives and the people they knew. The story of Mor'du was inspired by the stories we heard while we were there."