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February, 2017
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Piper Wins Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer, Piper

Posted by Nia • February 27, 2017

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piper disney pixar

Many congratulations to the crew behind Pixar’s Piper, for taking home the award for Best Animated Short Film at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. Piper is certainly an achievement in merging animation and technology with its minimalist approach to telling the story of a sandpiper hatchling trying to catch food on its own. Director Alan Barillaro and producer Marc Sondheimer were all smiles in the press room after humbly accepting the Oscar on stage. Backstage Barillaro mentioned, “When you talk technology, the art form is the pencil … we ignored the world of realism and went for the artistic choices. A lot of the work was looking at classical paintings… The challenge as an animator is you need to understand something before you can animate it.” Sondheimer then added, “We studied those birds and that really helped… For three long years!”

It’s safe to say that doing copious amounts of research certainly made a difference in the long-run.

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You Can Now Take A Pixar Storytelling Course Online For Free!

Behind The Scenes, Khan Academy, Mark Andrews, Pete Docter, Pixar in a box, The Art of Storytelling

Posted by Nia • February 24, 2017

Have you ever dreamed about being able to learn from some of the greatest storytellers in the industry? Or what about gaining specific insight in animation from some of your heroes like Pete Docter and Mark Andrews? With Pixar’s new online course, you will be able to do just that.

This month Pixar launched the first course of their 6-part online curriculum on “The Art of Storytelling.” The program will be helmed by Docter, Andrews, and a plethora of other top notch animation talent from the studio. The course is aimed to guide anyone who is interested in learning more about the Pixar storytelling process – the segments will give tips on how to create original stories, captivating characters, and diverse worlds. The courses will also offer a variety of techniques other than your typical video and reading assignments; there will be firsthand exercises that will even teach some newcomers the ABC’s of taking an original idea and seeing it through to the story boarding phase. Pixar’s online class will disperse their different lessons throughout the year, so stay-tuned for more production wisdom from the studio!

Pete Docter’s own statement on the course should give you enough motivation to give it a try: “We hope that by sharing how we tell stories, we’ll inspire students all over the world to tell their own stories.”

“The Art of Storytelling” can be accessed through the online-education website Khan Academy.

Have you already taken the course or are thinking about trying it out? Let us know on Twitter and in the comments below.

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Dream Team: Pixar and NASCAR

Cars 3, NASCAR

Posted by Simoa • February 23, 2017

How excited is everyone for Cars 3? My anticipation for the film has been mounting ever since the first teaser dropped and every new bit of footage and news is cause for more excitement. If you’re like me, you may be thrilled to learn about NASCAR’s involvement with the upcoming film.

Chase Elliot and Jeff Gordon, who voiced Jeff Gorvette in Cars 2.

A handful of drivers will be lending to their voices in the film, as reported on nascar.com! For the racing cars enthusiasts out there, this cast includes Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suárez, and Bubba Wallace. They’ll be joining Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty who have previously voiced characters in the Cars films.

But Pixar isn’t just retaining a roster of NASCAR drivers for the voice cast.

The initiative goes beyond merely lending voices to the sequel, but stretches to at-track appearances, merchandise and co-branded learning materials for elementary school students through the NASCAR Acceleration Nation youth program. But the movie’s story arc also draws parallels from NASCAR’s current trend, of a growing youth movement that’s making its mark in its regional and national series.

This new collaboration will have its official debut at the Daytona 500 on February 26th, with Lightning McQueen himself, Owen Wilson, appearing as grand marshal.

Cars 3 races into theaters on June 16th.

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“Piper” Facebook Q&A

Academy Awards, Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer, Piper

Posted by Simoa • February 22, 2017

The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air this upcoming Sunday, February 26th. Alan Barillaro, director of the Oscar nominated short “Piper” which captivated audiences last summer, was joined by producer Marc Sondheimer for a Q&A session at the Facebook Oscar Lounge. Fans submitted some interesting and thought provoking questions.

Do you create the story around a message you want to tell or is it the opposite?

Barillaro answered that character always comes first, and for “Piper,” his first feature as a director, he built the world around the character. He mentioned that animators are just like actors and their primary concern is to get into the character. This echoes the same belief of industry veteran Glen Keane, who also refers to himself as an actor with a pencil in his hand.

If you could make Piper again, what would you do differently?

Barillaro wouldn’t change anything because making mistakes is how you learn and you’re just stumbling through the process of filmmaking.

How long did you study sandpipers?

The research is always constant at Pixar. What’s most important is creating a language. For example, Barillaro observed that the way sandpipers ruffle their feathers to get warm could be used to express happiness in the film.

When asked about the announcement of the Oscar nominations, both Barillaro and Sondheimer mentioned how thrilled they were for the entire crew to be recognized. Something I’ve come to expect when watching videos like this one is the way Pixarians emphasize the collaborative  effort in every Pixar film. No one person receives all the credit. Barillaro was actually candid in admitting that as the director he didn’t have all the answers but had to rely on his enormously talented crew.

The video of the Q&A is available to watch on Disney-Pixar’s Facebook page. I encourage everyone to watch it, because Pixarians always convey so much enthusiasm when discussing their projects. Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer project the same kind of warmth and camaraderie of another director/producer duo, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera!

Be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday!

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Live Pixar tour: Choose Your Own Adventure

Nick Pitera, Pixar

Posted by Simoa • February 18, 2017

For many people, visiting Pixar is a dream that might not be fully realized. On February 17th however, fans were treated to a live tour on the official Youtube channel! The guide was Nick Pitera, a Pixarian and musician who provided his vocals for the infamous “Triple Dent Gum” jingle from Inside Out. Fans were permitted to send in questions as the tour progressed. Pitera answered a few that pertained to his experience inside Pixar. One of his favorite things about working at the studio is being able to contribute in any way to these films which have such a great impact on people. Growing up, the films were significant for him as well.

Luckily the video of the tour is available to watch if you missed the live broadcast.

Although the tour was just over 20 minutes long, these brief glimpses into Pixar are always informative and lots of fun. The company fosters a lot of creativity and looks like it’s one of the best places to work.

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Editorial: Pixar in the Age of Turnip

editorial, Finding Dory, in depth

Posted by Simoa • February 6, 2017

Last Sunday, January 29th, Finding Dory was screened at the White House, the first screening of the new administration. While this is a newsworthy item, it’s unfortunate that Dory was screened at all. Albert Brooks, the voice of Marlin, noted the particular irony, as did others.

 

There were protests around the country and the White House in response to President Turnip’s executive order to ban immigrants from several Muslim countries from entering the United States. Even legal citizens with green cards were detained at airports following the order. It’s a gross misuse of power, but nothing too shocking for anyone who has opposed Turnip from the beginning.

Dory herself, Ellen Degeneres, had words to say about the screening:

Although Degeneres kept things light with her trademark humor, focusing entirely on the film and its messages rather than the travel ban itself, she made her stance clear. First she mentioned the wall at the Marine Life Institute, which still doesn’t prevent Dory from going over, a nice reference to the wall that’s supposed to keep out “bad hombres” from Mexico. She also summed up one of the film’s themes which has become much more potent following these national events.

“Even though Dory gets into America, she ends up separated from her family, but the other animals help Dory. Animals that don’t even need her, animals that don’t even have anything in common with her. They help her even though they’re completely different colors because that’s what you do when you see someone in need. You help them.”

Finding Dory hasn’t garnered the critical acclaim of other Pixar features, but now the film has taken on even greater significance. It’s unfortunate that the film was screened at the White House at all and that this article has to be written, but this is a chance to highlight the good in opposition to Turnip.

Animator Cat Hicks also shared her thoughts on the Turnip’s ban.

When I think of Pixar’s newfound commitment to tell more diverse stories, of featuring nonwhite characters, how the upcoming Coco was described as a “love letter to Mexico in the age of Trump,” I can’t help but feel baffled that any Pixar film would screen in his White House.

Hopefully Finding Dory is the last.

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Here’s Your First Look at Lou – The Short to Play in Front of Cars 3

Cars 3, Dave Mullins, Lou, Short Film

Posted by Nia • February 2, 2017

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Since last year we’ve known that Lou was a new short being developed by Pixar, but we didn’t know when it would be premiering or much about the story – aside from the fact it focused on a lost-and-found box and would be directed by Dave Mullins.

Yesterday the studio released more information regarding the short and that it will be playing in front of this year’s film, Cars 3.

The short, in the usual Pixar fashion, will be centered on Lou, a hidden creature in a lost-and-found box at a school. The creature, created from mismatched baseballs and a beaten red hoodie, watches the school children play and secretly protects them against the local bully, J.J.

From a USA Today interview, Mullins discussed that the inspiration for this short was his childhood and the fact he never spent much of his time in one place as a kid.

“You either feel invisible because you don’t know the other kids or you’re embarrassed and you want to be invisible. I thought it’d be really cool to have a character who could hide in plain sight.”

Since Lou’s main motivation is to protect the other children in the school and give back to those who need it the most, he felt J.J. being a bully would help push the story forward while making it relatable to everyone.

“They’re usually just acting out because they’re awkward or young and don’t have their moral compass set. In a weird way, the bullies sometimes feel invisible, too. If you can find out what their motivations are, maybe you can solve some things. That’s what I like about Lou: True happiness comes from giving, He gets J.J. to understand that and through that, what J.J. wants really is to be accepted by the other kids.”

You can catch Lou on the big screen this summer in front of Cars 3.

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