MENU

article
Search Results

Pixar Fandom Recognized in Bay Citizen Article!

Fandom, Pixar

Posted by Martin • July 29, 2011

Oftentimes, Pixar fans are seen as merely a niche market in the ocean of Disney aficionados from decades past.

More recently, sites like Pixar Planet have shown that the Lamp does in fact have a very specific (and extremely dedicated) fanbase. Our deep and varied interests in the Emeryville studio have been profiled in an article by Andy Wright over at The Bay Citizen.

In this piece, Wright gave me the opportunity to speak about the studio and offer some personal experience. You’ll notice that topics from the Pixar Planet forums are dissected, other Pixar fansites are mentioned and quotes from yours truly are found throughout. I believe this is the first article of its kind to give such an overview of our unique fandom.

Give it a read over at The Bay Citizen.

Your thoughts?

Read article

USA Today’s Extensive Article on Up, Pixar’s Past, Present and Future

A Bug's Life, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Nemo, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Monsters, Inc., Pete Docter, Ratatouille, The Bear and The Bow (Brave), The Incredibles, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, UP, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • May 22, 2009

USA Today is running a rich feature on Up including sections dedicated to Pixar’s past and future and an interactive timeline.

The main article starts off with a story about a couple who bond over Pixar movies. It’s a sweet tale of how the two lovebirds mark special occasions with these special movies. In the first few sections you’ll find USA Today’s non-spoilerific synopsis of the film with quotes from viewers weaved in, as well as a response to the Wall Street naysayers.

In the next section, the author takes Lasseter’s famous quote, "Quality is the best business plan", to the next level! This part of the article highlights the directors that make Pixar what it is and the new directors which will redefine the studio with their upcoming projects. Rejoining the 3D Revolution basically goes over how Pixar’s been making "3D" films all along, but that we only got to see them in 2D… until now. Restocking the Talent Pool talks about the new directors coming onto the scene. Last but not least there’s Repairing the Gender Gap which is a response to the recent question coming up around the ‘net: where are Pixar’s female leads? This section focuses on Brenda Chapman and her upcoming Pixar fairy tale which is "driven" by Merida "as opposed to having things happen to her. And there is no waiting for a prince."

Also of note is the interactive feature that chronicles each of Pixar’s 10 film. Laden with quotes from the directors and a clip of their favorite scene from their films, this is a fun way of anticipating the next installment in the Pixar canon. You can find that piece right here.

What are your opinions on the subject matter covered here? Enjoy reading this very fleshed out article, I highly recommend it!

(Thanks, TheIncredible)

Read article

Woody’s Random News Round-Up (Featuring 5 Scrumptious Pixar Related Articles)

Round-Ups, UP

Posted by Martin • April 12, 2009

Here I’ve posted some minor Pixar news, now in bite-sized pieces! Click on the links for more information.

Bon Appétit from Chef Remy: Are you visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, specifically Epcot anytime soon? If you are, don’t forget to check out the animatronic Remy at the Les Chefs de France restaurant in the French Pavilion. He’s part of the Living Character Initiative, and you can eat with him up until September 5th (from Monday through Saturday) at select times of the day.

(Orlando Sentinel / Picture by Jeff Lange / Watch video and read press release at The Disney Blog)

New Game—Balloon Blow-UP: Disney.com has a brand new game based on Pixar’s 10th feature, Up. Balloon Blow-UP is a puzzle game with three modes, Survival, Adventure and Challenge! It features tunes from the Up soundtrack and beautiful 2D visuals. Enjoy it here.

(Disney)

Pixar HQ Part 2: Construction for Phase II at Pixar is underway. Twitter user rworkman shot this photo (click to view larger) from outside the gates. I wonder how the brand new building is coming along?

(Picture by rworkman)

Why We Love Pixar: Chief Creative Officer of the Pixar and WDAS, John Lasseter, epitomizes why people love Pixar so much in the "Best Advice I Ever Got" video. Of course, their films are funny, but what we take from them is the heart, watch the video (a little dated) right here.

(Fortune)

Tweet Upcoming Pixar: And last but not least, Upcoming Pixar’s Twitter account is now back up and running. Follow us @upcomingpixar for all the latest Pixar news… in 140 characters or less that is!

Happy Easter, enjoy!

Read article

It’s not plastic surgery!: The Evolution of the Toy Story World

Pixar, Pixar Employees, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • May 1, 2019

Pixar caused quite a commotion when they released the final trailer for Toy Story 4 in March. It had nothing to do with the plot, but with the appearance of a character. And no, that character was not Bo Peep, whose return in this latest installment has made fans very eager. No, the character that sparked so much discussion was Andy. Just read this headline: “People think Andy looks like he’s had plastic surgery in the trailer for Toy Story 4” along with the series of tweets in the article. Andy does look very different – and there’s a reason for that!

CG animation has obviously progressed since the mid ’90s. Pixar caused another commotion with the latest TV spot for Toy Story 4; this time, the gorgeous cat left viewers in awe. In fact, our feline friend made it onto Twitter moments like Andy had previously.

Last month, I was fortunate to visit Pixar (for the second time!) to learn about the making of Toy Story 4. One of the first presentations was centered on The Evolution of the Toy Story World.

TOY STORY 4 (Pictured): (L-R) Bill Reeves (Global Technology Supervisor) & Bob Pauley (Production Designer) present the “EVOLUTION OF THE TOY STORY WORLD.” Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Myself and other bloggers and journalists from various outlets were gathered in the Pixar theater to learn about the design principles in this world that I’m so happy we get to revisit! Our presenters were production designer Bob Pauley and global technology supervisor Bill Reeves, who guided us through all four films in the franchise.

It’s the early ’90s. Pixar is much smaller than it is today. For Toy Story, the studio’s first feature length film, there’s just 16 people on the film crew. At this point, there’s no art or story or editorial departments. In fact, there’s only three animators on the team who will eventually become 50; 10 technical directors grow to 70; and the art department gains a whopping four. Toy Story is an hour and 21 minutes long, but Pixar’s one theatrical film under their belt at that time (“Tin Toy”) had merely a five minute runtime. So there were lots of external pressures in addition to the design challenges we learned about in this presentation.

The software back in 1995 was rudimentary, so the filmmakers relied on basic shapes. Since the film is about toys, they were in luck: plastic was easy to work with using the tools they had. Pixar’s Renderman is world renowned today, but 24 years ago, all of the rendering, lighting, and layout were done with just a simple text editor. To get a better idea of the restrictions in the software, look no further than the Dinoco gas station. The lighting in that set used six to seven light sources, but today, that number would be 300 or more.

Still, despite the primitive software, which included only basic rigging (what animators use to animate), the filmmakers did take pride in their work. Bob Pauley noted fondly that they amazed themselves with the first sequence of the green army men. That sequence offered them a glimpse into the exciting world they were building. And no one can deny how Toy Story changed the landscape of computer animation.

TOY STORY 4 (Pictured): (L-R) Bill Reeves (Global Technology Supervisor) & Bob Pauley (Production Designer) present the “EVOLUTION OF THE TOY STORY WORLD.” Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

With all of the experience gained from Toy Story, the artists moved onto Toy Story 2. The second film’s fraught history is well known, but though it was released four years after the first film, it was actually completed in just an eight month period. By this time, the software had improved somewhat. The filmmakers were able to utilize better shading, along with an interactive layout and lighting system. A Bug’s Life, Pixar’s second feature film, was also useful, as its crowd shots helped them to do the same with the robots in Toy Story 2‘s video game opening. More risks were taken with this film, and it even featured sophisticated human characters in Al and Geri the toy cleaner.

Eleven years later, Toy Story 3 made significant strides with its technology. There were ten feature length films in the studio’s library at this time, which meant the software provided more tools. For example, the hair technology in Monsters, Inc. proved quite beneficial to Toy Story 3 for Buster the dog’s fur. The models were also more organic and flexible. The lighting enriched the scenes and made space for even greater complexity, and as always, served the story. And the studio wasn’t merely acquiring advanced software during this period. There were also new artists. To hear Bill Reeves describe those artists as “new blood” speaks to Pixar’s wholehearted enthusiasm for new, fresh voices; new blood pumping into the studio’s heart!

Now with Toy Story 4 just a month away, countless artists and technicians are working with an abundant variety of textures and materials.

TOY STORY 4 (Pictured): Bob Pauley (Production Designer) presents the “EVOLUTION OF THE TOY STORY WORLD.” Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The software now allows them to make human characters more appealing. Andy was never the focus of Toy Story, but now they have the ability to upgrade his design. With these technological improvements, the filmmakers no longer have to stick with just the basic shapes and textures they started out with. The new Renderman mimics the physics of life, which is less about making the animation look “real.” The actual concern is making it all truthful.

At the beginning of this talk, Reeves reiterated the ‘story is king’ mantra that Pixar has always championed. It’s vital to every single department on each film. What I found so illuminating in this talk, aside from the explanation of technical terms, was how the old and new technology still served the story. As I learned throughout my time there, and what I hope to convey in later posts, is how intentional Pixarians are in their work; everything is deliberate and nothing in the film is simply there by chance.

Animation, described by Reeves as one of Pixar’s crown jewels, involves much more polish in Toy Story 4. Polishing allows animators to add subtle elements to their shots that make those shots come alive. Polishing doesn’t simply make the film pretty to look at, it serves a narrative purpose. For this film and Toy Story 3, there was ten times more polishing compared to the earlier films. Take a look at the comparison shots of Bo and Woody below:

There’s much greater detail and polish in Toy Story 4. It’s how the first film might have looked if there was more time and newer software. But then, the film never would’ve been made in 1995. Despite the film’s “seat of the pants” process, it went on to become an enormous success. Even with the primitive software, Toy Story is a timeless classic with beloved characters that we’ve spent over two decades with! Seeing these shots side by side isn’t jarring. Toy Story still looks beautiful – Toy Story 4 has just enhanced its look, added depth where before there could only be simplicity. 24 years later we’re still thrilled to see Woody and Bo again, and it’s not because of how they look.

I first watched Toy Story when I was four years old. Now I’m 28 watching Toy Story 4. As impressed as I am with the film’s design and technology, what affects me the most are the characters I’ve grown up with for nearly my whole life. I’m predicting the same for everybody else when this film hits theaters in June.

As always, check back here for more posts. There’s so much I’m excited to share about Toy Story 4 and my Pixar visit!

Read article

Woody’s Round Up 01/30/19

Pixar, Toy Story, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • January 30, 2019

2019 is the year that Toy Story 4 releases in theatres, and Pixar are doing well at keeping this at the front of our minds. Amongst all the Toy Story 4 hype (including the official reveal of Bo Peep’s return!), you may have missed out on some smaller stories happening around the studio and beyond.

Heimlich Finds A New Home

For old fans of Disney California Adventure, “A Bug’s Land” is likely to bring back a lot of fond memories. It was closed in September of last year, making room for the future (a new Marvel-themed land). It may serve as some solace to learn that Heimlich, who was the star of the attraction “Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train”, has found a new home back at Pixar Studios.

Tempting New Toy Story Merchandise

With Toy Story 4 just around the corner, companies are making use of the franchise’s spotlight by releasing all sorts of new Toy Story­-themed merchandise.

Korean beauty brand “innisfree” has released a skincare and make-up collection inspired by our favourite Toy Story characters. Mr Potato Head hand cream? Yes please.

Pixarpalooza Origins

Find out how the Pixarpalooza began in this endearing hand-drawn short posted on Pixar’s twitter.

Two Toys With A Twitter Account

Just today, recently revealed Toy Story 4 characters Ducky and Bunny (who appear to live at a carnival) got their very own Twitter account: @duckyandbunny! They seem to have found someone’s lost phone and are using it to share blurry pictures, selfies, and obscene amounts of emojis. It’s interesting that they’re classing a smartphone as a ‘toy’ – maybe this is something that will be explored in Toy Story 4 this summer?

Read article

Lee Unkrich says goodbye after 25 years

Lee Unkrich, Pixar

Posted by Simoa • January 18, 2019

Pixar is undergoing a lot of changes – many of them positive, others a bit more bittersweet. Lee Unkrich’s departure from the studio after 25 years of brilliant and inspiring storytelling falls into the second category.

Deborah Coleman, Pixar

He first announced the news on twitter, linking to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, and following up with another tweet where he said “the time has come for new adventures.”

Of course, this news comes as a shock. Unkrich did not specify if he’s retiring from filmmaking, but he did inform the Reporter that he’s going to pursue some neglected interests and spend more time with his family.

“I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered.”

Unkrich’s last directorial effort was the monumentally successful Coco. It was just his second after helming 2010’s equally impressive Toy Story 3. He’s been at the studio since the very beginning, with Pete Docter praising him for his undeniable prowess.

“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting. His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made.”

Before codirecting Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, he was an editor on the films. Pixar president Jim Morris also credited Unkrich’s ability to make the films even better. “If you look at the sweep of contemporary cinema, it would be difficult to find someone more brilliant in the filmmaking arts than Lee Unkrich. He has been a key player in elevating virtually every one of Pixar’s films.”

Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, echoed Morris and Docter:

“Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film, and we are so grateful for the passion and talent he has brought to each movie he has worked on. He’ll always be part of the Disney-Pixar family, and we will miss him.”

While we are a bit sad over this news, we’re also happy that Lee is prioritizing his family. We truly believe he’s leaving the studio in more than capable hands, and that this new generation of storytellers will still be impacted by his years of dedication and keen storytelling gifts.

Update 1/19: Read Lee Unkrich’s parting letter below.

Read article

Woody’s Round Up 12/31/18

Pixar In Concert, RenderMan, Round-Ups, Toy Story 4, Video Game

Posted by Simoa • December 31, 2018

Gather round for the final installment of Woody’s Round Up for 2018!

Glimpses and Peeps

Surprisingly, the Parrs weren’t on Pixar’s holiday card this year. (Can’t help but imagine a version with Jack-Jack taking on that raccoon in a picturesque Christmas scene…) The card however is quite lovely, and features characters from the 2019 feature, Woody and…Bo Peep!

Some fans started to speculate that the original romantic storyline between Bo and Woody was scrapped altogether. But her inclusion in the holiday card should lay those doubts to rest. Pixar may be taking their time to reveal Bo Peep in any of Toy Story 4′s promo, but that doesn’t mean she’s gone forever. In fact, quite the opposite. Over the summer, Bo’s voice actress Annie Potts enthused about her big role in the film. And that’s not all – she may even be getting a new look! I think we’re all in for a great surprise come next June.

Pixar in Concert

This series will be heading to four cities in the UK in April 2019. This UK tour will feature iconic music by a live orchestra from Coco, Finding Dory, Cars, Cars 2, the first two Toy Story films, Monsters, Inc., and more. For more information, please visit Broadway World.

Final Battle

The wait for Kingdom Hearts: Final Battle is almost over. The game will be released in just a few more weeks, and a new trailer was unveiled this month. Some familiar Pixar faces make appearances, like Remy, Woody, Buzz, Mike and Sulley. This latest trailer is pretty dramatic and has plenty of exciting moments, as well as some perilous ones. Watch it below:

Renderman’s 30th

The software program that revolutionized the VFX industry and continues to garner awards for groundbreaking effects turned 30 this year. Renderman first got its start at Pixar and is still an integral part of the studio. There’s a video over at Wired that breaks down the software’s sprawling history in honor of its 30th anniversary.

Monsters, Inc. Manga

Another January release: Tokyopop’s Monsters, Inc. manga. Tokyopop has other Disney titles in its catalog but this is just the second Pixar film to get the manga treatment, joining Finding Nemo. The story hasn’t changed, although the characters have a much more cutesy look, except Roz. Cover art is designed by Philly Delphie and Hiromi Yamafuji gets author credit. The manga hits bookstores on January 8th.

We hope you’ve all had a fantastic year! Join us in 2019 for more Pixar news and in the countdown to Toy Story 4. And if you’re currently experiencing cold temps, let Pixar’s fireplace warm you up!

Happy New Year!

Read article

Lava: The Pixar Short of The Week

James Ford Murphy, Lava, Pixar Short Films Collection, Pixar Short of the Week, Short Film, Shorts

Posted by Simoa • December 14, 2018

This week, “Lava” was the overwhelming favorite in our latest twitter short film poll.

I have to admit, I was more than a bit surprised that “Lava” won, and by such a large margin. I remember the short being distinctly unpopular when it first premiered in 2015, paired with Inside Out. There were lots of complaints about “Lava,” ranging from the story (or lack thereof) to the character designs. And while some of those negative responses are reasonable (to an extent), I think this short does have its merits. Maybe “Lava” isn’t technically or narratively groundbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be.

I saw Inside Out nine times in theaters, which means I also saw “Lava” nine times! And at almost every viewing, the reaction to Uku, the male volcano, opening his mouth to sing was derisive laughter. I couldn’t ever see what was so funny about it. What made me laugh wasn’t the short itself, but my mother’s wry observation at its conclusion: “Well, there’s someone for everybody.” And isn’t that just like Pixar, to not only anthropomorphize volcanoes, but make them yearn for romance and everlasting love? Sure, as someone in one of the above critical pieces noted, Pixar already did it before with umbrellas…but these are volcanoes! Massive ruptures in the earth’s crust that literally erupt fire and destroy everything in their path. But the volcanoes in “Lava” are gentle, with friendly faces and sweet singing voices.

Uku (Kuana Torres Kahele) is a lonely volcano in the middle of the sea who sings about finding his one true love.

“I wish that the earth, sea, and the sky up above-a
Will send me someone to lava.”

Thousands of years pass and he remains alone, literally eroded and sinking into the sea. One of the most brilliant moments of the short is the time lapse representing all these years.

via Giphy

And how quietly devastating is the sight of a volcano on the brink of extinction, never once experiencing the love that all the animals around him do? Turtles, dolphins, birds — all have a special someone, except for this craggy mountain of rock. He once bloomed in verdant greens, with bright sparks of red-orange lava, but all of that rich color and life disappear.

But not all hope is lost. Lele (Napua Greig) is an underwater volcano who believes Uku’s song is for her. She bursts forth to the surface while Uku descends into the sea. When she starts singing his song, Uku, reinvigorated by music and love, rises back up to join her, and they form an island called Ukulele.

“Lava” is considered by many to be Pixar’s weakest. Some people are a bit more extreme in their assessment, calling it the worst thing Pixar has ever made, offensive (!), worthless, total garbage. Dana Stevens over at Slate declared it an embarrassingly terrible horror show, but only after she spent four long winded paragraphs talking about other film releases in 2015. Truly bizarre! I might not agree with my nephew that “Lava” is Pixar’s greatest short, but I definitely trust his opinion more than anyone else’s.

concept art

Director James Ford Murphy was inspired by his love of Hawaii, where he honeymooned with his wife over 25 years ago. He also wrote the short’s eponymous song and first pitched it at Pixar by singing and playing it on his ukulele. The song’s inspiration came from Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s beautifully haunting rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” which is very meaningful to Murphy. What he really wanted was to create something just like it in movie form.

There’s also the level of immaculate detail we usually expect from Pixar, particularly the inspiration from actual volcanic geology. Murphy also incorporated Lōʻihi, an underwater volcano, into the short. Lōʻihi formed the basis for “Lava,” as Murphy wondered if this volcano knew about Hawaii (the Big Island) and vice versa.

What I love most about the short’s backstory is that Lōʻihi came to represent Murphy’s sister, who married in her 40s.

“As my sister stood up on the altar, I thought about how happy she was and how long she’d waited for her very special day. There, at my sister’s wedding, I remembered Loihi and I had an epiphany… What if my sister was a volcano? And what if volcanoes spend their entire lives searching for love, like humans do?”

We got the answer in a sweet 7 minute musical.

Some fun facts:

  • Uku and Lele’s eyes were originally lava, but the result was creepy and they ended up looking too much like jack-o-lanterns.
  • The clouds around the two volcanoes were based on weather patterns and were also meant to resemble hula skirts and leis.
  • The voices of Uku and Lele, Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig, found out they had both attended hula school together when they met in the recording studio.
  • Did you know the Pizza Planet Truck appears in the short? Look very closely at one of the constellations in the sky during the time lapse!

Read article