‘Monsters University’ & ‘Toy Story of Terror’ Earn Annie Nominations [UPDATE: Winners Announced]

Annie Awards, Awards, Monsters University, Toy Story of Terror!

Posted by Brkyo614 • February 2, 2014

It’s that time of the year again. The International Animated Film Society has just announced the nominees for the 41st annual Annie Awards – the first of many award shows to come. Monsters University and Disney’s Frozen led the pack with ten nominations; both are contenders for Best Animated Feature alongside A Letter to Momo, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, The Croods, and The Wind Rises. Monsters U also received nominations in the following categories:

  • Animated Effects in an Animated Production (Joshua Jenny, Jason Johnston, Matthew Wong, Eric Froemling, Enrique Vila)
  • Character Animation in a Feature Production (John Chun Chiu Lee)
  • Character Design in an Animated Feature Production (Chris Sasaki)
  • Music in an Animated Feature Production (Randy Newman)
  • Production Design in an Animated Feature Production (Ricky Nierva, Robert Kondo, Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi)
  • Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production (Dean Kelly)
  • Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production (Billy Crystal as Mike)
  • Writing in an Animated Feature Production (Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon)
  • Editorial in an Animated Feature Production (Greg Snyder, Gregory Amundson, Steve Bloom)

Toy Story of Terror also garnered quite a bit of attention, earning seven nominations among five categories:

  • Best Animated Special Production
  • Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production (3 individual nominations: JC Tran Quang Thieu, David DeVan, and Kureha Yokoo)
  • Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production (Angus MacLane)
  • Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production (Daniel Chong)
  • Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production (Axel Geddes, Kathy Graves, Chloe Kloezeman)

For a complete list of nominees, head over to the Annie Awards website. Check back on February 1, 2014 for the winners.

UPDATE: The winners have been revealed. Pixarians took home a total of five awards; three for Toy Story of Terror and two for Monsters University. Those were:

  • Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production (Dean Kelly, Monsters University)
  • Editorial in an Animated Feature Production (Greg Snyder, Gregory Amundson, Steve Bloom, Monsters University)
  • Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production (Kureha Yokoo, Toy Story of Terror)
  • Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production (Angus MacLane, Toy Story of Terror)
  • Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production (Daniel Chong, Toy Story of Terror)

Congratulations to all of the winners!


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Pixar Research Hints at Possible New Visual Styles


Posted by Brkyo614 • January 21, 2014

Pixar regularly publishes documents detailing technical advancements on their website. In April of last year, a particularly interesting paper was posted that shows off a rendering style unlike anything seen from Pixar before. The research went by mostly unnoticed until Cartoon Brew shared it earlier today. Take a look at the fascinating project below:

While there’s certainly room for refinement, this is an exciting hint that Pixar is looking to branch out into more varied art styles. It’s unlikely that the technique will be employed in any of their announced features, but here’s hoping we at least see a short with this look in the near future. There’s a ton of potential here that I don’t see Pixar letting go to waste.

For an in-depth look at the process, which was developed with the help of University of Toronto, University of Washington, and Stanford graduate students, be sure to read the full document on Pixar’s website.

How do you feel about this test footage?

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New ‘Toy Story’ TV Special Announced for Holiday 2014

Toy Story, Toy Story of Terror!, Toy Story That Time Forgot

Posted by Brkyo614 • January 17, 2014

Last year brought us Pixar’s first half-hour TV special, Toy Story of Terror. In addition to being an enjoyable return to the Toy Story universe, it was a huge ratings success – so much so that the studio has decided to move forward with another Toy Story special for 2014!

The Christmas-themed special, titled Toy Story That Time Forgot, will be produced by Galyn Susman and directed by Steve Purcell (who co-directed Brave). The official description (via Stitch Kingdom) reads:

"During a post-Christmas play date, the Toy Story gang find themselves in uncharted territory when the coolest set of action figures ever turn out to be dangerously delusional. It’s all up to Trixie, the triceratops, if the gang hopes to return to Bonnie’s room in this
Toy Story That Time Forgot."

Set to return are Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz, Kristen Schaal as Trixie, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Wallace Shawn as Rex, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, and Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants. Kevin McKidd (Lord MacGuffin from Brave) joins the cast as Reptillus Maximus. Though an exact date has yet to be announced, the short will air on ABC later this year.

What do you think of this announcement? Did Toy Story of Terror leave you wanting more Toy Story specials?

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Pixar Snubbed at the 86th Academy Awards

Academy Awards, Monsters University, The Blue Umbrella

Posted by Brkyo614 • January 16, 2014

The Oscars have been kind to Pixar over the years – with the exception of Cars 2, all of the studio’s features have been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film since the creation of the category in 2001. As a result, it came as a huge shock when Monsters University went unmentioned during this morning’s 2014 nomination announcements. Instead, these five films were chosen for the Best Animated category:

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

The Blue Umbrella wasn’t nominated, either; in fact, it didn’t even make the shortlist for Best Animated Short Film. The five in that category were:

  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

Monsters U was also absent at the Golden Globes, but the Oscars’ five animated film slots made a nomination seem like a safe bet. The film was mostly well-received by critics, so the omission seems to partially be a response to the backlash when Brave took home last year’s award above strong competition. Although Frozen and The Wind Rises are clear contenders to win this time around, the lack of even a nomination for MU is puzzling.

Still, the film has earned some love elsewhere, most notably from the Annies, BAFTAs, and VES Awards. Pixarians took the miss well; director Dan Scanlon tweeted a particularly eloquent response. Ultimately, it’s oddly appropriate that Monsters University, with its messages of moving on from failure and finding new opportunities, didn’t make the cut.

For the full list of nominees, head over to the official Oscars website.

What do you think? Was Monsters University worthy of a nomination?

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New ‘Monsters University’ Short Will Play Before ‘Muppets Most Wanted’

Monsters University, Party Central, Short Film

Posted by Brkyo614 • January 7, 2014

One of the many announcements from last year’s D23 Expo was the reveal of Party Central, a short set in the Monsters University world. It was slated to be attached to The Good Dinosaur, but that film’s delay to 2015 brought its fate into question. Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we now know that we won’t have to wait long to see Party Central; it’ll be attached to the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted.

The short was already complete when it was screened at D23, so it makes sense for Pixar to get it out this year – and the choice of film is unsurprising, as the Toy Story Toon Small Fry was attached to the first Muppets reboot. Director Kelsey Mann, who was a story supervisor on Monsters University, spoke with EW about the roots of Party Central:

"When you first meet the Oozma Kappas, they go to their fraternity house and the first thing they say is, ‘Welcome to party central! We haven’t thrown a party yet, but when we do we’ll be ready. I kept telling [
MU director] Dan [Scanlon], ‘I really want to see their party. We have to do it in the credits or something.’ Then when the idea of doing a short came up, we were like, ‘That could be the party!’"

Pixar won’t be putting out a feature film this year, but perhaps Party Central will make the wait for 2015 a bit less excruciating. Muppets Most Wanted releases in the U.S. on March 21.

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Pixar Cuts Staff Following ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Delay

Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Brkyo614 • November 22, 2013

This has been a rough few months for Pixar’s artists. Hot on the heels of Pixar Canada’s closure last month, the studio’s headquarters in Emeryville will be laying off nearly 5% of its staff due to The Good Dinosaur‘s delay.

An official statement reads: "At Pixar, we are constantly re-evaluating the creative and business needs of our studio. With the release date change of The Good Dinosaur, we have realigned our production and support priorities, which includes a small reduction in our staffing levels."

The Pixar Times theorizes that the bulk of the layoffs will be focused on technical departments, which will be left without a major project to work on until Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur are closer to completion. Regardless, it’s very sad news, especially for a studio that has prided itself on keeping layoffs to a minimum. Stay tuned for updates on the situation as they come.

(Via LA Times; image via Stitch Kingdom)

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Woody’s News Round-Up! (11/15/13)

Awards, Behind The Scenes, Blu-Ray, Ed Catmull, Monsters University, Round-Ups, The Blue Umbrella

Posted by Brkyo614 • November 15, 2013

Now that Toy Story of Terror and the Monsters University DVD are out, it could be a while before we hear any major news on the Pixar front. Still, here are a few updates that have popped up over the last week:

Complete Pixar Blu-ray Collection: If you’ve yet to upgrade your Pixar DVD collection to Blu-ray, now is the perfect chance with this 22-disc collection that includes every Pixar feature and short to date (with the exception of Toy Story of Terror, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex). The one caveat: it’s only available in the UK on region B discs. If you’re still on board, order the collection now on Amazon.

Disney Releases Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella Screenplays: Each year, Disney showcases their films for award consideration on the Walt Disney Studios Awards website. Though not yet fully fleshed out, the site has been updated for 2013 with pages for Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella. Most notably, it also features screenplays for both films; check them out here and here. (The Blue Umbrella is a particularly interesting read.)

The Making of The Blue Umbrella: If that screenplay piqued your interest, Indiewire has a feature exploring the earliest steps in the creation of The Blue Umbrella, including some fascinating live-action test footage. Be sure to take a look! (via Pixar Post)

Ed Catmull Details His Experience with Pixar in Upcoming Book: There have been a handful of books detailing Pixar’s rich history over the years – The Pixar Touch and To Infinity and Beyond! come to mind – but we’ve yet to see a substantial firsthand account of the studio’s rise. Now, Pixar founder Ed Catmull is set to collaborate with Amy Wallace on a new book on his time at Pixar: Creativity, Inc. Releasing next April, the book will “provide an inside account of Pixar’s rise from a small, money-losing hardware company to a movie studio with 1,200 employees and a streak of fourteen No. 1 movies in a row that has garnered 30 Academy Awards and earned more than $7 billion worldwide.” Pre-orders are already available on Amazon.

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‘Monsters University,’ ‘Cars’ 3D Arrive on Blu-ray/DVD

Blu-Ray, Cars, DVD, Monsters University

Posted by Brkyo614 • October 29, 2013

After an early digital release, Monsters University has finally made its way to DVD and Blu-ray today. and High Def Digest both praise the audio/video quality and the abundance of extras included with the film. It’s worth noting that, like most recent Pixar releases, the DVD version is sorely lacking in special features; pick up any of the three Blu-ray editions, though, and you’ll be good to go.

Fans of Cars may also be interested in the 3D Blu-ray release of the original film, also hitting shelves today. This is the first time Cars has been released in 3D — High Def Digest has great things to say about the conversion, but points out some inherent issues that come with converting a 2D film into 3D. The same bonus features from the existing Blu-ray are also included.

Be sure to let us know if you pick up either of these releases!

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First Poster for ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Poster, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Brkyo614 • October 26, 2013

When The Good Dinosaur was delayed to November 2015, it was logical to assume we wouldn’t be seeing any promotional material for a while. Surprisingly enough, a poster has already made its way online thanks to JPosters (via The Rotoscopers).

Though it lacks the artistic elegance of the Up and Brave teaser posters, this gives us our first good look at Arlo (voiced by Lucas Neff) and human Spot. The poster probably leaked well earlier than intended, considering the URL at the bottom currently leads to nothing. Still, an official release may be coming sooner than expected.

With a November 25, 2015 release date, The Good Dinosaur is still over two years away. How do you feel about the character designs?

UPDATE: Lead character designer Daniela Strijleva had this to say about the poster on Twitter:

"Looks like an unfinished unofficial piece of work that’s not supposed to be out there. Not Pixar endorsed."

So the poster itself is likely unofficial, but the character designs are identical to those shown at D23 earlier this year.

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Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Toy Story of Terror’

Behind The Scenes, Toy Story of Terror!

Posted by Brkyo614 • October 15, 2013

It’s easy to dismiss the work that goes into an animated television special, but Pixar has clearly given Toy Story of Terror the same level of attention as they do to their feature films — and nowhere is it more evident than in the short’s finished frames. For a glimpse at what went into the making of Toy Story of Terror, Pixar has uploaded a promo with words from director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman:

If that wasn’t enough, (via Pixar Post) has a feature exploring the broad strokes of Pixar’s animation process. Check it out here.

The wait is nearly over; Toy Story of Terror airs tomorrow night on ABC in the United States! If you plan on watching, be sure to let us know.

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