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Aphton Corbin and Rosana Sullivan developing new films at Pixar

Aphton Corbin, Pete Docter

Posted by Simoa • January 9, 2021

Last September, I interviewed the story artists on Soul. I asked Aphton Corbin and Michael Yates if they had any plans to direct SparkShorts. Aphton with a coy smile said, “I don’t think we can tell you that.” Well now it’s just been announced that she’s directing a feature length film!

The news appeared in a Hollywood Reporter issue profiling Pete Docter’s new role as Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer. Rosana Sullivan, who directed “Kitbull” is also developing an original full length film for the studio. Ever since taking over John Lasseter’s role, Docter has prioritized diversity and inclusion. Diversity has become an almost toothless word now, but it’s clear that Pete is committed to giving women and nonwhite creatives the space to tell their own stories. It is long overdue, but it makes me so hopeful for Pixar’s future and the future of animation as a whole. Andrew Stanton described Docter in such a way that makes him a perfect replacement.

“Pete’s not interested in repeating anything. He wants to invent a new color every time.”

I’ve been wishing for a Black female protagonist in a Pixar movie for years now. Now it seems like my wish may actually be granted. And with a Black female director, no less! I can’t wait to hear more about Aphton and Rosana’s films and share more of that info with all of you.

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Burrow – The Beauty of Community and Asking For Help

SparkShorts

Posted by Simoa • December 22, 2020

2020’s pandemic gave Soul an added layer of significance, and the same is true for the short film paired with it, “Burrow.” Directed by story artist Madeline Sharafian, the short follows a young rabbit on the quest to build her perfect home. The only problem is that she wants to be alone and her neighbors are a bit too…neighborly.

Even the most adorable Pixar shorts can have lots of depth, as we saw in “Kitbull.” Nothing is as tragic or heart-wrenching in “Burrow” but it did give me lots to think about, particularly now. Rabbit sets about building her home, burrowing deeper underground and is thwarted in her efforts by the other animals. They don’t mean to be in the way but they are, and all she wants is to be alone.

“Burrow” is brimming with lots of storybook charm and is quite silly and playful. Lots of warm colors seep through and its color palette makes it perfect for fall.

No matter what we may be facing, we can get caught up in our pride, thinking we can – and should – get by on our own. We might feel ashamed or burdensome asking for help. “Burrow” makes it clear that we shouldn’t ever feel that way. The short also extols the power of community. As we’ve seen how selfishness reigns above ground, this little film is a timely reminder about the importance of serving our neighbors.

If you follow Sharafian on social media, you’ll recognize her rabbit. I did, and instantly knew she was behind “Burrow” the first time I watched it. Her credits include OnwardWe Bare Bears, and Domee Shi’s upcoming Turning Red. I was also lucky enough to learn about the making of the short and how it was inspired.

Like Soul, “Burrow” was already halfway completed by the time covid arrived in our world. Sharafian had the idea since 2014. A CalArts alum, she actually left the school in her third year and was “haunted by her fourth film” that she never got to make. Rabbit is based on her – it’s a childhood nickname owing to her two front teeth that got knocked out and then grew in very large. She’s always struggled with isolating herself and a perfectionist nature that refuses to ask for help. So while it may just seem like a cute short on the surface, it actually is personal. The visual style was greatly influenced by children’s books, such as those by Beatrix Potter and Richard Scarry. Studio Ghibli was another inspiration. Sharafian always loved cutaways and that was a detail she incorporated in “Burrow.” The characters were also simple because of the highly detailed and stylized backgrounds.

Here’s an interview I did with Maddie all about the short.

UP: How confident do you feel about directing a full length feature film?

MS: I think part of the Sparkshorts program is for the studio to check your directing skills, but I was checking myself. ‘Is this something I’m going to be comfortable with? Will I be happy or will I just be nervous all the time?’ I think what I’ve found is that if I have a story that I really believe in, and that I think will be fun for people to make, those nerves went away. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt. I think it’s something I’ve proven to myself that I can do, and I would do it again, I think.

UP: Was this short influenced by covid and this chaotic year?

MS: It totally wasn’t! I had this idea so long ago and it’s weird watching it line up with what’s going on now, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make it during covid but I have learned some lessons while making it, like asking for help. I know now how to ask [for help]. Maybe if my housemate is away and I feel lonely – in the past, I would have sadly been by myself but now I know how to pick up a phone and tell someone I’m sad. It improved my quarantine life a little bit.

UP: Was your rabbit always going to be the star of a Sparkshort/your own directorial debut?

MS: I think so! It did take away my fear to be embarking on something with this character. I’ve loved her for my whole life, this rabbit that’s apart of me, my nickname; I use her to represent myself out there in the world. I’m shy in person so to me it felt like I was giving myself a safety blanket on my first scary adventure.

UP: Do you think this short has a connection to Soul at all?

MS: I haven’t seen Soul in a long time. I saw early story reels so I trust that Pete picked it as a good pairing. I’m such a huge Pete Docter fan that I’m waiting to watch Soul on December 25th!

UP: Can we expect a Rabbit series?

MS: Not at the moment…I will always continue to make my personal comics but as far as this goes, I think it’s a done story.

UP: How did you come up with the idea behind the short?

MS: Very much inspired by my own experience working here at Pixar. This is a really collaborative place, especially the story department. I was watching my teammates do these really healthy, awesome things and they’d ask for help. But I realized that if I was stuck, I wouldn’t show anyone. I would just work late. There’s only so many years that you can do that, healthily, and I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had to learn to ask for help and it was around the time that I started making this short. I was making the theme of this short and learning how to live it at the same time.

Everyone at Pixar loves 2D animation, so there were lots of enthusiastic animators who wanted to work on this film. And there will be lots of enthusiastic viewers when the film premieres with Soul on Disney+! Be sure to watch it alone or with your friends and family on Christmas day. It’ll be that much sweeter.

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New Pixar movies and Disney+ Originals!

Disney+, Domee Shi

Posted by Simoa • December 12, 2020

Disney Investor Day on December 10th was an overwhelming day filled with all sorts of exciting announcements. New Pixar films were unveiled, along with a new series exclusive to Disney+. Now that we’ve had time to digest all the fantastic news, here’s what’s upcoming.

Dug Days (2021)

This series about our favorite talking dog arrives in the fall. Featuring the ‘dangers of suburbia,’ like fireworks, puppies, and squirrels.

The other Disney+ series include Pixar Popcorn, a second season of Inside Pixar, and a new Cars spinoff, with a road trip across the country starring Lightning McQueen and Mater.

Turning Red (2022)

Investor Day

The red panda is out of the bag! Domee Shi’s feature directorial debut follows the adventures of 13 year old Mei, a girl navigating adolescence with all of its confusion and awkwardness. Mei is a regular teenager, but with a twist: she turns into a red panda whenever she gets too excited! The fact that Domee came up with this idea is only to be expected. “Bao” was such a surprise, adorable and poignant all at once. I can’t even imagine what Turning Red has in store. I love Mei already, in both human and animal form. She looks a bit like I did when I was her age.

Lightyear (2022)

A Buzz Lightyear origin movie?! It will debut in theaters. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, considering it seems like it would work more as a series, but you can watch the trailer below. Chris Evans will voice the space ranger.

Win or Lose (2023)

Pixar’s first animated series will premiere on Disney+ in February of 2023. The stories will focus on a middle school softball team and each episode will explore the view of a different character.

It feels great to have all this new Pixar content to look forward to, and with Soul just a few weeks away. Hopefully theaters will reopen so we can enjoy these great films on the big screen. Let us know what you think!

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The language of the soul

Soul, Soul press day

Posted by Simoa • December 1, 2020

Music transcends all sorts of barriers: language, distance, and culture. Music connects us through all of those things as well. When Soul‘s filmmakers were creating the character of Joe Gardner, they had to think of a profession that would elicit sympathy from the audience. They settled on a musician. They also knew that this musician would have to be Black, as jazz was invented, shaped, and pioneered by Black artists. Musicians are passionate artists, just like painters, writers, and sculptors. Soul is going to ask some big questions about the meaning of life and a life lived passionately is one lived well.

There’s a scene in the film that perfectly captures a moment of inspiration – being in “the zone.” It’s during Joe’s audition with the Dorothea Williams quartet. He becomes so immersed in the piece he’s playing that everything and everyone melts away. It’s just him and the song, swathed in vivid colors. It called to mind the paint strokes of the “Colors of the Wind” sequence in Pocahontas. Only an artist could be the protagonist of a story like this. Animation is not the only medium to tell this kind of story – see It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – but it is the only medium that can portray moments like the one in Soul in such an innovative way. Being “swept away” can actually be literal in an animated film.

Inspiration also came from a video that featured jazz legend Herbie Hancock. In it, he related a story about playing with the Miles Davis, and how he messed up a note. Hancock was mortified, but Davis was able to use that note. In Pete Docter’s words:

“Not only a great story, but really a perfect metaphor for what we were talking about in the film. Don’t judge. Take what you’re given. Turn it into something of value. We realized that jazz was really the perfect representation of what we were trying to say in the film.”

Jon Batiste was brought on to compose the film’s jazz score. Batiste has an enthusiasm that’s truly infectious. He described Soul as having a lot of light force energy. He needed to create music that would mimic the film’s ethereal essence. Some of his pieces have an optimistic and melancholy sound. His own personality and energy definitely inspired the film’s sound. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were also brought onboard to compose the music for the Great Before, leading to a surprisingly cohesive meld of that world and New York’s jazzy scene.

Batiste explains:

“…it really complements what Trent and Atticus came up with, and the times in the film when our music comes together, when the worlds kinda collide, it’s amazing how it worked out. And it really changed the rest of the music that I was composing for the film because I got a chance to see into their process, and that also leaked into the kind of spiritual tone that I’m talkin’ about, this ethos that we created.”

Batiste also described that pivotal scene when Joe as a teenager falls in love with jazz the first time. Like the audition scene, the vivid purple lights are dancing and illuminating his face. He likened it to a Kenny Kirkland or Branford Marsalis record from the 70s or 80s. These are musicians I’ve never heard of, but Batiste was able to incorporate his favorites into the music.

Like Miguel playing the guitar in Coco, one of the challenges for animators was accurate piano playing for Joe. Reference videos of Batiste was one source (even if his hands were often flying around the keys!). The animators were responsible for inspecting the hand movements and finger articulation. That was their visual cue which then had to be animated by frame. Time consuming of course, but ultimately worth it. A million details will go unnoticed by the audience, which is the goal, but for any musicians watching, it should look just right.

Music has always been an integral part of Pixar’s films. Of course Michael Giacchino’s Up score is one of the most iconic, along with Wall-E‘s. In our post covid world, we can’t go to concerts. But Soul is bringing the music to us. I would like to share more of Jon Batiste’s words about Pixar’s lovely Christmas gift.

“I’m so happy that the word is getting out about the film and people are finally gonna see it. And people need light in this time, and I’m all about bringing the light, and that’s one of the great pleasures of working with Pixar. They’ve created these films that delve into all of the cultures of the world and create it in a way that’s accessible to all people. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your experience. The stories transcend all of that.”

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Exclusive: New Pixar Apparel from Loot Crate

Posted by Simoa • November 19, 2020

The end of the year is fast approaching, if you can believe it. And with it comes the holidays. Soul will soon be released through Disney+ on Christmas, and we’re sure that Pixar themed gift lists are also circulating around. Today we’re bringing you an exclusive look at some new Pixar apparel from Loot Crate.

Loot Crate’s Pixar collection is already impressive and now their latest additions are here just in time for the holidays and colder weather. The new Loot DX December crate is Escape themed – and after COVID-19 lockdowns have forced us all inside, we could all use a bit of escapism, right? That’s one of the major themes in Up. I personally am really partial to these pajama bottoms! These are perfect for chasing away the gloom of winter. 

Also available is this adorable Finding Nemo scarf. Such a simple but bright design. For those of us bracing for a colder climate, this scarf will also be perfect when the temperatures drop.

These and more will be available on Loot Crate today at 6 pm EST / 9 pm PST. Subscribe here: https://www.lootcrate.com/crates/dx 

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New writers at Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Simoa • November 17, 2020

I’m very happy to announce that the staff here at Upcoming Pixar continues to grow! We are so lucky to now be joined by Maya and Karla.

I’ve known the two of them for years. They are two of the most passionate Pixar fans, in addition to being creative and really talented writers. You may recognize Karla from her lovely essay on Coco that was featured here in 2018. We’re looking forward to more great work like that from each of them.

Read on to learn some more about them!

Hello everyone, my name is Karla! Like most people, I was introduced to Pixar at an early age starting with Finding Nemo; however, I became enamored with their films in 2010 after seeing Wall-E and Up for the first time. Animation soon became my defining passion and ultimately, it led me to a career in technology. After graduating college in 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to work at Pixar as a Systems intern for the summer! I’m very excited to be a part of the Upcoming Pixar team and contribute as a fellow fan.”

Hi, I’m Maya and I’ve been unabashedly in love with the animation medium all my life. My
appreciation started in early childhood, helped in no small part by the feature films and shorts
from Pixar Studios. It’s difficult for me to pick an absolute favorite Pixar film when so many of
them feature the kinds of characters and themes I love best. I’ve always enjoyed writing about
the magic of the animated films’ art and stories so I’m excited to share my perspective and be
part of the Upcoming Pixar team!

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating and welcoming them to Upcoming Pixar!

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Animating Soul with life, colors, and lines

Art, Behind The Scenes, Soul, Soul press day

Posted by Simoa • November 4, 2020

Soul is all about the essence of a person. In most religions, like mine for example (Catholicism), the soul lives on after death. We also believe that our souls will one day be reunited with our bodies. A person’s soul will either go to Heaven (an eternity of holy bliss), Purgatory (a purification process before reaching Heaven), or the dreaded Hell (an eternity of unholy agony).

I know these beliefs are strange, but that’s precisely why I am fascinated by Soul. This is one of the reasons Coco resonated with me so much, too. We pray for all of our dead, the ones we knew and loved, and even those we didn’t. We can’t forget them, as Coco so beautifully showed us.

Soul is not about the afterlife, though we do get a brief glimpse of the Great Beyond. That’s where souls journey after death in this film’s universe. Small wonder then that Joe is terrified of this unknown, the end of his Earthly life, and starts running in the other direction, where he lands – poof!- into an entirely different realm. In direct contrast to that monochrome expanse, this place, the Great Before, is a pastel dreamscape, filled with soft hues of blue, green, and purple. It is here that newly formed souls get their personalities, quirks, and interests.

Soul Matter

What does a soul look like? That was one of the major challenges on this film. I’ve always pictured them as a red plume, like a candle flame. (Maybe a bit Calcifer esque)? After a few trial runs, the souls looked too much like ghosts. Producer Dana Murray mentioned that they overcame this hurdle by adding color: “If souls represent the full potential of who we are inside, maybe we could use color to help show that.”

The film crew also discovered aerogel, the lightest solid material on Earth, which is used by NASA. The aerogel helped with the appearance and texture of the souls. The result is simple but not at all simplistic. Usually it’s the most simple things that require a fair amount of effort and brain power. Souls are immaterial and abstract, but the Pixar artists infused them with whimsicality. Now this abstract concept becomes more accessible with lots of childlike appeal.

There were more things to consider as well. Newer souls are very smooth and float because they have no concept of gravity. Mentor souls are those who are not quite ready to pass over to the Great Beyond, so they are assigned a new soul to guide before they reach Earth. This is how Joe gets paired up with 22. Mentors, unlike the new souls, have discernible features and accessories. In Joe’s case, his hat and glasses help to distinguish him. The mentors walk around because they’re so accustomed to gravity, although they don’t need to.

22 is different from the newer souls: she has a tuft of hair, bigger teeth, the ability to grow legs and walk, and an adult speaking voice. This is because she’s been in the Great Before a long time, and knows a lot about Earth. She’s outgrown the bounciness and sheer wonder of the baby souls. That was something I found so interesting during the virtual press event in September: a lot of thought informed these designs, things we can so easily take for granted.

Soul‘s art team also envisioned some complex design rules: appearing and disappearing limbs, facial features that moved anywhere on the face and big, expressive mouth shapes that took up the whole face. These design rules were first implemented in 2D animation tests. The technical directors accomplished another major feat by simplifying a process that was quite time consuming for the animators. Jude Brownbill explained that there were “facial lines that were hand animated to appear, disappear, and change thickness with each expression. TDs figured out how to automate these lines, helping to anchor the eyes and the mouth on the face, help keep them on model and appealing, and to provide clarity and extreme emotions like confusion, fear, and rage.”

A soul’s guide to the universe

Our universe is staggeringly incomprehensible. How exactly can you capture that vastness? Here’s how Pixar did it. 

It’s human nature to make sense of things and create order out of seeming chaos. Movies like Coco, Beetlejuice, A Guy Named Joe, and A Matter of Life and Death depict the afterlife being run just like a government agency. Soul has a similar system in place with its Counselors and You Seminar. Jerry, one of the Counselors, explains to Joe that everything he sees has been simplified enough for his tiny human brain to understand. The same must also be true for us contemplating the origins of each human life.

The Counselors presented another unique challenge for the artists and animators. The team was inspired by Swedish sculptures, nature, and light itself. And that is what they resemble: beams of light made physical. They are possibly the most striking thing about Soul, odd and ethereal all at once. I would love to see an entire film in this style.

So how were these gossamer thin characters designed? The Counselors are just a single line, but again, it’s deceptively simple on the surface.

Bobby Podesta remarked that they look like the easiest things to animate, but of course they weren’t. These are living lines. Wire sculptures were created to show how the Counselors looked from different angles and with various expressions.

We began exploring shapes, expressions, movements, and transitions, and the animators didn’t just animate a model. I mean, they animated a design, and you can see that here. The characters captured that sense of a living line, a piece of art in a form that was understandable, yet still ethereal. So, to achieve the sense of design within the animation, our animators had to draw on their backgrounds as artists to craft a visually stunning performance, and it’s that combination of being both an actor and an artist that raises the bar at Pixar to a level that we hope continues to exceed our audience’s expectations.

-Bobby Podesta

Seeing these lines in motion is truly astounding. Pixar never stays in the same spot. The artists are constantly pushing boundaries, so each new film contains something we’ve never seen before.

Below is more awe-inspiring artwork I’m so excited to share. Soul will premiere on Disney+ on December 25th.

 

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A new trailer (+ reviews) for Soul!

Soul, Trailer

Posted by Simoa • October 15, 2020

The reviews are in! Soul has captivated the critics following its premiere at the London Film Festival. It’s being hailed as Pixar’s “most existentially ambitious film,” one that will have adults sobbing “until their muscles ache,” and it’s going to nourish your own soul, too. After watching partial footage last month at the virtual press event, I wholeheartedly agree with everyone’s glowing reviews. And it’s made me, somehow, even more eager to see the rest. I’m also very encouraged by what Kaleem Aftab wrote on IndieWire:

Joe’s blackness isn’t relegated to a side issue; it’s baked into the essence of the character, and treated as a crucial aspect of his humanity. To this end, “Soul” manages to juggle the surreal humor of “Inside Out” in tandem with its most grounded, socially-conscious narrative ever, and it’s a real wonder to watch those ingredients congeal.

That certainly is just one more thing to look forward to. And though we still have to wait another two months to watch Soul, there is a brand new trailer to tide us over until then!

Soul will be streaming on Disney+ this Christmas.

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The journey of a soul – there and back again

Aphton Corbin, Kristen Lester, Michael Yates, Pete Docter, Pixar Employees, Soul, Soul press day

Posted by Simoa • October 9, 2020

A trip to Pixar was out of the question this year, due to COVID-19’s travel and gathering restrictions. It definitely was a bummer, although minor in the grand scheme of things. But even if I couldn’t visit the studio in person, I was able to talk to the filmmakers of Soul and learn about the film virtually. As always, I’m grateful for the opportunity to go behind the scenes.

Soul has been in production for five years, but the story has been with Pete Docter for a lifetime. It all began 23 years ago, when his son was born. Docter marveled at his newborn child’s personality.

“I thought your personality developed through your interaction with the world. And yet, it was pretty clear that we’re all born with a very unique, specific sense of who we are.”

Pixar movies so often create something out of nothing, dazzling worlds vibrant with color and detail. They are either places we’ve never been or can only imagine. Soul‘s Great Before surpasses anything we’ve seen before, since the artists at Pixar outdo themselves every time. But no matter how mesmerizing the look of a film is, the characters within should take precedence. Enter Joe Gardner.

Playwright Kemp Powers joined the production in 2018 to write the script and was made co-director. His script pages were brought to the story department, where the artists were tasked with drawing them. Story supervisor Kristen Lester led this process, with a team that included Michael Yates and Aphton Corbin. According to Lester, Powers’ script contained a lot of history and authenticity, which really helped to inform Joe’s backstory.

There was a staggering number of storyboards drawn for this film – 73,611 to be exact! Take a look at just two of them below. Absolutely stunning!

Of course, not all of the boards made it into the final film, but those discarded ideas were still vital in establishing Joe and his background. We know that he’s a middle school band teacher with more lofty aspirations of a career in jazz music. Joe’s never realized these dreams, and Michael Yates was concerned with why that was the case. Joe is a talented pianist without any delusions, so why wouldn’t he have found success? Yates thought about people he knew who hadn’t achieved their dreams and was able to envision the obstacles standing in Joe’s way. In each instance, Joe misses an audition because he’s helping out his family, friends, and students. Through these sketches, we learned that he’s a selfless person who put his dreams on hold.

The sketches and script were then boarded by Aphton Corbin. One of the sequences she worked on was Joe’s life in the Hall of You, an exhibit that showcases a person’s life on earth and their achievements. Corbin “imagined it as a dark space with moments of Joe’s life playing in beams of light that characters could walk through, kind of like a museum.” Joe’s is distinctly unimpressive, a series of unexciting moments combined with failures. From this vantage point, his life is disappointing. This was intentional, as Corbin explained:

“We wanted Joe’s Hall of You to feel more like an exhibit of his failures rather than his successes. We piled on rejection after rejection to build our case and placed the moments where he decided to become a band teacher at the end, so Joe falling down the manhole felt like the perfect coda to his sad life. It was our goal at this point to get the audience on Joe’s side. We wanted them to feel like he needed to return to his body to finish living his dream as a jazz musician.”

Corbin also included Joe’s first encounter with jazz, a moment where he discovers the passion that now defines his life. His face was the focus in that scene – it’s one of the most wonderful in the film’s trailer. Joe’s face is lit up with love and wonder, aglow in the colors from the jazz club. We all have moments like that in our lives, no?

The completed storyboards were then sent to editorial, where music was added. Editorial is where the story artists watch how their drawings come together for the overall film. They watched the entire film from beginning to end about eight times in Pixar’s theater.

Mainstream animated and live action films rarely feature nonwhite characters as the heroes of the story. Too often they’re shunted into supporting roles. Audiences hardly ever watch films with Black protagonists that they can relate to and root for. I think people will definitely see themselves reflected in Joe’s Hall of You as I could, a place where our failures and dim moments eat up all the spotlight.

For Pete Docter, making this film was less about failed dreams, but questioning his purpose. He’s directed acclaimed films and won numerous awards, but still the question nagged at him.

“Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my limited time on Earth? In fact, in darker days, around now, I wonder sometimes, is there any point to it? If I had a choice, would I decide to be born and come live?”

I was so shocked to hear him admit that. We’re usually discouraged from sharing such thoughts, but I think it’s a universal feeling, especially with a world that’s constantly in turmoil. And with 2020 going on record as possibly the most disastrous year ever, this film’s release could not be any more timely.

Who would want to live if they were given that choice? But Soul seeks to both answer that question and dispel the doubt that surrounds it. This is a journey we’re all going to take with Joe, by asking ourselves the same questions.

There’s still so much more that I learned about this stunning film. Stay tuned to read all about it! But in the meantime, delve into Joe’s world with more gorgeous artwork.

Soul will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on December 25. This is the third time the film has been pushed to a later date. Theatrical release dates are pending. Surely whenever pandemic restrictions are eased, audiences will have the opportunity to be dazzled by it on the big screen.

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Pixar Fest Spotlight: Onward and Quests of Yore board game

Dan Scanlon, Merchandise, Onward

Posted by Simoa • September 6, 2020

Onward was the first Pixar movie with a limited theatrical run after COVID-19 halted regular daily life and forced the closure of movie theaters. It’s also the first to be featured in the new Pixar Fest Spotlight.

Just what is Pixar Fest? Like the name suggests, it’s a festival, but a virtual one from the comfort of home! Every Saturday all month long, fans can tune in to watch a Pixar movie on Disney+ and livetweet with the studio’s official account. But that’s not all: fans can also win prizes, enter giveaways, and get exclusive merch inspired by Pixar Fest. New products will debut each week, so be sure to follow along for updates! (The alien remix ones are my favorites).

As Onward was the first in the series, take a look at the awesome plush collection.

 

 

Pixar’s livetweet of the film also included gorgeous artwork and behind the scenes facts.

Artist credit: Brittney (prismaviolet_ on Instagram)

Laurel concept art by Maria Yi

The bittersweet origin of Onward is captured lovingly in these illustrations by Dan Scanlon:

 

There’s yet another Onward first: a roleplaying board game! Quests of Yore was developed by The OP Games with lots of insight from Dan Scanlon and the film crew.

What makes this game so unique is that it is Barley’s copy – all of his notes are in it, and it was important that the game reflected his personality, particularly the way he encourages and supports Ian. Quests of Yore is also meant to inspire players in the same way. To learn more about the development of the game, check out this video with Game Design Manager Pat Marino and Dan Scanlon.

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