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Pixar President Jim Morris Gives Insight Into The Studio’s Creative Process

2D Animation, 30 Years of Pixar, Animation, Behind The Scenes, Ed Catmull, Interview, Jim Morris, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Nia • February 9, 2016

Courtesy of Time Out: Hong Kong and Disney/Pixar.

Jim Morris has been president of Pixar Animation Studios since 2005. He came to Pixar after working for a lengthy period at Lucas Digital. While at LucasFilm, he helped make a slew of films including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars; just to name a few. During a recent interview with Time Out: Hong Kong, Morris gave readers a little glimpse behind the scenes of Pixar and what it takes to create the animated films the studio is most famous for.

One of the main discussion points during the interview was the fact that Pixar, for the first time in the studio’s history, was able to release two feature length films in 2015. According to Morris, Pixar’s original plan was to have at least one original film every other year, followed by a sequel every other year.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge this year. We’re actually finishing films every eight months. We have enough production capability, but unfortunately that is not the issue! The issue is having the stories developed to the right point so we have enough content to make the films. That is the tricky part. It’s worked out fine so far. It does make a crunch with publicity; everyone gets spread a bit thin. But we’re feeling okay, we’re not at the point of regret, yet!”

The most important aspect behind every Pixar film is undoubtedly the story. Each Pixar film has been able to stand alone because of the unique characters that come along with the blend of animation and technology. In the scheme of storytelling at Pixar, the first step to launching a thousand feels is the emotional core behind each story.

“Usually the first thing that comes is an idea that engages the director. I would say there is some emotional core that motivates them to want to tell a story, and later we can infer a theme from that. Inside Out is an easy one to talk about – [director] Pete Docter was wondering why his daughter had changed. It started out as that core idea, but it evolved. It went through so many iterations. After we have that starting point, the characters get forged from that, and then more about the setting and the world gets forged from that.”

Storytelling aside, actually getting the film up on it’s feet after the initial concept is approved is tough enough. Most of the hours put into a film at Pixar exceed Walt Disney’s standards for his classic, 2-D animated films.

“Something most people don’t realize about our films actually is that, even though the computers are doing the animation, our average film takes 20,000 person-weeks to make. And that is probably a little bit more than most traditional, hand-drawn Disney films took. The amount of labour it takes to make a film like this is huge – the textures and scenes are painted by hand. Our joke used to be that we are where high-tech and low-life collide.”

There has been some criticism towards Pixar for it’s lack of women directors. Brenda Chapman has been the only female director to take the helm of a feature film for 2012’s Brave, but due to creative differences she was replaced by Mark Andrews halfway through production. Morris brought up that Pixar is indeed trying to fix this problem and make the company more diverse in regards to more opportunities for female storytellers.

“One thing we’re trying to do is to expand the roster of directors. We’re trying to build the next generation and make the company more diverse, to get a breadth of voices to tell a range of stories. We’re 37 percent female at the moment, and we’d like to be 50 percent. We don’t have a lot of turnover at Pixar though, which makes that somewhat challenging!”

Before concluding the interview, Morris was able to dish that there is some NEW original content in the works for a series of films on top of the already scheduled (and very anticipated) studio line-up.

“We have a bunch of confirmed titles. There’s Finding Dory later this year. We’re working on The Incredibles 2Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. Dan Scanlon, who did Monsters University is working on an original film. Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, is working on one, too. We have a new director called Brian Phee, who is working on a new movie, and we have a few shorts that are in the works. I can’t say much more than that or I’ll get in trouble!”

It’s certainly strange thinking that far into the future about films at Pixar, but exciting to know there is some awesome content brewing at the studio and a new director in the loop. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Jim Morris over at Time Out!

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Combat Carl PSA: “Cough in your arm!”

2D Animation, Angus Maclane, Blu-Ray, DVD, Toy Story of Terror!

Posted by Simoa • August 17, 2014

"Toy Story of Terror!", Pixar’s first TV special which premiered on ABC family last fall, will be available on Blu-ray and DVD this week and is filled with plenty of bonus features. One of these is a PSA in which Combat Carl (Carl Weathers) warns against the dangers of coughing. It’s a hilarious, tongue in cheek clip animated in 2D which you can watch below.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Combat Carl in future Toy Story shorts and specials! This brief ad is a brilliant way to continue his presence in the franchise. His appearance in "Toy Story of Terror!" made him yet another funny, colorful addition to this amazing cast of characters. The brains at Pixar obviously recognize his appeal in bringing us this gem, and it would be great to see more.

The Pixar Times also reports that two other ads featuring new toys from the special center on Old Timer and Transitron. Whether those ads will also be in 2D remains to be seen, but we can expect them to be as funny and clever as Combat Carl’s urgent PSA. Update: the Old Timer and Transitron ads function as vintage toy commercials and they can be seen briefly in the Blu-ray trailer.

All this and more is included, along with a ‘Team of Specialists’ feature, which has also been released by Disney.
The clip takes audiences behind the scenes of "Toy Story of Terror!", where director Angus MacLane explains the inclusion of certain toys in the special and offers a glimpse into the fascinating animation process.

Be sure to grab "Toy Story of Terror!" on Blu-ray and DVD on August 19th.

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Interview On the End Titles in WALL•E

2D Animation, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • June 23, 2009

The part of the film that many moviegoers unfortunately take for granted is the credits sequence.

It’s a shame because oftentimes they’re beautiful works of art, especially with Pixar films. Some have even suggested that there should be an Oscar category for Best Titles. Last year that buzz was carried by WALL•E. The Art of the Title Sequence sat down with the artists responsible for WALL•E’s credit roll.

It’s no surprise that director Jim Capobianco and animator Alexander Woo have lots to say about this sequence. "Unlike… in the past, the main goal of the credits was to finish the story." We don’t usually get to read much about this aspect of the movie, so this interview is pretty informative and inspiring. The segment was, of course, inspired by the progression of art through history. Find out where the idea for the 2D animation and 8-bit graphics came from (and much more) in this intriguing interview.

So do the folks at Pixar a favor and stay for the credits if you don’t already. I do, because every person who worked on the film is essential and deserves recognition!

(via Cartoon Brew)

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CGSociety Interview Andrew Gordon

2D Animation, Animation, Interview, Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Thomas • May 2, 2008

After a little delay with website issues, CGSociety caught up with and interviewed Pixar animator, Andrew Gordon, while in Melbourne for an Autodesk sponsored presentation. 

They chat about Gordon’s teaching career which includes the Academy of Art University, CSU Summer Arts and Animation Mentor. They also chat Pixar, 2D animation, the Spline Doctors and more. 

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UP Enters The Third Dimension

2D Animation, Animation, Cars, Disney, Disney Digital 3D, Pete Docter, Pixar, Pixar Employees, UP

Posted by Thomas • March 10, 2008

We do know (or at least one does hope the other knows), that Pixar’s 2009 release, UP, directed by Pete Docter, is going to be a 3D animated film. Pixar aren’t going to 2D, yet. In addition to this, ComingSoon.net, reporting from ShoWest, said that Disney have announced that the film will also be exhibited in 3-D. It seems it will go hand-in-hand with the three Toy Story releases over 2009-2010, that will also be in 3-D.

However, Peter Sciretta from /Film, does make a very good point. Is Disney having a negative influence on Pixar? He says:

And I’ve always loved Pixar’s view on sequels and 3D. Things like “Sequels are not part of our business model” and “We’ll only do 3D if the story compliments it” have been said many times in many interviews. 

Then last year it was announced that the Bay-area based animation studio would be making a third Toy Story film. And then, in January, Disney made the big announcement that it would be released in Digital Disney 3D following the rerelease of the original two films, which would be remastered for three dimensional viewing.

Add this onto the rumours that Disney•Pixar are going to make a Cars 2 and are eyeing a 2011 release date, and it just doesn’t sound like Pixar at all. Is it really necessary for the unstoppable duo to release these films in 3-D? I’ve never actually seen a film in 3-D, but it really just sounds like a cheap gimmick. But please, correct me if I am wrong. Leave a comment below and share your opinion.

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Mark Walsh Chats With The Independant

2D Animation, Animation, Disney, Interview, Pixar, Pixar Employees, Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • February 8, 2008

The Independant talks with Pixar’s, Mark Walsh in a recent article. They discuss a variety of topics including, Ratatouille, the process of creating an animated movie as well as Pixar bringing computer animation to the masses. Here is a piece I found interesting:

One downside is a problem most computer users suffer – hardware and software that’s out of date all too soon. "To resurrect the Toy Story characters for the third Toy Story [due in 2010] we had to find an old machine somebody still had," Walsh says. "It was being used as a coffee table. If they hadn’t saved it, we’d have lost the original Buzz and Woody animations."

You can read the rest here. Thanks Guido.

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Where The Wild Things Are Pencil Test

2D Animation, Animation, Disney, John Lasseter

Posted by Thomas • January 30, 2008

The Empire Online Blog posts the above video, which features a pencil test of Where The Wild Things are by John Lasseter which incorporates 3D backgrounds and 2D characters. Thanks Will.

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Enrico Casarosa On Pixar/Ghibli

2D Animation, Interview, Pixar Employees

Posted by Thomas • January 9, 2008

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this site before! It’s amazing. GhibliWorld.com have interviewed Pixar’s Enrico Casarosa, where they talk about Hayao Miyazaki’s influence on Enrico’s work,  Up, Ratatouille and Studio Ghibli among other things.

Enrico talks at length about the diffrences between Studio Ghibli and Pixar, and how they work. On the topic of the types of stories each studio tells, Enrico says,

I think there’s another interesting difference between the stories directors choose to tell here and at Studio Ghibli. At Pixar directors often look for something personal from their own lives for inspiration. Andrew Stanton used some of his own anxieties of being a father to make Finding Nemo more authentic and true, that is the core of the story. You can pick every Pixar movie and connect it to some personal experience of its director. And that is a good rule in any kind of writing I’d say, the interesting thing though is that these experiences are mostly from adulthood. I think Miyazaki does something different: he puts on his “Super secret think like a 10 year old helmet” (he can switch age to younger and older too) and he’s going to tell a story from and for that point of view. It still baffles me that he’s able to do that, but it’s exactly that wonderful feeling of childish wonder that brings his movies to a whole other level. That ability seems to be also fueled by his nostalgia for those times.

It’s a very in-depth read, but well worth the time taken. (via Cartoon Brew)

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Lasseter on WALL•E and 2D Animation

2D Animation, Interview, John Lasseter, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • November 22, 2007


Silas Lesnick from IESB.net chatted with John Lasseter on the red carpet at the premiere of Enchanted. Lasseter chat’s about Enchanted, WD’s comeback to 2D animation, WALL•E and more.

Click here
to watch the interview.

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