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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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There Is Now An Incredibles 2 Art Show At Gallery Nucleus

Art, Brad Bird, Gallery Nucleus, Incredibles 2, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2

Posted by Nia • June 2, 2018

Today Gallery Nucleus finally opened up A Tribute Exhibition to the Incredibles 2. The gallery is partnering with Oh My Disney, Disney Fine Art, Cyclops Print Works, and Pixar Animation Studios to present a unique experience showcasing more than fifty original Incredibles themed artwork. If you’re in the Los Angeles area be sure to check it out, the art show will be running from June 2nd until July 1st.

Thanks to Oh My Disney, we’ve provided some of the pieces that will be on display at the show. If you’re lucky enough to attend this month, you can even buy some of the prints in person. We’re definitely looking forward to stopping by and adding some more Pixar themed art to our collections. And don’t worry, if you’re not in Los Angeles you can still buy prints online starting tomorrow!

We hope all this fantastic art gets you excited for the Incredibles 2, which comes out June 15th!

By Eric Tan

By Eric Tan

By Bryan Mon

By Eric Tan

 

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Review: The Art of Coco

Adrian Molina, Art, Art Of:, Coco, Lee Unkrich

Posted by Simoa • October 28, 2017

When I visited Pixar in August, there was dozens of Coco artwork lining the walls that I wanted to hang up on my own walls at home. The art and animation presentations also featured bold and visually striking pieces that I could have ogled for hours. Now that the art book has been released, we can all get our fill of the film’s mesmerizing art. But you should wait until after the film is released to read the whole thing!

Released by Chronicle Books on October 10th, The Art of Coco, with a foreword by John Lasseter and introductions by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, will indeed be a treasured addition to any collection. Pixar films routinely deal with death, but Coco will transport audiences to a world where death is linked to life. However, this is not a story about mourning. Unkrich and his team took so much care to authentically portray Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos holiday, which is both a remembrance of departed loved ones and a celebration of life.

The Art of Coco is yet another celebration of Mexico, its people, and its culture.

Numerous pieces of concept art, sketches, and clay models are included, as well as storyboards and the breathtaking color scripts. Color is what makes The Art of Coco so appealing; it’s saturated with it. Deep, vivid hues of red, orange, and yellow fill the book, as well as warm tones and color palettes. All of this, combined with lush digital paintings, make the artwork come alive on the page. Now imagine seeing it all in motion on the big screen.

Sharon Calahan, digital

Along with the dazzling artwork are photographs taken during the research trips to Mexico. The crew members snapped photos of the people they met, as well as the gorgeous scenery and Dia de Los Muertos celebrations.

Art of books function as learning tools for animated films and this one is no different. The artists detail their processes from character design to lighting to storyboards. These insights help animation fans broaden their knowledge and their appreciation. The amount of meticulous and precise details just can’t be overstated, especially with a film like Coco. The sheer breadth of the land of the dead alone is astounding.

Tom Gately, china marker/pencil/digital

But it’s not only the artists who have a space in The Art of Coco. Because the film is centered on Dia de Los Muertos, the cultural consultants who were hired provide more background on certain customs and traditions. Their expertise was not only an asset for the film’s accuracy and respect; it informed the story as well.

Zaruhi Galstyan, digital

Much of the crew aiding Lee Unkrich on his vision are Mexican, including co-director Adrian Molina, who shares a songwriting and screenplay credit. Molina and the other artists, like character art director Daniel Arriaga, sketch artist Ana Ramirez and character modeling artist Alonso Martinez, drew from their own experiences, family, and heritage to shape Miguel’s journey. One of the many joys in poring over this book was reading about their pride at being involved and sharing a bit of themselves. It’s evident, as Lee Unkrich writes in the introduction, that this is both a personal and a universal film.

The Art of Coco is overflowing with stunning imagery and is an excellent companion to the film.

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New Disney/Pixar Gallery Nucleus Exhibition Opens in Los Angeles

30 Years of Pixar, A Bug's Life, Art, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Inside Out, John Lasseter, Monsters University, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, WALL-E

Posted by Nia • December 10, 2016

Have you ever wanted to see some of your favorite artwork from Pixar films in real life? Fear no more, as a new exhibition has just opened up at Gallery Nucleus in LA today. For the first time ever, the gallery will be showcasing brand new images from each of Pixar’s feature films. What makes it even more unique is that John Lasseter himself picked each design for the show. There will also be hand-signed limited edition prints for sale by each artist who worked on the pieces.

Thanks to Oh My Disney for providing the artwork that will be featured at the showcase.

By Bob Pauley

By Bob Pauley

 

By Tia Kratter

By Tia Kratter

 

By Randy Barret

By Randy Barret

 

By Pete Docter

By Pete Docter

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Teddy Newton

By Teddy Newton

 

By Bill Cone

By Bill Cone

 

By Dominique Louis

By Dominique Louis

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Lou Romano

By Lou Romano

 

By Robert Kondo

By Robert Kondo

 

By Harley Jessup

By Harley Jessup

 

By Steve Pilch

By Steve Pilch

 

By Rickey Nierva

By Rickey Nierva

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Sharon Calahan

By Sharon Calahan

 

By Daniel L Munoz

By Daniel L Munoz

 

Be sure to check out Galley Nucleus and celebrate the art of Pixar if you’re in town – it runs from today, December 10th to January 8th, 2017.

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A very Pixar Halloween!

Art, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, Sanjay's Super Team, The Incredibles, Toy Story

Posted by Simoa • October 31, 2016

To celebrate the ghoulish day of October 31, Pixar has re-imagined horror movie posters with our favorite Pixar characters. Although “Toy Story of TERROR!” (2013) is the only Halloween themed Pixar offering, these new posters show the sinister potential in these popular and heartwarming films. Can we ever expect a full length horror movie from Emeryville (low on the gore)? Or a chilling ghost story? Let’s hope so! In the meantime, enjoy the frightfully fantastic posters. (via twitter).

rex

So this is definitely funny rather than sinister, but a Rex that’s actually scary?! That is indeed scary.

 

bob-parr

All soul sucking Insuricare and no hero work makes Bob a dull boy… 

 

boo

This wouldn’t be the first time Sulley terrified Boo!

 

After all, a boy's best friend is his rat...

After all, a boy’s best friend is his rat…

 

Super Team...they're here...

Super Team…they’re here…

Have a happy Halloween!

 

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The Science of Pixar

Art, Behind The Scenes, Pixar, Science Behind Pixar

Posted by Simoa • August 9, 2015

Buzz1Back in June, Boston’s Museum of Science opened The Science Behind Pixar, an interactive exhibit that gives guests the chance to learn about the math and science in Pixar films. I was lucky enough to attend this weekend, and it was quite an enriching experience!

The exhibit was set up to focus on each aspect of Pixar’s production and animation process. There are sections devoted to modeling, rigging, animation, lighting, surfaces, simulation, and more. It’s all presented in a unique, eye catching way. Visitors not only get to see how the films are created firsthand, but it’s also hands on. Since the Science Behind Pixar deals with STEM concepts (science, technology, engineering, math), it was all informative and educational, but like Pixar films, it was also a lot of fun. Those who may not be interested in math or science could find their opinions changed when visiting. The same was true for Colin Thompson, a Pixarian who is responsible for painting surfaces. He was never a fan of math in school, but changed his mind when he saw how it could be applied in a fun, useful way at Pixar.

IMG_9816

Thompson is just one of many Pixarians sharing their experiences of working at Pixar and what their jobs entail. Video of Pixarians are stationed throughout the exhibit, and these can be played alongside the actual sets. One familiar face is Jerome Ranft, a sculptor at Pixar.

IMG_9829

Early Finding Nemo color scripts, by Pixar veteran Ralph Eggleston.

The artwork is impressive as ever. Seeing Eggleston’s work above, as well as others, stays true to that famous John Lasseter quote: “Art challenges technology. Technology inspires the art.” The Science Behind Pixar is the perfect blend of both. It not only seeks to educate, but also to inspire wonder.

This exhibit will remain in Boston until January of 2016 and other cities will soon be added to its five year tour.

Official website

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Box Office Watch: Inside Out vs Jurassic World

Art, Box Office, Inside Out, Pixar Employees

Posted by Simoa • June 20, 2015

“Could Inside Out be the first Pixar film to not open at #1?”

That was the question on a lot of folks’ minds after Jurassic World scored a staggering $200 million worldwide on its opening weekend. It was a natural concern considering Inside Out was released yesterday, exactly one week after Jurassic World. But as always, Pixar has overturned expectations! Pete Docter’s latest emotional ride grossed over $34 million, with projections of $90 million throughout the weekend. What’s more, Universal’s sci-fi epic dropped to second place with $29 million. This puts Inside Out in second place behind Toy Story 3 ($41 million) and first place as the highest grossing weekend for a non sequel Pixar film.

Pixar story artist Austin Madison depicted the competition and eventual Pixar victory in these two awesome drawings!

It was a close call, but we can all jump for Joy! We’ll bring you more updates on Inside Out‘s box office earnings.

Figures via Box Office Mojo

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“Brave” Trailer Premieres!

Art

Posted by Martin • November 16, 2011

“If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”

After much anticipation, the full theatrical trailer for Brave is now streaming! Our latest look at the Mark Andrews-directed epic gives audiences a taste of the voice performances that will accompany Pixar’s epic story and stunning animation. Watch:

Brave opens in the US & Canada on June 22, 2012.

Looks like Brave is shaping up to be a wonderful film! Your thoughts?

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A Look at the Architecture of Cars 2!

Art, Cars 2

Posted by Martin • March 17, 2011

A goldmine of never-before-seen concept art from Cars 2 has just been revealed via ComingSoon.net!

Take a look at Pixar’s auto-interpretations of real life landmarks, including Paris’ Eiffel Tower, and London’s House of Parliament. The following descriptions have been provided by the studio.

Paris: "Pixar reimagines Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower in Disney•Pixar’s Cars 2. While the real Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, artists from Pixar Animation Studios began "CARifying" it in June 2009. Concept art showcases the "CARified" elements—the arches at its base take the form of wheels topped by car grill facades; the Tower’s top sports a modified spark plug and car antenna."

London: "Pixar reimagines London’s New House of Parliament and Big Ben in Disney•Pixar’s Cars 2. Concept art created in July 2010 showcases the "CARified" elements. Big Ben is transformed into Big Bentley, with spark plug towers, car grill arches and classic Bentley hood ornaments. The rest of the Parliament has car grills and headlights built into the façade with spark plugs on the spires."

Porto Corso: "Pixar reimagines the signature casinos of the European Riviera in Disney•Pixar’s Cars 2 with the fictional Porto Corsa Casino in Italy. Concept art created in July 2010 showcases the "CARified" elements – instead of lion statues on the building corners, Pixar artists created car statuary details."

See the architecture of Cars 2, only in theatres on June 24, 2011.

Your thoughts?

(via Coming Soon)

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Toy Story 3 at The Magic of Disney Animation!

Art, Toy Story 3

Posted by Martin • March 2, 2010

The folks over at WDWNewsToday have relayed some fantastic Toy Story 3 images coming straight from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida!

The display (some of which is featured to the right) is housed at my favorite non-ride, The Magic of Disney Animation! This particular attraction includes a preview of upcoming Disney and Pixar ‘toons and it looks like the building recently switched The Princess and the Frog’s display with art from the Toy Story series.

Yes, that includes never before seen art from the highly anticipated sequel! The glass cases pictured in WDWNT’s article contain everything from concept art, color scripts, and storyboards to memorabilia, movie stills, and even some really cool Buzz and Woody statuettes made in a 3D printer! There’s also a great retrospective of the last two films. 

I’m especially impressed with the character studies Pixar did for teenage Andy; check out all those hairstyles they tried. It’s also interesting to see the development that went into many of the new characters that are actively being revealed. After seeing all of this, I’m more than excited to find out what other goodies will be included in The Art of Toy Story 3!

You’ll definitely want to take your time when looking at each photo! Everything I mentioned above (and much more) is available at the original post; note that you’ll have to scroll through other DHS pictures.

Have any of you seen this Toy Story 3 display in person? If not, have you been to this particular attraction in the past?

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