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Woody’s Round Up 11/6/18

Auntie Edna, Bao, Incredibles 2, Round-Ups, The Pixar Story

Posted by Simoa • November 6, 2018

Welcome back to Woody’s Round Up! Today’s installment features amazing costumes, more details on Incredibles 2, out on DVD today, and an addition to Netflix.

A Very Pixar Halloween

We can always count on the folks at Pixar to get into the Halloween spirit with their creative costumes! This year was no exception. Check them out, courtesy of Pixar’s official Instagram page. Baby Bao is the clear winner!

Edna in Auntie Mode

Incredibles 2 is now on DVD today, so be sure to pick up your copy! But even if you’ve got the digital version and have already watched “Auntie Edna” (lucky!), you should still check out this interview with the short’s director and story artist, Ted Mathot. Audiences would need to see a new side to the iconic character while Mathot had to remain faithful to her essence. “Getting her out of her comfort zone a little bit, because she’s always the boss, always in control, was really fun to explore. What happens when she loses some of that control? What does that bring out in her character?” Read more from Mathot’s interview at Animation World Network.

Concept art by Matt Nolte.

Special Effects

Art, story, and technology define Pixar’s approach to filmmaking. Each of those are fascinating to learn about and gives audiences a chance to gain more knowledge about everything that goes into the storytelling we admire so much. Effects supervisor Bill Wattral was interviewed by Shack News about his role and the unique challenges that come with the job.


Wattral discusses the tools Pixar uses; existing ones that serve as foundations and the new programs created by the studio itself. These tools are necessary in making the film look as appealing as possible. One of Wattral’s main priorities is foreseeing problems in the tech department before they become unwieldy. A very informative look at the technical aspects of Pixar’s process.

Coming Soon

The Pixar Story (2007) comes to Netflix on November 18th. The documentary was directed by Leslie Iwerks (granddaughter of legendary animator Ub Iwerks) and is now ten years old. Although much has changed since 2007, the doc is sure to still be a great watch all these years later.

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Bao-Appetit! – Check Out This Illustrated Bao Recipe From Director Domee Shi

Bao, Domee Shi, Shorts

Posted by Joanna • June 19, 2018

After melting everyone’s hearts with her short film Bao before Incredibles 2, director Domee Shi is now sharing the recipe for the eponymous adorable dumpling. The popular food news website Food & Wine published the family dumpling recipe in the lead-up to the theatrical release of both Bao and Incredibles 2. You can feast your eyes on the recipe below, charmingly illustrated by Domee Shi herself!

Not only does the end product look delicious (or lovable, depending on which choice you made in step 10) , but the illustration is just oozing with charm and character. If an entire recipe book were available with Domee Shi’s beautiful drawings bringing the ingredients and methods to life, I know I would have at least three. I think what I love the most is the hands – so simple, and yet so expressive and unique. You can really tell that they have been lovingly based on Domee’s own mother’s hands.

What did you think of Bao? Are you going to give this recipe a try? Let us know in the comments!

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The Making of Bao: Story, design inspiration, and more!

Bao, Behind The Scenes, Domee Shi, Interview, Short Film, Shorts

Posted by Nia • April 23, 2018

Bao is Pixar’s new theatrical short that will be playing this summer in front of the Incredibles 2. It’s one of my favorite shorts from Pixar and it goes without saying – the film is full of scrumptious designs and a heartwarming story that will have you begging for more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our review of the film.

During my most recent trip to Pixar I learned some fantastic things about the making of Bao from director Domee Shi, production designer Rona Liu, and producer Becky Neiman-Cobb.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

  1. Bao has two meanings in Chinese: steamed bun and to treasure something precious. Domee thought it would be the perfect title for a story about “a precious little steam bun.”
  2. Domee’s #1 obsession in life, outside of animation, is obviously food (and I don’t blame her – I think about food 24/7). “I love food, not just eating it, but drawing it as well.” Before the days of Bao, Domee was making art about food and posting it online. You might remember some of the food related gags and little food-centric comics from her My Food Fantasies
  3. Domee was also inspired by food folk tales because “they’re so cute and strange – like the little gingerbread man and that one song, there was an old lady who swallowed a fly.” With Bao, she was inspired to do a Chinese version of all those folk takes she loved.
  4. According to Domee, the first ingredient to Bao was obviously food and the second ingredient was what she knew best: growing up as an only child. Domee’s family was a small immigrant family that moved from China and lived in Toronto. Domee’s father worked a lot and because of that she spent a lot of time with her mom growing up. Her mom would hold her close whenever she could and treated her like a “delicate little dumpling.” When Domee started growing up and doing things on her own, it was hard for her mom to let go and she’d tell Domee,“I wish I could put you back in my stomach so I’d know exactly where you were at all times.” Domee even said, “It’s that creepy sweet love of a mom who doesn’t want to let go of her little dumpling that was the spark that became the heart of the story.”

    ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

  5. Domee wasn’t only inspired by her relationship with her mom, but she was inspired by her. She is a “dumpling Queen.” Food was how Domee’s mom showed her love for her and they formed a special bond making dumplings together over the years for numerous holidays and events. “In Chinese culture, food and family go hand in hand. When you want to show that you care about someone and that you love someone, you don’t say ‘I love you’ you say ‘have you eaten yet?'”
  6. Her mom was involved in the research for Bao. She’d come in to do “dumpling making demos” for the animators and effects and simulation artists.

    (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

  7. The third ingredient for this short was Chinatown, specifically Chinatown in Toronto where Domee grew up. She wanted to honor that setting and the equally vibrant Chinatown grannies. “I wanted to celebrate their bold colors, their keen eye when it comes to picking out the freshest produce, and their determination to get the best deals in town.”
  8. The style of Bao was inspired by 2D Japanese animation, especially the visual styles of My Neighbors the Yamatas and One Piece. Domee “loved how squishy the characters looked and how pushed their expressions were.”

    ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

  9. Though translating 2D designs to 3D was the biggest obstacle Domee and her team had to get past. Some poses and expressions didn’t translate as well when it was created with 3D software, since 3D itself is its own medium. Some of the design aspects Domee wanted to pull from My Neighbors the Yamatas or One Piece were going to be an challenge, like the mother’s massive head and exaggerated limbs, but there’s nothing that a little planning can’t solve, especially in animation production. In the end, after trial and error, they were able to combine 2D graphic design and 3D modeling, which gave Domee range to achieve what she wanted.
  10. Production designer Rona Liu “oversaw all the visuals in the film.” Her job was to work with the different departments to make sure the look was cohesive and adhered to Domee’s vision.
  11. According to Rona, Domee wanted the short to look and feel very, very cute. It was also heavily influenced by Japanese folk art. She loved the “simple and graphic designs and the fact that a slice of life was the main subject… she wanted to borrow some of that philosophy with Bao, while keeping focus on the characters as much as possible.”
  12. The patterns on the mother’s clothes supported her emotional journey throughout the film. When the mother is unhappy and lonely, Rona used muted colors. When the mother is happy, the colors were “bold and red and auspicious.”
  13. The environment also played a supporting role to the characters. The background designs used throughout the short are not perfectly straight; if you look closely at some of the sets in the trailer and even when you see the film this summer, you’ll find that none of edges actually meet perfectly together, lines are wibbly wobbly. The mother’s house in particular had to reflect that she was an immigrant, a “blend of East meets West.” Rona had decided all the built-ins in the mother’s kitchen would be Western, while all the things the mother buys would be Chinese. 
  14. According to producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, the pork filling was the hardest thing for the effects artists to figure out. “It took two months for them to master the look and feel of the pork filling for the short.” What made the food effects so challenging was that, “we’re all experts as to what food looks like.” And food is the star in Bao, so “if it didn’t look perfect or believable it would pull the audience out of the story.”

Make sure you save lots of room for dessert because Bao is coming to theaters June 15th!

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Spoiler Free Review: Pixar’s Bao Is A Delicious And Heartwarming Treat

Bao, Domee Shi, Review, Short Film, Shorts

Posted by Nia • April 23, 2018

Earlier this month I was one of the first audiences to watch Pixar’s new theatrical short Bao. I’ve had a lot of time to think about the film since then, and I’m still 100% certain it might be one of my favorite shorts to come from the studio.

Bao is directed by Domee Shi and she just so happens to be the first female to direct a short film at Pixar. Although that fact alone is unnerving, considering the studio has been around for 30+ years and their Brain Trust has been notoriously male dominated; it’s inspiring to see the studio finally moving forward and giving others the opportunity to tell their stories.

Domee was born in China and raised in Toronto, which heavily influenced the setting and aesthetics for Bao. Domee is only 28-years-old and landed a Job at Pixar after graduating from college in 2011. Before her directorial debut, Domee was a story artist and had worked on The Good Dinosaur and most recently Inside Out.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Bao’s initial story started over 4 years ago – while working on Inside Out Domee was feeling that itch to make something herself, a film that was ultimately weird and uniquely hers. Domee had initially intended for the short to be her weekend gig, but when Pixar had an open call for short pitches, she decided to throw her story into the mix and see what would happen.

She first pitched it to Pete Docter, the director of Inside Out, Up, and Monsters Inc., to get his feedback. He was so passionate about the story and enthusiastic about her idea that she decided to pitch it to the studio. And obviously through their support and feedback Bao was green-lit as their next theatrical short.

Bao tells the story of a Chinese mother who’s dealing with an all too familiar feeling among parents: figuring out what to do with their life after their children have grown up and moved out. The empty nest syndrome soon evaporates when the mother discovers that one of the dumpling’s she’s about to eat suddenly springs to life. She’s given another chance at parenthood as she watches her baby dumpling grow up in the world around her. As the story progresses the mother realizes that what she wished stayed precious and innocent soon matures and grows bigger and “doesn’t stay cute forever.”

©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Without giving anything away, here’s what I absolutely adored about the short:

  • As with most of Pixar’s shorts, the entire film was done without any dialogue. There’s always so much that can be said with a glance or a simple touch that 10+ pages of dialogue can never achieve. There were so many precious and heartbreaking moments throughout the short between the mother and her baby dumpling that were conveyed beautifully through the animation, lighting, and overall character design. I don’t think I can even picture this film with even one line of dialogue.
  • The character designs were unique and definitely stood out from previous Pixar films. The characters depicted in the short, from the mother to some of the other human people she interacted with, had massive heads that were un-proportioned to their bodies, sort of like living breathing caricatures. While watching I sometimes wondered how these characters were able to keep balance and walk from one room to the other without tipping over. The overall design of the baby dumpling was both scrumptious and adorable, even when it got older and started growing a little scruff around its chin.
  • I loved the fact that FOOD was the star of this short. OK, baby dumpling aside, there were so many gorgeous close-ups of noodles and vegetables and delicious Chinese desserts that my mouth was watering for the duration of the short; I even had to look around to see if anyone heard my stomach grumbling. The amount of detail that went into the food was mind-blowing – there’s a scene towards the middle of the short when the mother prepares an epic feast for her and the baby dumpling and I still can’t get over the steam rising from the food as it sat on the table, waiting to be eaten.
  • I loved that we were able to be immersed in a different culture, albeit only being for 8-minutes. In Sanjay’s Super Team, the short that played in front of The Good Dinosaur back in 2015, we got a unique look into Sanjay Patel’s childhood and the Hindu traditions of his family. And the same happens in Bao as we experienced an inside look at Domee’s own relationship with her mother as she depicted the Chinese customs she was familiar with growing up.
  • Bao’s story was simple and effective; despite it focusing on Chinese characters and their culture, the messages and heavy themes depicted were universal. In Coco, the film relied on it’s story being told through Miguel and his Mexican culture, but the themes of death and importance of family heritage were both prominent and relatable to everyone all over the world. With Bao, the same can be said with the mother and her Chinese background but the themes of struggling to deal with an empty-nest and accepting your child will one day grow up could be understood by people from all walks of life. I’m not a parent, but I could relate to everything the mother went through based off when I first moved away from home.

Bao is also important to me because my family are immigrants. I was born in the United States but my Grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in WWII to escape the Nazi occupation. I’ve seen similar tales told in live action, but now with the help of Bao, Coco, and Sanjay’s Super Team, it’s helping those types of stories become accepted in the world of animation. I’d love to see more unique films come from the studio moving forwards and I only hope they’re giving more opportunities to talented artists like Domee Shi and Sanjay Patel so that they can tell stories about their families and life experiences.

I really can’t wait for you to see Bao in cinemas June 15th! Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about the making of Bao, complete with more story and design inspiration.

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Here’s Your First 20-Second Look at Bao, Pixar’s New Short

Bao, Domee Shi, Shorts

Posted by Nia • April 12, 2018

Get ready, folks, because you’re in for an incredibly charming and delicious ride, not to mention a cuteness overload. Bao is Pixar’s new theatrical short, directed by first-timer Domee Shi, that will be playing in front of the Incredibles 2 June 15th.

Today the studio revealed via Instagram a small 20-second clip from the film:

 

The clip depicts the initial moments of a baby dumpling springing to life, it coos and cries and looks adorable as it spurts little arms and legs. The mother looks on with wide eyes and is bewildered at first, an honest reaction to someone’s food coming to life, but soon she’s full of love for the baby dumpling as she lifts it close and gives it a good cuddle.

On top of this new footage, Pixar also blessed us with a poster for Bao, which captures the tone and heart of the film while also paying homage to the simplicity of Chinese folk art.

Last week I had the honor of watching Bao at Pixar and although I can’t make any official comments until next week, I’m really looking forward to audiences all over the world experiencing the story that Domee Shi and her team of talented artists so delicately crafted.

Make sure to stop by again after April 16th to find out more about Bao, including story inspiration, facts about the look of the short, and more!

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Yummy New Look at Pixar’s latest short

Bao, Domee Shi, Short Film

Posted by Simoa • March 30, 2018

“Bao,” the short film set to premiere with Incredibles 2 this summer, got us plenty excited with its short synopsis and the fact that it’s Pixar’s first film (feature length or otherwise), to be directed by a woman. Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we now have more details on Domee Shi’s directorial debut, as well as some lovely art work!

Much like Sanjay Patel and his directorial effort, “Sanjay’s Super Team,” Shi was inspired by her own childhood as the daughter of Chinese immigrants.

“Often times it felt like my mom would treat me like a precious little dumpling, wanting to make sure I was safe, that I didn’t go out late, all that stuff. I just wanted to create this magical, modern-day fairy tale, kind of like a Chinese Gingerbread Man story. The word ‘bao’ actually means two things in Chinese: Said one way, it means steamed bun. Said another, it means something precious. A treasure.”

Truly one of the most encouraging things is the variety of stories coming out of Pixar, which have been long overdue. And it’s especially wonderful that Pixarians like Patel and Shi are given the opportunities to tell these very specific stories informed by their lives and families. We can’t wait for more updates on what will surely be one of Pixar’s most charming shorts, and can’t wait to see it on June 15th!

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