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Review: Lou is Compassion, Lost and Found

Cars 3, Dave Mullins, Lou, Review, Short Film, Shorts

Posted by Simoa • June 15, 2017

A lost and found box on the school playground looks very ordinary on the outside, but it’s teeming with life and magic within.

Like most of Pixar’s canon, Lou personifies an inanimate object, or in this case, a handful of lifeless, every day objects. All the lost toys and clothes are assembled into a playground guardian, who is otherwise invisible beneath. Lou is one day challenged by a bully who swipes the belongings of the other children. What begins as a funny battle between Lou and J.J. (the bully), evolves into a tender, moving story about compassion. Bullies hurt others because they’ve been hurt themselves. But rather than simply excuse J.J.’s behavior, Lou offers him the opportunity to give and receive compassion.

A wordless short, Lou is one of the studio’s most innovative creations. As Dave Mullins revealed at the press junket last week, the character was animated entirely by hand, with “no computer shortcuts or simulations.” The animation here is truly impressive, as Lou morphs into a variety of clever shapes and disguises.

You can catch a glimpse of Lou’s immense charm in the exclusive clip below.

See Lou with Cars 3 this Friday!

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10 Things We’ve Learned About Lou That Proves It’s One Of The Most Charming Pixar Shorts

Cars 3, Dana Murray, Dave Mullins, Interview, Lou, Premiere, Press Conference, Shorts

Posted by Nia • June 14, 2017

At the Cars 3 press junket on Saturday, we got to learn loads of new information about Lou, the short that will be playing in front of the film this Friday. During the making of presentation, director Dave Mullins and producer Dana Murray gave us some wonderful behind the scenes information about how the short was slowly pieced together.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  1. Under the guidance of story guru and overall legend, John Lasseter, Mullins incorporated some must-needed rules for every Pixar film. “Pixar films have very specific ingredients. They have heart, meaning your character is flawed in some way and experiences personal growth over the course of the film. Entertainment, which means the story has to be unpredictable and funny. There’s a setting, which needs to take the viewers to a place they’ve never been before, is exciting, and new. And finally, the animation, and this means the film can only be done with animation and need the medium’s full attention.”
  2. Lou is Mullins’ directorial debut and he’s spent 4 years working on it. He’s even been pitching short film ideas since 2005, but Lou was the first one given the green light from the studio. Mullins is passionate about telling good stories and he started searching for ideas that would stick. He wanted something full of heart. And he turned to the inspiration that came from his childhood, such as moving around a lot due to his father’s job, and leaving behind friends in every city – at time, he said, he almost felt invisible.
  3. “When you bring an inanimate object to life, you have to think about it’s intended purpose in the world.” The lost and found box was initially a bully, stealing the children’s toys in the playground and then eventually learning his mistakes and returning them at the end of the film – but that didn’t work because there was nothing to love about him. At one point during the conception of Lou, the character itself was actually a little boy with all of these toys attached to him. Instead, Mullins went back to the core of what the character was: a lost and found box. It was meant to find and return lost toys to children, so that itself sparked an idea that Lou himself would be the hero/protector of the playground.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  4. Mullins’ wife, Lisa, who’s a stop motion animator, helped him pitch the film to John Lasseter and Pete Docter by creating a real life maquette of Lou. The model showed how the character would be incorporating objects in to his design and how he would be bringing this character to life by forming him with toys. The overall design of Lou changed throughout the course of the film as they tried to figure out the easiest ways to animate him, but in the end they went back to simple design that Lisa created for the pitch (which in turn, you will see in the finished short).
  5. Dana Murray jumped from Inside Out to help Mullins as producer on Lou. Her biggest job, besides scheduling and budgeting, was partnering with Dave and forming a deep friendship with him so that she ensured he wanted to tell the story he set out to create. During story development they had the obvious challenges like how they’re going to dramatize Lou when he’s built with all of these random toys, and second, how are they going to populate a playground when this is just a short film. If you look closely at the children in the short and even the bully, J.J., you’ll be able to find re-use designs from Finding Dory and Inside Out.
  6. Even though the story was locked down, they had their hero, Lou, and the playground bully, J.J., there were still issues in figuring out how to depict J.J. and how they’re going to get to the heart of Mullins story. “For J.J. we tried a cross between Scott Farkus from A Christmas Story and John Conner’s friend from Terminator 2. But these kids just seemed way too tough for what we needed for our story. So we looked at Jonah Bobo from Crazy Stupid Love. And even though he has this tough look, he’s also really vulnerable at the same time. This is really the look we needed for that character: someone who is tough as nails, but also full of heart.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  7. “What pitches well, doesn’t necessarily play well on screen. This happens every time you go into a new department and without fail, when your story is taken through the different departments, it’s just another moment to remake your film. And at Pixar, you’re never really done working on story.” Mullins and Murray had to completely change Lou‘s story several times throughout the course of the film as they got notes from Lasseter and Docter, and when they took their production to the next stage of development. The Lou at the start of this production, when it was initially pitched, is something completely different to what’s on screen.
  8. With every Pixar film, they always have to try and raise the stakes regarding animation and technology. With Lou‘s case it was actually animating this complex character and making it look as believable as possible. “The simplest solution to animating Lou was that every piece of him needed to be animated by hand… everything was animated like how a stop motion animator would do it. To this day, I still have animators cursing my name. But despite all that, we at Pixar love these challenges and the animators really dug into Lou. They were up for the task.” In regards to Mullins using simulations in Lou, Mullins and his crew used cloth simulation on Lou’s red sweatshirt as well as many other elements depicted throughout the film.
  9. “When we animated J.J.’s entrance, it was a great intro but we had some problems with it. The first one was that J.J. wasn’t really that entertaining, he’s just kind of mean for no reason and because of that, it was getting in the way of the ending. We really had to re-think that character again. So the question was, how do you make a bully funny? How do you end of caring for him? And this got me thinking about what motivates bullies. A bully usually acts one way because they want one thing: attention. So, J.J. became a kid who constantly disrupted other kids to get attention, making him an outsider. When Lou forces him to act with compassion, this changes how the other kids see him and he finally gets the thing that he really wants, which is acceptance.” This subtle change had an enormous impact on the film and showed the right character growth that was needed for both J.J. and Lou.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  10. Finally, Mullins chose Frozen composer Christophe Beck to helm the score for Lou. “He has this quirky sensibility about his music that we knew would fit the film really well. So we worked on that theme, and it was really important, because I wanted something that you could hum, something that would fit for the bully and Lou. Once we had that, Chris came up with this idea, which was, recording all the percussion parts separately in a round. So each note was played one at a time, and would go in a circle, to create this sort of mechanical tune.”

It’s safe to say that Lou is now one of our favorite Pixar shorts and we’re so excited for you to experience it on the big screen this Friday, June 16th.

Stay-tuned for coverage on the actual Cars 3 press event and reviews of the films.

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More ‘LOU’ details

Dave Mullins, Lou, Pixar, Short Film

Posted by Joanna • June 2, 2017

Some new details about Pixar’s next short ‘LOU’ have surfaced this week on CinemaBlend in the form of “5 fascinating facts”.

LOU will feature a soundtrack written by Christophe Beck, who composed the memorable scores for Frozen and the Disney short Paperman, so we’re definitely in for a treat. By using a very interesting ‘round’ method, with musicians exhibiting great coordination skills, the soundtrack is sure to sound amazingly unique.

In addition to this, many of us will have already seen the character J.J.’s design: he appears in the background of Inside Out in Riley’s classroom! It’s not unusual for Pixar to recycle previously rendered characters and objects (a certain pizza delivery truck comes to mind).

Perhaps most excitingly, in response to the initial pitch for LOU, John Lasseter is reported to have said:

“This character looks like a pain in the ass to do, let’s make it.”

It’s always inspiring to see Pixar deliberately tackling challenges like this. LOU is a character made up of a mass of lost and found objects, and it’s easy to understand how difficult it must have been to animate him as a single living thing and not a collection of disconnected items. They’ve succeeded in doing this in the past – think of the school of fish in Finding Nemo, or the cute Lego character in Toy Story of Terror, or even the 7 limbs of Hank the septopus in Finding Dory – but animating LOU may just be their most impressive effort yet.

Ever since A Bug’s Life, all Pixar feature-length films have been coupled with original short films. The creation of these shorts is a way of encouraging creativity within the studio, and providing new and upcoming directors with confidence and experience. It’s clearly become a tradition that Pixar are particularly proud of, especially with their new internal short film project. It therefore comes as no surprise that the short film preceding the main feature is often equally as magical and compelling. Cars 3 is being released in North American theatres in just a fortnight, but the simultaneous release of LOU is just as exciting! ­

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Pixar’s New Short Film “Lou” Will Tug At Your Heart Strings

Cars 3, Dave Mullins, Lou, Short Film

Posted by Nia • April 28, 2017

During a press event at Pixar last month, the studio showed some new footage from Cars 3 and Lou, the short film that will accompany the feature this June. A few months prior to the press day, Pixar released only a brief synopsis of the film and a still that showcased the box of toys that will play a pivotal role in the films story.

Lou

Lou is directed by animator Dave Mullins and will focus on a monster, aptly named Lou, who lives in a lost and found box at an elementary school. The monster is a unique design composed strictly of all the items placed in the box, such as a red hoodie, a baseball, a shoe, some buttons, a slinky, and even a handheld video game. It’s certainly interesting to see in the footage and the images released how much Lou was personified – after all, he’s composed of a plethora of inanimate objects. It’s clear that Pixar’s challenge with technology this time around was bringing this character to life and making him just as convincing as the toys in Toy Story or even the umbrellas and the city in The Blue Umbrella. The items that make the monster aren’t threatening at all, which make him even more lovable and less like a monster – just a mythical creature composed from children’s lost toys. At the end of recess every day, Lou collects all the lost items that are found in the playground and takes them back to the box for safe keeping. It’s then that he notices a bully who has been snatching his classmates personal items, so Lou takes it upon himself to handle the situation (in a perfectly Pixar fashion).

Dave Mullins initially came up with the idea of Lou based on his childhood. As a child, he moved around quite a lot and often felt overlooked when it came to making new friends in each location. “It made him feel invisible, and it gave him this idea for some kind of character who felt invisible and desired to be accepted by other kids. That’s when he came up with the concept of a character who looked like a pile of stolen toys, but was actually a little kid underneath.” He was also inspired by John Lasseter and his set of story guidelines, which, “once explained were the ingredients that a Pixar movie should have. They include heart, meaning there should be a main character who is flawed and experiences personal growth; entertainment, meaning a story that is unpredictable and funny; a unique setting that transports viewers to a place that is exciting and new; and the film must call for being animated and use the full potential of the medium.”

Based on the above images and the information we’ve learned in the last few weeks, we’re excited for you all to see Lou during Cars 3 this summer. It’s a refreshing short film that pushes the boundaries of storytelling, has a boat load of super fun animation, and shares a fantastic message about learning how to be compassionate.

Don’t forget to catch both Cars 3 and Lou on the big screen this June, 16th.

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Here’s Your First Look at Lou – The Short to Play in Front of Cars 3

Cars 3, Dave Mullins, Lou, Short Film

Posted by Nia • February 2, 2017

LOU_Pixar

Since last year we’ve known that Lou was a new short being developed by Pixar, but we didn’t know when it would be premiering or much about the story – aside from the fact it focused on a lost-and-found box and would be directed by Dave Mullins.

Yesterday the studio released more information regarding the short and that it will be playing in front of this year’s film, Cars 3.

The short, in the usual Pixar fashion, will be centered on Lou, a hidden creature in a lost-and-found box at a school. The creature, created from mismatched baseballs and a beaten red hoodie, watches the school children play and secretly protects them against the local bully, J.J.

From a USA Today interview, Mullins discussed that the inspiration for this short was his childhood and the fact he never spent much of his time in one place as a kid.

“You either feel invisible because you don’t know the other kids or you’re embarrassed and you want to be invisible. I thought it’d be really cool to have a character who could hide in plain sight.”

Since Lou’s main motivation is to protect the other children in the school and give back to those who need it the most, he felt J.J. being a bully would help push the story forward while making it relatable to everyone.

“They’re usually just acting out because they’re awkward or young and don’t have their moral compass set. In a weird way, the bullies sometimes feel invisible, too. If you can find out what their motivations are, maybe you can solve some things. That’s what I like about Lou: True happiness comes from giving, He gets J.J. to understand that and through that, what J.J. wants really is to be accepted by the other kids.”

You can catch Lou on the big screen this summer in front of Cars 3.

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Latest Pixar short announced!

Dave Mullins, Lou, Short Film

Posted by Simoa • September 28, 2016

Finding Dory has continued breaking box office records and Brad Bird revealed that The Incredibles 2 is happily moving along in production. Now the title and a teaser video for a new short film has been revealed!

Dave Mullins announced via instagram that he is set to direct the new short, titled “Lou.” The brief video clip can be viewed here.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-8-07-14-pm

 

Mullins is a short film director and animation supervisor. He’s been at the studio since 2001, with credits on every Pixar feature. Lou is in a lost and found box, which means he could be a toy. Even with the soundless clip, the short promises to be very intriguing. His bugged out eyes make him appear anxious. We can’t wait for more concept art and story details to drop! No word yet on whether this will open with Cars 3 next June, but it most likely will.

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