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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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More Art from Pixar’s Canceled ‘Newt’ Surfaces! [UPDATE: Art removed]

Ed Catmull, Newt

Posted by Brkyo614 • January 3, 2013

Pixar is known for being fairly tight-lipped about their unreleased productions, so it was a surprisingly generous move when the studio released a batch of concept art from their canceled film Newt. The art only served to make fans more eager for Gary Rydstrom’s directorial debut, but the project was permanently shelved back in 2010. As such, former Pixar concept artist Katy Wu recently put up some of her work for the film on her blog.

We’ve posted a few samples to the right, but be sure to check out all of the images here. From the looks of it, Newt was set to have a very striking visual style. If the Pixar crew couldn’t work through the film’s story problems, though, the cancellation may have been for the best.

(Pixarblog, via Pixar Times)

Do you think Newt could’ve lived up to its concept art?

UPDATE: The images have been taken down from Katy’s blog.

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Brave + Hawaiian Vacation Updates!

Brave, Ed Catmull

Posted by Martin • June 24, 2011

With Cars 2 barely out the door, all this Brave content has come as a pleasant surprise!

But first, let’s take a look at a brand new still from Hawaiian Vacation! The stunning image has been included in a brand new interview with director Gary Rydstrom over at Animation World Network.

Onto the Brave news; Entertainment Weely brings us our first official look at Princess Merida, the film’s protagonist. Disney has also launched a brand new website for Brave. It’s not much yet, but stay tuned.

Also: TIME Magazine revealed their list of the 25 best animated films of all time with five Pixar films taking top spots. WALL•E was the Lamp’s highest ranking, reaching #2 with Pinnochio at #1.

Remember, the Brave trailer will only play in front of Digital 3D and IMAX screenings of Cars 2— opening today!

Thoughts on the short and trailer?

(Brave still via Stitch Kingdom/The Pixar Times)

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Hawaiian Vacation: Sneak Peek, Synopsis + New Image! [UPDATE]

Ed Catmull, Short Film, Toy Story, Toy Story 3

Posted by Martin • March 1, 2011

Disney/Pixar presents a special sneak peek at the studio’s highly anticipated Toy Story short, Hawaiian Vacation!

As part of a special feature, Entertainment Weekly not only premiered the 30-second preview, but also brought us an exclusive interview with director Gary Rydstrom. Check out the clip and an official synopsis below:

Official Synopsis: "Set in new owner Bonnie’s bedroom, Hawaiian Vacation features Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and Buzz (voice of Tim Allen) and the rest of the favourite Toy Story 3 toys as they create the ultimate Hawaiian vacation for Ken (voice of Michael Keaton) and Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson).

It seems Ken badly miscalculated their travel arrangements, so the gang has to create a dream getaway in Bonnie’s Midwestern bedroom – in the middle of winter. Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation also features the voices of Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Blake Clark, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin and John Ratzenberger."

Hawaiian Vacation premieres in front of Cars 2 on June 24! Don’t forget to check out first look images of this short here
Update: Stitch Kingdom brings us another new image from the short!

 
Your thoughts?

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What’s ‘Newt’, Gary Rydstrom?

Ed Catmull

Posted by Martin • August 5, 2010

Don’t count Gary Rydstrom out!

What would have been his directorial debut is now officially off of Pixar’s schedule, but there’s life beyond Newt. In a recent interview, Rydstrom tells the San Francisco Chronicle what he’s been up to.

Beginning next weekend, you can see his work in the English dub of Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea. Although Rydstrom was new at directing actors (his debut short, Lifted, was dialogue free), the heavy sound design work was pleasantly familiar.

So what’s next? All we know is that his upcoming project is "really fun." Could it be a Pixar film? We think so. "I wish I could tell you what it was, but it hasn’t been announced," teased Rydstrom.

You can catch Tales of Earthsea in select US theatres on August 13th.

Disclaimer: I am so sorry for the terrible pun in the title.

What could Gary Rydstrom’s next Pixar project be?

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Disney•Pixar Feature Animation Slate Images

Animation, Cars 2, Cast, Disney, Disney Digital 3D, Ed Catmull, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Newt, Pete Docter, Pixar, Pixar Employees, The Bear and The Bow (Brave), Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, UP, WALL-E

Posted by Thomas • April 9, 2008

Group PhotoI have put together a set of photos and images from the Disney•Pixar feature film slate announcement today, including a few images from the event, as well as promotional images for the films.

Click here to view them.

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Up, newt, The Bear and the Bow, Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 Logos

Cars 2, Ed Catmull, Lee Unkrich, Newt, Pete Docter, The Bear and The Bow (Brave), Toy Story 3, UP

Posted by Thomas • April 9, 2008

Here are each of the logos, released today, for each of the upcoming Pixar films.

Up is directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, and is set for release, May 27, 2009.

Toy Story 3 is directed by Lee Unkrich and is due for release, June 18, 2010.

newt is directed by Gary Rydstrom and is due for release, Summer 2011.

The Bear and the Bow is directed by Brenda Chapman and is due for release, Christmas 2011.

Cars 2 is directed by Brad Lewis and is set for release, Summer 2012. 
Click each image for a higher-resolution view. 

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