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Woody’s News Round-Up! (11/20/12)

Academy Awards, Blu-Ray, Brave, La Luna, Monsters, Inc., Pixar Employees, Round-Ups, Steve Jobs

Posted by Brkyo614 • November 20, 2012

As the year comes to a close, the excitement surrounding Brave and other 2012 Pixar releases is settling down; all that’s left is the December 19 release of Monsters, Inc. 3D. Nonetheless, a few worthwhile Pixar stories have made the rounds recently.

Pixar Honors Steve Jobs: Many forget the influence of the late Steve Jobs on Pixar’s upbringing, providing essential financial support and leadership for the company up until his death. The studio’s staff, though, have certainly not forgotten – in honor of Jobs’ legacy, the studio recently erected a sign above the entrance to its main building in Emeryville, officially declaring it "The Steve Jobs Building". (Via Pixar Times)

Enrico Casarosa Unveils La Luna Statue: Following his previous tease, La Luna director Enrico Casarosa recently tweeted a first look at a maquette based on the short’s lead character, Bambino. Just 500 will be available exclusively at the Pixar studio store next month, and a wider release is unfortunately unlikely.

Amazon Lists Monsters, Inc. for 3D Blu-ray Release: A month prior to the 3D theatrical release, Amazon is already listing a 5-disc 3D Blu-ray edition of Monsters, Inc. for pre-order. No release date has been announced yet, but check back in the coming months. (Via Pixar Talk)

First "For Your Consideration" Ad for Brave: With the movie awards season rapidly approaching, Pixar is aiming to drum up some enthusiasm among critics through a new ad for Brave, recently seen in Variety. Likely the first of many, the print ad aims to net the film a few Oscar nods by reminding readers of the visceral beauty of Brave. (Awards Daily, via Pixar Talk)

Your thoughts?

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Pixar Visit 2011: The 25th Anniversary Soiree!

Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Martin • April 20, 2011

The much anticipated continuation to the Cars 2/Pixar Visit 2011 series is here: The Soiree.

Before any of the bloggers and I could see any footage or hear the most intricate details about Pixar’s upcoming sequel, we were instructed to report upstairs for a reception. Not unlike the year prior, we weren’t surprised that Pixar had set up an introductory station.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that we were shocked when we realized what we had stepped into. Pixar was not only holding a Cars 2 press event, but a "soiree" (as it was described) in celebration of Pixar’s 25th Anniversary. The guest list: just about anyone who’s anyone at Pixar!

A little background information: This year, a big burden was taken off from the blogger’s shoulders as photographer extraordinaire, Deborah Coleman, provided many of the images that we might have otherwise (unprofessionally) taken ourselves. Please note that all of the images in this post are copyright Disney/Pixar and Deborah Coleman.

Onto the reception— the first person I was able to shake hands with was Pixar President Ed Catmull. I always seem to keep my cool (for the most part) with everyone else, but as with the year prior, I couldn’t help but be a little starstruck when around one of Pixar’s "founding fathers."

After that initial shock (don’t worry, I’m exaggerating), we met up with directors from the studios’ history. In particular, it was great meeting Pete Docter for the first time— what a cool dude. You’ll see myself, Pixar Times’ Samad (behind me) and Pixar Talk’s Greg chatting it up with the Doc himself in the picture to the right. It was also great seeing the always cool Jonas Rivera and the hilarious Bob Peterson again at the reception.

Many of the shorts directors were present as well. Highlights include meeting Dan Scanlon (at the time, we did not know that he would be directing Monsters University) and chatting with him about his work on Mater and the Ghostlight. Pete Sohn, Ronnie del Carmen and a host of other personalities were also a pleasure to meet.

The women of Pixar are some of the coolest, though. Darla K. Anderson and Katherine Sarafian told us a little about what it’s like working your way up to becoming producers at the studio. They were immensely kind— and funny too!

The common denominator about the folks at Pixar is that everyone is so down to Earth. During the soiree, you could feel the collaborative energy and pride that comes with working at the studio.

Feel free to ask any questions about the soiree. Please keep in mind that reviews and interviews are embargoed until June so there is a limited amount of information that I can share.

Note: For a more general idea of our visit, check out our preview post.

See who else you can spot!

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Pixar: It Gets Better!

Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Martin • November 22, 2010

Pixar joins a growing voice of hope for LGBT teens with their own submission to the "It Gets Better" project.

Throughout 2010, America experienced an epidemic of suicide among gay kids and teens. We live in a world where, unfortunately, such tragedies have become common place. This is Pixar’s response— it gets better:

Each and every one of the Pixarians featured are part of the LGBT community. If you’re a gay teen, please know that it will get better— trust me. Please call The Trevor Project at 866-4-U-TREVOR if you or a loved one is in distress.

Note: The point of this video is to help those in need of support, so please leave any negativity at the door.

Thank you, Pixar! Words of encouragement?

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Pixar Appearances: Michael Arndt, Robert Kondo, James Robertson + More!

Pixar Employees, Toy Story 3

Posted by Martin • September 11, 2010

Who wouldn’t want to meet the talent behind Toy Story 3? Here’s your chance!

Consider it the Blu-ray pre-release tour. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s like having the film’s special features live — a month before release: 

Sunday, September 12th
Art of Toy Story 3 Artists Panel

In the LA area? Pixarians Robert Kondo (Set Art Director) and James Robertson (Story Artist) are scheduled to appear at Gallery Nucleus this Sunday (tomorrow!) for a special presentation followed by a Q&A opportunity. Afterwards, the talented duo will sign copies of The Art of Toy Story 3.

Entrance is extra-affordable at only $2 dollars per person. Can’t make it? Please visit the presentation’s official page to order a signed book.

(via The Pixar Times on Twitter)

Saturday, October 23rd
Pixar Story Development

Toy Story 3 screenwriter, Michael Arndt, is set to make an appearance at the Austin Film Festival to conduct two insightful talks.

Pixar Story Development Process: Mary Coleman and Emily Zuluaf (Dev. Execs) join Arndt to discuss the studio’s steps towards fostering original ideas. These include research trips and feedback from the Brain Trust.

How 4 Years of Creative Agony Became 93 Minutes of Movie Fun: Also led by Arndt, this talk is accompanied by reels from various stages of Toy Story 3 production to exemplify missteps and how they were rectified by the time the film was completed.

For more information, including tickets and a full list events, please check out the official website of the Austin Film Festival.

(Thanks, Izaac from Pixar News Australia)

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Let us know if you have the chance to attend any of these wonderful events!

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Pixar Appearances: Bob Peterson, Andrew Gordon and Matthew Luhn!

Pixar Employees

Posted by Martin • August 7, 2010

If you’re serious about a career in animation, you want to hear from the best.

For your convenience, I’ve listed some upcoming opportunities to interact with leading talent in the industry. The events mentioned below are guaranteed to sell out soon, so be sure to register quickly:

Thursday, August 19th
Voices of Character w/ Bob Peterson

Up co-director, Bob Peterson, is set to present among legends such as Russi Taylor (Minnie Mouse) and Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh) in a panel celebrating the voices behind some of the world’s most beloved animated personalities. A.M.P.A.S.‘s ‘Voices of Character’ event will be moderated by Charles Solomon (Art of TS3) at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Academy’s official site. In the area? Grab your spot ASAP! General Admission: $5 Students/AMPAS Members: $2

Friday, September 24th
VanArts Animation Masterclass w/ Andrew Gordon

The Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) presents world class Pixar animator, Andrew Gordon, in an exclusive Animation Masterclass. If you’re as passionate as he is about the art form, this 9 to 5 curriculum will surely be beneficial. Andrew Gordon’s work can be seen in multiple Pixar films; from A Bug’s Life to this year’s Toy Story 3.

Enrollment (including material and coursework) will run each participant CDN $499 and includes the Storytelling Masterclass mentioned below. For more information, including the full curriculum, please visit the official site. Spaces are almost gone, so register today!

Saturday, September 25th
VanArts Storytelling Masterclass w/ Matthew Luhn

Also from the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, Pixar story artist Matthew Luhn will be presenting a full day class on storytelling. As Pixar fans, we know that the best animation will never be able to support a bad narrative. How can we fix it? Hear from Luhn as he takes you through the story process — as a pro, he’s contributed to Toy Story 2, Up and beyond.

Enrollment (including material and coursework) will run each participant CDN $499 and includes the Animation Masterclass mentioned above. For more information, including the full curriculum, please visit the official site. Spaces are almost gone, so register today!

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Let us know if you have the chance to attend any of these wonderful events!

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10th Annual Pixar Motorama!

Cars 2, Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Martin • July 12, 2010

Cars 2 is less than a year away, so you can imagine what the folks at Pixar may be experiencing: Motorama!

The studio’s 10th annual car show was held this past Friday and Autoweek was there to document the festivities. Catch Pixarian motor-fanatics among classic and concept vehicles (including a Hudson Hornet) in the video below:

Cars 2 drives into theatres on June 24th, 2011!

Your thoughts?

(Thanks to our friend, damoxy)

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Joe Ranft’s 50th, Part 1: Interview with his Wife Su

Pixar Employees

Posted by Leo Holtzer • March 15, 2010

By Leo N. Holzer
Special to Upcoming Pixar

Was Joe Ranft too good to be true or truly too good?

Ever since his untimely and tragic death on Aug. 16, 2005, I’ve pondered that question. I’ve talked to his colleagues and friends as well as read dozens of stories and blog posts.

I’ve discovered several funny anecdotes, but everyone who crossed his path thought he was a great guy. He’s highly regarded by professional colleagues like John Lasseter, Pete Docter, John Musker and members of the story teams at Pixar as well as people he grew up with like Madeline Miesen and Pete Moe. The list goes on and on. I’ve never heard or read a negative word about “the great one,” “the gentle giant” Joseph Henry Ranft.

My interest in Joe Ranft was sparked after talking with him a few times on the phone as he promoted “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2” and seeing him in some of the behind-the-scenes bonus material on Pixar’s DVD releases. He was engaging, enthusiastic, side-splittingly funny … someone you’d love to meet in person or get to know as a friend.

When I heard about his death, I joined others at the celebration of his life held on Sept. 17, 2005 at Pixar and mourned. Amid the tears — and a bit more laughter than I had expected — I learned a lot more about Joe Ranft. The celebration wasn’t just a review of his talents and achievements, but memories from colleagues about Joe’s personal integrity, his good nature, his exemplary life.

As dozens of people talked about Joe, my interest in his life grew along with the sorrow I felt for colleagues and his beloved family.

I don’t know what it is about Joe, but I identified with him, not as an artist — I can’t even draw a decent circle without a protractor or template — but as someone to emulate. He certainly became someone I considered a worthy role model.

And while I’ve gleaned a few lessons of what not to do in studying the life of another master storyteller, Walt Disney, — don’t smoke and be far more direct in praising great work — Joe’s life is filled with examples of how to be your better self every single day.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of his March 13, 1960 birth, I recently spoke with Joe’s wife, Su. She reminisced about Joe, and was quite candid about the struggles she and their two children, Jordy and Sophia, have braved. We also talked about the continuing tributes to her husband, and about Joe’s endearing legacy.

In this, Part 1 of two postings, I focus on Joe as a “great guy” and his faith.

“Yeah, he was an awesome guy,” Su said. “He was a bear to live with, but what guy isn’t? Home is the safe place where you can go and let the warts show. … There has to be someplace where you’re not on all the time, where you don’t have to be funny, a place where the gears aren’t clicking all the time.

“So his working life was different than his home life, which is why this whole thing came as such an avalanche to us because we just lived a really normal life, went to church and did school activities. We really didn’t hang out … he was just a homebody … we didn’t accept a lot of invitations to things. So to have this avalanche of adulation come roaring through the house (after his death) … we pretty much weren’t prepared for it.

“I had never Googled him. I didn’t know that I could even Google him," she continued. “We didn’t know he was the storyboard artist of his generation. How could we know that?

“If Joe had been an insurance agent, we wouldn’t keep bumping up against him. Little kids come to the door, dressed up like characters from one of his movies or you go to Wal-Mart and they’ve got sheets, sippy cups and lunch boxes. It’s really impossible to get away from it.”

I asked Su about the role faith played in Joe’s life. At the Pixar event, Pete Docter talked about how Joe had faith in a project “even when it sucked.” But Joe taught Pete and so many colleagues to simply “trust the process” as the team crafted one great story after another.

I also know Joe didn’t give up on people. He had faith in others; and, as a mentor, he helped some completely turn their lives around.

“He was raised a pretty strict Catholic in an Irish-German-Czech-Catholic family,” Su said. “And even though he was not a practicing Catholic when we were married, he never had a harsh word to say about it because it made him who he was.

“He did read the Bible, and there were so many things in there that became part of his moral ethic and his interior compass. He was interested in reincarnation and karma, all the different religions; he didn’t just confine himself to Christianity.

“Joe didn’t see success as a way to make money and go buy a fancy car, he saw success as a way to give back. And for him, the best guidance for that would have been a spiritual philosophy. And that was a huge part of his life, HUGE. He studied mythology and yoga. He belonged to a men’s group. I mean he was on his way to a spiritual retreat when he died.”

Su recalled two specific stories about Joe that illustrate just how much he was appreciated and admired by his peers. She said she used to “accuse him of being a buffer,” because everyone, even if they were upset at someone else, would gather together with Joe.

“We talked about this when we lived in Taiwan while he was working on ‘Brave Little Toaster.’ Those guys were so beat up. They worked so, so much and nerves would get pretty frayed. You know, we were in a foreign country, we didn’t speak the language, the food was strange. People who weren’t even speaking to each other, they all wanted to go to lunch with Joe.

“I know there are a lot of very talented people out there, but Joe just had that personal touch.”

Su also recalled a memory from a roast that was held for Joe’s 40th birthday.

“It was so awesome. It was very risqué, very blue and the people who couldn’t come all sent memories. One of them was about this initiation thing at ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ and they had to run a gauntlet and they had those little foam bats. … When (assistant art director) Kelly Asbury went down through the gauntlet, they just beat him down to the floor, but when Joe went through, he just got love taps.”

Joe wasn’t just there at Disney when things took off with “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Mermaid” and “Tarzan.” Su said he was with there through Disney animation’s “darkest, darkest days” and then when Disney “started skyrocketing back up to the top.” Then he worked on “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,” before joining Pixar as it was “beginning to become this great big huge machine.”

He was at Disney when “nothing was working and then he rode that meteor. Then, the next thing you know he’s climbing aboard with Pixar and he gets on another meteor,” Su said. “Who has a career like that?”

But Joe’s work life wasn’t about box office success or personal ego and gratification. And while he may have been the star pitcher in story, he was a team player who brought out the best in everyone.

It was “always all about the people, drawing and working things out,” Su said. “But as he became more and more successful, he became more concerned about giving back.”

Colleagues talk about Joe as this wonderful, selfless guy, someone who’d give you five minutes in the parking lot at the end of a long day or someone who’d always find something to praise in a portfolio.

“Yes, and it makes them want to stay close, (besides) Joe never really lost touch with anyone because each one of those projects takes years. Those groups, they become really, really close. like soldiers in the trenches. And the animation world is a pretty tight-knit community.

I mentioned to Su that I’ve learned enough about Joe to see him as a role model. I know he was admired by many colleagues and I think he became a role model for some of them, too.

Su understood what I meant.

“I have to tell you there’s many times, especially since I’m acting on his behalf with the kids and his family, when I just stop and ask myself, ‘what would Joe do?’ And it’s always pretty clear what he would have done.”

In Part 2, Su shares her appreciation for all the “thoughts and prayers that kept the family from going under” as well several tributes to Joe that followed his death and continue. There’s a special bonus feature about Joe in the upcoming Blu-ray release of “Toy Story 2” and a book about “Two Guys Named Joe (Grant and Ranft)” by John Canemaker, due in August.

“The weirdest (tribute) was him being a category on ‘Jeopardy!’ That just blew me away,” Su said. “Either someone at ‘Jeopardy!’ was a big fan of Pixar or someone at Pixar knew someone at ‘Jeopardy!’ He was a whole category.”

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Pixar Finance Chief Named Twitter CFO

Pixar, Pixar Employees

Posted by Thomas • February 10, 2010

Pixar Financial Chief, Ali Rowghani named Twitter CFOAlmost every living person in the western world has heard of Twitter. It’s absolutely huge. We’re tweeting, Stephen Fry is tweeting, even Toy Story 3 director, Lee Unkrich is tweeting. It’s a phenomenon, and some might say a fad. 

The 2 1/2 year old internet startup has hired Pixar’s Financial Chief, Ali Rowghani, as its Chief Financial Operator. Rowghani is set to begin in March.

Rowghani’s start comes as the company focuses on "creating value for our users and capturing the financial opportunities that result from it," Twitter Chief Executive Officer Evan Williams said in a statement on Wednesday.

writes Reuters. Rowghani is also a Twitterer. He wrote three hours ago (as of the writing of this article,)

Said goodbye to Pixar today. Loved every minute of my time there. Couldn’t be more excited about the adventure awaiting me at Twitter.

We wish Ali the best of luck in his new job! (via Reuters).

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Ricky Nierva’s Spline Cast Interview

Pixar Employees

Posted by Martin • September 5, 2009

One of the best parts of the Spline Doctors website is their Spline Cast shows, a series of outstanding podcasts conducted by Pixar animator Andrew Gordon.

This time it’s an interview with long-time Pixarian and Up production designer Ricky Nierva! Although the podcast doesn’t get an update very often (hey, it’s by Pixarians, they have a lot to do) it’s still nice looking forward to them because they’re lengthy and chock full of great info from Pixarians.

In this edition, Nierva talks about his inspirations in the industry including his mentors and co-workers. He also recounts funny stories from his childhood like his first drawings and a t-shirt competition gone wrong. Of course, there are lots of Pixar inside stories to go around in the interview too!

Enjoy the podcast streaming or download it on iTunes.

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Meet Pixar’s Jay Shuster: A Design Story

Cars, Cars 2, Pixar Employees, WALL-E

Posted by Martin • August 29, 2009

I love passing along opportunities to meet Pixarians!

This time you might just get to see Jay Shuster of Cars and WALL•E fame. The art director on Cars 2: World Grand Prix will be giving a lecture called "Pixar: A Design Story" presented by the University of Oklahoma.

The event is free of charge and will be held at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. "A Design Story" is scheduled for next Thursday at 3 PM in the Mary Eddy and Fred Jones Auditorium. If you’re a local, don’t even think about missing this free presentation, it’s sure to be good!

To learn more about Shuster and the museum, check out this article from NewsOK.

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