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New Luca Trailer: Let’s Dive Into The Details

Luca, teaser, Trailer

Posted by Joanna • February 26, 2021

The new teaser trailer for Pixar’s next feature-length movie Luca was released yesterday morning, and it’s everything we had hoped for. The character designs are still proving to be completely charming, and this trailer has shown that the animation only adds to that.

A new character has been fully revealed too – we’d already seen bits and pieces of a red-headed female protagonist (a Pixar trope that we’re smitten with), but this trailer has introduced her officially. Giulia – voiced by Emma Berman –  is an adventurer who befriends Luca Paguro (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and Alberto Scorfano (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, a pair of perhaps equally adventurous sea monsters, in an idyllic Italian seaside town.

Along with the trailer, we’ve also been given more information on the cast of Luca. Other characters include Luca’s mother Daniela (Maya Rudolph) and father Lorenzo (Jim Gaffigan), Giula’s father Massimo (Marco Barricelli), and an unnamed character – rumoured to be a villain – voiced by Italian comedian Saverio Raimondo.

So! Let’s dive into some details that we picked up on. Let’s start off with how fantastic Giulia’s character design is.

Giulia’s red hair and outfit are so eye-catching! You can tell she’s leader just by the way she’s standing. You can really tell that Pixar have very deliberately gone for a different art-style in this movie, which feels like such an exciting new beginning. Also worth noting here is the beautiful paint detailing on the buildings. You can see more of those details in the long shots.

There’s a wonderful balance between stylised and realistic here. The setting of Luca is inspired by Cinque Terre in Italy – a collection of historic seaside villages which seem to be built more upwards than any other direction. You can sense some Ghibli influence as well – Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Ponyo had a similar feel to them.

We have a feeling the underwater world of Luca will be featured much more heavily than we’ve been teased with so far. The mechanics of the human vs sea monster transformation is full of promise for lots of fun gags and tense moments: as soon as Luca or Alberto even touch water, that part of their body goes scaly and colourful. It’s well illustrated in the latest poster too. Look how the hair on Luca’s head becomes a cluster of fins!

We can’t wait to see more of the sea monster designs – they’re so vibrant. It’s already a much more exciting take on various part-human/part-mermaid stories that we’ve had over the years.

Lastly, let’s just take a look at the attention to detail in Alberto’s part transformation in the final scene of the trailer. Not only does his face turn to purple scales with fins sprouting where his ears and hair used to be, but even his eye is different. One eye stayed dry, and you can tell it looks a lot more human. His ‘sea monster’ eye has a more creepy, slit-like pupil. (The expressions are also spot on.)

Luca is aiming for a June 18th release date if 2021 settles down into being a predictable year again. Remember those days? Whatever happens, we’re looking forward to getting to know all these characters as we find out more. We’ll leave you with a final few stills from the trailer that we’re still gushing over.

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Inside Pixar – The Tour We All Need Right Now

Disney+, Inside Pixar, Review

Posted by Maya • February 17, 2021

Pixar fans have plenty to look forward to these days: a trailer for Luca; more information about Turning Red; details about new projects in development. Now we can add another item to that list: the third batch of episodes for the Disney+ docuseries “Inside Pixar,” set to premiere March 26th.

After a three-month wait, the second batch of episodes was released this past week, and to say they were a delight to watch would be an understatement. While the first five episodes to air were grouped under the heading “Inspired,” episodes six through 10 were categorized as “Portraits.” As the grouping might hint, the newest episodes took a different angle to investigating the workings of Pixar studios.

Each episode, averaging around 10 minutes, profiles one Pixar employee and the specific role they occupy. The first five episodes focused on an artist’s creative process, giving directors and designers the floor to explain how they find the spark for a story or take the time to develop their individual voice. The ground covered in the “Inspired” episodes was exciting to see, particularly to understand how and why the messages of certain scenes or an entire film are shaped. At the same time, whether it be through special features on DVDs or production videos shared before and after a film’s release, footage of creatives like character designers and screenwriters at work are easy to find. Those are the jobs we expect to see front and center; without them, films wouldn’t happen.

But there are many other people at the studio just as important to the creation of a film. The episodes in the “Portraits” batch celebrate employees of the studio we don’t often get to appreciate. There are so many dimensions to the filmmaking process at Pixar. After all, to even create a film, you need a workplace. So, who takes care of that place? Who works behind the scenes to make the campus a place where employees are happy to sit down and spend their day, whether at their desks or in the café?

These are the kinds of questions audiences don’t often think to ask because we can get lost in the details of film production and fail to see other sides to the inner workings of a studio. But to ignore the contributions of each and every employee ignores how and why Pixar has cultivated an environment where collaboration and community are celebrated. It also hides the fact that creativity is a requisite for every role.

Whether that role is of a temporary music editor or the director of facility operations, the people at Pixar are dedicated problem solvers. In episode six, we watch as Cynthia Lusk, who oversees the translation process for foreign market distribution, finds ways to translate various visuals, from the last line of Wilden Lightfoot’s letter in Onward to a warning sign in Inside Out. It’s an eye-opening look at one of the myriad ways Pixar films are created to be accessible for a global audience. In episode seven, Marylou Jaso guides us through her work as the lone pastry chef in Pixar’s kitchen, crafting the treats that the employees look forward to every day. The specialty desserts Jaso comes up with to commemorate occasions like a film release are charming and reveal that inspiration becomes a feedback loop at Pixar.

Of the batch, the highlight for me was episode eight, where the spotlight on production assistant Rachelle Federico illuminated a great deal about the dream of working at Pixar. Jobs are hard-earned and can be demanding, but watching Federico find all the positives in her work, it’s clear they are also rewarding. It certainly seems that the joy of working at the studio comes through in the optimism of the studio’s films.

The next five episodes in the series will be grouped under the heading “Foundations.” They will be titled: Recipe for a Movie, Creating Characters, Through the Lens, Animation and Acting, and Color, Light, and Emotion.

From the episode briefs that have been shared, it seems the new batch will focus on exploring the technical wizardry of Pixar films. The first 10 episodes have kept one employee in focus to explain the workings and culture of the studio, so I hope the next five follow suit. Whatever the approach is, I cannot wait to see more of the talented individuals who help make Pixar an animation studio that stands apart.

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Pixar Popcorn! Coming January 22nd

Pixar Popcorn, Shorts

Posted by Joanna • January 19, 2021

Pixar have just revealed a load of new shorts as part of their Pixar Popcorn shorts series, available on Disney+ from January 22nd.

Shorts have always been an invaluable tool at Pixar for giving new staff experience and experimenting with storytelling and animation. It’s such a treat to suddenly be just a few days away from a whole host of new shorts to enjoy.

Have a look at the 10 revealed shorts’ logos below (there are two Ducky & Bunny shorts). Only time will tell if more shorts will get added to this series.

There are two Incredibles shorts (Cookie Num Num and Chore Day The Incredibles Way), three Toy Story shorts (Fluffy Stuff with Ducky & Bunny: Love, Fluffy Stuff with Ducky & Bunny: Three Heads and To Fitness and Beyond), two Cars shorts (Unparalleled Parking, and Dancing with the Cars), and then a Soul short (Soul of the City), a Coco short (A Day in the Life of the Dead), and a Finding Dory short (…Dory Finding).

Which are you most excited for? Our vote might go to Soul of the City – more screen time for Dez please! But the return of Jack Jack’s laser eyes looks great too.

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Burrow – The Beauty of Community and Asking For Help

SparkShorts

Posted by Simoa • December 22, 2020

2020’s pandemic gave Soul an added layer of significance, and the same is true for the short film paired with it, “Burrow.” Directed by story artist Madeline Sharafian, the short follows a young rabbit on the quest to build her perfect home. The only problem is that she wants to be alone and her neighbors are a bit too…neighborly.

Even the most adorable Pixar shorts can have lots of depth, as we saw in “Kitbull.” Nothing is as tragic or heart-wrenching in “Burrow” but it did give me lots to think about, particularly now. Rabbit sets about building her home, burrowing deeper underground and is thwarted in her efforts by the other animals. They don’t mean to be in the way but they are, and all she wants is to be alone.

“Burrow” is brimming with lots of storybook charm and is quite silly and playful. Lots of warm colors seep through and its color palette makes it perfect for fall.

No matter what we may be facing, we can get caught up in our pride, thinking we can – and should – get by on our own. We might feel ashamed or burdensome asking for help. “Burrow” makes it clear that we shouldn’t ever feel that way. The short also extols the power of community. As we’ve seen how selfishness reigns above ground, this little film is a timely reminder about the importance of serving our neighbors.

If you follow Sharafian on social media, you’ll recognize her rabbit. I did, and instantly knew she was behind “Burrow” the first time I watched it. Her credits include OnwardWe Bare Bears, and Domee Shi’s upcoming Turning Red. I was also lucky enough to learn about the making of the short and how it was inspired.

Like Soul, “Burrow” was already halfway completed by the time covid arrived in our world. Sharafian had the idea since 2014. A CalArts alum, she actually left the school in her third year and was “haunted by her fourth film” that she never got to make. Rabbit is based on her – it’s a childhood nickname owing to her two front teeth that got knocked out and then grew in very large. She’s always struggled with isolating herself and a perfectionist nature that refuses to ask for help. So while it may just seem like a cute short on the surface, it actually is personal. The visual style was greatly influenced by children’s books, such as those by Beatrix Potter and Richard Scarry. Studio Ghibli was another inspiration. Sharafian always loved cutaways and that was a detail she incorporated in “Burrow.” The characters were also simple because of the highly detailed and stylized backgrounds.

Here’s an interview I did with Maddie all about the short.

UP: How confident do you feel about directing a full length feature film?

MS: I think part of the Sparkshorts program is for the studio to check your directing skills, but I was checking myself. ‘Is this something I’m going to be comfortable with? Will I be happy or will I just be nervous all the time?’ I think what I’ve found is that if I have a story that I really believe in, and that I think will be fun for people to make, those nerves went away. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt. I think it’s something I’ve proven to myself that I can do, and I would do it again, I think.

UP: Was this short influenced by covid and this chaotic year?

MS: It totally wasn’t! I had this idea so long ago and it’s weird watching it line up with what’s going on now, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make it during covid but I have learned some lessons while making it, like asking for help. I know now how to ask [for help]. Maybe if my housemate is away and I feel lonely – in the past, I would have sadly been by myself but now I know how to pick up a phone and tell someone I’m sad. It improved my quarantine life a little bit.

UP: Was your rabbit always going to be the star of a Sparkshort/your own directorial debut?

MS: I think so! It did take away my fear to be embarking on something with this character. I’ve loved her for my whole life, this rabbit that’s apart of me, my nickname; I use her to represent myself out there in the world. I’m shy in person so to me it felt like I was giving myself a safety blanket on my first scary adventure.

UP: Do you think this short has a connection to Soul at all?

MS: I haven’t seen Soul in a long time. I saw early story reels so I trust that Pete picked it as a good pairing. I’m such a huge Pete Docter fan that I’m waiting to watch Soul on December 25th!

UP: Can we expect a Rabbit series?

MS: Not at the moment…I will always continue to make my personal comics but as far as this goes, I think it’s a done story.

UP: How did you come up with the idea behind the short?

MS: Very much inspired by my own experience working here at Pixar. This is a really collaborative place, especially the story department. I was watching my teammates do these really healthy, awesome things and they’d ask for help. But I realized that if I was stuck, I wouldn’t show anyone. I would just work late. There’s only so many years that you can do that, healthily, and I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had to learn to ask for help and it was around the time that I started making this short. I was making the theme of this short and learning how to live it at the same time.

Everyone at Pixar loves 2D animation, so there were lots of enthusiastic animators who wanted to work on this film. And there will be lots of enthusiastic viewers when the film premieres with Soul on Disney+! Be sure to watch it alone or with your friends and family on Christmas day. It’ll be that much sweeter.

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Soul Could Be The Best Thing To Come Out Of 2020

Review, Soul

Posted by Joanna • December 8, 2020

Pixar movies have this magical quality to them. They somehow manage to present themselves in our lives at just the right time – it’s amazing how current and relevant they reliably are despite being in production for years beforehand. Soul is no exception. In fact, it might be the most ‘timely’ Pixar movie yet. (Ironic, given the fact that it’s been delayed multiple times due to COVID-19).

This is an important point to make, though: the one way that Soul is not ‘timely’ is that it’s the first Pixar movie to feature a Black protagonist at the centre of its story. This didn’t come at the ‘perfect time’. This was long overdue.

In every other regard, though, Soul has arrived exactly on time. It’s a top tier Pixar movie for a multitude of reasons, but most powerfully because of how hard it hits in the year 2020.

 

First off – the look and sound of Soul is…full of soul, unsurprisingly.

At this point, you’d think we would have stopped being surprised by how beautiful Pixar movies continue to be. But you will absolutely gasp at so many scenes in Soul, at how much of a marvel they are. And not in a “wow I can’t believe how real this looks” way – there are parts of Soul that have unreal beauty. This movie shows you places that you would never see outside of your wildest imagination – ‘The Great Before’, and astral planes – but it also shows you places that are immediately familiar and recognisable. The streets of New York City feel so authentic – they’re realised with such a sense of joy and vibrancy. And the diversity of character designs is such a delight.

©2020 Disney/Pixar

©2020 Disney/Pixar

©2020 Disney/Pixar

This mastery of recreating the real world and creating new worlds from scratch was vital in bringing Soul’s story to life. Joe Gardner, an aspiring jazz pianist, is suddenly plunged into the afterlife on the very day his dream career seemed to finally be coming together. Feeling that his life was only just starting, he needs to fight his way back to Earth and avoid having to move on into ‘The Great Beyond’.

As with Pixar’s 2017 film Coco, music plays a huge role in the plot and themes of Soul, so it’s appropriate that it’s been treated and represented so passionately. Coco’s guitar playing sequences are breath-taking – the way the animation captured the intricate fingering is incredible. Soul achieved this impressive feat again and more. Joe’s piano-playing sequences feel so raw and wonderfully observed. Dorothea Williams playing the saxophone is mesmerising.

The soundtrack is also fittingly soulful – a magical mix of Jon Batiste’s jazz and Reznor and Ross’ otherworldly modern tracks.

©2020 Disney/Pixar

 

Soul – the best thing to come out of the year 2020?

Soul gives us an imaginative insight into what happens when we die, but it is a film about life. It’s strangely ironic that a film that so confidently celebrates life has had to face so many delays due to the year 2020. The pandemic has forced people to ‘put their lives on hold’ until we can get back to actually living and ‘fulfilling our purposes’ again. But this is why I feel Soul couldn’t have come about at a better time. When I say that Soul is a movie about life, I mean life in its simplest essence. It’s not about life’s complexity, or its milestones or hurdles. Soul celebrates just…living. Watching the sky. Going for walks. Feeling the wind on your face. In a year where so much has been stripped away from us, it’s so wonderful that Soul has reminded us to find joy in the little things.

©2020 Disney/Pixar

Soul comes to Disney+ on December 25th. Whether you’re with family or friends, physically or virtually, or even on your own – I hope Soul brings a smile to your face this Christmas. It’s a bold reminder of how much we have to look forward to, and how much we can appreciate in the present.

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The language of the soul

Soul, Soul press day

Posted by Simoa • December 1, 2020

Music transcends all sorts of barriers: language, distance, and culture. Music connects us through all of those things as well. When Soul‘s filmmakers were creating the character of Joe Gardner, they had to think of a profession that would elicit sympathy from the audience. They settled on a musician. They also knew that this musician would have to be Black, as jazz was invented, shaped, and pioneered by Black artists. Musicians are passionate artists, just like painters, writers, and sculptors. Soul is going to ask some big questions about the meaning of life and a life lived passionately is one lived well.

There’s a scene in the film that perfectly captures a moment of inspiration – being in “the zone.” It’s during Joe’s audition with the Dorothea Williams quartet. He becomes so immersed in the piece he’s playing that everything and everyone melts away. It’s just him and the song, swathed in vivid colors. It called to mind the paint strokes of the “Colors of the Wind” sequence in Pocahontas. Only an artist could be the protagonist of a story like this. Animation is not the only medium to tell this kind of story – see It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – but it is the only medium that can portray moments like the one in Soul in such an innovative way. Being “swept away” can actually be literal in an animated film.

Inspiration also came from a video that featured jazz legend Herbie Hancock. In it, he related a story about playing with the Miles Davis, and how he messed up a note. Hancock was mortified, but Davis was able to use that note. In Pete Docter’s words:

“Not only a great story, but really a perfect metaphor for what we were talking about in the film. Don’t judge. Take what you’re given. Turn it into something of value. We realized that jazz was really the perfect representation of what we were trying to say in the film.”

Jon Batiste was brought on to compose the film’s jazz score. Batiste has an enthusiasm that’s truly infectious. He described Soul as having a lot of light force energy. He needed to create music that would mimic the film’s ethereal essence. Some of his pieces have an optimistic and melancholy sound. His own personality and energy definitely inspired the film’s sound. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were also brought onboard to compose the music for the Great Before, leading to a surprisingly cohesive meld of that world and New York’s jazzy scene.

Batiste explains:

“…it really complements what Trent and Atticus came up with, and the times in the film when our music comes together, when the worlds kinda collide, it’s amazing how it worked out. And it really changed the rest of the music that I was composing for the film because I got a chance to see into their process, and that also leaked into the kind of spiritual tone that I’m talkin’ about, this ethos that we created.”

Batiste also described that pivotal scene when Joe as a teenager falls in love with jazz the first time. Like the audition scene, the vivid purple lights are dancing and illuminating his face. He likened it to a Kenny Kirkland or Branford Marsalis record from the 70s or 80s. These are musicians I’ve never heard of, but Batiste was able to incorporate his favorites into the music.

Like Miguel playing the guitar in Coco, one of the challenges for animators was accurate piano playing for Joe. Reference videos of Batiste was one source (even if his hands were often flying around the keys!). The animators were responsible for inspecting the hand movements and finger articulation. That was their visual cue which then had to be animated by frame. Time consuming of course, but ultimately worth it. A million details will go unnoticed by the audience, which is the goal, but for any musicians watching, it should look just right.

Music has always been an integral part of Pixar’s films. Of course Michael Giacchino’s Up score is one of the most iconic, along with Wall-E‘s. In our post covid world, we can’t go to concerts. But Soul is bringing the music to us. I would like to share more of Jon Batiste’s words about Pixar’s lovely Christmas gift.

“I’m so happy that the word is getting out about the film and people are finally gonna see it. And people need light in this time, and I’m all about bringing the light, and that’s one of the great pleasures of working with Pixar. They’ve created these films that delve into all of the cultures of the world and create it in a way that’s accessible to all people. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your experience. The stories transcend all of that.”

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Exclusive: New Pixar Apparel from Loot Crate

Posted by Simoa • November 19, 2020

The end of the year is fast approaching, if you can believe it. And with it comes the holidays. Soul will soon be released through Disney+ on Christmas, and we’re sure that Pixar themed gift lists are also circulating around. Today we’re bringing you an exclusive look at some new Pixar apparel from Loot Crate.

Loot Crate’s Pixar collection is already impressive and now their latest additions are here just in time for the holidays and colder weather. The new Loot DX December crate is Escape themed – and after COVID-19 lockdowns have forced us all inside, we could all use a bit of escapism, right? That’s one of the major themes in Up. I personally am really partial to these pajama bottoms! These are perfect for chasing away the gloom of winter. 

Also available is this adorable Finding Nemo scarf. Such a simple but bright design. For those of us bracing for a colder climate, this scarf will also be perfect when the temperatures drop.

These and more will be available on Loot Crate today at 6 pm EST / 9 pm PST. Subscribe here: https://www.lootcrate.com/crates/dx 

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New writers at Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Simoa • November 17, 2020

I’m very happy to announce that the staff here at Upcoming Pixar continues to grow! We are so lucky to now be joined by Maya and Karla.

I’ve known the two of them for years. They are two of the most passionate Pixar fans, in addition to being creative and really talented writers. You may recognize Karla from her lovely essay on Coco that was featured here in 2018. We’re looking forward to more great work like that from each of them.

Read on to learn some more about them!

Hello everyone, my name is Karla! Like most people, I was introduced to Pixar at an early age starting with Finding Nemo; however, I became enamored with their films in 2010 after seeing Wall-E and Up for the first time. Animation soon became my defining passion and ultimately, it led me to a career in technology. After graduating college in 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to work at Pixar as a Systems intern for the summer! I’m very excited to be a part of the Upcoming Pixar team and contribute as a fellow fan.”

Hi, I’m Maya and I’ve been unabashedly in love with the animation medium all my life. My
appreciation started in early childhood, helped in no small part by the feature films and shorts
from Pixar Studios. It’s difficult for me to pick an absolute favorite Pixar film when so many of
them feature the kinds of characters and themes I love best. I’ve always enjoyed writing about
the magic of the animated films’ art and stories so I’m excited to share my perspective and be
part of the Upcoming Pixar team!

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating and welcoming them to Upcoming Pixar!

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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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A new trailer (+ reviews) for Soul!

Soul, Trailer

Posted by Simoa • October 15, 2020

The reviews are in! Soul has captivated the critics following its premiere at the London Film Festival. It’s being hailed as Pixar’s “most existentially ambitious film,” one that will have adults sobbing “until their muscles ache,” and it’s going to nourish your own soul, too. After watching partial footage last month at the virtual press event, I wholeheartedly agree with everyone’s glowing reviews. And it’s made me, somehow, even more eager to see the rest. I’m also very encouraged by what Kaleem Aftab wrote on IndieWire:

Joe’s blackness isn’t relegated to a side issue; it’s baked into the essence of the character, and treated as a crucial aspect of his humanity. To this end, “Soul” manages to juggle the surreal humor of “Inside Out” in tandem with its most grounded, socially-conscious narrative ever, and it’s a real wonder to watch those ingredients congeal.

That certainly is just one more thing to look forward to. And though we still have to wait another two months to watch Soul, there is a brand new trailer to tide us over until then!

Soul will be streaming on Disney+ this Christmas.

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