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Grab Your New Toy Story 4 Interactive Talking Action Figures This Week!

Disney, Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • June 17, 2019

With only four days to go until Toy Story 4 is finally released in cinemas, there’s no better time than now to peruse your local Disney Store or check out Shop Disney Online and pick up your own interactive action figures of your favorite Toy Story characters!

The ol’ gang is definitely back and ready to play! You’ll be able to find action figures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, and Bullseye in stores. The exclusive line-up also features the new and improved Bo Peep and the loveable Forky, which you can see in the gallery above. The interactive action figures each have 10 unique expressions when they’re playing alone but when they’re paired with another figure, they unlock special phrases with their new interactive features. The toys are even able to sense when another interactive figure is nearby and they instantly start “talking” to each other, making you believe you’re right in the middle of a Toy Story film.

Has anyone bought their own figures yet? What are some of the special sayings you’ve heard when putting the toys together?

I don’t know about you, but I’m bringing all of mine to the cinema this Friday to watch Toy Story 4! We hope to see you there!

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Toy Story 4 Is Only 10 Days Away – Catch Up Now On All The Teasers And News

Round-Ups, Tin Toy, Toy Story, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • June 11, 2019

The wait is nearly over, Pixar fans – Toy Story 4 is only ten days away! Pixar have done a great job with their advertising as usual: lots of trailers, teasers, sponsors, and merchandise, but not so much that we feel like we know the plot inside out already. Yes, we know Bo Peep is back. Forky is definitely going to play a major role. But how central are the characters of Duke Caboom, Gabby Gabby, Giggle McDimples, and Ducky and Bunny going to be?

It’s difficult to keep up with all the new Toy Story 4-related news when we’re so close to the release date, so here’s a quick ‘Woody’s Round-Up’ to bring you all up to speed.

Teasers Galore!

Here is the latest of many Toy Story 4 teasers that have been posted on Pixar’s YouTube channel. You can catch up on all the others here.

A lot of the teasers don’t feature too much new footage, but you can get a better feeling for the pacing of the different scenes in these shorts clips as opposed to the trailers. Here, you can totally tell that Bo and Duke’s relationship is going to be hilarious.

Best Friends 4 Ever

Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz) explored their friendship, both within and outside the Toy Story universe, in Pixar’s video celebrating National Best Friend Day. It’s heartwarming. It’s charming. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

“Oh, but I have the most fabulous line you could ever have: ‘Come on, guys!‘”

We should attempt to count how many times Woody says that in the Toy Story series.

The Best Friend Day festivities even continued at Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World, where a press conference was held alongside a Toy Story 4 screening. And the initial reactions have been amazingly positive!

Keanu Reeves is stood next to a giant Buzz Lightyear and everything is okay in the world. From left to right: Tom Hanks (Woody), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), Tim Allen (Buzz), Tony Hale (Forky), Christina Hendricks (Gabby Gabby), Keanu Reeves (Duke Caboom).

Toy Story 4 To Feature Lots Of Easter Eggs

Pixar is famous for throwing in a few well-hidden Easter eggs into their movies – the Pizza Planet truck is always fun to locate, as well as the Luxo ball, throwbacks to previous films, and hints at future characters (remember when Duke Caboom casually showed up in Jack-Jack’s crib in Incredibles 2?). Apparently Toy Story 4 is going to feature a ton of these fun Easter eggs. The antique shop setting lends itself well to this kind of game.

Hey, doesn’t that tin toy look kind of familiar?

 

We can’t wait to discuss Toy Story 4 with you all when it releases in theatres on June 21st!

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Classic Comedians (Carol Burnett, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and Betty White) Cast As Instant Classic Toy Story 4 Characters

Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • June 5, 2019

Toy Story 4 has thoroughly proved that it’s going to include a lot of new, original characters. Forky already seems to have embedded himself into the most memorable of Toy Story characters, and Ducky and Bunny are making their mark too. Under a month before its release, we’re still discovering more new characters that we’re going to have the pleasure of meeting.

Courtesy of USA Today, we now know that comedy greats Betty White, Carol Burnett, Carl Reiner, and Mel Brooks will have small roles in Toy Story 4 as toys that Bonnie has outgrown. What’s even more amazing is that these toys have names inspired by the names of the actors lending their voices to them:

  • Betty White is Bitey White
  • Carol Burnett is Chairol Burnett
  • Carl Reiner is Carl Reineroceros
  • Mel Brooks is Melephant Brooks

You can guess who’s who from the character names: Bitey White is a teething toy!

Betty White, Carol Burnett, Carl Reiner, and Mel Brooks are comedy legends (averaging an age of 93!) – we have no doubt that no matter how small their roles are, they’ll light up the whole scene.

Being forgotten about is a fear that Woody is very familiar with: in Toy Story he was afraid of being overshadowed by Buzz, Toy Story 2 introduced the worry of becoming broken and gathering dust on a shelf, and in Toy Story 3 he was set aside with the rest of the gang in a chest of Andy’s old playthings. This must be a fear that this new early-ages cast of toys must have already grown accustomed to. Hopefully the introduction of Forky hasn’t made Woody doubt his place in his owner’s heart again.

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Toy Story 4 “Takeover” Is Coming to a Disney Store Near You

Disney, Events, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • May 30, 2019

Good news, Toy Story fans! On June 1st Disney Stores around the U.S. and Canada will be transforming their locations and giving guests the opportunity to enjoy an immersive shopping experience, putting them right into the world of Disney/Pixar’s upcoming film Toy Story 4. Not only will there be loads of games and trivia for the whole family to enjoy, but new Toy Story 4 inspired toys, accessories, and clothing will also be available to purchase in stores.

If you have the chance to visit a Disney Store, you’ll be able to delight in the following activities:

  • Free Toy Story themed events and trivia
  • A new game called “Star Adventurer” where you’ll be able to practice your tossing skills to help fuel a rocket’s engine for take-off
  • Two new Toy Story 4 interactive digital games that will showcase all of your favorite characters from the film
  • In New York at the Times Square Disney Store, you can score a limited-edition pin if you decide to opt in for a paid photo experience on the Disney Store Times Square Spectacular screen
  • And if you decide to participate in any of the events, you’ll get a free sticker and have the opportunity to purchase special edition Ducky and Bunny figurines

Luckily you have the entire month of June to explore all of the fun and games at a Disney Store near you. And don’t forget to check out Toy Story 4 when it hits cinemas on June 21st!

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Meet Forky In A New Toy Story 4 Clip

Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • May 28, 2019

A new Toy Story 4 clip has been released! In “Meet Forky”, we see the toys react to Forky being brought home by Bonnie from kindergarten. This is a clip we’ve seen parts of from different trailers and TV spots, but it’s great to see it in full. Watch below:

It seems that Bonnie isn’t exactly allowed to bring toys with her to school, but she managed to sneak Woody in with her anyway. But he might have been confiscated (that means ‘taken away’)! The familiar crew of toys are as charming as ever – it may have been coming up to 25 years since the first Toy Story movie came out, but the characters still feel fresh and true to themselves. Rex in particular has outdone himself with some great lines in just a 1-minute clip.

Woody is very encouraging and gentle as Forky nervously steps into the world of ‘being a toy’.

Seeing a full clip makes Toy Story 4 feel so close, mainly because it is close! You can even book your tickets now.

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A Toy’s-Eye View

Pixar, Pixar Employees, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • May 28, 2019

In Toy Story 4, filmmakers needed new locations for the characters to inhabit, characters that the audience has grown up with and loved. It makes sense for the Toy Story universe to expand beyond a child’s room, a toy store, and a daycare. The latest film brings the toys and the audience to unexplored places.

Thomas Jordan, Stephen Karski and Rosie Cole present, as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Pixar’s sets department, comprised of 30 people, was responsible for making the two newest sets for the film: the antiques store and the carnival. To borrow from sets supervisor Stephen Karski, we take these places for granted. Toy Story 4 however, allows us to see them from a totally new perspective.

The Antiques Mall

We were given a glimpse into Second Chance Antiques (established in 1986, which makes it the same age as Pixar) when we met Gabby Gabby, but how was it created? Pixar films always involve research trips, and the same is true for Toy Story 4, even if antique shops and carnivals aren’t all that exotic. The artists and technicians are still committed to delivering authenticity without straying into realism. It’s truth to materials once more. Production designer Bob Pauley described some of the results of these trips to local antique stores.

“We discovered a lot of charming, interesting, and fun people running them, and many visual similarities from store to store. There’s often a spotlight, a juke box, sometimes a big plastic Santa and of course lots of collectibles and real antiques.”

Second Chance is not only where we meet Gabby Gabby, but it’s also where Bo Peep spent so many years. Just like any character, the store has its own backstory and unique history. Since a majority of these antique shops were once other things, Second Chance was once an appliance and department store all in one. Sets art director Dan Holland refined the final design of the store, which he first visualized as either a car manufacturer or a furniture store.

Cameras were placed on the ground for the toy’s point of view. The scale determined how big the store was in relation to both toys and humans. Stephen Karski let us in on one of their key goals with the antiques store: constantly reinforcing to the audience, both consciously and subconsciously, that we are getting the toy’s eye view.

Rosie Cole as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Sets technical director Rosie Cole designed the set modeling and dressing for Second Chance Antiques, which involved arrangement of the furniture, as well as arranging the items in a random order that was still cohesive and appealing. The antiques store also resembles a city, and each neighborhood has a specific theme. A warehouse of props, many of them from previous Pixar films, also filled up Second Chance. It’s the perfect set to go hunting for Easter eggs! Cole, whose family owned an antique store, grew up in one, and so she was familiar with all the hiding places.

The antiques store also has a staggering level of detail which further lends it authenticity. Director Josh Cooley challenged his crew to add an extra layer of age, history, and wear – as seen in the film still below. Those cobwebs and scratches serve a purpose and there are lots more in Second Chance Antiques.

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES — In Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the toys find themselves in the dusty shadows of Second Chance Antiques—a massive set that had to be stocked with thousands of objects, creating nooks and crannies that serve as the toys’ secret corridors. Featuring Annie Potts, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as the voices of Bo Peep, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bunny and Ducky, “Toy Story 4” opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

And those cobwebs? They were made by spiders. Not real ones, but a computer program of artificial intelligence spiders. Pixar’s advancements in technology never cease to amaze. According to Thomas Jordan, they never would have finished the film if they had to make those cobwebs themselves!

The Carnival

Toy Story 4‘s second set also provided ample opportunity to introduce a familiar world that was still new. The carnival just made sense in relation to the story. Screenwriter Andrew Stanton put it this way: “If you think about it, a carnival has the cheapest, saddest, most disposable toys known to man.” Carnival toys are a parallel to the ones in an antique store, too.

There was just one research trip to a carnival in the nearby town of Walnut Creek. Photos of carnival rides served as reference for the ones in the movie. But there were also other factors that had to be accounted for, ones which the audience won’t even think about. How is everything powered and how do the crowds of carnival goers not get in the way? And there are also the trash cans – good for humans, but perfect for toys; more hiding places.

Cole worked on the game booths for the carnival, arranging the toys by theme, but also varying their shapes and sizes. A childhood love of antique carousels also motivated her to design the one in the film. They filmed the inside of the carousel too, making sure that all of the working parts moved correctly.

There’s a level of detail in these sets which hasn’t been seen before in a Pixar film. Bob Pauley noted that not many will notice all of the details, but they remain necessary anyway. Karski told us that the crew is passionate about taking the audiences to places we can’t normally go and experiencing them through our favorite toys. Pixar movies often transport us to vast places both real and imaginary. In Toy Story 4, the familiar is made brand new.

Advance tickets for Toy Story 4 are now on sale! Get yours today! 

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The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, and The Spork Ran Away to the Trash

Pixar, Pixar Employees, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • May 24, 2019

Sporks are going to be the newest sensation, thanks to Pixar. Typical of them, right?

THREE-IN-ONE – He’s not a fork. He’s not a spoon. And most of all, Forky is not a toy! At least that’s what he thinks. Bonnie created him from an assortment of supplies Woody’s retrieved from the kindergarten trash can. So, it’s no wonder Forky feels strongly that he’s trash and not a toy.

I got to make a Forky of my very own while at Pixar! Mine was a bit plain, but then his eyes became lopsided and he started to resemble Bonnie’s Forky. Just a little bit. I regret not taking advantage of all the glitter we were given.

Animator Claudio De Oliveira supervised our arts and crafts session, and he walked us through Forky’s creation. The studio’s artists made many versions of the spork-turned-toy before settling on his final design.

TOY STORY 4 – Concept art of Forky by Erik Benson. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

De Oliveira began by focusing on Forky’s limitations because ideas would flow from there. And flow they did. Truth to materials is the principle that was touched upon repeatedly in each presentation, and that’s what Forky’s design adheres to as well. De Oliveira had to explore the ways Forky would be able to convey emotion with his minimal movement. Since he has googly eyes he doesn’t blink, and he has to move a certain way because of his plaster/Popsicle stick feet. At first, De Oliveira was somewhat ambivalent about the character because he wasn’t sure how Forky would be powerful, but his potential was unlocked when De Oliveira was working on him at home. Suddenly one of those googly eyes moved and Forky was alive!

TOY STORY 4 – Development art of Forky by Albert Lozano. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

But it was Tony Hale’s performance that added the extra bit of life and emotion. Seeing him in the recording booth was honestly such a treat. His expressions provided a wealth of inspiration for animators. 

“Tony’s performance as Forky is a comedy salad of confidence, confusion and empathy…served by hilarious spork.”
-Josh Cooley

Claudio De Oliveira presents details about the creation of the character Forky, as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

The most side splitting moments of the film, at least of the footage that was screened, involve Forky saying ‘trash’ with longing and jumping into any available trash bin. And actually getting to see Hale squeal and shout just that one word made me laugh even harder as I pictured the movie scenes. Gaining sentience positiviely freaks Forky out, which is why he’s so adamant, in Cooley’s words, “to fulfill his purpose as a spork, but now has a new toy purpose thrust upon him.”

So can you guess where my Forky ended up? That’s right, the trash. He didn’t survive the airport (his legs broke off), and then eventually the rest of him did too. There’s no doubt in my mind that movie Forky would have welcomed such a fate. How does he even stay intact through the entirety of Toy Story 4 anyhow?! There are so many more questions about Forky, too. Producer Jonas Rivera addressed these concerns in a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports. Though Rivera cautions us not to think too deeply about the logistics of the toy/Toy Story universe, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

“[Forky] is a wrench thrown into the works of the Toy Story universe.”

Now I can’t help but think of an actual wrench with googly eyes and pipe cleaner arms…

Forky creations are photographed on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

 

Getting to make a Forky of my own made me feel like a kid again. And I’m pretty sure lots of people, including adults!, will be gluing googly eyes onto sporks after the film is released. De Oliveira was able to share Forky with his family too. His young children made their own versions of the character and were so ecstatic about him that it’s clear Forky is going to be a memorable and beloved addition to the Toy Story family. What’s more, he also spoke about how young kids will be able to connect to the character because they can make Forky themselves. This idea is further reinforced by Bonnie. She made Forky on her first day of kindergarten when she was feeling anxious, and he instantly brought her joy and comfort. Because Forky is so important to Bonnie, Woody makes it his mission to keep him from harm. And the trash.

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The Final Toy Story 4 Trailer Is The Best Yet

Toy Story 4, Trailer

Posted by Joanna • May 21, 2019

Toy Story 4 comes out exactly one month from today, and to mark this, Pixar have released their final trailer for the eagerly anticipated sequel. And guess what? It’s incredible! You can watch it below:

There’s a lot to take away from this trailer: instantly classic lines from old characters, some more glimpses of all sorts of beautiful scenery, a better idea of the plot, and a few moments of wonderful humour. Pixar are always great at teasing us with new footage but not spoiling the whole movie for us.

The trailer alone really demonstrates how much Woody’s character has evolved over the years. He’s gone from selfless to a fault (“Andy needs me!”) to just…admirably selfless (“Bonnie needs Forky!”). He’s still the same old toy, with the same qualities, but he’s learned from his mistakes over the years.

“He’s posing.”

Seeing Bo in different scenes with interesting lighting shows off how Pixar have managed to update her ‘ceramic look’. It’s stunning. And the way Woody is looking at her, I think he might agree.

It’s not all fun and games though: those terrifying ventriloquist dolls (Gabby Gabby’s henchmen?) look like they’re heading towards being even scarier than the cymbal monkey in Toy Story 3.

We have a feeling that this month will just fly by. We’ll all be queuing up to see Toy Story 4 on June 21st before we know it!

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Meet Gabby Gabby (Again and Again)!

Pixar, Pixar Employees, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • May 16, 2019

Learning how Pixar movies get made is a little daunting. For anyone who doubts just how rigorous this process is for animated films, let the artists, writers, technicians, and animators lay those doubts soundly to rest! During my Pixar visit last month, I was wowed by the way a specific scene in Toy Story 4 gets made. Read on to learn more and wow yourself!

From Start to Finish: Creating a Scene in Toy Story 4

This presentation was moderated by nine people, which is still just a small portion of the crew who worked on this particular scene, Meet Gabby Gabby. Things start off even smaller with just four people: the writer, director, story supervisor (Valerie LaPointe on this film), and editor. The writer and director have a basic story and it’s LaPointe’s job to detail that story, with the concept and characters. LaPointe supervises a team of story artists, who contribute gags, character ideas, and key narrative points, in addition to drawing the film!

Toy Story 4 (Pictured L-R): Valerie LaPointe (Story Supervisor), Axel Geddes (Editor), Thomas Jordan (Sets Supervisor), Steve Karski (Sets Supervisor), Patrick Lin (Layout Supervisor), Robert Russ (Supervising Animator), Scott Clark (Supervising Animator), Jean-Claude Kalache (Director of Photography, Lighting) & Robert Moyer at April 4, 2019 press day. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Story

There’s many steps involved in building a scene, but the first and most crucial begins with the script. Everything is written and broken down into about 30 sequences. Then the artists draw the scene. By this point, the director (Josh Cooley), writer (Stephany Folsom), story artist, and LaPointe read the script, give feedback, toss out ideas, and ask questions. With all of that material, the story artist can now visualize all of those ideas on the pages, which is called ‘thinking on paper.’ This includes shots, acting, and posing. Remember that animated films are made entirely from scratch; the actors in any given scene are the animators giving physical performances through the characters; the sets, shots and props have to be created too, all inside the computer.

“When you’re a story artist, you’re taking the first stab at everybody else’s job on the film with thinking through the entire scene.”
-Valerie LaPointe

The story artists, in a truly stunning feat, draw every frame of the shot. There’s anywhere from 100 to 300 storyboards/drawings in the sequence. These drawings get pitched digitally to the director, writer, editor, and story team, which is similar to how LaPointe presented the drawings to us in Pixar’s theater. If you’ve ever watched the special features on Pixar’s home releases, you have an idea of what these pitches involve. The drawings are displayed as the artists use sound effects and special voices to “sell the scene” they’re working on. They receive feedback and changes from the rest of the team and then it’s back to the (digital) drawing board. When those changes are complete, the scene goes to the editorial department, who are responsible for making a watchable movie.

Editorial

The folks in editorial add more sound effects, as well as scratch (temporary) voices for the characters before the actors record their lines. A reel with the drawings, sounds, and voices represents the film, which goes through lots of rewrites and drawing fixes. This process lasts one to three years, but the typical timeframe is two.

Now we are ready to meet Gabby Gabby! Some background on this scene: Woody and Forky wind up in an antique store, where they come across the vintage doll in a baby carriage. She’s out on her morning stroll with her henchman, Benson, a ventriloquist dummy. LaPointe provided the scratch voice for Gabby in this early stage, and she sounded great! Christina Hendricks voices the doll in the completed film, and that’s who I thought we were hearing at first.

Think of scene building as you would of the set design in a live action movie or TV show. The story is the set and all the props are what the editorial department add to the scene. In this case, the “props” are dialogue, sound effects, and music. Axel Geddes, who’s been editing Pixar films since Monsters, Inc. in 2001, was the sole representative from editorial for this presentation, but in reality, there’s a large team of editors and assistant editors who put the film together repeatedly. Editorial is really the center of every department as shots go through the production pipeline. A shot moves through the pipeline but it is frequently returned to editorial to make sure it contributes to the overall film.

STORYBOARD – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” one of the early steps in the production pipeline is building storyboards. Artists sketch the key beats in a sequence, suggesting possible set positioning, camera angles and character poses. This sequence is when Woody and Forky meet Gabby Gabby for the first time.

So what’s the editing process like? Well, a stack of virtual images from the story department is sent to editorial. As previously mentioned, the reels are the film, and they contain the storyboards, which act as the foundation. The editorial team uses their temporary dialogue as building blocks for the scene which determine the performances and other aspects, like how long to hold a specific pose. And those performances are the tools to build each shot. As Geddes explained, the editorial team are the second actors for these characters; they inhabit them. Once the performances are timed out, the scene can be edited.

Animation editing is similar to live action, but editorial decisions are made on each frame rather than each shot. Live action films utilize latent production sounds, but they have to be created for animated films. Sound effects go a long way in establishing the mood and atmosphere of a scene. In Meet Gabby Gabby, the mood was eerie; the creaky wheels on the baby carriage helped with that. Music also strengthens the tone. The editors use preexisting soundtracks before Pixar’s trusted composers are brought in.

We watched Meet Gabby Gabby more than once, and it had evolved each time. Geddes said it was boring to watch the same shot multiple times (“Which is exactly what my job is like”), but I can honestly say that I didn’t find it boring at all. I not only got a glimpse into what he does, but I did it myself! Sort of. The editorial team does a lot of repetitive work, but that’s to ensure that the most compelling version of the story is being told. Variations of the film, some of them vastly different, are screened for internal audiences over a four year period. Meet Gabby Gabby was just one version of the film where the goal was to introduce a brand new villain into Toy Story’s universe.

Technical Direction

Supervising technical director Robert Moyer works closely with most of the departments to build assets and shots for the film. After meeting Gabby Gabby, we got some insight into how she was brought to life. She’s a 1957 pull string talking toy who was made around the same time as Woody. The challenge was to make her look doll like rather than human, like animators had to do with Bo Peep. There was a lot to think about: making her look as if she was made of hard plastic and not flesh, how her eyeballs sat in their sockets, the crease of baby fat, and even how her head fits into her neck. Gabby Gabby’s hair also had to look thicker and more metallic, as did the iris of her eyes, so she could appear alive.

Forky is the other challenging character. He had to be believable as something made by a child, but also appealing and consistent with the rest of the Toy Story characters. The crew made Forkys of their own in workshops to determine the basics of his design. Forky looks simple, but he’s made up of more materials than any other character. 

We also got to learn about those dummies. Four of them were built, and the crew studied their internal structures which were very complex. Moyer was able to show us why the dummies move the way they do; they had to look as if they’re being supported by someone else. Essentially, everything about them had to feel slightly off, which only enhanced their creepiness.

Location, location, location (sets!)

Pixar sets are usually massive. From the ocean to outer space to the inner workings of the mind, they’ve taken us almost everywhere. In Toy Story 4, there’s the antique store, which is impressive despite its ordinariness. It’s an exciting place for a toy, because they get to stay hidden while moving around and being alive. Set supervisors Thomas Jordan and Stephen Karski walked us through the creation of the antique shop, which is 8,000 square feet and houses more than 10,000 items. A lot of those items were custom made for the movie, but some others were recycled from earlier Pixar films. This set took two years to build.

The antiques mall in the film feels like a city to a toy, not unlike boxes in a basement resembling a sprawling city to a bug! Not only did the antiques mall feel like a city, it looked like one too. The rugs in the aisles are where the customers shop, and toys avoid those. But the items are all arranged by theme and take on the appearance of a city complete with alleyways and neighborhoods.

Camera and Staging LAYOUT – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” members of the camera and staging team use the storyboards to further explore how best to shoot the sequence. This team determines placement of the virtual cameras, which informs the sets teams where to place set pieces and props. Camera and staging also roughly choreographs the movement of the characters, considering framing, composition, lens, camera angle, stage lines and screen directions. This image shows the team exploring camera placement within the virtual set.

From the sets we moved on to the cinematography, which was managed by layout supervisor Patrick Lin. There is a virtual camera inside the computer which is mathematically true to a physical camera and even mimics the movements of one. So the camera works just like one used on a live action film. Staging places the camera and character on the set and is also concerned with choreographing movements in a scene. And at the same time, Lin is also paying attention to other factors, such as framing, composition, and lights.

This process begins with the story reel which is broken down into shots that form the shooting script. Just like live action, there’s a location scout. In this case, the characters are placed in the antiques mall. Lin and his team worked with sets to find a special area for the moment when Woody and Gabby Gabby meet. Something else we wouldn’t think about are the locations of the story beats, like the route of the carriage ride through the mall, and how it stops at the right moment when the clock chimes in the scene. According to Lin, it’s the most complex set he’s seen in his 22 years at the studio.

As we learned, editorial actually makes the film twice: first with story and second with camera and staging.

Animation

Now that we know how and why each of these disciplines contribute to this scene, we can see how the characters are animated, courtesy of supervising animators Scott Clark and Robert Russ.

“As animators, we craft the physical and emotional performances of the characters you see on the screen.”

The expressions and movements are influenced by the emotions and vice versa. Like Bill Reeves said at an earlier presentation, animation is Pixar’s crown jewel. That doesn’t make the other departments any less important, as I hope this post demonstrates! They are all responsible for the success of this scene just as much as the animation, and Toy Story 4 overall.

ANIMATION – To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the animation team works with the suggested layout and recorded dialogue to create the physical and emotional character performances. This sequence shows just how ominous Gabby Gabby and Benson are when Woody meets them for the first time.

Every piece is working in tandem to tell the story. We got to see different versions of this scene and how the changes made were more effective in communicating emotion. On the technical side of things is truth to materials, a principle that Pixar takes very seriously. Although it’s a limitation, that’s a good thing: the animators work twice as hard to achieve specificity for a character.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most appealing things about all of the studio’s films! Director of Photography Jean-Claude Kalache informed us that the lighting emphasizes the animation performances. For example, by turning the lights off, the characters have to perform through silhouettes. Lighting was so important because of its relation to the film’s theme. According to Josh Cooley:

“Our purpose in life is a moving target. The only constant is change.”

Toy Story 4 is a story all about change, as Woody discovers that there is much more to being a toy than what he’s always strongly believed. The lighting had to reflect that transition of our beloved cowboy.

LIGHTING — To create a sequence in Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the lighting department is responsible for lighting the scene in a way that supports the story—in this case, using shadow and color to help convey the tone of the sequence as it progresses from uncertain to mildly menacing.

Some of the lighting techniques for Meet Gabby Gabby began dark and then ended brightly. Soft light turned harsh, cool tones became warm. The doll herself even has her own villain color, a sickly green that signifies her presence at any point in the film. Gabby Gabby is physically trapped, so there was a lot of light on her eyes. Woody is mentally trapped, so his eyes are shadowed. The antiques mall, which took three months to light, was also a major shift from Bonnie’s room. There’s no real sense of location or geography there, and even all the dust had a purpose, for chase scenes and for simplifying the backgrounds.

There isn’t a specific order to this process after the script because all of the departments overlap with one another. The goal was to recreate the intimate level of collaboration from the first Toy Story all those years ago. It’s easy to take all of this for granted, Pixar’s stories unfolding before our very eyes. And it’s all the more impressive when you realize that you never really have to think about this stuff, until Pixar gives you the opportunity to see how it’s all done. That doesn’t lessen any of the magic; it’s actually made a lot more tangible.

Maybe you’ll be thinking about all of this when you meet Gabby Gabby when Toy Story 4 opens next month. And don’t forget to check back here for more posts about my incredible time at Pixar!

TOY STORY 4 – Concept art of Gabby Gabby by Michael Yates. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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New Toy Story 4 Goodies – From Cereal to Books to Topiaries!

Round-Ups, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • May 9, 2019

Well folks, Toy Story 4 is coming to cinemas June 21st, which is NEXT month! And that only means one thing: we’re going to be showered with numerous campaigns and merchandise and all things Toy Story 4 related for the next 43 days and honestly, we cannot be more excited.

Here’s a round-up of some charming Toy Story 4 centred events and products you can pick-up in stores:

  1. If you’re going to be visiting Orlando anytime in the near future, check out the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World – where you’ll see stunning Toy Story 4 topiary set-ups like the one of Bo Peep below:

  2. Do you love cereal?  And most importantly, are you a Toy Story fan? (I mean, you have to be, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this). Well, you’re in luck, because Kellogg’s has released their own Toy Story 4 cereal in preparation for the film’s release. They’re calling their new product “Carnival Berry” which is Kellogg’s spin on the delicious and sugary berry Froot Loops taste.
  3. And finally, there’s a new set of adorable Toy Story 4 books on the market focused on 3-6 year olds. The books are called, Toy Story 4 Toy Box: Words to Play By and there are 5 books that focus on the famous Toy Story characters while highlighting their most inspirational and hilarious “words of wisdom.” The books were written by Suzanne Francis and illustrated by Jerrod Maruyama.

It’s safe to say we’ll definitely be buying ALL the Toy Story 4 cereal boxes and picking up copies of Words to Play By for all of our friends and loved ones. We can’t wait to see what new merchandise products Disney/Pixar release soon. To infinity, and beyond!

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