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Inside Pixar: Foundations Explores the Magic of Filmmaking

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It’s time to visit Pixar Studios again! The next five episodes in the Inside Pixar docuseries, under the heading “Foundations,” have premiered on Disney+. This time, we get to see how many of our favorite films make their way from original concept to beautifully written and animated feature.

The previous two installments in the series offered audiences a closer look at the workings of the studio through the specific experiences of Pixar creatives. Each of the earlier 10 episodes profiled a Pixar employee, from the director of a feature film to another essential but oftentimes overlooked staff member like a production assistant.

The newest five episodes, however, focus squarely on how Pixar films are made. They also do not highlight one particular film above the others or one key creative, whether it be a director or animator. Tying all the different aspects of production and pieces of the filmmaking puzzle together is where Cristela Alonzo comes in. Viewers might recognize her as the voice of Cruz Ramirez from Cars 3, and here Alonzo lends her talents as narrator for the “Foundations” episodes, adopting the role of enthusiastically inquisitive visitor.

The episodes’ streamlined approach paired with Alonzo’s lively voiceover help simplify the potentially overwhelming landscape of animated film production. Each episode covers a key element or department, such as character design and camera set-up in a digital 3D workspace.

The first episode, ‘Recipe for a Movie’ works as an effective introduction to the film production process. Episodes ‘Creating Characters’ and ‘Animation and Acting’ showcase how particularly effective the design and storytelling is in Pixar films. Episodes ‘Through the Lens’ and ‘Color, Light and Emotion’ go deeper into the details of computer technology and the real world understanding of what strikes the eye or what tugs hardest on an intuitive emotional level.

Each episode calls upon many members of the creative and technical teams to explain processes like character rigging and lighting, to name just two. All of these moving parts individually are fascinating to learn about. But taken as a whole, the biggest takeaway is that a film is a monumental undertaking.

The process of scripting, storyboarding, screening can take at least three years, which is a long time, but as Alonzo exclaims, that’s 1095 days. Thinking of projects that reach closer to six years of intense drafting and redrafting puts into perspective just how demanding filmmaking is. However, just as with the previous episodes, the dedication and creativity of the Pixar artists on display underscores how every project is a labor of love.

For viewers unaware of the time and effort required to see a film from pre-production to release, these episodes are an exciting new perspective on Pixar films. And for viewers who already do know about the building blocks, these episodes still offer a fresh look at how Pixar studios creates art.

The final batch of episodes in the series will be under the heading “Unpacked.” There’s no premiere date announced yet, but we’re looking forward to what the new window into Pixar will have in store.

Tags: , , , Last modified: March 26, 2021

Maya has been unabashedly in love with the animation medium. Maya's appreciation started in early childhood, helped in no small part by the feature films and shorts from Pixar Studios. Having enjoyed writing about the magic of the animated films’ art and stories, Maya is excited to share a different perspective at Upcoming Pixar.