Pixar Commentary Tips

Hey Pixar Planeteers! I’ve compiled a list of tips to help us make really good commentaries. I’m not saying ours needs improvement, per say, (in fact I think we are getting better and better each time), but it’s here so we can make the feature film commentaries the best they can be. I don’t consider myself an authority on doing commentaries, as I’m just as new to this as you guys, but hopefully you’ll find these useful! If you have any other tips, please share! =)

  • Don’t be shy. You signed up to the commentary so you obviously think you have something to say. Just research as much as you can (see below), attend as many practice commentaries as possible, and relax - we’re all Pixar fans, and all seem pretty friendly (I think so, anyway), so you’ll be fine.

  • With the practice commentaries, after you’ve attended one, listen to it when it’s been uploaded and be as constructively critical of the session, and yourself as you can. The practices are also to get yourself relaxed and used to being recorded and being a part of that medium, but it’s also the chance to improve on your performance for the feature film commentaries.

  • Try to speak clearly, if you have trouble with this, slow down your speaking. It may be a good idea to practice recording yourself then playing it back to get a feel for what you sound like so you can make adjustments.

  • Don’t take over the commentary, but at the same time, don’t sit there saying nothing. If you see the research section below, you will be more prepared, and hence the quality of what you will say will improve because of preparedness which will make for a more interesting commentary.

  • The whole idea of these fan commentaries isn’t to be exactly like the Pixarian commentaries, but to give a new perspective to their films from the fans’ point of view and why we like the movies, interesting tidbits of information that haven’t been covered by the Pixarians in their commentaries, awards it has won (since the Pixar commentaries are usually recorded before the film is even released) and so on.

  • And most of all, have fun with it - if you have a fun, positive attitude towards the commentary, this will come through in the end result. =)


  • First of all, watch the movie/short film as much as you can beforehand. I must say, don’t watch it to the point where you are sick of it, or get bored by it, but it will be a good idea if you are very familiar with what you are commentating on.

  • Think about what you would want from a fan commentary if you were listening to one of your favourite movie or TV shows and try to bring that to the commentary.

  • Speaking of which, here’s a website called MMM Commentaries that has fan commentaries. They are all sci-fi movies but even if sci-fi isn’t your thing, you can still listen to a few of them and figure out why you like (or don’t like them) and what you would want to take from those commentaries and bring over to ours.

  • Another excellent resource is Zarban’s House of Commentaries which has links to commentaries from all over the net. Here’s a section that hosts the fan commentaries that are related to Pixar. Some other fans have already recorded one for Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Cars. So feel free to listen to them. (Thanks, Zarban!)

  • Some more specific things you can do to research the film/short film are: research on the Internet (Wikipedia’s a good resource), watch the behind the scenes on the DVD, read the Art of… books, read To Infinity and Beyond! to get an idea for the production and/or what Pixar was going through at the time of production, listen to the audio commentary for the movie, find out how well the film was received…

  • What other ways can you think of to research?

Those are really good tips rachel. Thanks for posting them up here. I can’t really think of stuff to add to this list.

BTW: The TI commentary isn’t working. Something wrong with the link?

Thanks for the plug, rachelcakes1985! I created Zarban.com, The House of Commentaries after I found that some other fan commentary sites I’d been using had gone silent.

I was thrilled to find that your group was planning some fan commentaries and did some shorts already. I did the Cars commentary under the name Tysto (my personal website) awhile ago, partly because I felt that Pixar films are really underrepresented, while sci-fi is overrepresented (of course, I’ve done my share of sci-fi, too…). I’d love to host any commentaries you create so they can be easily available to other fans.

Having listened to your practice commentaries, they sound about as good as any I’ve heard. I don’t really have any advice except to say that one thing I notice about group commentaries is that there is always one or two people who dominate. That’s just the nature of a group, I think; so don’t worry if that happens.

(Derek Jensen)

Aheheh, and one of those people is probably me. ^^;; rubs back of head I don’t really mean too, but I’m just a very chatty person when you get me on a subject I like, so I think it’s just something I need to work on. I’m going to be more in the backround in our next practice commentary, though.

By the way, welcome to PixarPlanet, Zarban! ^^ I’ll deffinitely make sure to check out your commentaries sometime when I have the chance.

And like I said before, Rachel, these are some great tips, especially for commentary newbies. ^^ I can’t think of anything else to add to it, either.

Welcome to the forums, Zarban!! (musn’t forget your exclamation mark) I’m interested to hear your Cars commentary, as I’ve always been thinking of doing one. I must say, though, you have a pretty ‘audiogenic’ voice.

And thanks for the tips, Rachel! I’m sure the newbies would find them useful. I guess the only advice I can offer is to write a rough list of what you want to cover in the commentary, and loosely follow it so you ensure you get what you want to say out. But in a group commentary, don’t be afraid to just ‘wing’ it if somebody is talking in a spot in which you want to say something, you could just add your comment after he/she’s done talking (“With regards to the previous scene”) or just let it go. Like Rachel says, just have fun, and don’t take it too seriously if you miss what you have to say.

As for Lightning Eclipse, I don’t really mind your “chatterbox” personality, really. Guess some people have to lead the commentaries and give the others some ideas to bounce off on. :slight_smile:

Glad you found the tips helpful, guys. Thanks. If you have any more tips, even after recording a few commentaries, just add 'em here. =)

Zarban! - No probs. Just remember that those short films were done for practice, so may not be an example of our best work (even though the Tin Toy one did turn out quite well, IMHO.) But I’m glad you liked them - if you think they were good even if they were only practices, we may have something special here! =)

I listened to a bit of your Cars commentary - you have a really nice voice (I have a thing about people’s voices) and a natural way of talking, very nice. And your accent is a very general, American accent, too, and I can understand all of what you say, with me not being an American.

thedriveintheatre - That’s a good idea of writing stuff down, too. I’d probably have a mental list of what I wanted to bring up, but once we start recording, my mind goes a bit blank, so I’ll take that advice. Yes, great idea of saying “in regards to that previous scene…”, too.

Like Lightning Eclipse, I’m probably guilty as charged with this one, too. Eheheh. It’s just that I never really talk to anyone about Pixar in real life, so I tend to go a bit overboard when given the chance to do so. But I’ll try to give others a chance to speak in the future.

rachel - Great list, rachel! You’re always so resourceful and diligent when it comes to these things. :smiley:

Basically, when I prepare for a commentary (or something similar) I’ll do what thedriveintheatre does and write down notes on the subject. In addition to that, I’ll also listen to/watch previous commentaries that I was either involved or not involved in, research and watch the film that is to be commentated on, and attend practice sessions.

Well, if I had it my way, I’d savor the opportunity by spoofing the film whenever possible and quoting every piece of dialogue throughout, but I couldn’t do that, could I? (snigger)

Zarban! - Welcome to the boards! I’m going to have to check out that website of yours. :smiley:

Tip #254: Don’t drink soda while commentating. :stuck_out_tongue:

– Mitch

There are a few issues I’ve wondered about that I’d like a solution to, if anyone could help. The first is the issue of accidentally interrupting each other. I’ve thought about it, and I guess it’s something that just happens naturally, and even though it is quite funny, I think if it happens too much it could bring down the professionalism of the commentary. Does anyone know how the other commentary groups handle this or would be willing to find out, or is it something they just accept?

The second is that maybe we could research as much as possible the film we are commenting on and swap notes with another person (or two), or even everyone else in the group (with the five people, and maybe the two subs couldn’t hurt) so that before we start the commentary we know what each other is going to say so we can expand on the points more. One of the reasons why I think the Pixar commentaries work so well is because they all understand what they are talking about, and all went through the same experience. Or do you think swapping notes might take away the spontaneity of the discussion?

And it’s also a really good idea to write down notes of what you want to say beforehand, 'cause, personally, whenever I’m actually recording the commentaries, my brain seems to flatline. :stuck_out_tongue:

Mitch - Well, I try my best, Mitch. Heheh. Thank you! =)

That’s a really good idea of listening to commentaries regardless of whether you participated in them (the practice ones.) I don’t think anyone has mentioned that advice yet. And yeah, it would be a good idea to not drink soda, heheh.

Well, you could do that (I’d like to hear it), but keep it in moderation. :wink:

About interupting, it is going to happen. But I think that everyone should give everyone a chance to talk.

And to be honest, I have never thought of taking notes when researching for a commentary, but I’ll do that. Good ideas rachel.

Rachel - Heheh. You’re welcome.

Nah, I’ll probably just refrain from quoting anything if I can help it. Believe me, it would get annoyingly crazy after a while, especially if my sister was present. (snigger)

On the subject of inevitable interruptions: I’ve been worried about that issue myself, especially as it happened several times in our Skype conversations prior to commentating on Your Friend the Rat. I guess we’ll just have to accept the fact that it will be unavoidable during commentaries and practice sessions.

As far as Pixar commentaries go, I was always under the impression that the members of the group who commentate on the film (particulary the director(s), producer(s), etc…) do so together and in person while watching the production – like they’re all in a room at one time while commentating. It’s possible that some participants were edited in later, though.

I actually did this with a couple of other participants for the first Your Friend the Rat commentary. I wrote down this whole list of notes and I barely used one of them due to nerves. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a good idea, though!

– Mitch

Rachel- I think with the interrupting each other thing, we might just have to live with it. Making it so that we take turns will make the commentary unnatural, but on the other hand, prior to the commentary, it might be a good idea that a few key points that certain people would like to make are decided, so that everyone gets to say something. In concerns to a feature film commentary, there could be an important in-joke or fact say, once every five or ten minutes, so before the commentary we could have people going, ‘well, I noticed this thing that happens about fifteen minutes in, where…’ and so we know roughly when certain points will be made.

But at the same time, we’ve got to maintain that relaxed atmosphere, so that means that people can chat about the points made and bring up points of their own at any time. I guess there’ll always be a few interruptions, and the best way to make it sound professional nontheless is to carry on as smoothly as possible.

As for research, what I tend to do is open up a Microsoft Word document and type some of the points I want to make up there. Then I’ll minimise it a bit so that I can see both the notes and the video at the same time (because the video tends to only take up a small amount of the screen anyway). It just means that I don’t have to keep looking down or getting distracted, though I’m not sure if this technique will work with the feature films, since I’m sure we’ll have a fair amount of notes then. :laughing:

I’ve said it before, but great work with the list, Rachel. And thanks for sharing those other commentaries, Zarban! They’re really helpful for giving us an idea how to make our commentaries better. I have to say, I love your voice!

There’s always the option of getting Peter to edit out the interruptions and just have no commentary audio there, and have the movie fill in that space instead… but yeah, I guess we’ll just have to learn to live with it and laugh it off. Thanks for the response, girls (and TSS.) =)

That’s a good idea of having the notes open in another window, lizardgirl. I was going to have mine on paper, but that sounds better.

Another tip is to turn off the microphone if you need to sneeze, or do anything that may cause an interruption to the recording. My headset has a little switch on the side where you can turn the mic on and off easily, so you may be able to do that on yours.

Oh, and don’t make the same mistake I did on the last practice: make sure your mic and earphones are plugged into their jacks before starting the conference call. Heheh. For some reason Skype is finicky about that.

I still think we should have a ten minute break halfway through recording the features, so we can get a drink, something to eat, or even just to stretch our legs…

Yeah, that’s true. The question I was asking though was how do other commentators that live in different countries (with a delay in transmission) who record fan commentaries over the Internet deal with the interrupting? I’ll see if I can find that out. Maybe Zarban would know…

But with the Pixarian commentaries, for the most part they are in the same room, but sometimes they might call up another Pixarian on the phone (like they did in Monsters, Inc.), and other times they may have two different commentaries with different people at different times but they combine them together, like the Toy Story commentary. Not sure if I like the latter style of combining the two, but it ends up being acceptable.

I’m with Rachel in that a ten minute break should be allowed, especially if any of the commentators succumbed to drinking anything during the commentary. (Bathroom breaks are essential…)

I never thought of that. Excellent idea! As for making it work for/during feature film commentaries, I suppose it could be done as long as all of our notes were arranged chronologically (i.e., various facts are mentioned in order of when they appear in the film).

Ohhh, I see. Hmm. Yeah, I’m not really sure how they (would) do that. I agree: Perhaps you should ask Zarban

– Mitch

I haven’t done any Skype call commentaries myself, so I don’t have any advice for them, unfortunately.

BTW: I’ve added the two commentaries for Lifted to the House of Commentaries


How do you sign up / apply for commentaries again? I should be getting a headset one of these days, and … well, I dunno, I was thinking about doing one for A Bug’s Life.

Here’s the main thread, FONY- Pixar Fan Commentaries This is where you post the Pixar films you want to commentate on in order of preference, as well as your timetable and when you’re free. I think we should get one of the mods to sticky that thread or something, just to make it easier to find.

FONY - Actually, we’ve been posting our rankings in the Toy Story fan commentary thread (though perhaps we should’ve been posting them in the Pixar Fan Commentaries thread). You can post your ranking wherever you want, I’ll find it. =) Welcome aboard!

Oops, my mistake, Peter! Well, either way, it’ll be fine. :laughing: