Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature

The 3-D re-releases of Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be presented together as a special double feature during a two-week limited engagement run starting October 2 this year, it was revealed one hour ago by The Walt Disney Studios at the ShoWest movie industry trade convention in Las Vegas.

Audiences will get to enjoy both films back to back, for the price of a single ticket. This replaces the previous schedule which had Toy Story 2 debuting in 3-D on February 12, 2010. Instead, Disney's Beauty and the Beast will be re-released in 3-D on that date.

Says John Lasseter in the official press release: "To see the movies back to back will be an amazing treat as well. This is certainly nostalgic for me and reminiscent of my youth when double features were the norm."

Uh, this is so cool! Going to the movies should be an experience. And we won't have to wait until next February to watch 'TS2' in 3-D! Just hope Disney and theatres know how to market this properly.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

'Up' featurette: Discovering a Lost World

Another Up featurette! This one, up at IGN, is entitled Discovering a New World and focuses on Up's story and the Pixar crew's trip to the tepui mountains of Venezuela in South America to research the exotic location.

Friday, March 27, 2009

'Up' clip: Meet Kevin

This new clip from Up (our second for the day) can now be enjoyed courtesy of Yahoo! Movies. It runs about 2 minutes and comprises the scene where Russell encounters giant bird Kevin for the first time.

'Up' featurette: Pixar's First 3D Movie + new clip

A new and surprisingly exciting featurette promoting Up is on the Disney.com homepage today. It features director Pete Docter and others (including John Lasseter) discussing the use of digital 3-D technology on the film —a first for Pixar— and what that will mean for the audience. Includes some great footage not seen before.

Also new today is a clip from the movie found on MSN. It's an extended version of the "Need any assistance?" scene shown at the beginning of the latest trailer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two quotes

Tom Charity, movie critic for CNN, on DreamWorks Animation's latest film Monsters vs. Aliens:
"Another bloated, over-produced, high-concept monstrosity has escaped from the labs at Dreamworks Animation... A toothless satire with... a sorry excuse for a plot."
Brad Garrett, actor and comedian, on Pixar's films:
"It's some of the best writing of any film you're ever going to work on, whether it's live-action or animated."
I rest my case.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Emery Ed 'Up' screening

A yearly tradition for a good cause, Pixar will be hosting at its campus a very special pre-release screening of Up to benefit the local Emery Ed Fund, which supports Emeryville-area public schools. Pixar is a major supporter of the charity.

Admission to the event, which takes place Thursday, May 7 at 6 PM and includes a wine reception, silent auction, and self-guided tour of the studios, is $250 per person. Répondez s'il vous plaît by May 1st. Cell phones and recording devices will not be allowed.

More information can be found on the Emery Ed website.

In the San Francisco Bay Area —you'd be crazy not to do this.

Toy Story Mania! game coming for Wii

Disney Interactive Studios announced today the future release of Toy Story Mania!, a new video game for the Nintendo Wii gaming platform coming this fall and starring the characters of Pixar's Toy Story.

Toy Story Mania!, developed by independent video game developer Papaya Studio, is inspired by the high-tech carnival midway-style attractions of the same name at Disney's California Adventure and Hollywood Studios theme parks and will showcase "an array of entertaining games" allowing "players [to] experience the fast-paced, zany fun" of the attractions.

The game's release will coincide with the 3-D theatrical release of Toy Story on October 2nd.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Major additions to 'Up' website

The official Up website received a major update today, replacing the previous temporary design and adding several features (either live or coming soon).

Best part? The extended sample of Michael Giacchino's thrilling score playing over the new animated intro that greets visitors to the site. Also, some great new views of some of the movie's sets, including the spectacular one of the mountains/rock formations of Paradise Falls shown above.

Go on over and explore...

Friday, March 20, 2009

New 'Up' clip on YouTube

A fun new clip from Up, now on YouTube. Enjoy.

Thank-you IncredibleMrD for the tip

Exclusive: Pixar Phase II Expansion Plans

Pixar has begun construction on the Phase II expansion of its legendary campus in Emeryville, California, with completion scheduled for April 2011, a trusted source close to the studio confirms.

Phase II, in planning since the early part of the decade, consists of the construction of a new four-level (includes partial basement), 155,194 sq. ft. building on the southwest corner of the 21-acre 1200 Park Avenue property, as well as an enlargement of the main parking lot that will add 304 parking spaces, and other changes. The new building will meet LEED environmental standards.

Following a series of required consultations, the Emeryville City Council quietly approved the final plans in late January. This is the first time details about Phase II have been reported by any media outlet.

According to city documents, the new building will accommodate artist work space for several departments, a small theater (approx. 110 seats), screening rooms, recording studio, game room, café (with kitchen), and computer equipment on four levels, including a partial basement.

The design of the structure was "inspired by the brick and concrete warehouses" that surround the campus. The building exterior will feature an "exposed concrete structural frame, with brick infill, painted steel dividing elements and painted aluminum windows." The primary exterior material will be brick, with the plan calling for two different types to be used "to provide a sense of detail and richness to the façade".

To make space for the new construction, the soccer field currently occupying the site will be relocated to the area immediately east of the new building. Several trees will also be removed, but will be replanted elsewhere.

The project team of record on the new development is made up of AWA/Allied Works Architecture, Perkins + Will, PWP/Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture (see their work on Phase I), and SMWM.

Site Plan
Floor Plans

Images obtained from records on file with the City of Emeryville.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Up' world premiere to open Cannes

Pixar's Up will have its world premiere May 13 at the 62nd Festival de Cannes as the prestigious film festival's Opening Ceremony film. This is the first time that an animated picture has been chosen to open Cannes.

According to the AP, the organisation said it had "not decided" whether Up will be among the films in competition for juried awards.

The Cannes Film Festival happens May 13-24 this year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Disney's 'Bolt' on DVD/Blu-ray

Disney's Bolt will be arriving on DVD and hi-def Blu-ray Disc in less than a week now. The DVD hits stores this Tuesday, March 24 while the Blu-ray will be released two days earlier on Sunday, March 22.

While not a Pixar film, I did cover the release of Bolt in theatres due to its "strong connections to 'Emeryville'" and so it only makes sense to follow up for the home video release.

As I find myself writing about every new Disney title on DVD and Blu-ray I review, the quality of both the picture and sound is extraordinary on this release. Also, both the 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray are solid when it comes to extras.

Of note is the new, quite humorous, feature-based short film Super Rhino (included with all editions), starring everybody’s favourite delusional hamster. Watched it four times already. Almost Pixar-ish, you might say.

Below is a summary of the three available editions of Bolt on DVD and Blu-ray (Region 1), with their respective features.

1-Disc DVD

The 1-Disc DVD (box art pictured above) is the most basic edition. Essentially it has the movie plus a few bonuses, like Super Rhino.

2-Disc Deluxe Edition DVD

The 2-Disc Deluxe Edition DVD set adds a quantity of bonus material such as deleted scenes (with optional introductory commentary by the directors), several behind-the-scenes looks at the different aspects of making of the film, and a music video. These are found on Disc One. On Disc Two is the DisneyFile Digital Copy of the movie for iTunes and Windows Media.

DVD technical specifications

Both the 1-Disc and the 2-Disc DVD versions feature widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation of Bolt (enhanced for 16x9 televisions) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. French and Spanish language tracks are included, as are subtitles.

Blu-ray (Combo Pack)

The Blu-ray Combo Pack contains three discs: One Blu-ray Disc and two DVDs.

Disc One (Blu-ray) includes the movie and extras found on the DVD versions, plus games, a Bolt art gallery, and additional Blu-ray-exclusive features, all in high definition. Disc Two contains the DisneyFile Digital Copy of the movie.

Disc Three is a standard DVD, playable in any DVD player. Includes the feature presentation plus Super Rhino and a few extras. Similar to the 1-Disc DVD version.

Blu-ray technical specifications

The Blu-ray disc features high definition presentation of Bolt in 1080p video (1.78:1 aspect ratio) with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit). Extras are presented in 1080p with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Spanish audio and subtitles are included.

Tech specs for the included standard DVD are the same as for the 1 and 2-disc versions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

UPisode #2: First Aid

The second UPisode vignette, titled First Aid, can now be viewed at Apple Trailers' Up page.

This one follows Russell trying to help Carl apply a band-aid after he scrapes his hand in the jungle.

Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray delay confirmed [UPDATE]

Last night, a reader sent in a tip* saying that he had received a notice from Amazon.com alerting him that the Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray he pre-ordered and expected to receive this May 19 would be postponed a whole year until May 2010.

Needless to say, it seemed impossible yesterday —just had to be an error. But it wasn't.

Backing up a report on authoritative Blu-ray news site TheHDRoom that "multiple retailers [have] yanked Monsters, Inc.... on Blu-ray Disc from their pre-order listings", a well-placed insider source confirms for me that the release of Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray has been delayed. The source adds that "no new date has been set" and that there's "no official reason" as to why. The issuing of the A Bug's Life Blu-ray will still go ahead as planned on May 19.

This is off-the-charts shocking. Disney has been promoting the release for a while now. In fact, the soon-to-be-released Bolt DVD/Blu-ray contains an insert advertising 'Monsters' and 'Bugs' on Blu-ray for May 19, not to mention the promo video on the Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD/Blu-ray.

What possible reason could there be for such an extreme delay? Some sort of major technical glitch discovered at the last minute? Or could it be that something else is up, like a release date closer to 2013?

*Thanks, Mike D.
Update: Blu-ray.com is reporting that "Monster's Inc. [sic] has been delayed until November, likely to coincide with the Blu-ray release of Up".

So at least no delay until Spring 2010, at least for now!

(Updated at 2:01 PM)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

First look at 'Partly Cloudy'

The Animation World Network (AWN) acquired the above piece of concept art (that looks substantially more like a rendered still) from Pixar's next short film that's been the topic of much discussion in the past few days —Partly Cloudy.

Clearly evident is the fun, appealing character design everyone has been expecting.

Also of note, AWN reports that Partly Cloudy's producer is Kevin Reher. While not a familiar name to some, Reher's been with Pixar since the production of Toy Story. He served as producer on A Bug's Life and in other capacities since then.

Lasseter on The View recap

As expected, Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter was on The View this morning, as part of a series of shows filmed at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. The show got started with the surprisingly well-behaved co-hosts interacting with an animatronic WALL-E.

Following a montage of clips from Disney and Pixar features, Lasseter arrived on stage holding a large bunch of helium balloons, in the style of Carl Fredriksen.

A light discussion followed, with Barbara Walters noting that Lasseter has one of the longest titles she's 'ever heard': Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios and Principal Creative Adviser of Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter did a comic impression and talked about Up, saying he thinks it's one of Pixar's funniest films to date.

To conclude the segment, a short clip from Up, a slightly extended version of the "So long, boys!" scene, was played for the audience. Each audience member went home with a free copy of WALL-E on DVD/Blu-ray and of the forthcoming Up video game.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Got the 'Bolt' Blu-ray...

That is correct. My advance copy of Disney's Bolt (see here for theatrical release coverage) on Blu-ray Disc (with included DVD and digital copy) arrived via UPS a few hours ago, nearly two weeks before its public debut.

The picture and sound quality is amazing. Amazing. Also, the new short attached called Super Rhino has a hilarious ending.

It is though disappointing to see Disney using a quote on the cover from a journalist who wrote that Bolt is the "Best Disney film since The Incredibles". That wording is really not helpful when so many people are already confused about the Disney/Pixar relationship.

Anyways, expect to hear more about the DVD and Blu-ray next week. Bolt will be sold in the Blu-ray format starting March 22, two days before it comes to DVD.

'Partly Cloudy' official synopsis

Pixar publicity has released this official synopsis for Partly Cloudy, providing further details about the short.

"Everyone knows that the stork delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies from? The answer lies up in the stratosphere, where cloud people sculpt babies from clouds and bring them to life.

Gus, a lonely and insecure grey cloud, is a master at creating "dangerous" babies. Crocodiles, porcupines, rams and more —Gus's beloved creations are works of art, but more than a handful for his loyal delivery stork partner, Peck.

As Gus's creations become more and more rambunctious, Peck's job gets harder and harder. How will Peck manage to handle both his hazardous cargo and his friend's fiery temperament?"

'Up' video game website live

Briefly: Game publisher THQ launched a preview version of the official website for Up: The Video Game this morning, in conjunction with a news release about the title, due out in May.

The only thing on the site right now is a downloadable demo of the game. The full version is coming soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition special post

Yours truly —this is a first— has the privilege of guesting on The Disney Blog today with a special post about the issuing of the Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition on DVD and Blu-ray.

Make your way over there right now and read it!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Exclusive: 'Partly Cloudy' plot revealed

On Tuesday, Disney plans to launch D23, a new official fan club, as well as a stylish quarterly magazine called Twenty-Three (cover pictured), that I'm pretty sure I'm going to be subscribing to.

Over the past several days, there have been reports (some excellent ones at StitchKingdom) of individuals/outlets acquiring issues of Twenty-Three early. Now a trusted source who wishes to remain anonymous tells me that the premiere issue of the magazine (Spring 2009) contains a sidebar with the first ever plot details on Pixar's next theatrical short film Partly Cloudy, that'll be in theatres attached to Up starting May 29.

The tipster reports that Partly Cloudy will elaborate on the age-old story of babies being delivered to their mothers by storks. In the short, clouds are essentially baby factories, where babies are made out of 'fluffy white stuff'. Each cloud has a stork assigned to deliver the babies produced.

Partly Cloudy's protagonist is a cloud named Gus who makes the 'tougher babies' like alligators and porcupines. Peck is Gus' stork who's grown tired of having to deliver all the tough babies and wants to move on to softer ones like kittens and humans. The short's climax is when Gus thinks Peck quit in search of easier deliveries.

In the sidebar, director Peter Sohn describes the film as being about communication. He talks about growing up with parents who only spoke Korean and how often his mother would tell him to do one thing (in broken English) when she meant something completely different. He notes that traditional Disney films like Bambi and Dumbo were one of the few things his family could bond over since they didn’t rely on dialogue as much.

The magazine also contains a still, showcasing Gus and Peck.

So there you have it, folks! This is a genius pairing on the part of Pixar: A short film about babies with a feature about an old guy! How. Excited. Are. You.? Please comment below.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray promo video

This minute-long promo for the forthcoming Blu-ray Hi-def debut of Monsters, Inc. has made its way online. Does anybody know where it's from? It's from the Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition.

Thanks Brad from StitchKingdom for sharing this.

Lasseter to appear on The View

John Lasseter will be joining the ladies of ABC's hit talk show The View on the Wednesday, March 11* episode to preview Up . Walt Disney Company chief Bob Iger will also be part of the show, taped at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.

The View, produced by Disney-owned ABC, is running a week of special episodes promoting the entertainment offerings of The Walt Disney Studios.

(Source: The TV Guy/Orlando Sentinel)

*Check local listings.

Friday, March 6, 2009

New 'Up' theatrical trailer released

A spectacular new, full-length theatrical trailer for Up has been released online, at Yahoo! Movies. This is the first trailer to highlight the real exciting parts of the movie. We get to see cute talking dog Dug, Kevin the giant bird, Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer) and his mean talking dogs, and more.

My favourite part: The thunderstorm scene (and subsequent arrival in South America).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ifoAppleStore shout-out

Off-topic story: Last month, I was tipped-off that Apple, my other favourite company, would finally be opening a store in my city, Mississauga, Ontario* (Pop. 701,000), at Square One Shopping Centre, arguably the world's greatest mall.

I sent the tip over to ifoAppleStore, the best resource available for everything related to Apple's retail operations, and it panned out. Gary, the site's publisher, was nice enough to mention The Pixar Blog when reporting the story and so I'm reciprocating by giving a shout-out to his excellent site. Be sure to go over and read the post.

Before you ask, David is my rarely-used first name...

*That's right next to Toronto for the geographically challenged.

The Art of Pixar Short Films | Interview with Amid Amidi

Pixar's latest art book, The Art of Pixar Short Films, published by Chronicle Books, is now in stores (Amazon.com page). Chock-full of artwork, from the simplest sketches to the most vibrant fully-rendered film frames, the book is a pleasure to look at and read.

I finally received my personal review copy this past Friday and I can tell you that not only does The Art of Pixar Short Films make a great companion to the Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1 (it covers the thirteen shorts included on the DVD), it also stands exceptionally well on its own. Honestly, your coffee table will thank you.

Over the past few weeks, and right up until today, I've been corresponding via email with the author, Amid Amidi, to bring readers an original, in-depth discussion with him about the book, likely his first of many for the studio. (Amid has been chosen to write The Art of Toy Story 3, to be published next year.) As many of you know, Amid is also the co-founder and co-writer of the very popular Cartoon Brew, so I really appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to me.

Concept Art: The Adventures of André & Wally B., John Lasseter, Pastel, 1984

Q: Let’s start at the beginning: How did you get the gig? Who did you hear from? What did you say? 'Cause this is your first time working with Pixar, right?

A. I hadn't worked with Pixar prior to this, but I'd done two books for Chronicle and we've established a successful working relationship. In late-January 2008, Matt Robinson, an editor from Chronicle, called me up and said that Pixar wanted me to write a book that tied in with the Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1 DVD. It took me by surprise because I don't actively seek these type of projects out and have actually turned down at least a few similar projects in recent years.

The opportunity to work with Pixar was something I couldn't pass up though. In recent years Chronicle and Pixar have been the standard-bearers for 'art of' books. I look forward to those identical horizontal-shaped books just like everybody else. Not to mention that the whole idea sounded like a lot of fun because it's about animated shorts which is a format that I really love.

I really can't think of any other studio that would give this sort of deluxe treatment to their animated shorts and publish an entire book of shorts-related artwork. So it was a bit of a no-brainer when they asked me to contribute to the series.

Concept Art: The Adventures of André & Wally B., John Lasseter, Pencil, 1984

Q: When did you get started on the book, and where did you work on it?

A: These type of books are typically done on very short schedules. By mid-February 2008, after we'd reached a deal, I was reading everything I could find about the studio's shorts, especially a lot about the early Lucasfilm years, and watching every Pixar shorts dozens of times trying to pick up on their nuances and understand what made each of them unique. Then I spent a week running around Pixar in early-March and interviewed something like twenty people up there.

During that trip, I also spent a couple days going through box after box of artwork from the shorts and doing preliminary art selections for the book. After the week at Pixar, I returned back east and spent a month-and-a-half writing the book. I had to order food in a lot because there was literally no time to leave the house. The final manuscript was turned in on April 21.

Working on a tight deadline is a challenge that I actually enjoy because on personal projects I tend to fiddle around and waste a lot of time; with these books you have to hunker down and bust out lots of solid material in a short span. You can't even begin to think about procrastinating.

Though the format for these types of book is set, this one offered some particularly unique challenges because we were telling the stories of thirteen different productions created over the span of twenty-plus years. At some point during the early stages of writing, my editor Matt and I decided that to truly do justice to all these films, we needed to have more text than the average book in the series. So, in spite of the already stressful deadline, I actually ended up writing twice as much as I was originally contracted to write. The result is a book that, I think, offers a rich context for the artwork while still fitting nicely in with the rest of the series.

Q: What'd you order to eat? (laughing)

A: Let's just say a lot of burritos were harmed in the making of this book.

Storyboard (detail): Tin Toy, John Lasseter, Pencil, 1987

Q: Who were some of the people you interviewed?

A: Who didn't I interview? I spoke with the director of every short, including directors who were no longer at the studio such as Alvy Ray Smith, Jan Pinkava and Bud Luckey.

John Lasseter contributed a great deal. I was impressed that, despite his incredibly busy schedule, he found the time for an interview while I was at the studio, subsequently arranged for multiple phone calls to make sure I had all the material I needed, and also provided follow-up notes on the text. It would have been easy to just brush off a book project like this, but John's dedication to getting things right speaks a great deal about the man and his passion for everything that carries the Pixar name.

I also spoke to various production personnel including production designers Mark Holmes and Ronnie del Carmen, story artist Teddy Newton, animator Doug Sweetland, film editor Steve Bloom, and quite a few others.

I must admit I was a bit awed to interview Bill Reeves and Eben Ostby. These guys aren't the names who immediately pop to mind when somebody says the name Pixar but they should be. Reeves and Ostby are among a core group of computer scientists who have been there from the earliest days and who deserve a lot of credit for the company's achievements. They've not only created the technical foundation for the Pixar films but for a lot of computer animation in general. Particle systems, for example, which is part of the basic language of computer graphics, were developed by Reeves in the early-1980s. It was humbling to be in the presence of the people who've helped develop an art form from scratch.

Q: Since you mention Jan Pinkava, did you get a sense of how he feels about Pixar now? He hasn't really addressed his relationship with the studio since leaving.

(Note: Pinkava left shortly after being replaced as director of Ratatouille. There were reports of some hard feelings.)

A: The interview was set up through Pixar. You can interpret that however you want. I spent a pleasant afternoon at Jan's home in the Bay Area and then we went to a local restaurant. We spoke about a lot of things but I didn't feel it was appropriate to pry into sensitive areas that weren't related to the subject of the book. I should mention that he's an incredible sculptor. It was a real treat to look around his studio.

Q: I know about Alvy Ray Smith; what about Bud Luckey? Did he retire? Boundin' is one of my favorite shorts.

A: Bud is retired now from Pixar. He drove into the studio for an interview. From the moment he walked in, he was mobbed by former co-workers asking what he'd been up to and how he was doing. I definitely saw first-hand the affection and admiration that everybody at the company still has for Bud.

Storyboard (detail): Tin Toy, John Lasseter, Pencil, 1987

Q: How cool was it getting access to the archives?

A: It was as much fun as you'd expect. Everything I needed was provided by studio archivist Peggy Tran-Le. I did pre-selection of the art that eventually appeared in the book and that meant poring through box after box of artwork.

It was interesting to see what art existed from each of their different shorts, as well as to see the things that never made it to screen. For example, Jan Pinkava had created a storyboard for a short with an old man, who eventually turned out to be Geri, sitting on a park bench and trying to keep a pigeon from eating his lunch. There was also a hilarious series of Teddy Newton storyboards from Jack-Jack Attack, in which Jack-Jack sees a bunch of raccoons trying to eat hard-boiled eggs out of the backyard trash. His superhero instincts kick in because the raccoons have masks around their eyes and he runs outside and starts brawling with them. I was laughing out loud when I saw these.

It was also surprising to see how much artwork existed for some of the projects. Gary Rydstrom's Lifted had a couple boxes of character designs by numerous designers, whereas a film like Geri's Game had almost no character design work and was basically Pinkava's original vision translated to film.

Q: Tell me, What is the single biggest thing you learned putting together this book that you really didn’t know before?

A: One thing that really became clear to me while I did this book was how humble the studio's beginnings were. Today everybody looks up at Pixar as the 800-pound gorilla of computer animation and assumes it's always been that way. In fact, in the early years when they were making these shorts, they were primarily a hardware company, and animation was a side endeavor done by a very small group of people within the company.

The early shorts played a critical role in the transition of Pixar from a tech hardware firm into an entertainment producer. Those early shorts, like Tin Toy and Knick-Knack weren't easy to make either. They cost money to produce and didn't bring direct income back into the company. At times, the animation division didn't even have proper offices; during Red's Dream some of the team members were working out of a hallway.

In other words, Pixar in the Eighties wasn't anything like the Pixar of today. The studio is what it is only because of the hard work and vision of Lasseter and Catmull and the various computer scientists who developed the hardware tools and software.

Articulation Study: For The Birds, Ralph Eggleston, Pencil, 2000

Q: One thing I learned within only like five minutes of looking over the book was that For The Birds actually had roots in the '80s over at CalArts. I didn't know that before. Sometimes it's these projects that got shelved way back that get to be gems, don't you think?

A: True. There's no expiration date on a good idea. If anything, Ralph's accumulated experience as an artist helped make For the Birds a better film when he made it in 2000 than if he had made it as a student film.

Q: The last short film covered in the book is Lifted, which was released with Ratatouille. Where do you think Pixar is headed when it comes to shorts?

A: I think it would be presumptuous to make any broad claims about what direction their shorts program is headed simply because I don't think the people running Pixar harbor such grandiose thoughts about it either. I think they're just having fun with the possibilities right now. Jim Capobianco's Your Friend the Rat was a very amusing short. I made an effort to have that included in the book because so much cool artwork was created for it, but the book is directly tied into the shorts DVD.

I wrote in the book that, internally at the studio, the shorts program is not just about the final product, but it also fulfills other goals at Pixar such as developing artistic talent (both directorially and in other departments) and serves as a playground for trying out new technical developments. They also help complete the moviegoing experience for audiences at the theater and DVD purchasers who get a nice bonus with their feature.

Pixar's shorts program is that rare idea which benefits both the studio and the audience, and as long as that continues to happen, I think we're going to see more shorts from the studio. The goal is obviously not to hit a homerun out of the park every time (even the classic shorts directors like Tex Avery and Chuck Jones didn't aim for that), but to try and create fun films in a looser and less-stressful setting than feature production.

Q: Okay, and now a couple of questions not related to the book: First, I just heard that you got hired for The Art of Toy Story 3. Are you excited?

The two Toy Story films (along with The Incredibles) rank as my favorite Pixar films, so YES!

Q: My final question is, Why isn't The Pixar Blog on your "Sites We Like" list on Cartoon Brew? Do you not like my site? I'm really putting you on the spot here. (laughing)

A: I don't recall receiving a check from you in the mail =)

Seriously, we don't try to make a complete list of every worthy animation-related blog out there. That would be a very long list if we did because there are so many quality blogs nowadays. That section of Cartoon Brew is more of a "desert island" list —sites that one or both Brewmasters can't live without and that we want to share with our readers.

Storyboard (detail): Tin Toy, John Lasseter, Pencil, 1987

Monday, March 2, 2009

'Up' exhibit at Disney animation attraction

A fantastic new Up-themed exhibit is on display for visitors at The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World in Florida. Studios Central has posted a bunch of pictures; you can check them out by clicking the links below.

Of the dozens of things exhibited (everything from colourful concept art and storyboards to detailed maquettes) one of the most interesting are the pieces shown above as we can easilly spot Carl's wife Ellie in the several of the drawings and the small picture in the round frame appears to be a rendered image ―our first look at the character. The concepts of the antagonist Muntz and his dogs are also particularly attention grabbing.

Actually, everything in the display is particularly attention grabbing. The Art of Up is going to be so cool...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

'Up' at WonderCon recaps

A few recaps from the Up panel and first 45 minutes* screening at this year's WonderCon in San Francisco yesterday are starting to come in. One of the best so far is from IESB.net.

Top highlight:
"During the first ten minutes of the film [at the 45 min. screening] showing the relationship of Carl and Ellie, many persons in the audience shed tears and sniffles from these emotional scenes."
Note that this wasn't unique to WonderCon; the same thing was reported to have happened at NYCC, etc. When was the last time you saw that at the theatre? At a live-action movie?

As more reports are published, I'll be sure to post them on this page.

*Technically, the first 46 min. were shown.

(Photo Credit: Inkyhack/Flickr)