Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Art of Cars 2 available for pre-order

The Art of Cars 2, the latest in Pixar's beloved series of 'Art of' books, is available for pre-order from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

(Amazon has a ship date of June 1st in the U.S.; publisher Chronicle Books says it will be available after May 18.)

The Art of Cars 2 will be 160 pages long, with main text by Ben Queen and Karen Paik. Director John Lasseter will provide the foreword or preface.

Paik wrote The Art of Ratatouille and To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios. Queen, on the other hand, I don't know much about, so I'm waiting to hear back from Pixar and Chronicle.

If previous 'Art of' books are any indication, the cover shown is only temporary and will be replaced closer to publication.

Day & Night on Oscar animated short list

A.M.P.A.S. has officially made public the list of ten films that will be considered for nomination in the Animated Short Film category at this year's Academy Awards.

Pixar's Day & Night is, naturally, on the shortlist, from which three or five nominees will be chosen.

Read the press release at Oscars.org for the complete list. Nominations will be announced on January 25. The 83rd annual Academy Awards presentation takes place on February 27.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Collider interview with Bob Whitehill

Collider.com brings us a new video interview with Pixar stereoscopic supervisor Bob Whitehill.

The interview isn't exactly new—it was recorded earlier this year, during the press days for Toy Story 3, but was lost on a server until now.

Besides discussing 3-D on 'TS3' and Up, Whitehill talks a little bit about Cars 2 and Brave, even describing one scene from the latter he says "looks gorgeous" in 3-D.

Watch the interview below or go over to Collider for an 'index' of topics discussed in the 10 minute video.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Toy Story 3 FYC ad: Death by Monkeys

Check out this latest For Your Consideration ad for Toy Story 3 —it appeared recently in Variety.

Read more on The Walt Disney Studios' Oscar campaign for the film, and this series of ads in particular, here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Audio interview with Craig Good

Derrick Clements of The Pixar Podcast recently got a chance to sit down with Pixar senior layout artist Craig Good to talk about his role and long career at the studio.

Good has been at Pixar since the Lucasfilm years and is perhaps best known as the voice of the studio's answering machine.

He's also active on Twitter, @clgood, where he mostly shares his political views but occasionally tweets about life at the studio.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Disney going for Best Picture win for 'TS3'

The Walt Disney Studios wants more than just a Best Picture Oscar nomination for Toy Story 3, chairman Rich Ross tells Deadline Hollywood. "We’re going for the Best Picture win."

With that goal in mind, a clever series of For Your Consideration ads is being prepared featuring Toy Story 3 characters seemingly reenacting scenes from previous Best Picture winners. These are meant to sway A.M.P.A.S. voters away from the historic bias against animated films.

"We wanted to come up with a campaign that kept our aspirations clear but at the same time used a tongue in cheek approach," says Ross.

The first ad, shown above, speaks for itself. Several others are planned, including one themed to Forrest Gump, where Tom Hanks also played the main character.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cars 2 casting news

Yesterday we learned that Michael Caine plays a major role in Cars 2, lending his voice to British master spy Finn McMissle.

Now Empire has got the scoop on some of other new characters in the film, which appear in the new trailer, and the artists voicing them, as follows:
You might not recognize any of these names right off the bat, but you'll likely recognize their work. Emily Mortimer, for example, appeared as secretary Nicole in The Pink Panther and its sequel. Peter Jacobson is a series regular on House, playing Dr. Chris Taub (and did a series of hilarious guest spots on Law & Order years ago).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Confirmed: Michael Caine voicing Finn McMissile

A trusted source at Pixar who wishes to remain anonymous confirms that British actor Sir Michael Caine is the voice of spy car Finn McMissile in Cars 2. You can hear him in today's new trailer. This is Caine's first time working with Pixar.

Good job, commenters! I didn't recognize his voice until you pointed it out.

Cars 2 trailer debuts online

The first full-length theatrical trailer for Cars 2 has been released online on YouTube and it has everything you've come to expect from the world of Cars and more. Watch it in HD if you can.

A few things stand out right away: the bright lights of Tokyo look great —they're going to look great on the big screen. In fact, all of the animation and visuals are top notch. That quick crash at 0:33 is timed for maximum impact.

We also get our first listen at spy Finn McMissle, although we still don't know who's doing the voice voiced by Michael Caine. Mater's rejoinder to Finn's identification of himself as "British intelligence" is guaranteed to make you laugh.

But what really matters is the story and it appears that Cars 2 is well covered in that department. Hopefully this trailer will help erase some people's doubts. This will be Pixar's twelfth classic feature.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pixar makes RenderMan more affordable

Pixar's RenderMan unit lowered prices today for its RenderMan Pro Server software. The cost of an individual license of RenderMan Pro Server was reduced by 40% to $2,000. Annual maintenance costs also went down, to $600 per license.

(Prices for other products, such as RenderMan Studio 3.0 and RenderMan for Maya 4.0, remain the same.)

"Our new pricing allows all RenderMan Pro Server customers to expand their render farms while at the same time providing new opportunities for smaller studios to take on larger projects," says business director Chris Ford.

Pixar's rendering software has long been the industry standard for producing photorealistic imagery. This price drop puts it within reach of more filmmakers and artists —with smaller budgets— which means we should be seeing better CGI in more films.

Cars 2 first still, poster, and synopsis; trailer online tomorrow

Disney/Pixar just made public the first film still from Cars 2, opening in theatres on June 24, 2011.

As you can see, Lightning McQueen and Mater are being pursued down an airport runway by a gang of cars and a plane. The results are explosive! That's new character Finn McMissle tailing Mater.

A one-sheet teaser poster, displaying a luminescent globe and Cars 2 logo, was also released, along with a new official synopsis.

The first theatrical trailer, it has been announced, will debut online tomorrow morning at 11 AM ET/8 AM PT on Disney.com/Cars and the Cars Facebook page.

'TS3' accepted in Oscar animated feature category

Toy Story 3 is one of fifteen films accepted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category at the upcoming 83rd Academy Awards.

The submission of fifteen pictures means that there will be three nominees in the category. (In years where sixteen or more movies qualify, five are nominated.) Toy Story 3 is, of course, the front runner for the award.

For the complete list of submitted films, see the news release at Oscars.org. Nominees will be announced on Tuesday, January 25.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cars 2 trailer attached to Tangled

The first full-length trailer for Cars 2 will reportedly be shown in theatres with Disney's Tangled (review), which opens on November 24. It should show up online sometime around then.

Different from last month's teaser/logo reveal, this trailer "introduces [audiences] to some of the new characters, and shows actual footage from the film," according to One Movie, Five Views.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Toy Story 3 No. 1 on DVD/Blu-ray charts

It's official: Toy Story 3 has topped Nielsen's DVD and Blu-ray charts in its first week in release, as well as Home Media Magazine's rental chart. 'TS3' outsold its nearest new release competitor by a margin of nearly 10-to-1.

In a sign that consumers are finally starting to recognize the superiority of Blu-ray Disc (BD) over DVD, 33% of sales came from one of the two editions that included a high definition copy.

Speaking to analysts during today's Walt Disney Company earnings call, CEO Bob Iger stated that 80% of Blu-ray buyers went for the combo pack, which includes a DVD and digital copy, instead of the BD-only edition (box art pictured).

So how do sales of Toy Story 3 compare to those of Up last year? Iger wouldn't comment, saying it's too early to tell. But one analyst believes '3' is "trending about 30% to 40% higher" at the moment.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tom Hanks talks Pixar on 'Conan'

Tom Hanks was the guest on Conan O'Brien's new late night talk show, Conan, on Tuesday.

The subject of Pixar and his work voicing Woody in the Toy Story films came up and it led to a jocular conversation about the studio, its bathroom signs, and how cast members are 'lied to'.

Watch the entire segment or skip to around 2:26 for the chat about Pixar.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

iReport 'TS3' questions answered

Back at the end of September, CNN.com invited readers to upload their Toy Story 3 questions for Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson to iReport.

Anderson and Unkrich's replies to a few of those are in the video below, taken at the famous Pixar atrium. Nothing much new is revealed, but its an interesting format.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My review of Disney's Tangled

Last Wednesday I had the chance to watch Disney's Tangled as part of a Walt Disney Studios showcase for press here in Toronto.

My review of the film, one of the earliest online, is now up at The Disney Blog.

Tangled arrives in theatres on November 24.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales Blu-ray review

Along with the home video debut of Toy Story 3 last Tuesday, Disney/Pixar released Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales, a compilation of nine Cars Toons shorts.

This release marks the first time these short films, starring Mater and Lightning McQueen, have been available on Blu-ray and DVD.

For some reason Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment didn't provide review copies, so I couldn't write a review in time. Apparently neither could anybody else; reviews were nowhere to be found online —until now.

Blu-ray.com, one of my favourite places to go for news and information on Blu-ray releases, has put out a thorough examination of the collection. Like the Toy Story 3 Blu-ray, Mater's Tall Tales gets a perfect 5.0 score for its flawless high-definition picture and sound.

Read the complete review here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anderson, Arndt, Podesta talk Pixar and 'TS3'

A lot of Pixarian interviews have been published as of late. Here's three notable ones from the past couple of days:

  • The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, CA talks to Toy Story 3 supervising animator Bobby Podesta (pictured) about working at Pixar and how he got into animation. It all started with a "dorky" letter to Walt Disney Animation.
  • 'TS3' producer Darla K. Anderson takes a few questions from The Wall Street Journal about the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars; Pixar's contribution to Tron: Legacy; and working with the talented technical people at the studio.
  • Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt recounts some memories from the writing process and shares his thoughts on characters Ken and Lotso, and personal writing habits, with The Tufts Daily, the student paper of Tufts University in Medford, MA.
(Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First 'TS3' For Your Consideration ad

The October 25 issue of Hollywood trade publication Daily Variety featured on its cover the first awards season campaign ad for Toy Story 3. Awards Daily has scanned it for the benefit of those of us outside Tinseltown.

Without even using the words "For Your Consideration", the ad is designed to appeal to Oscar voters with its stylish black background and Buzz Lightyear in an epic pose. The tasteful, grown-up caption is icing on the cake.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lee Unkrich talks Apple

Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich discusses his love for Apple in a special interview at Cult of Mac, conducted by yours truly. (Didn't see that coming, did you!)

We talked about what he feels makes Apple’s products exceptional, why Pixar employees prefer working with Macs, and what he's excited about for the future —and a lot more.

Lee is really passionate about the subject. Apple should hire him to direct their ads or something.

Read our discussion and leave your comments here.

'TS3' BD/DVD bonus feature clips

Pixar's eleventh feature film, Toy Story 3, arrived on Blu-ray/DVD and iTunes today. Whether you've picked up a copy already* or are planning to do so, these clips give you a preview of what you'll be experiencing when it comes to extras.

Lending a Voice

John Morris

Dancing with the Stars

The Rides

*Be sure to come back here and share your thoughts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Toy Story 3 screenplay online

The Walt Disney Studios has published the complete Toy Story 3 screenplay, written by Michael Arndt, on its awards website for A.M.P.A.S. voters.

Disney is positioning Toy Story 3 as a formidable contender in the Best Adapted Screenplay category at this year's Oscars, where it should face-off with The Social Network.

(Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 are the only Pixar films to date to be considered adapted screenplays. All the others have been original screenplays. Sequels are considered adapted because of being based on the previous films.)

Shown is the final page of the script; not to be read if you haven't yet seen the film.

Thanks to reader Josh Tenney for the heads up.

Toy Story 3 storyboard development

With Toy Story 3 coming out on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, Disney/Pixar released this set of storyboard development images from the "Thrown Away" sequence early on in the film.

You can see here the truth in the old animation rule that if a scene works in storyboard form, it'll work on screen.

These images were released last week so you may have seen them already. But I thought it would be cool to save them for closer to the release.