Monday, October 31, 2011

Photo tour of Pixar Canada

GeekSugar got an inside look at Pixar Canada's production facilities in Vancouver, BC. They have a dozen photos up, the first I've seen of the finished interior.

The place definitely has a strong startup feel to it. And check out that wallpaper!

With Air Mater, the first short produced at Pixar Canada, debuting on the Cars 2 Blu-ray/DVD, tomorrow is a big day for the satellite studio. Stay tuned for more on that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Win a copy of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography [WINNER]

Simon & Shuster are sending me a copy of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson to give away to one randomly-selected reader. (Read my review of the Pixar-era chapters here.)

For your chance to receive the book, send an email with your name, mailing address, and the subject line "Steve Jobs biography giveaway" to pixarblogunofficial@yahoo.com.

Open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. No multiple entries please. Winner will be announced on Monday.

By the way, I'm past chapter ten (taking my time) and enjoying every minute of it. As expected, it's turning out to be a really captivating read. Can't wait for the movie.
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Congratulations to Dani Martin of Austin, TX on winning the book.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New 'making of Toy Story' book coming in 2012

Amazon.com just listed a new 192-page hardcover entitled The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey, written by animation historian Charles Solomon, author of The Art of Toy Story 3.

Says the official description:
"[The book] recounts the origin and growth of one of the most significant and successful franchises in Hollywood history. Readers... will discover interviews... artwork... and untold details of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that the filmmakers experienced while creating such unforgettable characters."
The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey is set to be published by Disney Editions on August 7, 2012.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The highly anticipated biography of Apple and Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs, who died October 5, arrived in bookstores today from publishers Simon & Schuster.

The book, written by noted biographer Walter Isaacson with Jobs' cooperation but independent of his control, is on track to become the best-selling book of the year on Amazon.

I picked up a copy early this morning and before starting it in its proper order, I naturally skipped ahead to the chapters about Pixar.

The history found in these chapters will no doubt be familiar to readers of To Infinity and Beyond! and The Pixar Touch. Even so, Steve Jobs offers a few fascinating, never-before-published accounts.

Isaacson tells of Jobs' brazenness during an FBI interview, required before Pixar could sell its Pixar Image Computers to the NSA. He shares John Lasseter's two-word valediction to DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffery Katzenberg after Katzenberg purloined the plot of A Bug's Life.

The narrative segues into the challenges Pixar faced from its "foes", as Isaacson terms them. Jobs spoke candidly about his experiences with Katzenberg and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Considering that Jobs selected Isaacson to write his life story because of his ability to 'get people to talk', this isn't surprising. Isaacson got exactly that, not only from Jobs, but from others who worked with him through the years, including Lasseter.

The result is a contemporary history of Jobs, whose achievements were such that co-founding the world's greatest animation outfit can at times seem like a footnote.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pixar Celebrates the Art of the Colorscript


The Art of Pixar is a celebration of one of the most consequential steps in the production of a Pixar film: the colorscript. (If you don't know what a colorscript is, the book explains it better than I can.)

Though its roots reach back three quarters of a century, the modern colorscript—embraced by animated picture directors—owes much to Pixar.

A distinctive feature of The Art of Pixar is that it is very light on text. Excluding short captions, only nine of its 320 pages contain writing. But the text that is there (by Amid Amidi and John Lasseter) is appropriately rich in knowledge of the subject.

There are some remarkable facts about Pixar's world-class archival department, the Pixar Living Archives, which is made up of over a million pieces (and counting).

However, the focus is always on the art form. This is the first time that all of Pixar's colorscripts have been published in their complete form, from Luxo, Jr. and Toy Story to Cars 2 and La Luna.

This collection probably doesn't have the wide appeal of, say, The Art of Cars 2. It's better suited for readers looking for the 'deep cuts' or those with more than a passing interest in Pixar's filmmaking process or art in general.

The Art of Pixar is published by Chronicle Books and will arrive in bookstores next month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lasseter speaks out on Cars 2 critics

Lasseter reviewing shot from Cars 2 on his iPad. Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar.
Pixar creative chief and director of Cars 2 John Lasseter has finally gone on record about the mixed critical reaction to the film and accusations that it was made primarily for financial reasons.

"It's not true. It's people who don't know the facts, rushing to judge," he tells Brooks Barnes of The New York Times. "I make movies for that little boy who loves the characters so much that he wants to pack his clothes in a Lightning McQueen suitcase."

Lasseter also addressed the pressure Pixar directors face when directing sequels to the studios beloved film, comparing it to a trapeze act. "Not only is there no net, you’re doing it over spikes with poisoned ends."

Read the article online here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pixar news roundup (10/15/11)

A few stories from yesterday and today:
  • Original Sketchtravel book, featuring illustrations by 71 of the world's top animators and artists (including many Pixarians), being auctioned Oct. 17 to benefit global literacy [Sketchtravel]
  • New clip from Cars 2 Blu-ray/DVD bonus features [YouTube]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jobs invited Sorkin to write Pixar movie

Sorkin accepting Adapted Screenplay Oscar
for The Social Network. Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.
Aaron Sorkin, arguably the most talented screenwriter alive, was once invited by Steve Jobs to pen an animated feature for Pixar.

Sorkin shared the story for the first time in his appreciation of Jobs, published in Newsweek's commemorative issue, on sale now (online at The Daily Beast).

Unfortunately, Sorkin declined, telling Jobs that he didn't think he had that particular skill set and didn't want to risk disappointing his daughter "by writing the only bad movie in the history of Pixar."

Nevertheless, Jobs invited him to the studio, offering to personally give him a tour. Sorkin said he'd take him up on the offer but never did.

"I still keep thinking about that Pixar movie," Sorkin writes.

I hope Pixar keeps thinking about it too.

(via Cinema Blend)

Who Will Succeed Jobs on Disney Board?

Laurene Powell Jobs; Ed Catmull (Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar)
It's a question that regrettably must be asked.

For five years prior to his death, Steve Jobs served as Pixar's voice on the Walt Disney Company board of directors and provided valuable insight (must read) in other areas as well. Who succeeds him will have significant implications for both Disney and Pixar.

The Shares

The ownership of Jobs' 138 million Disney shares (worth $4.4 billion) will be determined by the contents of his will, which is likely to remain private through a trust arrangement.

If Jobs opted to leave his estate mostly to his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, she would become the company's single largest individual shareholder.

Would Powell Jobs be interested in succeeding her late husband?

Laurene Powell Jobs

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Powell Jobs has served on the boards of several non-profits, including College Track, which she co-founded and currently chairs.

When U.S. President Barack Obama established the White House Council for Community Solutions last December, he appointed Powell Jobs as a Council Member.

She also has a strong business résumé, having worked for years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs and co-founding a natural foods company in Northern California.

Her input could help further Disney's charitable endeavours.

Ed Catmull

Another possibility is that Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios president Ed Catmull would be nominated to serve as an inside director.

He has more experience than just about anyone in the animation business, to say nothing of his close working relationship with chief creative officer John Lasseter.

"I doubt anyone would blink an eye if Ed were chosen for the seat," says Pixar Touch author David A. Price.

The Decision

Following all required consultations, a recommendation will be made by the board's Governance and Nominating Committee. It then goes to the remaining directors for a vote.

The board met on Friday for the first time since Jobs' death. It was subsequently announced that John E. Pepper, Jr., 73, intends to retire next year. (CEO Bob Iger will replace him as chairman.) That leaves an additional seat to be filled.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs tribute on Pixar.com

Pixar's rarely-updated official website is displaying a beautifully designed full page tribute to co-founder Steve Jobs, following his death yesterday evening.

It features the well known photo of Jobs flanked by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, captioned by Lasseter and Catmull's statement from yesterday and the Pixar logo.

Head over to Pixar.com to take a look.

Steve's Pixar Legacy

Diana Walker—Contour by Getty Images for TIME
The worlds of media, technology, and entertainment have been overwhelmed by the sad news of the death of Steve Jobs yesterday.

Jobs did more to change the way people experience the world than any innovator of the past century. As CEO of Apple, he showed the masses what electronic devices should be.

His impact on history is rightly compared to that of Leonardo da Vinci (who's life also intersected science and the arts) and Thomas Edison (who didn't invent the light bulb, but made it commercially possible).

But it's Jobs' legacy at Pixar, sometimes overlooked, that, in a sense, may last the longest.

As Jobs himself once pointed out, technology changes; gadgets become obsolete. The world-changing products he helped create (he is listed as an inventor on 317 patents), as magical as they seem today, will be historical rather than functional in a few short years.

Not so with great films. Great films endure in an entirely different way. And without Jobs, it's unlikely that any of Pixar's would exist.

No Jobs, no Pixar.

Sure, Steve didn't have much to do with Pixar's films creatively—the characters, the stories. But he had more influence on the business of animation than anyone since Walt Disney.

He was an unflinching CEO for the studio during some of its darkest moments. He put aside his tendency to micromanage (which worked 'insanely great' at Apple) and saw the value of supporting the director-driven process Pixar is so well known for.

The most valuable and long-lasting thing he contributed to both Pixar and Apple is a culture—a way of doing things. A way of thinking differently.

Finding Nemo Blu-ray Teaser


In happier news, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment posted yesterday this teaser trailer for the long awaited Blu-ray release of Finding Nemo.

This might mean we'll finally see the film in flawless high definition next fall, after its 3-D theatrical engagement in September. (That's what Disney did for The Lion King.) Then again, it would't surprise me if we didn't.

Jobs biography publication date moved up

Simon & Schuster has moved up publication of Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs to October 24, from November 21.

Pre-orders of Steve Jobs shot up by as much as 43,600% after Jobs passed away yesterday. It is currently the best selling book on Amazon.com.

The 656-page book is confirmed to include never-before-published recollections from Jobs on his time as CEO of Pixar.

I hope a deal can be worked out where it can be sold at all Apple Stores (it is available for pre-order in digital form from Apple's iBookstore). Too many people buy (and love) Apple products, but know little about the man behind the company.

(via Apple Insider)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pixar: Jobs is reason why studio 'turned out the way it did'

The following statement from John Lasseter and Ed Catmull on behalf of Pixar has been posted to the official Disney/Pixar Facebook page:
"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply 'make it great.' 
"He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time."
—John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer & Ed Catmull, President, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

Bob Iger statement on Steve Jobs

Walt Disney Company president and CEO Robert Iger released had this to say regarding Steve Jobs' passing:
"Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. 
"Steve was such an 'original,' with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original."
You can read Iger's complete statement at The Wall Street Journal.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Pixar and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has died. He was 56.

The Apple.com homepage is featuring a full page tribute to Jobs, who the company calls a 'visionary, creative genius, and amazing human being'.

Apple has created an e-mail address (rememberingsteve@apple.com) for those wishing to share thoughts and condolences.

More on his Pixar legacy a little later.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011 Pixar Cartoon Art Museum Benefit

The Cartoon Art Museum will be hosting its eighth annual benefit at Pixar's Emeryville, CA home on Saturday, December 10.

Admission is available in both Fan ($250) and VIP Tiers ($500), both of which offer phenomenal access to the studio.

Full details on what each entails can be found on the CAM website. To order tickets, go here.

Disney, Pixar classics returning to theatres in 3-D

"Fish are friends, not food."
The Walt Disney Studios has just announced that Pixar's Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. will be returning to theatres in digital 3-D on September 14, 2012 and January 18, 2013, respectively.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid will open January 13, 2012 and September 13, 2013.

Missing from today's announcement is Ratatouille, which we've known for some time has already been converted into 3-D, under the watchful eye of director Brad Bird.

Disney's move to re-release these classics follows the unprecedented success of The Lion King 3D, which crosses the $80 million mark at the box office today.

The Lion King's 3-D treatment fell short of my overall expectations, but that was due to its 2-D origins. As I noted at The Disney Blog: "Disney’s resources would probably have been better spent on converting one of Pixar’s gems, like WALL-E or Finding Nemo."

That said, I can't wait to see 'Beast' on the big screen in a couple of months and Pixar's masterpieces further out. "Anything that gets classic Disney films back on the big screen is a good thing."

What are your thoughts on today's announcement?

Monday, October 3, 2011

How Hard Can It Be? premieres with flying house episode

National Geographic Channel's new series How Hard Can It Be? premiered last night with an episode inspired by Carl Fredricksen's dirigible residence in Up.

The show was filmed in early March near Los Angeles. Watch a 5-minute clip below—

 

More evidence of the dent Pixar's tenth feature has made on popular culture.