Reader Dan Siercks recently sent in some photos of a 1991 Pixar VHS—a compilation of short films Luxo Jr., Red's Dream, Tin Toy, and Knick Knack—asking if I knew anything about its history.
Not only did I not, there were no mentions of such a release anywhere. The lack of a barcode suggested it was not sold commercially. (Siercks had gotten it from a friend whose dad worked in the computer graphics field at the time.)
I sent the story and photos directly to Pixar, and my request was forwarded to studio archivist Christine Freeman. (This is her showing off some art goodies during the Toy Story 3 bloggers' day).
After 'checking in with some peeps', she was able to make some interesting observations:
"This might have been a giveaway during the time that we were promoting our ability to make commercials. The shorts collection would demonstrate the quality of the work that we were able to do. It might have been a giveaway at SIGGRAPH. John Lasseter designed the cover.
"Without seeing it [in person], I'm guessing that this video was put together by Direct Cinema Limited, who was our distributor back then. They handled external requests for our video (for broadcast or film festivals, for example), and were the people who you'd contact if you wanted a viewing copy."Freeman attached a copy of this 1990 ad for a compilation of three of the films that appear on the 1991 video.
"You'll also notice that these videos were not cheap to purchase. The reason for that is that we didn't produce very many copies," Freeman added. "The production costs were high, and I imagine that we wouldn't have been able to subsidize the price for consumers (1991 was a year of massive layoffs and budget tightening at Pixar)."Needless to say, Siercks was thrilled to own such a unique part of Pixar's history. Having seen one too many episodes of Pawn Stars, I offered to take it off his hands but, alas, Dan was not selling.