A few years ago, I had lunch with the head of a major motion picture studio, who declared that his central problem was not finding good people—it was finding good ideas. Since then, when giving talks, I’ve asked audiences whether they agree with him. Almost always there’s a 50/50 split, which has astounded me because I couldn’t disagree more with the studio executive. Pixar President Ed Catmull on the culture that generates Pixar's artistic and commercial success.
LEGO has announced that it will produce WALL•E and Doctor Who And Companions sets selected from submissions to the LEGO Ideas program. [more inside]
Grantland: "This is the Animated Movie Sadness Index. It’s very simple, though perhaps easy to get confused by. This is not a ranking of sad moments from animated movies. For example: Charlotte dying in Charlotte’s Web was a sad moment. But Charlotte wasn’t a sad character, nor was Wilbur, so they aren’t here. Because this Sadness Index charts characters with sad backstories — tragic figures with dark histories, who endure the most awful of circumstances."
ROYGBIV (Single Link Vimeo, 1:28)
Mark Ames follows up on The Techtopus (previously) with a new report showing a much larger conspiracy than has been previously reported: [more inside]
Mark Ames on Silicon Valley's conspiracy to drive down workers' wages:
In early 2005, as demand for Silicon Valley engineers began booming, Apple’s Steve Jobs sealed a secret and illegal pact with Google’s Eric Schmidt to artificially push their workers wages lower by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees, sharing wage scale information, and punishing violators.... The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act....[more inside]
At first glance, you might think The Incredibles is just a fun superhero movie. But remove the capes and tights and you're left with an in-depth architectural narrative with its own beginning and end.
"The eyes of anthropomorphized cars are the headlights, not the windshield. When we look at a car, we see the front end as a sort of face. They're almost always bilaterally symmetrical, like a face, they have roughly the same number of general features, so it's easy to ascribe eyes, mouth, and even sometimes a nose to the various components. Like I said, we're really good at doing this. Consider the simple emoticon — :-) — and you'll see what I mean. We see faces in everything." [more inside]
Ray tracing is a computer graphics technique that produces realistic images of a three-dimensional scene. In 1987, Paul Heckbert (then at Pixar) announced a contest to produce a ray tracer in the minimum amount of code, as he describes in "A Minimal Ray Tracer." In 2009, Andrew Kensler (then at the University of Utah Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute) created a C++ version that can fit on a business card. Fabien Sanglard explicates this amazing piece of code in "Decyphering the Business Card Raytracer."
Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why. Several months ago, I watched a fun-filled video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme.
Character designer veteran Phil Postma has a blog, Minion Factory, where he often likes to explore the possibilities of Pixar-like reinterpretations of such things as Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Pulp Serials (and much, much more).
Merida, Pixar's "Brave's" red-headed heroine will be crowned Disney's 11th princess on May 11. And just in time for her royal coronation, she has been given a "Victoria's Secret" makeover. This makeover has caused some outrage in the blogosphere, and has even inspired a change.org petition launched by A Mighty Girl, a girl's empowerment website.
Partysaurus Rex, a new animated short from Pixar, in which we join the characters from Toy Story for an ecstatic bathtime rave (poster). The short débuted ahead of ("opened for") Finding Nemo 3D in September 2012, and features an original soundtrack by electronic musician BT. [more inside]
Thousands of movie posters from the Mouse, from Alice's Day at Sea (March 1, 1924) to Wreck-It-Ralph (November 2, 2012). Includes US and foreign posters, historical and modern versions (the changes in poster design are particularly interesting), trailers and advertising material. The site (in French) covers movies produced under the Disney umbrella (including Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures and Pixar but not Miramax): shorts and feature films, animated and live action movies, classic and less classic works.
Ellen DeGeneres announces the making of a sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo. The movie, titled Finding Dory, is scheduled for release on Thanksgiving 2015.
Every film Pixar has produced has landed in the top fifty highest-grossing animated films of all time. What's their secret? Mathematics. Oh, and 22 Rules of Storytelling. [more inside]
How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars' is an interesting BusinessWeek article on how one media conglomerate went about buying another, and how it plans on improving the value of both. [more inside]
Live Action Toy Story. The entire movie. [SLYT]
The implication is, you’re making it for a group that you are not a member of—and there is something very insincere in that. If you’re dealing with a storytelling medium, which is a mechanized means of producing and presenting a dream that you’re inviting people to share, you’d better believe your dream or else it’s going to come off as patronizing. Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird (PDF) or (HTML, registration required)
Badly Recreated Animated Film Frames: "Take a still from a multi-million dollar animated film that required thousands of man-hours to create and replicate it in Maya in 30 minutes."
Revisiting Cinefex - a nostalgia wormhole into the golden age of model work and practical effects and the odd piece of early CG via backissues of the quarterly magazine of motion picture visual effects. The latest issues covered touches on Young Sherlock Holmes's Stained glass knight - mainstream cinema’s first fully-rendered CG character created by Industrial Light & Magic's Pixar group.
Does It Matter If the Heroine of 'Brave' Is Gay? [Contains spoilers for Brave]
Mythbusters' Tested Blog recently posted a special feature from the Toy Story 2 DVD, in which Pixar's Oren Jacob and Galyn Susman recounted how the files for the movie (just 10gb of data!) were almost lost due to both an erroneous Linux command and a bad backup. The folks at The Next Web: Media followed up with Mr. Jacob, and learned that the movie was actually tossed out and reworked from scratch again nine months prior to a release date that was set in stone, not by the computers, but by the filmmakers themselves: How Pixar’s Toy Story 2 was deleted twice, once by technology and again for its own good.
The Prize - a two minute clip/trailer from Pixar’s Brave. You can also see some lovely production art and sculptures here.
The WALL-E Builders Club formed in October 2007 as an offshoot of the R2 (yes that one) builders club, to create their own WALL-E replica. This is their current progress on the project.
Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Disney, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm are facing a lawsuit for their for their "no poaching" agreements (Bloomberg, TechCrunch). [more inside]
A Hipster’s Guide to Hinduism: Pixar veteran brings a modern twist to the gods and demons of Hindu mythology
You kind of go like “Hey, could I pitch something?” And they are like “Yes, this is not a bad time. Go for it.”
40 Year Old 3D Computer Graphics, created by Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke (with some help from Bob Ingebretsen) in... wait for it... 1972!
This is a zoetrope (previously). It's a device that creates the illusion of animation from a succession of still pictures filtered quickly through slits in a wheel. Pixar made a really cool one with a strobe light. Here it is more up-close and personal. Here it is in a higher resolution.
It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars
merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
Kyle Munkittrick, a program director at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and a grad student at NYU, writes an interesting essay on understanding Pixar's movies through relationships between the human and non-human characters -- and perhaps shaping how an entire generation sees life and reality.
"The first Gallery dedicated to artists lying behind cinema, comics, video games masterpieces… and who creat [sic], to entertain, the most significant icons of our time." The gallery has previously featured exhibitions from webcomic artist Scott Campbell, H.R. Giger, propaganda-style Futurama posters, Superman penciller Tim Sale, sketches from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and filmmaker Sylvain Chomet. [more inside]
A video montage tribute to Pixar Animation Studios by video mash-up maker and film-lover Leandro Copperfield. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
Chilean graphic designer Juan Pablo Bravo (Flickr profile, blogspot blog) makes some pretty awesome character infographics. (Warning: the following links go to large sized flickr photos) 70 Disney Villains : 250 Disney Characters :
100 200 Pixar Characters (sorta previously) : 50 Movie Cars : and his most recent (and my personal favorite) 600 Hanna-Barbara Characters (via). [more inside]
Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring
The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece? [more inside]
'The Conversations is a monthly feature in which Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss a wide range of cinematic subjects: critical analyses of films, filmmaker overviews, and more. Readers should expect to encounter spoilers.' Including: Passion of the Christ vs. The Last Temptation of Christ, Mulholland Dr., Pixar, and others.
Five years before Toy Story proved to the world that pure CGI -- a field long relegated to the role of special effects -- could be an art form in its own right, Odyssey Productions attempted to do the same on a slightly smaller scale. Drawing on the demo reels, commercials, music videos, and feature films of over 300 digital animators, the studio collated dozens of cutting-edge clips into an ambitious 40-minute art film called The Mind's Eye. Backed by an eclectic mix of custom-written electronic, classical, oriental, and tribal music, the surreal, dreamlike imagery formed a rough narrative in eight short segments that illustrated the evolution of life, technology, and human society: Creation - Civilization Rising - Heart of the Machine - Technodance - Post Modern - Love Found - Leaving the Bonds of Earth - The Temple - End credits (including names and sources for all clips used). But that was just the beginning... [more inside]
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