Getting the opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain for a look at how a film is brought to life is enlightening. In the switch from VHS tapes to DVDs, studios began releasing more behind-the-scenes material for packaged films and television shows, providing audiences with additional inside access to productions. For art lovers, this has become an integral part of collecting. DVD and Blu-ray releases of Pixar films have usually included a great assortment of extra features taking us inside the studio and into the minds of the filmmakers. Now, on the web, you can get the closest look at the production of a Pixar film that we have ever seen.
It’s the most controversial time of the year. Awards season is officially underway, with various organizations beginning to announce nominations and even winners for what they consider to be the year’s best films. Where awards shows go, controversy follows closely behind, as bold choices are often made for which films, filmmakers, and actors are celebrated. On Monday, the Los Angeles branch of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, also known as ASIFA-Hollywood, released their list of nominees for the Annie Awards, an event that many consider to be the biggest night for film and television animation. Pixar’s Monsters University and Toy Story OF TERROR! landed a combined 17 nominations. Find more details about what is in store for Pixar this awards season after the break!
After Pixar announced that The Good Dinosaur would be delayed, there was a question as to where the studio would move those employees who would have been working on the film. The animation process for a Pixar feature film takes approximately one year, so with the film not arriving in theaters until November 2015, there is almost an entire year before the bulk of the animation portion of production begins. We have our answer now, as the animation studio has stated that an undisclosed number of employees are being laid off.
The history of Pixar is a tale that has been told often because of its incredible story. The studio was on the brink of failure for a number of years before the release of Toy Story catapulted the company into a serious player in Hollywood. Now, as a result of an incredible number of hits in its short history, there is no other studio that is held to higher standards than Pixar. There have been a few excellent books written on Pixar (e.g. The Pixar Touch), but they have always been authored by outside sources. Random House has announced that studio co-founder Ed Catmull has penned a book about the studio and it will be arriving in bookstores next year!
There are a bevy of films in the Pixar catalog that are considered “instant classics,” from Up, to WALL-E, to all of the Toy Story films. Repeat viewings are a must to soak in the gorgeous visuals and the multi-layered story lines. Adding the films to a home theater library is guaranteed to bring the overall quality of said library up. Have you resisted upgrading your DVD library of Pixar films to Blu-ray? Or are you a collector of beautiful box sets? Next week, Disney/Pixar is releasing an insanely cool box set that may be perfect for you.
As the calendar turns to November, the awards race begins to heat up in Hollywood. Although the most notable of the awards shows, the Academy Awards, does not take place until March 2014, every studio aims to stay in front of the pack, especially as the holiday season is often stacked with films looking to capture the attention of critics and awards voters. Monsters University will be competing with Disney Animation’s Frozen to receive nominations in the Animated Film category, both of which the Academy stated have been submitted by Disney for contention. However, the Academy has also announced that Pixar’s 2013 short, The Blue Umbrella, did not make the shortlist of animation shorts advancing to the next stage and will not be competing for an Oscar.
Weekly Column: The Pixar Perspective
If you didn’t buy 2013 as being a year of total change for Pixar Animation Studios before, it would be extraordinarily difficult to deny it after the latest bit of bad news out of Emeryville. And, as is now typical, it all revolves around The Good Dinosaur, which holds the title as the most unfortunately beleaguered future release from any major film studio, all things considered. Was it only a few months ago when the film was unveiled at the D23 Expo, including some of its top-billed voice cast? Since early August, things have changed rapidly for The Good Dinosaur. First, its director, Bob Peterson, was shifted off the project. (As of this writing, no replacement has been announced; there’s a group of creatives working on the film’s production, but it’s closer to a brain trust.) Then, the release date was shifted from May of 2014 to November of 2015, making 2014 the first year in nearly a decade without a new Pixar film. Now, the company has laid off roughly 5% of its work force, in conjunction with that 18-month delay.
A fairly common trend over the last few years has been a growing frustration among some people at the idea that the Christmas season is beginning earlier and earlier. Holiday music starts playing well before Thanksgiving, decorations go up near the beginning of November, and so on. In the world of film, the closest parallel is that of awards season (or the ever-expanding length of the summer movie season). There was a time when the Oscars were presented near the end of March. These days, it seems more likely that the Oscars ceremony might soon come near the beginning of February or beforehand. That, of course, has a ripple effect: every other awards body announces its victors before the Oscars, with some organizations starting, this year, as early as two weeks from now. But even the Oscars are jumping the gun, at least in terms of announcing some features and shorts that have made it onto their shortlists and longlists. Those lists include potential nominees for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short. For Pixar, there’s good and bad news within those lists.
The unsubtle art of product placement has been present in film dating all the way back to the era of the silents. As of late, however, people have grown so tired of seeing real-life products or brand names being painfully evident that it becomes the first topic to discuss, as opposed to the plot or characters. (A recent example is Man of Steel, in which Ma Kent works at the local Sears, per her prominently displayed nametag, which she’s seen wearing at home.) Product placement by itself is not automatically a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s used subtly enough by a filmmaker to not be obnoxious; using a fake generic name for Google or a similar search engine, for example, can often be worse than seeing a character just go to Google. On the flip side, some filmmakers or actors are so blatant about the product placement that it becomes satire; you’d have to look to TV for the prominent examples, such as David Cross hawking Burger King on Arrested Development or Tina Fey on 30 Rock looking into the camera and asking for “our money” after bragging about her cool new cell phone. To take money from sponsors and using their products in your film is a delicate balance, in short; being too obvious may bother audiences.
PixArt – Art Created Exclusively For The Pixar Times
It is quite obvious that UK Artist Natalie Smith has a soft spot for the worlds and characters of Pixar and Disney. Take a look through her work and you’ll find tributes to Toy Story‘s Mr. Pricklepants, Monsters University (as featured in our Monsters Mash-Up Tribute earlier this year) and Mickey Mouse. She definitely brings a distinct style to her whimsical character designs and illustrations. Check them out for yourself at her website (currently under construction) and her dribbble account where you will see her passion extends to the worlds of superheroes as well. Continue reading to find out more about this talented artist in her own words!
You just can’t help but be charmed by the work of Momo and Sprits. Their work is relentlessly appealing. Whether it’s their take on pop culture icons or intricately designed t-shirts, their bright style shines through in every image. We simply adore their take on the films of Pixar and can’t thank them enough for contributing a wonderful piece. You can follow their work on their website, twitter, Facebook, tumblr and Dribbble. And make sure to check out their beautiful art used in the irreverent animated short The Existential Adventures of Tim Maia. It’s a fantastic use of their approach to characters and design. Read on for more about Momo and Sprits in their own words!