Ratatouille is one of Pixar’s most unique films, with the story revolving around a rat who discovers he is incredibly talented when it comes to cooking. It does not sound like an idea that would translate easily to an attraction at a theme park, but then again, the idea did not sound like it would work on the screen either, but we know how that went. An ambitious Ratatouille ride is on the way to Disneyland Paris this summer and we have just learned its opening date – July 10th!
Pixar is one of the most secretive studios in Hollywood, and it is one of the few that is actually very good at maintaining that level of secrecy, an incredible feat for the age of the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. Although we know the story about how the studio was formed and its process for developing films, there is quite a bit about the inner workings of Pixar that we still do not know. Today, a new book by Pixar’s president, Ed Catmull, was released, and it is packed with fascinating stories about the studio!
There are plenty of software options available to animators working to bring their vision to life. Film studios, though, have a larger budget and, therefore, greater flexibility in the animation process. Pixar is considered to be among the elite when it comes to the quality of computer animation – there is often at least one moment in the studio’s films that is breathtaking visually, leaving you to wonder how it was achieved. The studio utilizes its own proprietary software, which you can get a peek at after the break!
Two weeks ago, Disney confirmed that The Incredibles director Brad Bird is currently writing a story for a sequel. The original superhero family adventure is one of the studio’s highest regarded films, setting expectations for a follow-up incredibly high. All of the members of the Parr family would likely return, including what may be a grown-up Jack-Jack. We are now hearing that Frozone, a fan-favorite character, is also set to return!
Kelsey Mann joined Pixar in recent years, working on the studio’s 2013 hit Monsters University. He was appointed Story Supervisor on the film, quite a feat for his first official gig at Pixar. Then he was handed the responsibility of directing Party Central, a Monsters University short that is playing in theaters now with Muppets Most Wanted. I had the chance to speak with him about the short – read what I learned from him about the short and the studio after the break!
Fans have been anxiously anticipating Pixar’s next film, Inside Out, which is due in theaters next summer. It was handed the baton to represent the studio’s next film after Pixar decided to delay The Good Dinosaur, which had been scheduled to debut this May. This places extra pressure on Inside Out, but there is no better person up to beating high expectations than Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.). A screenings of a scene from the film played incredibly well at last summer’s D23 Expo, and now we hear that it received raves from the CinemaCon audience on Wednesday!
Weekly Column: The Pixar Perspective
In the past, this column has focused primarily on looking at the positive side of Pixar’s shorts, features, and filmmakers, which hasn’t been terribly difficult; when compared with its competition, Pixar’s films are frequently far and away the best examples of mainstream animation of the modern age, no matter the format. Pixar’s influence has been immense over the past two decades, to the point where their style has become a formula for its rivals to copy. On the flip side, however, we’ve mentioned the benefits of Pixar expanding its storytelling to cover more female characters (even though not all of their films are aggressively male-centric), as well as approaching the genre of musicals in an attempt to step away from their initial unwillingness to follow in the footsteps of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Today, it’s time again to focus on an aspect of Pixar’s character development and storytelling that is arguably lacking and has been since the beginning: the issue of race.
Of the various behind-the-scenes stories that have now become apocryphal to the Pixar legend, it’s hard to beat the one associated with Finding Nemo. In the final few years of his time at the top of the Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner was convinced that Pixar’s winning streak both at the box office and with critics was about to end with this animated feature, the first led by director Andrew Stanton. Eisner couldn’t possibly fathom, he told shareholders, how this movie about a clownfish desperately scouring the ocean for his missing (and only) son with a forgetful blue Tang at his side could ever hit it big with audiences worldwide. When he made these comments in 2001, he did so based on a work-in-progress screening that was, in three respects, vastly different from the final product: Marlin was voiced by William H. Macy, instead of Albert Brooks; the angelfish Gill was, in spite of being the leader of the fish in P. Sherman’s aquarium, lying about his sordid past; and Stanton chose to dole out a series of flashbacks explaining what happened to Nemo’s mother, Coral, instead of beginning the film this way.
When Pixar Animation Studios unveiled its first feature film in 1995, it represented a rebellious pushback against a formula that some people might not have been conscious of until watching Toy Story. Only then were audiences reminded that not all mainstream animation needed to have Broadway-style songs, straightforward leading characters paired with talking-animal sidekicks, or the like. When The Little Mermaid was released in November of 1989, it felt like the culmination of what Disney animation and its rivals were trying to accomplish in reviving the form for a younger generation; movies like The Great Mouse Detective and An American Tail had paved the way, but didn’t approach the same qualitative cohesion as the story of Ariel and her dreams of being human. But within 6 years, its story structure, characterization, and aural composition were no longer even mildly groundbreaking. The same happened with Pixar and its films; even though Toy Story owes a great debt to the buddy comedies of the 1980s, its combination of unique visuals, childhood nostalgia, and action once felt fresh and new.
PixArt – Art Created Exclusively For The Pixar Times
We are so excited to feature this new piece of art from Disney animator Benson Shum. Shum was hired at Disney to work on Wreck-It Ralph and then Frozen. He currently spends his time working on the upcoming Big Hero 6 (November 2014). When asked about getting started in the animation business, Shum said he knew he wanted to be an animator since his high school days. “I applied to Capilano College’s commercial animation program, but didn’t get in the first time. I ended up getting a job and worked on my drawings after work for a year. I applied again the following year and got in!”. In retrospect, Shum said he was glad he didn’t get in on his first try. “It made me appreciative and work harder when I got in the second time.” Read more about Shum and take a close look at his artwork after the break!
There is an infectious and positive energy to the work of Colorado-based artist Luke Flowers. His style is distinct but versatile and full of personality. One look at the amazing images he’s created for us and you’ll see what I mean. Mashing up Pixar characters with some iconic films of the 1980′s, Luke has created an homage to both segments while still maintaining his own signature style and charm. He really threw himself into this project and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. A third poster was created for this series but, you’ll have to head on over to his site to see that one. It’s pretty great. While you’re there, you can get a closer look at this on-going project and see a little more detail about each poster he’s created so far. Our thanks to Luke for all of his time and effort on these wonderful images. Read on for more about Luke in his own words!