Pixar Animation Studios Press Junket 2011: Introduction

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a press junket at Pixar in Emeryville, California, where attendees would be viewing the Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation short, 26 minutes of Cars 2, and speaking with the filmmakers behind the projects. Needless to say, I was excited and honored by the invitation, which I gladly accepted. Read on for an introduction to the first part of the multi-day media event.

As an inhabitant of New York City I was also excited by the prospect of traveling to the west coast of the United States for the first time. A few hours after arriving at the hotel, we were off to Pixar to attend a reception for Pixar’s 25th Anniversary and view the Toy Story Toon. The evening that was to follow was easily one of the most fascinating and enjoyable that this writer has encountered.

(Note: The images below are very high quality, so click them to enlarge and view them the way they were meant to be enjoyed!)

While the traffic to the studio was rather bad and lengthened the travel time to Emeryville from San Francisco, the experience of seeing that famous Pixar Animation Studios sign at the gated entrance was still quite surreal. Again, driving through the gates and seeing the well-known sculpture of Luxo, Jr. off in the distance was a sight to behold. After viewing countless hours of footage of the studio on DVDs, Blu-rays, and video interviews, it is still breathtaking in person. People actually come to work here every day!

We have all heard the stories about how the main building of the studio was designed. As then-CEO of the company, Steve Jobs had a vision where Pixar employees would often have to walk through the huge atrium of the building. Even after hearing about the atrium for years, it was still a wonder to experience the huge space and see the many employees walking through nonchalantly.

Final preparations for the atrium had been made prior to our arrival, as retro-style Cars 2 posters had been hung high above us, and large pieces of concept art for the sequel film decorated the walls of the main floor. It was around this point that reality started to sink in and I slowly began to realize that I was actually visiting the critically acclaimed studio.

We were invited to a reception celebrating Pixar’s 25th Anniversary, and many of the studio’s directors and producers were there. It was a great event, as we were able to interact with many of the well known personalities at the Emeryville-based studio. We will have more on that in an upcoming post.

Over the next day we toured the new building that the studio is expanding into, we saw the complete Toy Story Toon, watched about a half hour of footage of Cars 2, participated in press roundtables with many of those involved in the production (including composer Michael Giacchino, director John Lasseter, and actors Larry The Cable Guy and Emily Mortimer), and even got a first hands-on Cars 2: The Video Game.

We will have much, much more coming over the next few weeks and months covering these fantastically busy few days. Our goal is to help you feel like you were right there with us! Stay tuned.

I wanted to give a huge thanks to everybody in Pixar and Disney Publicity who helped put together the press junket. Additionally, I would like to thank all those employees who took the time to speak with us about the films or just stopped by to chat. Your kindness did not go unnoticed!