We have covered projects that Pixar employees work on their own outside of the animation studio because, similar to the films that they work on, their own projects are often creative, ambitious, and imaginative. Does reinventing the emoticon fit those characteristics? Pixar artist Matt Jones is currently working with Facebook to provide us with a broader set of emoticons to choose from. Find more details after the break!
BuzzFeed reports (via The Verge) that director Pete Docter recruited psychologist Paul Ekman, renowned in the field for his work with facial expressions, to consult on the upcoming film The Inside Out. An associate of Ekman’s, Dacher Keltner, was working with Facebook to enhance their set of emoticons, when he learned of the animated film and met Pixar’s Matt Jones. After seeing Jones’ art portraying the expressions we are used to seeing in emoticon form such as surprise and anger, Keltner asked Jones to take it further. You can see some of the results in Jones’ simple yet enormously expressive art above and below.
Jones is also thinking beyond the facial expression, mixing up the images with more color than the yellow and red we often see. He has tried blue, but he says “the emoticons just looked like they had hypothermia.” At the moment, he is trying to convince Facebook to have a bit of animation in the emoticons, not a shocking turn for him considering he works at Pixar:
“I love on Facebook when you hit the ‘like’ button on your iPhone, and the thumb will kind of pulse a little,” says Jones. “I’m encouraging them to put movement into the emoticons. Hopefully we can evolve them into living little living characters.
I look forward to seeing what comes of this project. While new emoticons have been added over the years, their art style and expressiveness have remained stagnant. It would be great to see Jones’ work lead to a radical new direction for emoticons. If they become popular on Facebook, you can rest assured that other companies would follow suit, and Jones’ effort could be partly responsible.