Think of all the creative materials that go into making an animated film – e.g. artwork, research photos. There is an insane amount of this creative work that is amassed during a film’s production cycle. All of this begs to be preserved in some way, whether to honor and celebrate a film’s history or to inspire artists and filmmakers on films years later. Pixar has their own Archives collection, where a significant amount of these materials are, indeed, saved. I visited the special building where the Archives is housed and I was blown away. Read about my experience after the break!
Planned around the Incredibles 2 media event at Pixar, our visit to the Archives was an unforgettable one. We were shuffled away from Pixar’s campus to the brand new Archives, which was only recently completed. Unlike Pixar’s main headquarters, the location of the Archives is a secret – there is no sign outside that indicates you are about to enter a space occupied by pieces of film history. Even if we were allowed to share the location, I don’t know that I could remember, as it is a nondescript building.
When we walked in, we had to store our bags, any food or drinks we had, and anything that could contaminate the environment and potentially bring harm to anything in the Archives collection. Moving further into the building, it became apparent that we were walking into a warehouse filled with magical items. Yes, the walls were white and plain1, and the shelves (at first) appeared to be what you tend to find in any regular warehouse. However, the closer I looked, the more dazzled I was by the mechanisms that were put together to store these items. The large towers of shelves could easily be moved forward and backward, with a simple spin of a wheel on each tower. All of a sudden, the seemingly bare building took on an exciting life. And this was before I saw any of the thousands of amazing items that are kept there.
The first hint that we were surrounded by storied history came when I observed some of the small signs on the towers. On one, I noticed A Bug’s Life. On another, I saw Toy Story. It was at that moment that it hit me – on these shelves, hidden inside boxes, were bits of Pixar history. I am a film history buff – I adore seeing anything from a film’s creative process. Usually, my window to this is through documentaries or books, where you see images and that is the closest you get. We were about to see the original pieces. I got goosebumps.
The first object we were shown was a piece of Toy Story history – a sculpt of Sid’s head. I was immediately wowed. The box it was housed in, was, like the building, simple. Still, just like the building, there was treasure inside. There were lines drawn throughout Sid’s head, which we were told helped the team in the animation process when it came to Sid’s facial expressions. We often equate concept artwork with animation, but there are many of these sculpts that are made of characters, which assist the film’s creative team in making 3D computer models. Given that the original Toy Story is almost 25 years old (feel old yet?), this sculpt was even older than that(!).
We were taken to an open area with a massive table. Here, people examining items from the Archives had plenty of room to spread out and ensure that the delicate pieces of work would be protected from drops to the floor or other catastrophic incidents that could result in damage. On this table, we were shown a small selection of concept art from The Incredibles, a film that is over 13 years old.
We had the opportunity to see some of the earliest pieces of artwork that were created for the film, including a piece that clued us into the designs and personalities of each member of the Incredibles family. Also shown was early artwork of Lucius/Frozone and sculpts of Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. I could not get enough. I wanted more, and even though we did see a few more pieces, our brief time in the Pixar Archives had come to an end. I don’t know if I’ll ever set foot in that building ever again, but the experience surely won’t leave my memory without it being dragged out of me.
Below, take a look at some photos that were captured of the Archives:
Incredibles 2 arrives in theaters on June 15th!
- There are some iconic pieces of artwork on the walls, but they were outweighed by the vastness of the white walls, which only spotlighted the significance of these great pieces of concept art. ↩