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!
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.
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!
In the last couple weeks, Pixar Animation Studios has unveiled—or had Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger do so—a few hints as to the future of its continuing franchises. (This, of course, because even Pixar has proven unable, ever since Toy Story 2 opened in 1999, to end any of its stories definitively, from Toy Story to Finding Nemo and onward.) Earlier in the month, it was revealed that there would be a new short from the world of Cars featuring most of the original characters, including Lightning McQueen and Mater; last weekend, the newest Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, had a Monsters University short attached to its release; and the biggest news of all came last: sometime in the near future, there will be a third Cars film and a second Incredibles film.
We are now less than two weeks away from the premiere of the new Monsters University short, Party Central, which is set to play with Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted. Originally scheduled to release with Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur this summer, the short was moved up after the dinosaur film was pushed to next year. This move is actually good for Party Central, as it is closer in proximity now to last summer’s MU, and the film is still somewhat fresh in viewers’ minds. Today, a new poster and clip for the short was released – view them both after the break!
As expected, 2014 has been fairly quiet so far for Pixar Animation Studios fans. Seeing as both Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella didn’t receive any Oscar nominations, there’s no studio-specific rooting interest in the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. The next Toy Story TV special won’t be on ABC until, presumably, this December. And, as we all know, there’s still nearly a year and a half until Pixar’s next new feature film, Inside Out. In the meantime, thus, this column could either choose to focus on a recent bit of fan art gone wrong, or accentuate the positive and discuss the ways in which Pixar has embraced the quirks and stylistic flourishes of live-action filmmaking over the years. The latter option is far more palatable and less likely to induce a massive headache on this writer’s part, quite frankly. (Quickly, regarding the former option: inserting Pixar characters into live-action movie posters is a fine idea. Inserting Frozone into the 12 Years a Slave poster, in place of Chiwetel Ejiofor, is at best wildly misguided, and at worst something far more despicable.)
With the recent release of Monsters University on Blu-ray and DVD, you might think that Pixar would be done with the franchise for the near future. However, the studio announced at last summer’s D23 Expo that a new short, Party Central, starring Mike and Sulley in their college years would be arriving soon! Those in attendance at the Disney convention had the opportunity to view the entire thing, and now you can take a peek at a clip from the short after the break!