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!
'Monsters University' News
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!
Animation’s biggest night is often considered to be represented by the Annie Awards, which focuses solely on honoring achievements in the world of animation. Pixar’s 2013 feature film, Monsters University, and television special, Toy Story OF TERROR!, were major hits among audiences but also garnered a combined fourteen Annie nominations. The awards were held last night in Hollywood, and the animation studio walked away with five trophies! See the categories Pixar’s projects won after the break!
The gravitational pull of the endless Star Wars franchise is inescapable in modern cinema. Though there have only been six live-action films in the series, the vast ocean of toys, theme-park attractions, animated TV series, books, and more make it impossible to avoid, even before there were rumors of a new trilogy. After the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm in the fall of 2012, the rumors became truth: within just a few years (now under 2 years), a new trilogy of Star Wars films would be unveiled, following up on the events of Return of the Jedi. Since that time, it’s been assumed that Disney wouldn’t just make new live-action films in that galaxy far, far away. Why not make more animated films, or spin-off series, and so on? For now, at least, these are rumors.
‘Monsters University’ Snubbed By Academy, Joins ‘Cars 2′ As Only Pixar Films Not To Receive Oscar Nomination
This past weekend, the Golden Globes were handed out, but Monsters University was nowhere to be found as the Hollywood Foreign Press failed to nominate the Pixar film for Best Animated Film. The Globes have been known to be a controversial awards show, though, with many calling it out for its questionable nominees and winners. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or simply, the Academy), while not exempt from making controversial decisions, is more respected in the industry for the Oscars are still the precipice of awards season. The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and Pixar will have to miss the Oscar parties as well as Monsters University was completely shut out.
Pixar is no stranger when it comes to awards season. The animated films have earned a wealth of nominations in the short history of the studio, adding to Pixar’s respectable status as one of the elite studios in the film industry. Even now, after the animation house has released its first films that were not universally beloved, the brand carries a certain sense of quality. Monsters University, the latest great Pixar film, extends that quality and is racking up some love from awards organizations. Today, it was announced that the film had earned a BAFTA nomination.
At the D23 Expo, Disney and Pixar screened a short entitled Party Central that is essentially a spinoff of Monsters University. It was scheduled to bow in theaters with The Good Dinosaur, which was set to be Pixar’s next feature film. However, after the delay of the dinosaur film, the release of Party Central was up in the air. However, the short had been completed and waiting until 2015 to release it did not make sense. Today, we have found out that the short is coming, and it is sooner than you think.
Around this time of year, the marketing department at studios ramp up to remind voters to consider their films when votes are cast for awards. Full-page spreads are taken out in trades such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, ads cover film websites and blogs, and posters are unleashed into the wild. Disney/Pixar has released the first such ad, known as a “For Your Consideration” (FYC) ad, for Monsters University. Take a look at the poster after the break!
What is the price of a decreasing amount of prestige? This is the question that may be worth asking most of all right now if you’re a fan of Pixar Animation Studios. As Samad pointed out on the Pixar Times home page, when the Golden Globe nominations were announced this past Thursday morning, Monsters University was not included among the nominees for Best Animated Feature. There is, to be sure, a necessary discussion to be had, not only about how seriously people do or should take the Golden Globes, as well as why, this year, they only nominated three films for Best Animated Feature. (On the latter point, Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, the exquisite and mature The Wind Rises, was nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film, but not Best Animated Feature, inexplicably. Also, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Golden Globes, has a rule stating that if fewer than 12, but more than 7, animated features qualify in a given year, there can only be three Best Animated Feature nominees. As there were only 10 wide-release animated features this year, that must explain the small number of nominees, but just barely.)
Over the last few years, the amount of controversy surrounding the Golden Globes, and its voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA), has grown to great heights. Although awards season is always accompanied by a healthy dose of controversy, there is no awards show that embodies that more than the Globes. Serious allegations have been tossed at the HFPA in the past and that has certainly come to taint its reputability. On the list of questionable decisions made by the voting group for the upcoming awards is this year’s snubbing of Pixar.
Nine months after this article kickstarted the Pixar Perspective column, it’s worth taking stock of the calendar year 2013. (With just three weeks left before we start 2014, it is, of course, possible that there may be more news on the horizon, but doubtful.) In that first editorial, the topic was the now-common choice among writers to pit Pixar Animation Studios against Walt Disney Animation Studios, only a few weeks after Brave won the Best Animated Feature Oscar over the apparent underdog, Wreck-It Ralph. A similar inter-company battle may occur once again, as Frozen and Monsters University are assumed to be among this year’s top challengers for the prize, along with another film being distributed under the Disney banner, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. And unlike even Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen has performed extremely well to this point; it’s too early to know for sure, but it could easily wind up as the highest-grossing feature in the Disney animated canon since The Lion King. Never mind, of course, that Monsters University, despite not being as widely embraced by critics, made nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide. For yet another year, Disney has “beaten” Pixar, in some people’s minds.
It’s the most controversial time of the year. Awards season is officially underway, with various organizations beginning to announce nominations and even winners for what they consider to be the year’s best films. Where awards shows go, controversy follows closely behind, as bold choices are often made for which films, filmmakers, and actors are celebrated. On Monday, the Los Angeles branch of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, also known as ASIFA-Hollywood, released their list of nominees for the Annie Awards, an event that many consider to be the biggest night for film and television animation. Pixar’s Monsters University and Toy Story OF TERROR! landed a combined 17 nominations. Find more details about what is in store for Pixar this awards season after the break!
A fairly common trend over the last few years has been a growing frustration among some people at the idea that the Christmas season is beginning earlier and earlier. Holiday music starts playing well before Thanksgiving, decorations go up near the beginning of November, and so on. In the world of film, the closest parallel is that of awards season (or the ever-expanding length of the summer movie season). There was a time when the Oscars were presented near the end of March. These days, it seems more likely that the Oscars ceremony might soon come near the beginning of February or beforehand. That, of course, has a ripple effect: every other awards body announces its victors before the Oscars, with some organizations starting, this year, as early as two weeks from now. But even the Oscars are jumping the gun, at least in terms of announcing some features and shorts that have made it onto their shortlists and longlists. Those lists include potential nominees for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short. For Pixar, there’s good and bad news within those lists.
As the calendar turns to November, the awards race begins to heat up in Hollywood. Although the most notable of the awards shows, the Academy Awards, does not take place until March 2014, every studio aims to stay in front of the pack, especially as the holiday season is often stacked with films looking to capture the attention of critics and awards voters. Monsters University will be competing with Disney Animation’s Frozen to receive nominations in the Animated Film category, both of which the Academy stated have been submitted by Disney for contention. However, the Academy has also announced that Pixar’s 2013 short, The Blue Umbrella, did not make the shortlist of animation shorts advancing to the next stage and will not be competing for an Oscar.
Pixar may have a problem with a lack of female representation among its directors, but that’s not the case with many of its female characters. The concern over the disparity of active female characters in mainstream filmmaking has grown (rightly) louder over the last couple of years; though this has been a problem in big-budget films for a very long time, it’s become truly galling because it shows a perceived lack of progressivism in a culture that is often painted as being potentially too progressive. No doubt, there is a disturbing inequality in the number of male versus female directors, writers, and producers in Hollywood. Pixar may not be perfect, but to presume, as some have, that it is similarly failing in representing strong female characters in its films is wildly inaccurate.