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Overstreet

Pixar: The studio, its history and process

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And here is a photo of the "top secret" character images that the publicist told people NOT to take pictures of:

Maybe I'm misunderstanding. But I'm just curious: If the publicist asked people not to take pictures of that image, why do you have a picture of it, and why are you posting it here?

If that design was meant to be a surprise at the end of the story, then it constitutes a spoiler, and I already regret having seen it here.

Perhaps I'm misreading your post.

Edited by Overstreet

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Overstreet wrote:

: Maybe I'm misunderstanding. But I'm just curious: If the publicist asked people not to take pictures of that image . . .

FWIW, you can see the intro to the unveiling (including the request that no one take any photos, followed by the flashes that went off anyway) at the 4:15 mark in the second video above. And you can also see that the picture posted here must have been taken at some point AFTER that video, because the man is standing BEHIND one of the boards in the photo, but he never does in the video. Whether the picture was staged later on or not, I couldn't say, but it's certainly a possibility -- and it was obviously taken after the horse had been let out of the barn, so to speak.

: . . . why do you have a picture of it . . .

I don't. The Georgia Straight does.

: . . . and why are you posting it here?

Because, like the videos, it's THERE. (Would any random reader who came across this Georgia Straight article have seen any reason NOT to re-post these videos and images? I don't think so.)

: If that design was meant to be a surprise at the end of the story, then it constitutes a spoiler, and I already regret having seen it here.

That's an interesting assumption, but I'm not sure what you base it on. Which particular story did you have in mind? As stated in the video, these character designs were created for Cars Toons, a series of animated shorts; how big a "spoiler" could they really be?

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Anders   

Perhaps I'm misreading your post.

I thought it was pretty clear that Peter was posting pics from an outside source of the same character his publicist told him not to photograph. I think the point is that though HE was banned from taking the photo, apparently others were not, and so it is somewhat ironic.

That said, let's just let this one go and move on.

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That's an interesting assumption, but I'm not sure what you base it on.

I wasn't assuming anything. I said "if." It was a possibility that crossed my mind.

I haven't watched the videos. You said yourself that the publicist asked that these images not be photographed, but they're online anyway. Whoever posted them, if Pixar didn't want them to be photographed and shared, then I'd like to see their wishes respected. So I decided not to watch the videos, and thus had no idea what the larger image was from. I thought it might be related to Cars 2.

Whatever the case, if Pixar's publicist requested that nobody photograph the image, seems to me that specific request should have been honored. Perhaps ArtsandFaith.com should show more respect than The Georgia Straight did.

Just a suggestion.

If somebody took information about my next project - information that I'd asked be kept offline - and posted it online, I hope my friends wouldn't perpetuate such disrespect.

Edited by Overstreet

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Overstreet wrote:

: I wasn't assuming anything. I said "if." It was a possibility that crossed my mind.

Assumption, speculation, whatever; it was strong enough to make you "regret" seeing the pictures.

Side question: How is seeing the picture of those characters substantially different from reading my verbal description of those characters a few posts earlier?

: Perhaps ArtsandFaith.com should show more respect than The Georgia Straight did.

I'm not A&F, and neither are you. We are both just users on this board, and I don't believe A&F is in the business of enforcing embargoes -- which is to say, A&F is not in the business of enforcing the relationships between studios, journalists, and the people who read them. Nor should it be.

: If somebody took information about my next project - information that I'd asked be kept offline - and posted it online, I hope my friends wouldn't perpetuate such disrespect.

Well, Pixar isn't my "friend". They're just a company, albeit one whose products I tend to like more often than not. And given all the other leaked info that has been posted at A&F -- by you and me and countless others -- I don't see why this should be any different.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Given that John Lasseter's Pixar and Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks are now mortal enemies (and both are still considered quite distinct from Disney, even though Lasseter now runs Disney too), it's kind of fun to look at a time when Lasseter kinda-sorta worked for Katzenberg... at Disney! Jim Hill has an excerpt from Nicole LaPorte's new book about DreamWorks, The Men Who Would Be King, which apparently reveals that Katzenberg and Lasseter "were initially very close":

When (Katzenberg) was at Disney, he’d negotiated the distribution deal between Disney and Pixar, and he was the only one at Disney who believed (Toy Story ) wasn’t a lost cause when other executives were arguing that it be scrapped. After one early viewing, when the film was universally declared a “mess” by both Disney and Pixar executives, Katzenberg lobbied on behalf of the film, suggesting that one way to salvage it would be to rework the relationship between the film’s two main characters, the cowboy Woody and the space-toy Buzz Lightyear, so that they were buddies. Katzenberg had urged Pixar creative head and his team to watch some of the most iconic buddy movies of all time: 48 Hours with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, and The Defiant Ones, the 1958 classic starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier.

When Katzenberg segued to DreamWorks, he kept in touch with the Pixar gang, keeping them separate from Disney – at least at first. When Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, an artist and screenwriter on Toy Story, traveled from Pixar’s base in Emeryville, California, to L.A. to do postproduction work on Toy Story, they stopped by Katzenberg’s new office at Amblin. The meeting was friendly, and Katzenberg chatted about what DreamWorks was up, asking in turn what Pixar had in the hopper. Lasseter and Stanton told him about a bug movie – a humorous, reverse twist on the Aesop fable about ants and grasshoppers, in which, rather that the lazy grasshoppers learning from the industrious ants, the ants were the victims, forced to liberate themselves from the tyrant grasshoppers who steal their food every year. When Katzenberg asked when the film would be released, Lasseter said Thanksgiving of 1998. Katzenberg noted that that was when Prince of Egypt was scheduled for release. . . .

And then, somewhere along the way, DreamWorks decided to release Antz ... which led to accusations that Katzenberg had stolen the idea from Lasseter. Here's how Entertainment Weekly reported the controversy at the time (in an article dated November 20, 1998):

The clear winner in all this is, of course, the audience, which is now being treated to some of the most innovative animation to come along in years. But the story of how these movies got made is an eye-bugging drama of biblical proportions. It begins in 1994 when Jeffrey Katzenberg quit as chairman of Disney Studios, where he'd miraculously reignited the animation division with movies like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. He officially resigned Aug. 23, though he remained at the studio through September of that year — an important detail in the war of wills and words to follow.

On Aug. 25, director John Lasseter, the wizard from Pixar Animation Studios who was already working on Disney's 1995 hit Toy Story, went to Disney with a pitch for A Bug's Life, an animated movie about life inside an ant colony. Within a year of taking his place at DreamWorks, Katzenberg had given legs to his own animated ant movie — a project called Antz, featuring computer animation by Pacific Data Images.

Katzenberg has said he knew nothing about Lasseter's pitch; and that it wasn't until a DreamWorks executive named Nina Jacobson pitched an animated ant movie to him in 1995 that he ever considered doing Antz. But Lasseter was outraged. ''We were about a year and a half into our movie when we heard the news. My reaction was 'Why? Why would Jeffrey do that?' It was just yucky.'' Adds Pixar Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs: ''There's no disputing the fact that the day Jeffrey left Disney, he knew we were making A Bug's Life; he knew what the story was and everything else.''

Katzenberg denied ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's repeated requests to be interviewed for this article, but DreamWorks producer Penney Finkelman Cox admits, ''We knew when we started making Antz that there was a movie called A Bug's Life, but we didn't know what part ants might have in it.''

Meanwhile, Katzenberg had been dreaming about an even more ambitious animation endeavor. Before his fledgling movie studio even had a name, he was rallying the troops for a sweeping animated version of the story of Exodus — a Ten Commandments tale that would eventually be called The Prince of Egypt. With three expensive animated films jockeying for position, things between DreamWorks and Disney started to get really buggy.

As DreamWorks pushed to get The Prince out before the end of 1998 and Antz out by March 1999, word circulated among the ranks that Disney's own bugs were scheduled to crawl into theaters for Thanksgiving. ''Jeffrey called us,'' says Jobs, ''and asked us to convince Disney to delay the release of A Bug's Life beyond the holiday 1998 season because that's when he wanted to release Prince of Egypt. He said if we did that, he would kill Antz. And we said, 'Don't go there.' ''

Katzenberg has denied making that phone call, but the competition was in full swing. DreamWorks and PDI speeded up production of Antz in order to get it out in early October, almost eight weeks before A Bug's Life was scheduled for release. Says Finkelman Cox: ''We simply moved ahead on production because we saw we could get it done faster than we originally thought.'' . . .

Correlate those data points however y'all see fit.

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Side question: How is seeing the picture of those characters substantially different from reading my verbal description of those characters a few posts earlier?

I must admit, I didn't read your posts, so I didn't know about the descriptions. I opened the thread and started skim-reading posts in reverse order.

When I saw a big photograph of unfamiliar Pixar images, preceded by the line announcing that Pixar had specifically requested that these images not be shared, I quit reading. I was concerned that I was stumbling into possible major spoilers for Cars 2, and I'd prefer to avoid any Pixar spoilers. Further, I was concerned that something was being displayed that the filmmakers would not want to have shared.

I'm not saying I have a perfect record regarding embargoes and things, but I've been trying to outgrow my Ain't-It-Cool-Anarchy days. This isn't a condemnation - it's just an expression of concern as a Pixar fan, hoping that I can come to A&F without worrying about spoilers... especially spoilers that the storytellers, for the sake of good storytelling, want to keep under wraps. I hope I haven't posted things that studios have shared with press under strict conditions not to share them. If I have, then I'll withdraw those posts as soon as I learn of my indiscretion.

For the sake of not drawing this out, that's all I'm going to say on the matter. Do what you think is best.

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SDG   
: I wasn't assuming anything. I said "if." It was a possibility that crossed my mind.

Assumption, speculation, whatever; it was strong enough to make you "regret" seeing the pictures.

Don't put words in Jeff's mouth. The sentence you allude to is also predicated on an "if" statement, which makes the assumption / speculation distinction material.

: Perhaps ArtsandFaith.com should show more respect than The Georgia Straight did.

I'm not A&F, and neither are you. We are both just users on this board, and I don't believe A&F is in the business of enforcing embargoes -- which is to say, A&F is not in the business of enforcing the relationships between studios, journalists, and the people who read them. Nor should it be.

I can see an argument being made either way. I think Image management should weigh in.

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Overstreet wrote:

: I must admit, I didn't read your posts, so I didn't know about the descriptions.

Well, if you're going to skip the posts from the last few weeks to comment on something that was written two or three weeks ago, it probably wouldn't have hurt to look just a bit further back and get a bit more context.

: I was concerned that I was stumbling into possible major spoilers for Cars 2 . . .

Trust me, if I ever have "major spoilers" on any particular film, I'll post them in the thread appropriate to that film -- and with spoiler tags and everything. I posted these items here because, as noted above, Pixar Canada is working on a series of short films (currently related to Cars and Toy Story) that are separate from the feature films and don't really warrant a thread of their own.

: Further, I was concerned that something was being displayed that the filmmakers would not want to have shared.

I see no reason to stress out over what the filmmakers may or may not want. When you're posing with a "top secret" picture AFTER the cameras have gone off, as the Pixar guy evidently did when the photo above was taken, then you're basically acknowledging that the horse is out of the barn. And quite frankly, if Pixar were all THAT concerned about images leaking out of the press conference, they wouldn't have allowed those cameras in the room in the first place.

SDG wrote:

: Don't put words in Jeff's mouth.

Well, I didn't; as you note, if anything, I took a word OUT of his mouth.

: The sentence you allude to is also predicated on an "if" statement . . .

Which is why I asked what the assumption or speculation was based on. I could begin LOTS of sentences with the word "if" if I wanted to, but some are more warranted than others, and if the sentence in question isn't based on anything -- if I am just making something up out of thin air, based perhaps on some inner anxiety of mine -- then it is at least skirting the fringes of assumption territory. That, or it's pure absurdism.

Admittedly, we're entering spirit-of-the-sentence-rather-than-letter-of-the-sentence territory here.

: I can see an argument being made either way.

I can't. I can't for the life of me imagine why any discussion board would want to start policing which newspaper photos and/or reviews and/or news items have been authorized by third parties and which ones haven't.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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SDG   
: Don't put words in Jeff's mouth.

Well, I didn't; as you note, if anything, I took a word OUT of his mouth.

Out of context, yes. I don't care to debate the point. On the material issue of unauthorized photos I defer to Image management.

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I don't know why it took Pixar over a month to finally post this video on their YouTube page, but better late than never. This is the video that they played for the journalists at the Pixar Canada event on April 20 -- and as I noted at Facebook at the time (when I linked to a news story that featured a non-embeddable semi-pirated version of this video), I used to take my family to the inukshuk by English Bay all the time when I lived in downtown Vancouver, so I like the fact that this video clip shows WALL-E and EVE enjoying the sunset there (around the 1:30 mark):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzbKgujZF7c

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Has nayone read the book The Wisdom of Pixar, by Robert Velarde? I just followed an ad for the book at Crosswalk, which took me to the Amazon page for the book. I'm afraid it's been mentioned here in one of our many Pixar thread, but a search didn't turn it up.

Edited by Christian

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From that Wired article that was linked to in the Toy Story 3 thread:

Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3, used to make live-action movies. But the Pixar emphasis on revision has changed his approach to filmmaking. “If I went back to live-action, I’d have to do it the Pixar way,” he says. “If I didn’t, I’d feel like I was walking a tightrope without a net.”

Yeah, that's what concerns me about the live-action forays of former Pixar directors -- especially Andrew Stanton. (Brad Bird, at least, had prior experience directing hand-drawn cartoons like The Iron Giant; but Stanton's basically done nothing but Pixar, Pixar, Pixar for the past 20 years.) It's relatively easy to do a page-one rewrite of your movie less than a year before the release date if you're working in CG; hence, Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks have had success to varying degrees with films like Bolt, Toy Story 2 and How to Train Your Dragon. But live-action filmmaking, I'd imagine, is a lot more complicated, so the opportunity to do rewrites and reshoots is a lot more limited. Individual scenes can be re-done, sure. But an entire movie, not so much.

I mean, I can't imagine working with an old-fashioned typewriter any more. I'm just too used to going back and re-wording sentences and inserting paragraphs, etc., etc., etc. So I imagine going from CG-animated movies to live-action movies would be kind of like going from word processors to typewriters; there would be a similar step down in flexibility, there would be a similar increased need to get things right the first time around.

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An interesting excerpt from Cartoon Brew's interview with John Canemaker, regarding his book on "two guys named Joe", one of whom is the late Joe Ranft, the former story supervisor at Pixar:

AA: In animated studio features, the impact of the individual artist isn’t always evident in the finished film but in Ranft’s case, his personal stamp appears throughout Pixar’s output. Has Pixar’s approach to storytelling and characterizations changed noticeably since Ranft’s death, and do you think for better or worse? Also, what sort of an impact do you think his unexpected death had in general on the studio?

JC: Joe Ranft’s death obviously deprived the studio of the tactile effect of his presence. This is significant because his mentoring and influence at Pixar had grown into a very personal, one-on-one visiting-country-doctor approach toward every project in the pipeline. He would drop by offices and offer encouragement and advice to his colleagues, who welcomed his help and his just being there for them.

Andrew Stanton described Joe as “almost a guidance counselor” who did “rounds” of the various departments at Pixar. “As a friend and artist,” Stanton told me, “he just cared and wanted to know how you were. It was always a breath of fresh air to get that knock on the door from Joe.” “He’s the kind of guy who would set aside whatever he was doing to help,” Brad Bird said. I believe Joe Ranft’s influence is still pervasive at Pixar; after all he was a prime architect of the studio’s signature narrative style that has connected so well with audiences.

His mentoring of many who are now top Pixar story artists continues to affect the structure and content of the films. I also think the impact of his untimely and tragic death brought Pixar young artists in general to a sharp, indeed shocking, awareness of life’s dark and sad side, the fragility and briefness of our lives, the need to give everything our best shot. I see elements of that awareness of our shared humanity and mortality in WALL-E, UP and TOY STORY 3.

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New Team Alters Disney Studios’ Path

Even the kinds of movies Disney makes has changed. Mr. Ross is no longer interested in developing projects, big or small, that cannot be squarely branded under one of three banners — Disney (family), Pixar (animation) or Marvel (superheroes) — the better to cut through the marketplace clutter.

To that end, Disney sold its Miramax specialty unit and will no longer make Touchstone films; that banner will become a distribution mechanism for DreamWorks Studios. . . .

Mr. Iger had faulted Mr. Ross’s predecessor for being unwilling to collaborate or even share information with other Disney units. Wherever possible, the mandate for the studio is to deliver movies that become companywide franchises, with apparel, video game and even television offshoots.

“For the first time, Pixar feels like a true part of the team,” said John Lasseter, a Pixar co-founder. Mr. Lasseter and his animation crew have advised on films like “Tron: Legacy,” set for a Christmas release. (Pixar’s feedback: the father-son story needed to be strengthened.) More recently, Pixar took a look at the script for a new Muppets movie. . . .

New York Times, September 27

- - -

FWIW, it was reported over two years ago that John Lasseter had been steering the development of Tron Legacy from its inception -- since well, well before the Disney regime change that took place late last year -- so I take this "for the first time" business with a grain of salt.

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Wow. This has already been touched on in the Brave thread, but it bears mentioning here, too, I think.

The other day, Cartoon Brew broke the news that Brenda Chapman has been let go from Brave, a film that she initially developed under the title The Bear and the Bow, and today, Drew McWeeny noted that the comments under that post -- some of them from animators who have worked at Disney-Pixar and elsewhere -- have been pretty "hostile".

I hadn't looked at the comments section there in a while, so I just took a peek now, and, eep.

E.g., Floyd Norman (who has been in the biz so long that he worked with Walt Disney himself; he was also the first person to reveal that Pixar had pulled the plug on Newt, long LONG before Disney made the movie's cancellation official) says, ominously:

As the Grand Moff Tarkin said in “Star Wars,” Fear will keep the other systems in line. Fear, and this battle station.”

Works in animation as well, doesn’t it?

Then John Sanford, a writer on Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame who went on to co-direct Home on the Range, says:

There is a world of difference between me being asked to take over “Sweating Bullets” and Pixar firing Brenda off of Brave.

First: Disney never claimed to be “A director’s studio” and never claimed to support the “director’s vision”.

Second: The way we did things at Disney was different. HoTR was never Mike and Mike’s movie, it was never Me and Will’s movie, it was Disney’s movie. They had expectations for the movie and we had to fulfill them, good or bad.

This was supposedly BRENDA’s movie. That is how Pixar works, or at least, that is how they would like us to think.

I wouldn’t be so mad if they would just come right out and admit they are no better than anyone else.

Do I regret taking over from Mike Gabriel and Mike Giaimo?

No. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. I’m not happy about how the movie turned out for a number of reasons.

However, we are talking about Pixar and how they treat talent, in this case, Brenda Chapman.

And truthfully, they don’t treat talent any better than anyone else.

As a matter of fact, in some cases, they are worse.

Just ask the guys who up there who are working hours of overtime with NO pay.

On second thought, don’t.

They won’t answer honestly.

They are afraid for their jobs, and with good reason, wouldn’t you say?

He then adds:

I do know that her movie was unconventional and that it was unpopular with certain members of the “Brain Trust” because of this.

I can speculate based on other cases, the Chris Sanders thing, the Jan Pinkava thing, the Newt deal, and the troubles Brad and his Incredibles gang endured when they first arrived up there.

I know how things work up there, Guy. You play by their rules. It’s their game.

Like I said, I’d have no problem with this if they just fessed up and admitted that they are a business and no better than anyone else.

Instead they persist with this “artist’s studio” horseshit, and that is exactly what it is. Horseshit.

To which Norman replies:

Right on, Mr. Sanford. Finally, somebody has the stones to speak up.

'Twill be interesting to see how the actual film turns out.

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Vadim Rizov:

. . . So why are these films so
loud
? Critics who gleefully rip into Michael Bay for excess are perfectly happy to let loud and frantic Pixar films run by. The overwhelming endless roar of the final night in A Bug's Life, the frantic chase sequences of The Incredibles and Ratatouille and even the bombast of WALL*E (which has almost no dialogue!) are all pretty pummeling. Part of what makes Up so hypnotic is the believable sound of its fictional wilderness, the careful demarcation between suburban sonic spaces and whistling ridge crucial to its effect. Similar attention is paid in Monsters, Inc. to setting up a realistically dry factory sound that can then be punctured by all the cartoon chases. Those two films are arguably the most successful in the catalogue in creating naturalistic soundscapes for fictional environments, and they do it by the simple expedient of just staying quiet for a while. But most Pixar movies storm around like radio singles mastered as loud as possible for fear of losing the multiplex's attention. The sound itself is a defensive bluff, often overwhelming the rightly-acclaimed visuals with generic roars. It's as if screaming loudly can ward off obsolescence.

. . . It's hard not to see this temptation to smother every scene in noise and music as destructive of what Pixar does best. Think of the ominous clack of those freaky-looking toys approaching in the darkness of Sid's bedroom, the sound of factory workers running through door portals into kids, the sound of a wasted Earth suddenly punctuated by a rocket ship falling, or the awesomely empty Paradise Falls: at their best non-chase moments, Pixar animators give us a world as complete aurally as it is visually. In Toy Story 3, per usual, they split the difference.

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It was 25 years ago today that Steve Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas:

The new enterprise, owned mostly by Steve Jobs, was supposed to be in the advanced computer hardware business.

George Lucas knew better. At the beginning of negotiations to sell what was to become Pixar, he warned Jobs: ‘You know, these guys [Ed Catmull and John Lasseter] are hell-bent on animation. If you think you’re going to make products, I don’t think that’s what their idea is.’

And now for some historical documents:

pixar25.jpg

pixar-1986-a.jpgpixar-1986-b.jpg

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Exclusive: Newt is "cancelled"

Earlier this evening I received an email response from Walt Disney Company archivist Dave Smith (or a representative) informing me that Pixar's Newt "has been cancelled". This confirms the rumors that have been swirling around the film in the past few months. . . .

The rumors that Newt was in trouble began in February with a web comment made by Disney Legend and animation industry insider Floyd Norman saying that "Newt is dead". . . .

Newt (officially branded newt, logo in all lower case letters) was first announced to media at the Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios 2008 Animation Presentation in New York City in April of that year. The film was scheduled to be released in the summer of 2011.

The film was being directed by Gary Rydstrom, sound designer and director of Pixar's 2006 Oscar-nominated short film Lifted, and produced by Presto producer Richard Hollander. . . .

What a sad state of affairs. This is the first time I can remember I've been so disappointed with something Pixar has done. They've never publicly cancelled a film before. Why was it announced in the first place? It's a black eye to the studio that was able to bring Toy Story and Toy Story 2 to the screen under extremely difficult circumstances and with far less time and resources. . . .

The Pixar Blog, May 11

There was speculation some time ago that Pixar cancelled Newt because it was too similar to Fox's then-upcoming Rio. And, well, now that Rio is out there, John Lasseter has basically confirmed the speculation. So, Fox made Pixar blink. That's interesting.

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Amid Amidi @ Cartoon Brew:

Anthony Lane’s
in the new edition of The New Yorker (May 16) has convinced me that it is next to impossible to write anything of substance about the studio at this time. The studio’s unparalleled string of successes at the box office inevitably leads to writers attempting to figure out why they’ve been so good, and the response from within the studio is always the same tired line about how all the elements of the film are created in the service of the story. That’s a great point, of course, and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops, but it doesn’t exactly make for thought-provoking commentary. Nor does it explain Cars. Lane’s article isn’t on-line, but if you’ve read anything about Pixar in the past few years, then you’ve probably read this piece, too. . . .

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Amid Amidi @ Cartoon Brew follows up by proposing a few possible story topics:

* Non-union Pixar is notorious for paying lower wages than the other major CG feature studios. They can get away with this because the prestige of working on a Pixar feature trumps a salary. That’s an excellent position for a company to be in, but history reminds us that it’s not a sustainable approach in the long-term. The parallels between Pixar’s current approach and the Disney studio of the late-Thirties are eerily similar, especially in Pixar’s paternalistic approach to offering incentives to its employees. Take this excerpt from the New Yorker piece about Pixar’s cereal bar: “There was once a new arrival at the company, who thought the bowls provided at the bar were too small, and registered his displeasure in an email. He didn’t last. In Lasseter’s words, ‘If you’re that upset about how big the bowl for your free cereal is, leave.’” In other words, Pixar will give you free cereal as long as you eat it exactly the way they want you to eat it.

* Not entirely Pixar-related, but another story I’d love to read more about is Lasseter’s takeover of the creative side of Disney Feature Animation. Lasseter has ruffled plenty of feathers and pushed some of the top talents out of the studio (Chris Sanders, and perhaps Glen Keane next), but he’s also responsible for retooling Tangled into the studio’s biggest earner since The Lion King. Is Disney becoming more like Pixar? And is that a positive development?

* Of course, there’s also the old standby: the lack of female protagonists in Pixar’s oeuvre. The latest take on the topic is this piece in Persephone Magazine. For the record, Anthony Lane in his New Yorker piece argued that Elastigirl is a “single-handed rebuke to the charge—proved elsewhere—that Pixar has failed to place female heroes at the hub of its stories.”

Don't know what to make of the cereal-bowl incident -- not without reading the actual e-mail, natch -- but the low wages are certainly an interesting angle. And people in the biz have commented before about the punishing hours that Pixar employees sometimes have to work. (Granted, the movie biz in general seems to expect people to work punishing hours ... but usually at unionized salaries.)

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Some really interesting thoughts on Pixar at this podcast, starting around the 50-minute mark. The comments spring off of a lecture that Ed Catmull gave (see below), and they address the question of whether Pixar's guiding philosophy reflects more of an engineering mentality than an artistic mentality, and whether Pixar's ability to "engineer creativity" -- and its fear of failure -- might be holding the company back from true transcendent Miyazaki-like greatness even as it gives the company a more consistently good track record than other animators (including, yes, Miyazaki).

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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