Friday, 23 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation - Animator Profile - Pixar 1979 - present

Figure 1. Pixar

Pixar has become the very personification of animated film. A company that was initially founded to research & explore the possibility of 3D as a film device had succeeded. Some would agree that the invention of 3D killed off the future possibility of 2D films. While the statement is valid it is still quite possible that the next technological advancement is just around the corner.

Best known for:

•CGI animated feature films created with photorealistic “RenderMan”
•Animated Franchise “Toy Story”
•Animated Franchise “The Incredibles”
•Animated Franchise “Cars”

Figure 2. Toy Story

Pixar are an animation studio that specialise in creating 3D animated features & were seemingly the start of the 3D film medium. With a vast realm such as 3D studios were therefore able to create anything three dimensional. Cell drawn features were no longer confined to animation paper and light boxes, one could now view a full bodied version of their creation from all sides & evil choose to rig & animate the object/character/environment. Pixar is widely known for its use of the photorealistic “RenderMan” a suite that uses a real life lighting & shading render engine. The world would be aghast as the technology would dawn on their cinema screens with Toy Story: Daniel Terdiman observes:
“After all, Cohen explained, until "Toy Story" hit theaters in 1995, Disney had been pretty much the only maker of animated films in the United States. And based on the success of "Toy Story" and subsequent Pixar films, a whole animation industry was born in Hollywood”. (Terdiman: 2011)
Around the dawn of 3D technology Disney had the only large scale 2D animation studio. Disney having rejected animator John Lasseter’s proposal to use 3D as a medium initially had seen potential with an increase of awareness of shorts created by then known as “The Graphics Group” owned by Lucasfilm. Disney eventually wound up securing allegiances with Pixar & began work on “Toy Story” a short that was seemingly inspired by Ladislaw Starevicz “The Mascot” in which toys come to life & escape being resold in a toy shop. Parts of this can even be seen in “Toy Story” as Andy begins to discard his old toys.

Figure 3. The Incredibles

While Pixar is no doubt an attribute to many intelligent minds including the late Steve Jobs it is undoubtedly the foresight of another. John Lasseter is quite possibly one of the founding fathers of 3D animation when creating his initial 3D short staring animated Lamp Luxo Jr. Having it rejected by Disney is quite possibly what baffled him the most as his accomplishment was quite amazing when one considers the technology around at the time. Still Lasseter would persevere & eventually band up with the Lucasfilm group who would allow him and many others to explore the medium which is now one of the largest today. Tom Junod of Esquire observes:
“Though not a particularly famous man, he is the creator of famous things. He's created the movies Toy Story and Cars, for instance, whose fame among children is as everlasting as the millions of small plastic products they've spawned. And he's also one of the creators of Pixar, the animation studio, which means that he's created ... well, this”. (Junod: 2011)
Lasseter is a man of vision who saw and pioneered a technique which modern media utilizes in most feature films even those in full motion. CG is not only for animated shorts but also for segments in films which are enacted in front of green screen technology. Chances are nowadays if one see’s a spaceship on screen it is no longer a scale model but a 3D model. Pixar was at the base of this technology which was founded in Hollywood the place of dreams. Still none of these outside influences have changed Lasseter’s direction who still considers every option before making a true decision, in which Lasseter does with poise & calculation.

Figure 4. Cars

With Lasseters contribution as more of a skill for trade let us consider company CEO Steve Jobs who purchased the company from Lucasfilm prior to its feature length career. Job’s was a perfectionist who had an affinity for technology which would send him on a spiritual vacation from his original pursuits particularly psychology. Jobs would continue to grow interested in future technologies and practices which is what he is most known for in apple computers. Still many do not attribute Jobs contribution to Pixar which one can bet was not just a purchase for profit but a purchase due to his belief in the advancement of 3D technology. Katie Rich of observes:
“It's hard to say exactly what impact Jobs had on Pixar when he was its CEO, since the credit for the studio's genius generally goes to its animators and storytellers. But Apple and Pixar are clearly simpatico companies, born of innovation and a desire to break away from the norm, pioneering new designs and ideas that aren't just fabulous, but game-changing”. (Rich: 2011)
Katie Rich’s statement is true; both Pixar & Apple have the vision and continue to improve on their trade as technology continues to develop. Lasseter would often recount on his conversations with Jobs in which Jobs would just tell him to “Make it great”. Perhaps Job’s saw what the company was capable of from the very beginning but just lacked the confidence to do so. Regardless, these companies were run by a visionary much like Walt Disney before his passing. The animators, the men and women beneath these figure heads are as important as the person at the helm, trying to sculpt their own vision as modern day storytellers.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Pixar. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 2. Toy Story. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 3. The Incredibles. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Figure 4. Cars. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)



Terdiman, Daniel. (2011) With Pixar, Steve Jobs changed the film industry forever. At:
(Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Junod, Tom. (2011) Father of the Year. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

Rich, Katey. (2011) Remembering Steve Jobs, Who Made Pixar Possible. At: (Accessed on: 21/03/12)

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