Feature on early Pixar days

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Feature on early Pixar days

Post by ShyViolet » April 10th, 2015, 6:44 pm

Particularly on making of Toy Story to how their films are made today:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/17/82298 ... nniversary
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Re: Feature on early Pixar days

Post by Ben » April 10th, 2015, 10:40 pm

Nice (and honest!)! :)

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Re: Feature on early Pixar days

Post by GeorgeC » April 13th, 2015, 5:47 am

Pixar began as a unit of LucasFilm in the late 1970s. It was spun off into its own entity in 1986.
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(There actually WERE computer graphics in the original Star Wars but that was before Pixar was formed. The Rebel briefing room video prior to the Death Star attack is the film's piece of CG animation. By all accounts, the CG was a pain to produce! http://www.pixartouchbook.com/blog/2009 ... v-197.html There are other things that look like CG but I think they're primarily line drawings. That would include the displays in the fighters, the targeting systems of the Millennium Falcon and Death Star.)
Years later, LucasFilm created a new CG unit to create digital special effects for its motion pictures.

Their first animated short was Andre and Wally B (1984). The short has been included with several of the Pixar shorts collections on VHS, DVD, and Blu ray. I remember seeing that WAY BACK in the 1980s on Disney Channel (or it might have been featured in a segment of the series Standby: Lights, Camera, Action! on Nickelodeon... My memory's fuzzy on this. I do recall there were a lot of mini-documentaries and 'making of' films series on cable during that time).

Probably the first widely-seen piece of Pixar animation was in Star Trek II (1982). The Genesis Planet Effect 'proposal animation' was done by Pixar. (I'm talking about the mini-film that was narrated by Dr. Carol Marcus... The rest of the film was done with traditional animation and model effects.) That was one of the first major feature films that had CG produced for it. I didn't know that until a few years ago despite watching the film many times over the years but clear as day it says Pixar in the end credits!

One of the next pieces of Pixar animation that appeared in a motion picture was an animated ghost character in the movie Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). Oddly enough, I've never seen this film but I've heard about this character for 3 decades!

There was actually quite a bit of CG incorporated into a number of Disney films in the 1980s... Tron (1982) is most obvious. The Great Mouse Detective had bits of computer animation integrated into a few scenes that would have been more difficult to draw by hand... There was a special on Disney Channel that showed how the gears/wheels in the clock at the end of the film were done with computer line drawings. Can't remember if they used a digital ink-and-paint OR if they printed out the line drawings onto paper and transferred those to cels. The Little Mermaid used an early version of the CAPs (Computer Animation Production System) an early feature film digital ink and paint system for a few scenes. The Rescuers Down Under was the first Disney animated feature to make full use of CAPs. That particular software package was co-developed with Pixar so the Disney/Pixar relationship goes way before even the original Toy Story. (CAPs use was discontinued after the traditional feature animation production unit was shut down in the early 2000s. They used a different software package for The Princess and the Frog and Enchanted since CAPs became outdated.)

As much as Pixar is known for CG features and shorts the company has produced a ton of software to aid computer animation production. The software has been licensed to multiple companies. That software legacy is at least as important as the feature films themselves...
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Re: Feature on early Pixar days

Post by Ben » April 13th, 2015, 7:57 am

The ghost knight effect in Young Sherlock was actually ILM's first CG effect, not Pixar, and it was supervised by Dennis Muren there.

I'm surprised you didn't know about the Genesis effect in STII...that's a pretty famous one, though this also predates Pixar so I'm surprised to see their name in the credits as they were still the Lucasfilm Computer Animation unit at the time. Maybe there was a move to change the name within the unit and it stuck?

Before Tron, The Black Hole used CG wireframe images for its opening titles, and these "grid"-like backgrounds were later repurposed for the lightcycle sequences in Tron.

Yes, the Disney and Pixar relationship goes way back to Pixar's beginnings, even before it if you consider Lasseter and Docter's training. That's why I have always felt Pixar is part and parcel of Disney (and I keep all the animated films together on my shelf), since Disney really did help them develop just as much as they contributed to the 1990s Disney films (there's a Pixar credit on all of those too).

Renderman is Pixar's software, and it's been available to many other effects vendors for a good few years now. You'll see that logo in a great many films that haven't actually been animated by Pixar, but which use this rendering software.

Great Mouse Detective printed out the wireframes onto cels and then were ink and painted traditionally, while the same was done for the yellow cabs, Sykes' limo and Georgette's big stairs showtime finale in Oliver & Company and, surprisingly, only two shots in Mermaid (Ariel running down the stairs is the most obvious one) pretty much in the same way if more refined.

Rescuers Down Under was the first film to be completed in CAPs but output to film, so the first not to have any physical cel made, while Beauty And The Beast was the first to be stored digitally (although output to film too).

CAPs was augmented with Deep Canvas (aka CAPs 2.0) before everything went CG. When it came time for Princess/Frog and Pooh, the CAPs system had been mothballed for so long that they couldn't even read the files for the older 1990s features! To save expense, these films were completed on the same software everyone else (and DisneyToon, who were never allowed CAPs) was using: Toon Boom, created in the 1990s for all the other studios to compete with Disney.

I honestly think that there's a visual difference you can see, and it's the thing that makes those two later films feel like other studios doing the Disney thing, while being not quite Disney itself. CAPs certainly had a look, the only other film to come close to achieving it from another studio was Brad Bird's The Iron Giant, and that's because I think they had a crazy-brilliant director who really knew what he was doing.

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Re: Feature on early Pixar days

Post by EricJ » April 13th, 2015, 3:10 pm

And does that early Buzz Lightyear concept art looks a lot like William Joyce's?

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