I did receive an all expenses paid trip to Pixar Studios, but all happy dancing and fan girling are my own.
It all began with a few short films. The first time I remember Pixar Studios was the short film with the light jumping around. It was such a cool short because it was all computer animated (cutting edge for its time). Now fast forward twenty some odd years later, and I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be given exclusive behind the scenes access to THE Pixar Studios to learn more about The Good Dinosaur and celebrate 20 years of Toy Story!
When I flew to San Francisco for The Good Dinosaur event, part of our trip was headed to Pixar Studios lot to learn more about what makes Pixar so magical and what goodies that we had in store from The Good Dinosaur, which opens in theaters the day before Thanksgiving Day (11/25). My children have been watching Pixar since they were children, and heck I was still a kid when Toy Story came out. It’s something that I loved as a teen, and Pixar films are things that my children have grown up watching. My eldest Keiran, who is now 16, loved hearing how her favorite film in her younger years was “Finding Mo’mo”. That’s three year old speak for Finding Nemo.
While at the studios, we had a chance to learn about the process that goes into making Pixar magic. You lucky ducks are going to get a chance to learn more goodies about that in some future posts. Make sure to stay tuned.
During our tour of the actual facility one thing I noticed was the beauty of the campus and the personality of it too! There were fun little homages to past Pixar films all across the lot. We had a chance to see the iconic lamp that really helped Pixar leap to the big screen and into our hearts forever. There were statues throughout the buildings of things like Bruce and Dory from Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and even the seagulls from Finding Nemo on top of a roof. It was a lot of fun to wander around.
We had a chance to look at some of the upper floors, but they were so top secret we weren’t able to take any pictures. I can share with you that they were amazing. Different sections of the upper floors are alternating museums to various projects that Pixar is working on or has just finished. The upper gallery had a great story board for The Good Dinosaur that spanned at 10 to 12 foot wall. There were also statues of a few of the characters. That’s one thing we learned talking to the artists. Not only are the characters computer animated, but they are generally sculpted first in actual clay so the other artists can take a look at how they would look before they spend the time animating them in the computer.
The other side of the upper floor was all decked out in Inside Out since that was a recent Pixar release, and it’s coming to DVD on November 3rd. I love that movie so much, so it was awesome to see how the different characters evolved into what they are now in the final film.
As we were touring around, I won’t lie, I was taking a peak inside a few of the offices that had their doors cracked. Do you blame me? There is a whole lot of creative genius up in that space! If I was going to get a once in a lifetime pass to see what lurks behind the gates at Pixar, I wanted to see how genius “plays”. The biggest thing I noticed is that the spaces were absolute personal and creative. Pixar really seems to let their employees embrace their quirks because they know that is how you inspire creativity!
Pixar’s passion for creativity, inspiring it’s artists, and thinking outside of the box is so strong you can feel it everywhere you go in the building! That’s probably one of my absolute favorite parts of the tour. It’s not just the cool buildings or knowing what great films have come from those walls, but the fact that Pixar is a company with a whole lot of heart. They challenge their artists to come up with cutting edge technology to really bring the movie goer into the experience, but they take so much pride into it as well. They are definitely living the quirky, inspired life and it was such an honor to be able to see with my own eyes.
In addition to touring the campus of Pixar Studios, we had a chance to visit the Pixar Archives as well. They are gearing up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Toy Story so we had a chance to talk with the Pixar Archivist and see some really neat pieces from the development of Toy Story. Our Disney press trip was one of the first groups to ever get access to the Pixar Archives.
Before they founded the archives, formed after the filming of A Bug’s Life, Pixar goodies would be sent to Disney. After they finished that movie, they decided the need to form their own archives. Unlike the Disney archives, they don’t house consumer goods from the Pixar movies (you can read more about the Disney Archives here). Instead, they keep every piece of paper, drawing, sticky note, sculpture, prop, and inspiration that goes into making Pixar animated films.
One of the best parts of the trip to the archives was we learned how Toy Story came to life. Evolving from a 1988 short film by John Lasseter, Tin Toy, Toy Story evolved as they were attempting to make a Tin Toy Christmas movie. Buzz Lightyear began as the Tin Toy character and Woody developed from a ventriloquist character that was going to be featured in the movie. From there the characters kept changing and evolving until we got the Buzz Lightyear and Woody character that we know and love today.
Like I mentioned before, the Pixar archives are not open to the public so they have had a traveling archive in conjuction with the New York MOMA. It’s been traveling for 10 years, has seen 13 countries, and 20 venues! Coming up they have a new traveling exhibit opening at the San Francisco airport to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Toy Story which is set to open around 11/7! If you are in the area, I suggest you take a drive to go see it! It’s really quite amazing!
Getting access to both the Pixar Archives and Pixar Studios let me see first hand the passion and creativity that goes into each and every single Pixar film that we see hit the big screen. It’s something that puts in perspective just how much work goes into even something as “simple” as a short film. Next time that you go to the movies with your family, don’t just go to be entertained, go to see what work from the heart looks like!
I truly wish I could take each and every one of you on these tours with me. Everyone should have a chance to see inspiration and creative genius with their own eyes! Until I can find a way to sneak you all in my carry on luggage, this blog post and photos will have to do. Just make sure you see The Good Dinosaur coming to theaters on the day before Thanksgiving Day,11/25, and of course read all my The Good Dinosaur/Pixar blog posts so you can see how magic happens.
Love this post? Then check out these other great posts about Pixar!
Around the Campfire with The Good Dinosaur Director Peter Sohn