When we were growing up, Disney movies were a really big deal. Everyone, kids and adults, flocked to the theatre to see the latest masterpiece, whether it was live-action or animated. We knew it would be entertaining, well-acted or beautifully drawn, and packed with great songs. We also knew parts would be sad, some more than others. (We still can’t get over Bambi’s mother dying or the heartbreak of Simba when he thought he was responsible for his father’s death.) Despite the dark bits, Disney movies were, and still are, wholesome, universal, and universally loved.
In 1995, family movies—and movie-making—changed forever when a new animated movie studio named Pixar Animation popped up on the radar. Instead of employing hand-drawn animation in their movies, they used the then-cutting edge technology of computer animation. As we all know, their first movie, Toy Story, was a smash hit; the rest, as they say, is history. Personally, I enjoy the Pixar movies a lot more than Disney movies, thanks to the adult humor that is snuck in on the sly. It sails right over kids’ heads to land on ours with a satisfying, laugh-til-our-sides-hurt thump.
The studio, originally a division of Lucasfilm that was spun off in the 1980s, was founded by John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, and Ed Catmull. For 10 years, they made short films and commercials. Beginning with the runaway success of Toy Story, their full-length feature movies now make zillions of dollars. If you have kids, you have seen some or all of their movies, including Wall-E, Up, Ratatouille, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and A Bug’s Life, as well as the three Toy Story movies.
Because our Rottman Creative team urges our clients to think differently and try new things, we love to cheer on others who do the same. Pixar is the poster child, so to speak, for new and different and better, and we love them for it. When you think about it, their achievements are truly mind-boggling. They swung for the fences and scored a game-ending, triple-hit that brought the house down. To fully appreciate their genius, watch the excellent documentary film, The Pixar Story, which follows Pixar’s meteoric rise and continued success (thanks to tremendous amounts of determination, perseverance, and perfectionism).
We found the movie to be inspiring on so many levels, which is why we wanted to share it with you. From the revolutionary processes they invent and employ to the out-of-the-box thinking to the incredibly hard work that is put into each mega hit they produce, the film just leaves us in awe every time we watch it. As we learned in the movie, one of the reasons for their success is their fanatic attention to detail and quality. That’s why they don’t make a bad movie—lesser stories are either re-worked til they’re right, or junked.
For movie fans, it really is a treat to see how the company works. The filmmaker, Leslie Iwerks, follows John Lasseter’s career, from his time as an animator with Walt Disney, including the run ins and a firing that turned out to be for the best. He and his team at Pixar faced enormous pressure to succeed, and as a result, they made tremendous personal sacrifices. The movie boasts tons of archived footage, much of which had never been shown before, and numerous interviews with the creators, CEOs past and present, and the stars who gave voice and personality to the movies’ characters.
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