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September 21: Imagine – From Pencils To Pixels (2003)

Dang it! Another with embedding disabled. Curse you, YouTube!


An embarrassingly long time ago, I attended a Smithsonian program highlighting John Lasseter’s role with P*I*X*A*R, The company was just starting to come into its own, with Toy Story it’s first full-length release. Since my first encounter with the art of computer animation through Animation Festivals in the early and mid 1980s, I’ve remained a staunch fan, even when the stories weren’t as good as I thought they ought to be. *cough*Cars 2*cough*

Lasseter said something during the event that has stuck with me. The stories they produce aren’t written with an audience in particular in mind. They’re written to entertain themselves. The idea is simple – if I like it, chances are, other people will like it, too. And it works. The majority of short and full-length features have a major thing going for them – they speak loudly to adults as much as kids.

In this age of reality TV, it’s a wonder movies still exist at all. Thanks to the talented folks at P*I*X*A*R, the art of animation has improved dramatically. Brave was a spectacular departure from the buddy films and gives every Disney princess a run for her money.

The full-length feature here talks about giving line character. The “pencil test” is a form of rough animation that is one level up from storyboarding – rough cut animated cells that give a sense of the action without fully fleshed out art. In a lot of ways, I prefer these to the final full-color versions.

Click the link to watch the piece.

For added information about P*I*X*A*R, see these two additional pieces. The first is an interview of P*I*X*A*R founders:

The second, made with an Apple Mac ][, includes Lasseter as “Coach.” I wonder if the original story line came from him.

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