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Entries in Pixar (7)

Friday
Oct052012

Remembering Steve Jobs and his Disney·Pixar Legacy

(L-R) Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, Bob Iger & John Lasseter in January 2006 at Pixar Studios - Photo Paul Sakuma/AP

A year ago on October 5, 2011, Apple's famed co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, died of pancreatic cancer.

Though most associate Jobs with the Macintosh, iPhones and Apple Inc., his genius and foresight also helped advance computer animation. After being ousted from Apple Computers in 1985, Jobs purchased the Graphics Group in 1986. Known for creating computer generated special effects, the Graphics Group was formerly the Lucasfilm computer graphics division. Jobs initially invested a total of $10 million dollars. The sale price of $5 million to George Lucas and the other $5 million was re-invested as capital. Along with Dr. Ed Catmull and Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, Jobs co-founded the newly named PIXAR on February 3, 1986.

Jobs served as Pixar's Chief Executive Officer. By investing another $40 million into development of Pixar's hardware, software and animation sectors, Jobs gained almost total control of the company. By 1990, Pixar's failing hardware division was sold. Jobs became Pixar's Chairman of the Board in 1991, shifting Pixar's focus to animation software and the animation studio headed by former Disney animator John Lasseter. At the time, Pixar's studio was only modestly successful, creating computer animated shorts, commercials and special effects.

Despite losing tens of millions of dollars, Jobs stuck with Pixar Studios through lean times. Prosperity finally came with a $26 million-three feature distribution deal with the Walt Disney Company and the subsequent success of its first full-length computer animated feature, Toy Story (1995).

Beginning with 1995's Toy Story, Pixar Studios churned out a string of buttery box office hits, all while wowing critics and winning awards. However, Pixar's constant success led to disagreements with the Walt Disney Company over property control, rights and distribution. Negotiations in 2004 between Pixar & Disney were difficult, as Jobs and Disney CEO & Chairman Michael Eisner were reported to be combative.

On January 24, 2006, the Walt Disney Company announced its acquisition of Pixar. Unwilling to sever the Disney·Pixar relationship, the Disney Board had replaced Eisner with Bob Iger. As the new Disney Company CEO, Iger quickly drew up a merger worth an estimated $7.4 billion in Disney Company shares. Steve Jobs immediately became the largest single Walt Disney Company stockholder, controlling more than 7% of shares worth around $4.6 billion. Quite a nifty payday for Jobs, following his initial investment of only $10 million.

In addition to sitting on a fatter wallet, Jobs was granted a seat on the Disney Company's Board of Directors. He also sat on a committee created to guide Pixar Studios and Walt Disney Animation as separate entities. The merger created several shifts in Disney Company leadership as Pixar's John Lasseter was named Chief Creative Officer for both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. In addition, Lasseter was named the Principal Creative Adviser for Walt Disney Imagineering. Pixar President, Dr. Ed Catmull, added a second title, becoming President of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs & John Lasseter - Photo © Pixar

When Steve Jobs died last year, his influence over Disney & Pixar far outweighed the number of shares he owned. The magician who unveiled the iPod and iPad, Jobs added a bit of his own magic to the Walt Disney Company. The Disney·Pixar merger helped us find Nemo and Buzz Lightyear at Disneyland. It also paved the way for Cars Land and Toy Story Midway Mania at the Disney California Adventure Park.

By investing in Pixar's infancy, Jobs helped create a new artform, the computer animated feature. Through this new medium, Pixar's animators created dozens of this generation's most endearing and iconic characters. Incredible storytelling created financial success for Pixar, leading to a Toy Story trilogy, not-so scary monsters and a house lifted UP by hundreds of helium balloons. Thanks to Steve Jobs and his belief in Pixar, we've learned adventure is still out there and that we've got friends like Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Tuesday
Sep112012

Finding Secrets in Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo 3D in Theaters - Dory knows where to go!

On September 14, 2012, Finding Nemo 3D swims onto the big screen, immersing the next generation of clownfish fans in Pixar's underwater world. Its been nine years since Nemo originally graced movie theaters. Disney·Pixar's 3D re-release gives this generation of little hatchlings their own chance to get caught in the current for the first time.

Whether its the first time or the fiftieth screening, Finding Nemo has dozens of entertaining Pixar secrets and hidden details to search for on the big screen.

Buzz Lightyear, Little Mikey & the Pixar Beach Ball appear in the dentist's office.After being placed in the aquarium, Nemo looks out into the waiting room and sees a Buzz Lightyear action figure and toy plane from Pixar Studios' Toy Story (1995). Behind Buzz is the dentist office's toy chest, hidden inside (upper left of opening) are Mike Wazowski's plush Little Mikey from Monsters, Inc. (2001) and the red star beach ball from the short film Luxo Junior (1986).

An algae covered Sunny, from the Pixar Short Knick KnackAs Gil goes over his escape plans with Nemo, he envisions the aquarium covered in green filth. An algae covered Sunny, from the Award-Winning Pixar short Knick Knack (1989), appears as the figurehead on the aquarium's pirate ship.

The Pizza Planet Truck from Toy Story appears in Finding Nemo.The Pizza Planet Truck featured in Toy Story (1995), has appeared in every Pixar Studios animated feature except The Incredibles (2004). The iconic yellow delivery truck is seen through the eyes of a bagged fish, as Gil continues to discuss the aquarium escape.

Mr. Incredible cameo in the dentist's office.In addition to remembering prior films, Pixar's animators have a tradition of recognizing upcoming works with secret cameos. Brad Bird's The Incredibles (2004) earned a Finding Nemo cameo, as the next planned Pixar release. As the dentist and a screaming Darla deal with Nigel, Gil and Nemo, a young patient in the waiting room reads a super Mr. Incredible comic book.

Luigi from Cars & Cars 2 drives past the escaping aquarium fish.Another pre-release cameo features Luigi, the Casa Della Tires shop owner from Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011). The yellow Italian Fiat appears just before the Finding Nemo credits, driving by Gil and the escaping aquarium fish.

A Sulley toilet seat cover in Partysaurus Rex gets fans excited for Monsters University and Monsters, Inc. 3D.To fish for bigger audiences, Disney·Pixar will also release its newest short Partysaurus Rex (2012) with Finding Nemo 3D. The Toy Story-inspired short features the short-armed Rex as a mean, green, party animal. Don't forget to keep those eyes open for a few more Pixar secrets and details, like Bonnie's Sulley patterned, furry toilet seat cover.

Monday
Sep102012

Hidden Mickey Monday ºoº - Custom Painted Hidden Mickey Car Hoods

With features like Flo's V-8 Cafe and the Cadillac Range, Cars Land gets the motor running for Disney loving gear-heads. Automotive enthusiasts visiting Disney Caifornia Adventure Park can spend hours shifting through the car-inspired details scattered throughout Radiator Springs.

While most cars are judged by everything under the hood, the custom painted hoods in Cars Land are unique headturners. More than a dozen custom bonnets were created by famed auto designer & customizer Chip Foose, host of televsion's Overhaulin' and owner of Foose Designs in Huntington Beach, California. A vital Imagineering consultant in creating Cars Land, Foose had originally helped Pixar Studios by styling Ramone's authentic lowrider look in 2006's Cars.

One of the hoods displayed at Ramone's House of Body Art Gift Shop

A Hidden Mickey from one of seven hoods displayed at Ramone's Gift Shop.

Each of Foose's classic car hoods features a unique paint scheme and a Classsic Mickey hidden somewhere within its design. Seven of the custom creations have been displayed in Ramone's House of Body Art Gift Shop, six in the storefront windows and one behind the register counter.


Ramone's Custom Painted Hood behind The House of Body Art Gift Shop sales counter.

A coin-sized Mickey hidden on a Custom Painted Hood in Ramone's House of Body Art Gift Shop

At least five more of the Disney-inpsired Foose designs appear inside the Radiator Springs Racers attraction. After meeting Sally & Lightning McQueen, racers heading into Ramone's shop for a quick paint job, pass several ornate hoods and their Hidden Mickeys.

Ramone's workshop inside Radiator Springs Racers.

Orange Hidden Mickey from the green hood in Ramone's Radiator Springs Racers workshop.

Saturday
Jun302012

Hidden Disney·Pixar Details - A Knick Knack in the Cars Land Curio Shop

Several knick knacks on display in Radiator Springs Curios.

The Knick Knack snow globe on display in Radiator Springs Curios

Six years before Toy Story (1995), Pixar Studios released an acclaimed computer animated short titled Knick Knack (1989). At the time, Pixar was more computer company than animation studio. Written and directed by John Lasseter, the great reception to Knick Knack spurred Lasseter & Pixar to eventually create a full-length computer animated feature.

The short stars Frosty the Snowman's cousin, Knick, who tries desperately to get out of his Home Sweet Nome snow globe and over to a bikini clad beauty in a Sunny Miami knick knack. With each failing attempt, Knick's troubles snowball comedically to a smooth jazz track provided by Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin.

Years after its intial premiere, Pixar Studios remade Knick Knack as a theater preview for Disney·Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003). During its re-creation, several character changes were made to make the short more family friendly. The cool little cartoon was then revamped as a 3-D version, which was released as a companion to the Disney Digitial 3D re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) in 2006.

Pixar fans visiting Cars Land can head over to Lizzie's Radiator Springs Curios, where the Knick Knack snow globe has been hidden atop one of the sales displays. 

Thursday
Jun212012

Hidden Disney·Pixar - From Cars 2 to Brave

Walt Disney Studio artists were famous for hiding inside jokes or placing caricatures of each other in their cartoons or animated films. Pixar's animators, having some of their own fun, created their own tradition by hiding references to upcoming films in previous releases.

In Toy Story 3 (2010) one of the Sunnyside preschoolers wore a Lightning McQueen t-shirt, paying homage to the upcoming Cars 2 (2011). Prior to that, Disney·Pixar's UP (2009) featured a pink Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear from Toy Story 3, which appeared in a little girl's room with the Pixar ball - both visible as Carl & Ellie's house flew through the city.

Cars 2 T-Shirt from Toy Story 3 © Disney·Pixar

Toy Story 3's Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear in UP © Disney·Pixar

As Disney·Pixar's thirteenth animated feature premieres in theaters on June 22, 2012, here's a flashback to BRAVE's first Easter Egg, a hidden cameo in 2011's Cars 2.

With the World Grand Prix shifting to Great Britain, the villains attempt to destroy Lightning McQueen and any support for alternative fuels. With Mater & Lightning flying through London's streets, Holley clears a path by pushing Dr. Z's henchmen, Acer and Grem, into the Left Turn Inn.

As the villainous pair crash into the Left Turn Inn, they end up spilling dozens of pints on the pub's patrons. As soon as the oil spill clears, clearly visible is a Scottish tapestry featuring the fearless highland family from BRAVE as cars.

Acer & Grem pushed into the Left Turn Inn - Cars 2 © Disney·Pixar

Patrons enjoying pints in the Left Turn Inn - Cars 2 © Disney·Pixar

Acer & Grem splash the Brits with their pints - Cars 2 © Disney·Pixar

The Left Turn Inn's Scottish Tapestry features Cars characters from BRAVE - Cars 2 © Disney·Pixar

Original Family Tapestry from BRAVE © Disney·Pixar