John Lasseter Pioneers Animation in "The Pixar Story" Documentary Film

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Any fan of animated films understands Pixar Studio’s place at the pinnacle of family film making which is the subject of the 2007 documentary “The Pixar Story”. This film was produced by Leslie Iwerks to highlight the three dimensional develo

Any fan of animated films understands Pixar Studio’s place at the pinnacle of family film making which is the subject of the 2007 documentary “The Pixar Story”. This film was produced by Leslie Iwerks to highlight the three dimensional developments in art and science that have enabled Pixar to progress from its infancy in animated film production.

John Lasseter’s pioneering work of bringing cartoons to life was a lifelong passion and he is interviewed in depth in the film, The Pixar Story”. John Lasseter’s success in animation began with an infatuation with Disney productions and great success as a student film maker at Cal Arts.

John Lasseter’s first public work was the climactic scene in “The Fox and the Hound” when animation almost seemed a dying art form. The film credits John Lasseter is credited with being one of the pioneers who wanted explore the blending of computer and traditional animation with “The Brave Little Toaster”. His passion was rewarded with being terminated upon completion of that project.

Clearly Disney was behind the times at following the potential of computer leadership. A select number of Universities benefitted from the space program which was among the few impacts that put computer technology investment in motion in the United States.

Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar studios, talks about how the increasing importance of the University of Utah’s funding in computer animation allowed the first use of three dimensional animation. These developments led George Lucas to embrace computer animation beginning with “Star Wars”. Digital editing and sound developed from these important historical steps.

This 87 minute film is more a history of animation technology than a back story of Pixar’s major motion pictures. There are far more short film backgrounds in animations presented in this film. There are a lot of behind the scenes production shots that would be interesting for those interested in the art of computerized cartoon productions.

Many of the first Pixar productions were commercials. Short animations for advertisements were able to show off what was possible in the 1980’s. “Beauty and the Beast” debuted the CAPS system of three dimensional animation as an engine. Photorealistic special effects were also becoming the new standard in special effects for “Jurassic Park”.

The film moves quickly and is a fascinating look at the history of animation and Pixar. Stacy Keach narrates this look at the struggle and path to success for Pixar studios.

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Danny Hauger

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