Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pixar Debuts Two Stills from 'Sanjay's Super Team'

Pixar has made it a habit to use their theatrical short films to test the waters for bold new concepts and visual styles. The wonderfully inventive Day & Night, for example, mixed 3D computer animation with traditional 2D animation and yielded fabulous results. The upcoming Sanjay's Super Team, set to debut in theaters this Thanksgiving alongside Pixar's next feature The Good Dinosaur, will evidently be unlike anything the studio has ever done before.

In an article published earlier this week by USA Today, two stills from Sanjay's Super Team were unveiled, giving us a look at the distinct visual style, or rather, styles, that will feature in the new short, which draws its premise from director Sanjay Patel's childhood. The film will seemingly employ two different art styles to distinguish Sanjay's experiences in the real world and within his daydream. The short is also heavily influenced by Patel's Hindu background. Described as a sort of Hindu version of the Avengers, the deities Durga, Vishnu, and Hanuman will be brought to life in Sanjay's daydream.

The first thing that stands out to me is that the artists at Pixar have clearly taken a much more cartoony approach than usual. Sanjay has particularly large eyes, for instance, perhaps meant to be a literal embodiment of his wide-eyed persona. The daydream scenes will undoubtedly be a riot and very different from anything we have ever seen in any Pixar feature or short. It is always a treat to see the talented filmmakers at the studio step out of their comfort zone and push the boundaries of what computer animation can do.

This does not mark the first time that a Pixar short is inspired by the director's personal childhood experiences and infused with a cultural touch. La Luna was based largely on director Enrico Casarosa's memory of the strained relationship between his father and grandfather and featured a touch of Casarosa's Italian heritage, most notably in the short's music.

Catch Sanjay's Super Team in theaters this fall with The Good Dinosaur on November 25.

Friday, June 12, 2015

First Look: LEGO WALL-E Set Coming This December

In February, LEGO announced that a LEGO-built model of the lovable, titular robot from Pixar's WALL-E, designed by Pixar employee Angus MacLane, would be coming to stores later this year. MacLane designed and built the model while working on the actual WALL-E film and uploaded it to LEGO Ideas, a site where fans can share their own LEGO creations and, potentially, have them made into real LEGO sets.

The WALL-E model was approved by LEGO in February, and today we have our first official look at the finished product that will be on store shelves by Christmas. The model has been tweaked here and there from its original design to meet LEGO'S standards, and now even includes the iconic plant from the film. It will retail for approximately $40 and is expected to be released in early December, according to Smyths Toys. An official statement from LEGO regarding the pricing and release date of the set should be coming in the next few weeks, if not within the next couple of days.

I, for one, being both a huge LEGO fanatic and a Pixar aficionado, will be picking this set up the instant I see it. It's a must-have for fans of the beloved film and the studio, no doubt.

Look forward to getting your grabby paws all over a LEGO WALL-E this winter.

Four New Pixar Art Books Coming Soon

Photo credit: Pixar Post

Since 2001's Monsters, Inc., every Pixar feature film release has been accompanied by an art book that offers an in-depth look at the sketches, paintings and storyboards that went into making the film. These books give fans a chance to go behind the scenes of the production of a Pixar film and allow them to enjoy artwork which would otherwise go unappreciated.

Fans will be pleased to hear that Pixar and Chronicle Books are going all-out this year, releasing not one, not two, but four new art books inspired by Pixar films, not counting the recently released Art of Inside Out book.

Of course, The Good Dinosaur will be getting the traditional art book treatment, but the short that will play in theaters before the film, Sanjay's Super Team, will also have an entire book dedicated to its artwork. This is significant since it will mark the first time that a Pixar short gets an art book all to itself. Previously, Chronicle Books published The Art of Pixar Short Films, which featured artwork spanning the entire library of Pixar short films at the time. Sanjay's Super Team must be quite unique visually to merit its own book.

Chronicle Books released the following official descriptions of the books:

(November 4, 2015; foreword by John Lasseter, introduction by Pete Sohn)
"What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and dinosaurs never became extinct? The Good Dinosaur expands on that premise in a humorous and exciting original story about Arlo, a lively Apatosaurus with a big heart. Showcasing the stunning artwork from the film’s creation—including sketches, storyboards, maquette sculpts, colorscripts, and much more—The Art of The Good Dinosaur offers the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the research and design that went into the making of this innovative film."

The Art of Sanjay's Super Team
(December 2015; by Sanjay Patel, foreword by John Lasseter)
"In the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios, Sanjay’s Super Team, accomplished artist Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, 1st generation Indian boy whose love for western pop culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions. This art-filled peek behind the curtain of this groundbreaking film is sure to excite Sanjay’s legion of fans, and thrill animation lovers around the world."

Additionally, this fall Chronicle Books will publish Funny! Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room and The Animator's Sketchbook. These new books differ from most Pixar art books in that they will include artwork from all of Pixar's existing works, rather than being specific to one film. Funny! will focus on the trademark visual gags and humor of the studio's films, featuring gags which may have not made it into the finished films. Aspiring artists, filmmakers, and animators will definitely want to pick up a copy of The Animator's Sketchbook, which delves into the intricate process of crafting an animated film.

Check out the books' official descriptions:

(November 17, 2015; foreword by John Lasseter, introduction by Jason Katz)
"From Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, some of the most iconic and hilarious moments in Pixar’s films were first conceived by the artists featured in this book. But there are hundreds of gags that don’t make it past the cutting room floor, like Mater as a ninja and Sadness wearing mom jeans. Funny! explores this material in depth, showcasing classic moments from all of Pixar’s films to date, plus never-before-published illustrations and doodles from the Pixar archives. With an introduction by veteran story man Jason Katz, this book is a must-have for any Pixar fan."

(September 8, 2015)
"Creating an animated film takes a lot of work, from the texture of a character’s hair to the shot sequence of a high-speed car chase. This Pixar-branded sketchbook provides a single volume in which to record the incredible journey of the making of an animated film. It covers the full preproduction process with discrete sections for Concept, Color, Story, Characters, and Worlds. Each section includes an introduction, a handful of inspiring quotes from some of the best artists working at Pixar, and a few key examples of related art. Useful and inspiring, this journal provides a structured space for aspiring filmmakers to workshop their ideas through all phases of development."

These ought to keep Pixar fans busy for a while! All of the new books sans The Art of Sanjay's Super Team are available on Amazon for pre-order, if you'd like to guarantee any copies in advance. 

'The Good Dinosaur' Gets an All-New Cast

Some new and surprising details regarding the voice cast for The Good Dinosaur emerged today. When Pixar said they were completely reworking the film, they weren't kidding. The new updated cast revealed today includes only one member from the original cast announced two years ago; all others have been replaced or cut. A couple of new characters have also joined the cast.

The new cast is as follows:

  • Thirteen-year-old Raymond Ochoa (The Night Shift) replaces Lucas Neff as the voice of Arlo the Apatosaurus, the film's protagonist.
  • Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) replaces John Lithgow as Arlo's father, Poppa.
  • Frances McDormand (Fargo) voices Arlo's mother, Momma, and is the sole remaining member of the original cast.
  • Marcus Scribner (Black-ish) lends his voice to Buck, Arlo's brother.
  • Steve Zahn (That Thing You Do) joins the cast as a pterodactyl named Thunderclap.
  • A.J. Buckley (Justified), Anna Paquin (True Blood), and Sam Elliott (Justified) voice the T-Rexes Nash, Ramsey, and Butch, respectively.
  • Jack Bright (Monsters University) voices the human boy Spot, likely through a series of grunts since the humans in the film do not speak.

Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, and Judy Greer were originally supposed to voice Arlo's siblings, Forrest, Cliff, and Ivy, respectively, but have been cut from the film.

The new cast is probably the biggest testimony to just how much the film has changed from its original incarnation. Arlo, for example, will now bear a child's voice as opposed to an adult one, as was previously intended.

Directed by Pete Sohn, The Good Dinosaur will arrive in theaters on November 25 this year. Stay tuned for more updates.

'Inside Out' Premieres at the El Capitan in Los Angeles

It's hard to believe it, but Inside Out is a mere week away from its release. The film's premiere took place on Monday at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The entire cast of the film, along with director Pete Docter, producer Jonas Rivera, Pixar honcho John Lasseter, and many others where in attendance for the exciting event. Even Joy and Sadness themselves were there! Scroll down to check out some pictures from Monday's festivities.

(L-R): Producer Jonas Rivera, co-director Ronnie del Carmen, and director Pete Docter

Joy and Sadness, the stars of Inside Out

(L-R): Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear), Amy Poehler (Joy), and Phyllis Smith (Sadness); the main cast of Inside Out

Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter poses with Joy and Sadness

Kaitlyn Dias, voice of Riley in Inside Out

(L-R): Pixar's lucky charm John Ratzenberger, John Lasseter, and Bobby Moynihan

(L-R): Bobby Moynihan, Bill Hader, and Jonas Rivera

Pete Docter and the cast of Inside Out

On a side note, Inside Out now has 26 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes—all of them positive. Catch the film in theaters next Friday!