Pixar Animation Studios

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Pixar Animation Studios Pixar has a very interesting early history. It began in 1979 as the Graphics Group, which was one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. After moving to Lucasfilm, they worked on creating the precursor to RenderMan, called REYES, meaning “renders everything you ever saw” and developed a number of critical technologies, including “particle effects” and various animation tools. After parting ways with Lucas film, Pixar became a corporation in 1986 with funding by Apple Inc.  co-founder Steve Jobs, who became its majority shareholder. The Walt Disney Company[->4] bought Pixar in 2006 for $7. 4 billion, which made Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder. Pixar started as a high-end computer hardware company whose core product was the Pixar Image Computer, a system mostly sold to government agencies and the medical community. One of the buyers of Pixar Image Computers was Walt Disney Studios, which was using the computer as part of their secretive CAPS project.

Using the machine and custom software, written by Pixar, to change the long hard work of the ink and paint part of the 2-D animation process to a more automated and faster method. The Image Computer never sold well. As poor sales of Pixar’s computers threatened to put the company out of business, Jobs invested more and more money and took more and more ownership away from the management and employees until after several years he owned mostly all of the company for a total investment of $50 million. John Lasseter’s animation department began producing computer animated commercials for outside companies.

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Early successes included Tropicana, Listerine, Life Savers and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In 1991, after a tough start of the year when about 30 employees in the company’s computer department had to go, including the company’s president, Chuck Kolstad, and Lasseter’s animation department, who made television commercials and a few shorts for Sesame Street, was all that was left of Pixar. They then made a $26 million deal with Disney to produce three computer animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story.

In 1994, Jobs thought about selling Pixar to other companies, among them Microsoft. Only after learning from New York critics that Toy Story was probably going to be a success and confirming that Disney would distribute it for the 1995 Christmas season did he decide to give Pixar another chance. He also began then for the first time to take an active direct leadership role in the company, making himself its CEO. The film went on to gross more than $361 million worldwide. Later that year, Pixar held its first marketing and distribution.

Profits and production costs were split 50-50, but Disney exclusively owned all story and sequel rights and also collected a distribution fee. The lack of story and sequel rights was perhaps the hardest aspect to Pixar and made for a bad relationship. The two companies tried to reach a new agreement in early 2004. The new deal would be only for distribution, as Pixar wanted to control production and own the resulting film properties themselves. The company also wanted to finance their films on their own and collect 100 percent of the profits, paying Disney only the 10 to 15 percent distribution fee.

One of the most important issues was, as part of any distribution agreement with Disney, Pixar demanded control over films already in production under their old agreement, including The Incredibles and Cars. Disney wouldn’t agree to these conditions, but Pixar would not give in. While waiting for the Disney acquisition of Pixar, the two companies created a distribution deal for the 2007 release of Ratatouille, in case the deal fell through, to ensure that this one film would still be released through Disney’s distribution channels.

Different from the earlier Disney/Pixar deal, Ratatouille was to remain a Pixar property and Disney would have received only a distribution fee. Disney had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7. 4 billion in an all-stock deal. Following Pixar shareholder approval, the acquisition was completed May 5, 2006. The transaction catapulted Steve Jobs, who was the majority shareholder of Pixar with 50. 1%, to Disney’s largest individual shareholder with 7% and a new seat on its board of directors.

Jobs’ new Disney holdings surpassed holdings belonging to ex-CEO Michael Eisner, the previous top shareholder, who still held 1. 7% and Disney Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney, who held almost 1% of the corporation’s shares. Disney and Pixar studios did not mean that the two studios were merging, however. In fact, additional conditions were laid out as part of the deal to ensure that Pixar remained a separate entity, a concern that analysts had expressed about the Disney deal.

Some of those conditions were that Pixar HR policies would remain intact, including the lack of employment contracts. Also, the Pixar name was guaranteed to continue, and the studio would remain in its current Emeryville, California location with the “Pixar” sign. Finally, branding of films made post-merger would be “Disney•Pixar”. Pixar has produced thirteen feature films, beginning with Toy Story in 1995. Toy Story was one of my favorite films at the time. The animation was groundbreaking for its time.

It was followed by A Bug’s Life in 1998, Toy Story 2, 1999, Monsters, Inc. , 2001, Finding Nemo, 2003, The Incredibles, 2004, Cars, 2006, Ratatouille, 2007, WALL-E, 2008, Up, 2009, Toy Story 3, 2010, Cars 2, 2011, and Brave in 2012. Out of all of those films, A Bug’s Life is my least favorite. All of Pixar’s films are among the fifty highest grossing animated films, with Toy Story 3 the all time highest grossing animated film, making over $1 billion worldwide.

The exception is Cars 2, which wasn’t as popular with the critics than Pixar’s other films. The studio has earned twenty-seven Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards, among many other awards. In 2001, the Academy Award handed out the first award for Best Animated Feature. Most of Pixar’s films have been nominated with seven winning: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3, and Brave. Up and Toy Story 3 are two of only three animated films to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Toy Story was the first Pixar film to be adapted onto television, with the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command film and TV series. Cars was adapted to television on Cars Toons, a series of shorts, running three to five minutes running between regular Disney Channel shows and featuring Mater the tow truck voiced by comedian Larry the Cable Guy. All Pixar films to date have been computer animated features WALL-E has so far been the only Pixar film not to be completely animated, featuring a small live-action scenes.

The live-action film 1906 by Brad Bird about the 1906 earthquake, is currently in development. Bird has stated that he was “interested in moving into the live-action realm with some projects” while “staying at Pixar because it’s a very comfortable environment for me to work in”. In 2008, Pixar announced Newt, a story about the last two blue-footed newts in existence destined to mate to save their species from extinction, scheduled for release in June 2012. This project was to be followed by the fantasy film The Bear and the Bow, which was eventually retitled as Brave.

In April 2010, Disney/Pixar announced that, instead, The Bear and the Bow would be released first, under the new name Brave, followed by a sequel to the 2001 Pixar feature Monsters, Inc. later that year. Also, Newt was removed from the official Disney A to Z Encyclopedia supplement by chief archivist Dave Smith, who confirmed that the film had been cancelled. In May 2011, Pixar CEO John Lasseter implied that Newt had been cancelled due to having a similar plotline to Blue Sky Studios’ film Rio. A prequel to Monsters, Inc. s due to be released in June 2013. It will be about Sulley and Mike at college, before they became friends. John Lasseter announced that they would become friends throughout the film. On April 2 2013, a sequel to Finding Nemo was announced. Other future projects include the film called Finding Dory, will star Ellen DeGeneres, who returns as Dory, and will be directed by Finding Nemo director, Andrew Stanton. It is due to be released on November 25, 2015. Another new movie for Pixar is The Good Dinosaur, it is to be released on May 30, 2014.

It will be directed by Bob Peterson and co-directed by Peter Sohn. The Good Dinosaur will be followed by a film titled Inside Out “about the inside of a girl’s mind”. In April 2012, Pixar announced their intention to create a film centered on the Mexican[->53] holiday and to be directed by Lee Unkrich. Pixar celebrated 20 years in 2006 with the release of Pixar’s seventh feature film, Cars, and held two exhibitions, from April to June 2010, at Science Centre Singapore, in Jurong East, Singapore[->56], and the London Science Museum, London.

It was their first time holding an exhibition in Singapore. The exhibition highlights consist of work-in-progress sketches from various Pixar productions, clay sculptures of their characters, and an autostereoscopic short of a 3D version of the exhibition pieces which is projected through 4 projectors. Another highlight is the Zoetrope, where visitors of the exhibition are shown figurines of Toy Story characters “animated” in real-life through the zoetrope. Pixar celebrated 25 years of animation in 2011 with the release of its twelfth feature film, Cars 2.

Pixar had celebrated its 20th anniversary with the first Cars. The Pixar: 25 Years of Animation exhibition was held at the Oakland Museum of California from July 2010 until January 2011. The exhibition tour debuted in Hong Kong, and was held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, between March 27 and July 11, 2011. Pixar: 25 Years of Animation exhibition included all of the artwork from Pixar: 20 Years of Animation, plus art from Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. Pixar Animation Studios is one of my favorite film companies.

They haven’t been around very long, but I watched them grow into a multi-billion dollar company. I believe their animation is above and beyond other studios. I really like most all of their movies, my favorite being Cars followed by Ratatouille. I’m looking forward to continue watching their company and see what exciting projects it has in store for the future. As fast as technology is growing, Pixar seems to be on the threshold of it all. Teamed up with Disney they will become virtually unstoppable.

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Pixar Animation Studios. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from


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