Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Toy Story 3 shot breakdown

Hopefully you've seen Toy Story 3 at least once by now, so I'll tell you about my contributions to this film.  Minor spoilers ahead, for those who haven't.  This list is in chronological order as they appear in the film, not in the order I completed them.

Operation Playtime - I did a few shots of Buzz and Woody after their plan to play with Andy fails.  Buzz and Woody jump out of the toy box, look at each other, then Woody announces "guys, hold up, we need a staff meeting."  Then he pulls some books over to make a stage and says "Slink, gather everyone up".  Slink says "we are gathered, Woody".  Woody is taken aback, then forges ahead: "okay, we all knew operation playtime was a long shot."  These were my only shots with Buzz and Woody, and I wish I had gotten to do some more.  I was nervous at first, but I found the Woody in particular was really fun to animate.

Sunnyside - I did all the human characters in the shots introducing Bonnie.  Andy's mom walks into the daycare holding the box of toys and starts a conversation with the woman behind the counter.  Meanwhile Bonnie is sitting on the counter playing with a toy monkey.  She reacts shyly to Andy's mom's attention, and then gets curious about what's in the box.  She gets frustrated when she can't see inside it.  These were some pretty challenging shots, since they featured full-body humans, lots of constraint switching, and were the first shots animated of Bonnie.  I referenced my own daughters heavily for inspiration and reference.

Bonnie's playtime - I did some shots of Bonnie playing with Woody.  Having just spit out the "poison" jellybean she says "who would do such a mean thing?", then turns to see Dolly.  "Ah!  The scary witch!  Lookout - she's using her witchy powers!"  She grabs Dolly, runs around the room and jumps on the bed.  She holds up Woody and says for him, "I know where to hide!"

Mrs. Potatohead's remote viewing - this is a looong shot of Andy picking up a box, walking across the room, setting it down, walking to the hallway, climbing a ladder, and looking in the attic.  Then Mom appears and asks what he's up to.  He explains to her about the trash bag he left in the hallway, and she realizes that she mistakenly threw the bag away, and he gets upset.  All this happens from a locked-off, wide-angle camera with no dialog.  At one point Buster the dog obscures our view, but I didn't animate him, just the humans.  This was a tough shot - I had to shoot a LOT of video reference!

Escape - I did the bet where Spanish Buzz first encounters Jessie.  Starting with a slow-motions POV of her head turning to him and saying "Buzz", then he drops to his knees, grabs her hand, and extols her beauty (in Spanish).  It was really tricky to find the right level of caricature and appeal in Spanish Buzz, and we were working in the shadow of Carlos Baena's work on that character.

Goodbye Andy - Here I did some more shots of Bonnie as Andy approaches her house.  She is playing with her toys on the ground: "Are you crazy? You'll wake up all the ghosts!".  Then she pretends to throw pies, and when she sees Andy she calls to her mom.  Later in the montage of her playing with Andy, I did the shot where she bounces Buzz on the cardboard box then bumps the toys in Andy's hands.  He falls back dramatically and she laughs.  If you look closely you will see that I've placed the Totoro at the base of the big oak tree, which seemed the right thing to do.

i also did a couple of shots of the monkey staring at the monitor, but they're not really worth mentioning (though I just did).

Overall I did about 1:40 of production animation (about 24 shots), plus a bunch of preproduction animation to test out the numerous background characters in Sunnyside Daycare - I think this is why I also got a "Character Development" credit.

You can read an interview I did about my TS3 work on Animated Views for more details.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And now for something completely different

I saw this over on Cartoon Brew and it really drew me in. I don't normally go for abstract animation, but I found this quite mesmerizing. I love the color design, timing, and flow of it all. The music is right up my alley too, which doesn't hurt. It's wonderful when clips like this remind you of just how much animation is capable of doing! Apparently A.F.Schepperd directed and animated the whole thing by himself, which is even more impressive.

Q&A on the Wooshii Blog

Here's a link to a Q&A I recently participated in for the blog known as Wooshii.  I talk about my life inside and outside of Pixar.  No Toy Story 3 spoilers, of course!

So... What are you doing this weekend?

It's that time of year again, when I shill for the latest Pixar film which premieres...  Tomorrow!  Yes, in case you somehow missed the media onslaught, you know that Toy Story 3 opens this weekend, and you can probably find a midnight showing tonight if you try hard enough!  I can objectively say that this is a great film, not just another redundant sequel crapped out to squeeze more money from a tired franchise.  Don't trust me?  Just check out Rotten Tomatoes - but don't read the full reviews because they contain spoilers!  I had the pleasure of working on TS3 for a year, and it definitely challenged me as an animator.  Once the film premieres I will talk specifically about the shots I did and the challenges they presented.  In the meantime, here is some friendly advice to consider before you set off to the cinema:
  • Avoid all merchandise.  There are plenty of plot spoilers out there, from Lego kits to Junior novelizations and graphic novels.  Shield your eyes!  Don't spoil the great ending!
  • See it in 3D.  Not that Toy Story 3 is any better in 3D, but the short film that precedes it ("Day and Night") is definitely better in 3D.
  • Don't bring small children.  This movie is darker, scarier, and more intense than its predecessors.  My 5-year-old daughter was fine with it, but I wouldn't take my 3-year-old.
  • Bring a hanky.  You will probably cry in this movie.  Twice.
That's all I can say for now.  I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

World of Color

I wouldn't normally tout a theme park attraction on this blog, but I thought this was worth a mention.   The weekend before last I had the honor* of attending a "dress rehearsal" of a new nighttime spectacle at Disney's California Adventure called "World of Color".  The show takes place on the water in front of the big Ferris Wheel and is quite spectacular.  If you've seen Fantasmic or the water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, it's kind of like that only an order of magnitude greater.  Articulated water spouts, colored lights, lasers, fire bubble, video projections, the works.  The show lasts about 30 minutes and never gets boring.  At many points during the show they project footage of Disney and Pixar films onto sheets of mist, including some of my work from WALL-E.  For some reason, I got a bigger kick out of seeing my stuff on display here than I do on the big screen!  Go figure.  Anyway, I highly recommend checking out the show if you visit Disneyland/DCA.  And if you sit in the front row, you might want to consider bringing a raincoat or a poncho because YOU WILL GET REALLY FREAKIN' WET.  You've been warned.

*one of the many perks of working at Pixar, the best being working at Pixar.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Beautiful Gobelins shorts for Annecy

Here are a couple of "student" films from Gobelins promoting the annual animation festival in Annecy, which starts today. Wish I was there!

Thanks to the LineBoil blog for the find.