Skip to main content

A Tour Of Pixar

Photograph: Alexander Chow-Stuart.
On Friday, December 9, 2011, we enjoyed a most wonderful tour of Pixar Studios, arranged by my good friend, independent producer and ex-head of 20th Century-Fox, Bill Mechanic.

We had lunch with one of Pixar's writers, Simon Rich, whose credits include four years at Saturday Night Live and several of his own novels, including the recently optioned, Elliot Allagash.

Simon was not only fascinating to talk to about writing for Pixar, but showed a genuine interest in talking to our seven year old son, Hudson, about his own forays into animation...and Hudson's love of The New Yorker for its covers and its cartoons, not to mention Hudson's absolute passion for Andrew Stanton's/Pixar's WALL-E, his favorite film of all time, and the one that has done most, in its truly wondrous, extraordinarily moving and breathtaking way, to shape his view of the world and the cosmos.

We were then treated to an incredibly illuminating (to riff on Pixar's iconic lamp, Luxo, shown outside the studio in the accompanying photograph) behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar's "heart" - a beautifully imagined building, created by the designer of the Apple Stores (Steve Jobs himself even had a hand in the central placement of the rest rooms, to encourage social contact), where Pixar's magic is mined and divined as a result of a huge degree of hard work...perhaps mixed with an equal amount of hard play (the animators were wearing kilts in celebration of the studio's Scottish-based, female-centered, rugged and mythical next animated feature, Brave).

We saw one of the massive banks of computers - a twinkling room filled with machines turning binary ones and zeroes into art - where the "rendering" of each frame of film is done: the time-consuming (it takes many hours for each frame) and laborious work, now done by computers, but in pre-Pixar days done by hand, that turns the mix of script, story, humor, characters, background sets and overall esthetic design into individual frames that will eventually transform into a magical, emotionally-stirring motion picture.

We were also treated to our own private screening of a beautiful new Pixar animated short, La Luna.

Many thanks to Grace Thompson, Development Associate, for giving us her time to show us around and answer our many questions with inordinate goodwill and expert knowledge.

We all learned a lot - I know I did! And Paradise and Hudson had a look inside the mythical magic Chocolate Factory. Paradise is especially happy with her plush pink pig (Hamm) from Toy Story, Hudson with his wooden automobiles from Cars.

It was a wonderful, fascinating and unforgettable day for us all. Many thanks to everyone involved, including Mary Coleman, Jim Roderick, Ann Totterdell - and Bill Mechanic!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The High Tower Apartments and The Long Goodbye

This beautiful apartment complex in Los Angeles is called the Hightower or High Tower Complex (the High Tower name refers to the central elevator, I believe), and was designed in 1935-1936 by architect Carl Kay - and made famous in 1973 by my favorite film, Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (see Why I Love Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye).


Although Altman used the building as Philip Marlowe's apartment in his somewhat post-modern Long Goodbye (the film plays with references to Old Hollywood and opens and closes with the song, Hooray For Hollywood), the building has another direct connection to Raymond Chandler.


It was apparently the inspiration for Chandler in his book, The High Window (the first Chandler novel I ever read), in which Chandler describes the residence of Philip Marlowe as being on the cliffs above High Tower Drive in a building with a fancy elevator tower. (Thanks to the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter webpage for that.) 


This ph…

Andrew Hale and Sade

On Thursday evening, we saw our longtime friend Andrew Hale perform with Sade at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, in one of the most beautifully conceived and produced concert performances I have ever seen.

Sade is a rare musician, in that she and the band only write, record and tour every eight to ten years, so that in a very real sense you can measure your life by her.

The band's music is always fresh and always newly conceived - for their previous album, Lovers Rock, they stripped everything down musically to a minimalist sound and banished the saxophone that had been so much a part of Sade's heavily soul- and jazz-influenced style.


The latest album, Soldier of Love, released in 2010, is one of the most tender, moving collections of songs yet, from the astonishingly beautiful Morning Bird, which features exquisite keyboards from Andrew, to the soulful, retro, return-of-the-sax melodies of In Another Time, and the deeply touching, reggae-influenced charm of Babyfather - a partic…

Wong Kar-Wai Compares In The Mood For Love to Hitchcock's Vertigo

Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love is an incomparable film, beautiful in the way music is beautiful. You can enjoy it for its narrative or you can enjoy favorite passages, over and over again. It is one of my go-to films, for reflection, meditation and sheer pleasure.

The quote below, provided by youmightfindyourself on Tumblr, is a fascinating allusion from Wong Kar-Wai, comparing In The Mood For Love to Vertigo. They are both unforgettable films.





Wong Kar-Wai states he was very influenced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo while making this film, and compares Tony Leung’s film character to James Stewart’s:

“The role of Tony in the film reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s in Vertigo. There is a dark side to this character. I think it’s very interesting that most of the audience prefers to think that this is a very innocent relationship. These are the good guys, because their spouses are the first ones to be unfaithful and they refuse to be. Nobody sees any darkness in these characters – a…