Disney. Pictures. Stuff. And so on…

Posts tagged ‘Pixar’

Monsters University

New viral page for Monsters University. As someone who works for a major university, they nailed it. Enjoy!

Disney Vanity Plates

The good people over at Chip and Co. posted the question “If you got a specialized Disney car tag, what would it say?”

So, I thought I’d do some searching for Disney vanity plates and here’s what I found. These are used under Creative Commons. Just ask if you want me to take one down.

Do you have one? Share it with us! If not, what would you get??

This one flummoxes me, not sure how you get a heart on your plate.

My favorite

Not strictly Disney, I know

It all started with a mouse…


There are precious view visionaries in our lives now. Men and women who see the world differently than you and I, people who know that all it takes is one push, and the culture follows suite. Steve Jobs was one of these people.

The American dream, as we understand it, has always been to make something of yourself using what you were born with. Hard work and ingenuity brings a life of fulfillment and happiness, as well as pushing the boundaries of existence. In the early 21st century, fortunes are won and lost by bartering other people’s fortunes. Moving money around, speculating on stocks, buying and selling foreign currency, reaping the benefits of mortgages, both good and bad, have made thousands of people wealthy in this country. But as America moves closer to a service and financed-based economy, is there still room for the tinker, the inventor, the visionary?

Apple has proven that yes, there’s still room. And much like our beloved Walt Disney, Steve Jobs created not only a product, but a lifestyle and culture that will live long after we’re gone. In the coming weeks, you’ll read a lot about the similarities between Jobs and Disney, it’s no mistake that Disney crafted a relationship with Jobs and Apple years ago. The business plans and philopshies are just too in synch with one anther to be ignored. And for this, fans of Disney and Apple can be grateful. We can hope that like Disney, Jobs put in place people who will carry out his dreams and wishes to keep Apple on a path of success, while never losing sight of the fact that it all started with a mouse…

Followers of Apple’s history have heard the story of a visit to the Xerox headquarters and the discovery of a funny little device that allowed users to interact with their computer’s in a way they never could have before, the mouse. In 1983, Apple introduced the one-button ‘Lisa Mouse’ to the world, and computing never looked back. It was this single device that, in my mind, perfectly sums up Jobs vision of the future: integrating the computer into your life in such a way that it not only becomes essitnatal to your job, it becomes an extension of your body.

Much like Walt Disney, Jobs wanted to bring the user, or guest, into a world crafted to appeal to them. One that worked, almost by magic. One that always promised quality, craftsmanship and happiness. One that once you stepped inside, you’re life would never be the same. I know this sounds bombastic, but look at your life currently. The chances are high you’re reading this on a Mac, or Mac product. I’m writing this on an iMac. I’m getting emails on my iPhone. Searching for photos on my iPad. And if you’re not using the products themselves, you’re using something that was crafted and popularized by Apple: a mouse, a touch screen, a user interface that you manipulate and change to meet your needs.

In 1984, a fact whose irony was not lost on my even at the time, I first used an Apple IIe. The first all in one computer. I sat in a college classroom at the age of 14 at ‘Computer Camp,’ a week of learning BASIC, a simple computer language built on if/then commands. I honestly don’t remember what I learned, but I remember the machines, beige with green screens, it was like going to the future. And as life progessed, I had the honor and pleasure of never using a PC. In close to 20 years of graphic design and art direction, I never used an IBM PC clone. In fact, when I started, you couldn’t do desktop publishing on a PC. I started in PageMaker, moving on to Quark Xpress and now Adobe InDesign. Quark didn’t even make a PC version for years. I had to convince bosses and supervisors that purchasing a computer that frankly cost a lot more than a PC was a good investment in the long term. I bought a Blueberry iMac in 1999 to start a freelance design business. An iPod Shuffle in 2005, an iPod video in 2006, and iPhone in 2008 and an iPad earlier this year. At my current potion, in 13 years, I’ve used 5 different Mac computer models. And in that time, only two hard drive failures. Can the American car industry say that? Steve Jobs created a product that I can no longer live without. These items are integrated into virtually every aspect of my life. I work on them, play on them, share photos with them, teach things to my daughter with them. Every item I’ve created and posted on this blog…from a Mac. Other than Disney, I can think of no other consumer product I use more.

So it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Jobs. As Disney fans, we can thank him for helping to fund Pixar, the company that has set the standard for not only computer animation, but story telling, much like Walt Disney himself. Jobs’ relationship with Disney over the years has pushed both companies forward in ways no one imagined. And that legacy of both men, will continue to do so for years. I’m struck by how affected by his death I’m becoming and coming to terms that no matter how much money you have, or what accomplishments you made, everyone dies. It’s this view that reflects what great men have said since the beginning of history…it’s not what you do, it’s what you leave behind that will be remembered.

You’ll be missed sir.

Disney and Pixar Facebook Profile Pictures

There are a handful of  silhouettes of famous characters out there based on the anonymous profile pic you get when you sign up for Facebook, even a Mickey one. I’ve being playing with these in my off hours here and there and wanted to post and see what you thought.

Wednesday Disney

Why, hello there Disney fans. When you have literally dozens of readers, like yours truly, you are expected to update your blog regulary. Alas, work intrudes, so the updates are fewer. But fear not! I’ve got two interviews I’m working on now, both are fabulous. Yeah, I said fabulous. That’s how I roll.

In the meantime, chew on some fresh Disney, and Disney-related, news, photos and awesomeness.

We kick things off with the new ‘Muppet Movie’ teaser poster. Thanks to Jim over at Jim Hill Media for the heads up.

Some news on the game front, Nintendo World Report reports seeing a new Disney MMPG title for the Wii called ‘Disney Universe’ on Amazon.com. I checked, and the link is gone from Amazon, but I trust the source, so you should too. Play as Tron or Stitch, I’m so there…

Before animatronics, vacuforming and high-res scanning devices, costumes were made using clothe, plastic and some serious hard work. However, there are many of you that remember when Disney park characters lacked a certain ‘I-don’t-know-what.’ Check ’em out here.

My friend Amy at athenienne.tumbler.com finds awesome stuff. Today, she found the above comic cover from the talented folks at Planet Pulp. I think I love the use of Presto DiGiotagione even more than seeing Flick. And please read her blog often. She seems to like Dr. Who…

Excellent Splash Mountain photobomb.

A week ago or so, I twitted about seeing an epic mullet walking to my car after work. Andrew Crawford, @all_or_nothing on Twitter, one-uped me and gave me a photo of the rare ‘Disney Mullet.’ Bask in its flat-top, pony tail glory…

No Disney tattoos this week, if you’ve got one, show me. But in honor of Star Tours 2.0 opening soon, here’s some Boba Fett goodness…

Wednesday Daily Disney

It’s been a few days, so lets jump right in:

Pixar released the first image from it’s new short, La Luna. It looks great, but the man on the right looks an awfully lot like Flint’s dad in ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’

Don’cha think?

Moving on…

This piece of awesomeness is by Andrew Chesworth. He’s an animator and blogger who did this for May 4th.

Leonard Maltin writes about a new auction of Disney artwork including actual letters from Walt over at vegalleries.com.

Included is this beautiful concept painting from Cinderella. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t wait to see a Disney movie in an artistic style like this. Come on Pixar, I’m looking at you…

A great post here about Disney Anniversary celebrations over the years.

Star Tours Live has new pics of the new Star Tours cast member costumes here.

Matt Rhodes, an art director at BioWare, painted some great Disney stuff like the one above, and posted them. Yes, that’s the Genie and Arial escaping Maleficent, Jafar and Ursula. More here.

And some Disney tattoos:

Disney Dispatch

My new column for Disney Dispatch is online here. If you like the shirt, tell Disney…please.

Is Pixar getting it wrong?

This week, Disney/PIXAR released images of ‘Brave,’ Pixar’s 13th animated film. Much has been made about the 4 images, and the fact that this is Pixar’s first ‘fairy tale’ story, first with a female heroine and first to be co-directed by a woman. And these are all very important aspects to Pixar’s evolution as a creative company. My question is, what’s it missing?

Those of you who know me, know I’m a Pixar fan. Their films contain more love, heart, character and story than virtually any other modern movie, be it live-action or animated. Plus, my love of animation is well-known. I grew up on Disney, Hannah-Barbera, Warner Bros. and whatever my mom could check out of the local library for me to watch on a FILM PROJECTOR! That’s correct, there was a time when you could check out actual films from a library, including ‘The Point,’ ‘Wizards,’ the first version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ and so on. You’ve seen these, right? If not, go to Netflix and get ‘em. Have a look at ‘The Last Unicorn’ too.

This was released some time ago when the project was still called 'The Bear and the Bow'

So, with that said, what does this have to do with a film that’s not even finished yet? I have to confess: I’m getting weary of CGI. There I said it. I’ve spent years critiquing the use of CGI and who does it better. Blue Sky Studios (‘Ice Age’) has always had the best water and flame effects; Dreamworks (Shrek), the best props and backgrounds and Pixar for everything else, but are we pushing the computer as far as we can as artists? It takes immense computing power to render an object as life-like; even longer to simulate fabric and hair. There are so many CGI family films that look amazing: ‘Horton Hears a Who,’ ‘Rango,’ ‘Kung Fu Panda,’ ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘How to Train your Dragon’ and so on. But there’s so much more filmmakers could do with all that power.

See what I mean? All gorgous. And all made virtually.

When I see designs, sketches and storyboards for an upcoming CGI movie, I often think, ‘Wow, a movie that looks like that would be awesome.’ Then the movie comes out and it’s all 3-D-y and shiny with an enormous amount of attention to details such as whether or not the light reflects off of a steak properly (for clarification, watch the extras from ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’); but it looks nothing like the sketches. So, when I saw the new ‘Brave’ pics, I thought the same thing, and quickly came to the conclusion that while this film may be absolutely wonderful, I bet it looks more like ‘Tangled’ than ‘Lilo and Stitch.’ ‘Brave’ will be co-directed by Brenda Chapman (The first American woman to direct an animated film: ‘The Prince of Egypt’) and Mark Andrews (Pixar’s ‘One Man Band’), so quality story-telling is not in doubt as far as I’m concerned.

 

Prince of Egypt's parting the Red Sea scene. Outstanding if you haven't seen it.

'One Man Band' was shown in front of 'Cars' in 2005

And I know ‘Lilo and Stitch’ was hand-drawn, not CGI. But those watercolor backgrounds were outstanding. Under Chris Sanders’s direction, the animators went to great lengths to use watercolor to capture the real Hawaii. Were you turned off that the trees didn’t sway in the wind just so, with dozens of individual leaves computer animated for your pleasure? Sanders directed ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and worked on both ‘Mulan’ and “Hercules’ for Disney. He worked on other films as well, but these two along with his modern films show a highly stylized form of story telling. Look at the clouds and smoke in ‘Mulan’ and the hair in ‘Hercules.’ It’s not life-like, but it tells the story.

Have you seen ‘The Secret of the Kells?’ How about ‘Lemony Snicket?’ Or those new ‘Fruity Pebbles’ commercials with claymation Fred and Barney? Computers rendered these. Artists used the computer to simulate clay and models and ancient Irish tapestry design, with beautiful results. So how fantastic would it be to have a movie animated to look like pastels, colored pencils, watercolor or even tiles?  Or even a movie that looks like the end credits of ‘Lemony Snicket’? Last year, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One’ used striking animation involving shadow puppets to tell the story of the Three Brothers. I want an entire movie that looks like that!!! As much as I love ‘Monsters, Inc’ I always wanted to see it in the style of the original story boards, sort of a mid-century children’s book style.

'The Littlest Elf' part of the prologue in 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.' Stop-motion animation done via computer.

From the 'Harry Potter' animation sequence.

The end credits from 'Lemony Snickett'

For more great film title sequences, go to the Art of the Title. WARNING: Some images shown are NSFW and may offend some.

‘The Secret of the Kells’ works so well, I amazed more studios don’t pay attention. The story is told through animation that mimics Renaissance tapestries and monk-produced books. Everything is flat and the film goes so far as to frame a lot of scenes in what would have been considered decoration at the time. I felt it worked perfectly.

'The Secret of the Kells'

There was a time when animators took huge risks. Ever seen ‘Yellow Submarine?’ Can you imagine selling that story in that style now? No, you can’t. Robert Zemeckis tried to, pitching it using that same bizzaro-world MoCap animation that he seems so fond of, and Disney would have done it too if not for that meddling ‘Mars Needs Moms.’ It’s one of the few things for which we can be thankful, from what’s turned into quite the debacle for the Mouse. Ralph Bashki took great big, giant chances in his films, intercutting and superimposing live action footage on top of animation for dramatic effect. Seeing a real Fred Willard in ‘Wall*E’ shocked a lot of die-hard Pixar fans, are we really that far removed from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’

The Balrog scene from Bashki's version of the 'The Lord of the Rings'

And all this leads me to my point. With the sheer amount of artistry in the modern animated film business, the time seems ripe for a movie lauded not for its amazing life-like skin tones, but its remarkable use of using Matisse-style cutouts to tell the story of a little girl’s love for her favorite pet and their journey of discovery after surviving a catastrophe. Or something like that. You get the point. Look at the photos from ‘Brave.’ All that rich, textured, vibrant pastel color. I’d rather see Princess Merida’s hair look like that than wonder how many processing hours it took to render every individual strand of hair. Yes, it’s pretty to look at, but is it pushing the story forward? Would ‘Tangled’ have been any worse if her hair hadn’t looked real?  Filmmakers tend to forget that if the story is good enough, people will accept almost anything. (‘Um, we want to make a movie about talking toys that get lost. And we’ll do it on a computer…’; see what I mean?) Walt Disney valued true craftsmanship in his animators and encouraged taking chances. There are any number of animated films from other countries that are pushing boundaries in form and aesthetic. I wonder if one of the big three U.S. animation studios will ever take the leap? Will I have to produce my own?

Early 'Monsters, Inc.' concept art

Many, many thanks to my dear friend Fay ‘The Fotini’ Salvaras for her help with proofing and editing this.

Images are owned by their respective studios.

Ever wanted to vacation on Nomanisan Island?

Over at the Disney/Pixar YouTube page, you can find a nee video extolling the beauty of Nomanisan Island as a vacation destination. Where have you heard of this paradise before? It was Syndrome’s lair in The Incredibles!

The piece is an ad for the upcoming Blu-ray release of The Incredibles. Clearly Woody Allen is a fan…

NEW!! Pixar iPhone Wallpapers

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