Pixar Animation Studios
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Pixar Animation Studios is located in Emeryville, CA and officially separated as its own corporation on February 3, 1986 when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs became the majority stake holder.
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Pixar Animation Studios History
Pixar Animation Studios is a household name to many animation fans all across the globe. It is has bought over seventeen movie thrills to our screens from the Toy Story, to Finding Nemo, and not forgetting The Incredibles.
Pixar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. It has won numerous Academy Awards and is world-renowned for its creativity and impressive production capabilities in computer animation, which has seen the creation of some of the most beloved and successful animation features of all time. With that said, let’s now see how this production powerhouse came into being.
In The Beginning
Pixar’s birth is dated back in 1979 where it started as The Graphic Group, which was part of the computer division of a production company owned by George Lucas, Lucas Film. Dr. Ed Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology was recruited by Lucas to head the Computer Graphics Lab.
The task of The Graphics Group was to develop the best computer technology to be employed in the film industry. They were also asked to create a digital film editing system, a digital film printer, and a sound editing system.
1983 saw the entry of John Lasseter into The Graphics Group where the team worked on a short film, The Adventures of Andre & Wally B. He was then hired for full-time as an interface designer the following year. A partially finished version of the feature premiered in 1984 with the technology used in its production is regarded as groundbreaking at that time.
The computer whiz, Steve Jobs bought Lucasfilms’s computer division in 1986 after his departure from Apple Inc. He then established an independent company under the name Pixar. Jobs acted as the Chief Executive Officer of Pixar Animation until 2006.
The Starting Point
In August 1986, John Lasseter’s Luxo Jr debuted, premiering at the SIGGRAPH conference. It was a short film comedy and marked the first release of the company after Jobs took over.
Ever wondered where Pixar’s hopping desk lamp that appears in the company’s logo came from? The title character of this feature, desk lamp Luxo Jr is the inspiration behind the logos mascot. Completing the film in time for the SIGGRAPH conference was such a challenging undertaking that Catmull and Lasseter were forced to work tirelessly.
In fact, Lasseter slept under his desk to be in the studio early enough in the mornings. Their hard work paid off as the feature received a nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film.
Luxo Jr went down in history books as the first CGI film to receive an Academy Award nomination, and in 2014 the Liberty for Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Tiny Toy, another Lasseter creation brought home Pixar’s first Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Let’s Talk Software
In 1989, the company released RenderMan a software that would eventually become the standard software for rendering computer graphics in the film industry. As CEO, Jobs expanded the company’s cutting edge animation and graphics capabilities by joining forces with Colossal pictures, animation, live-action, and special effects studio in 1989.
Colossal’s background and experience in broadcast media together with Pixar’s exemplary computer capabilities made the partnership realize tremendous success.
By 1990, RenderMan licensing fee finally began paying off. The software was endorsed by various industry heavyweights such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Intel Corporation, and digital Equipment. It was such a game-changer that in 2001, Ed Catmull, Rob Cook, and Loren Carpenter were awarded an Academy Award, the first of its kind to be given to a software package.
Disney’s Entry into the Picture
Walt Disney and Pixar Animation announced an agreement in 1991 to producing and distributing at least one animated film that was computer-generated. The deal came to reality in November 1995 with the award-winning Toy Story. The movie saw Lasseter awarded a Special Achievement Oscar in 1996.
With the collaboration of the two companies yielding such favorable results, in 1997 the studios again declared an agreement of producing 5 movies in 10 years. The partnership saw the creation of A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles.
Accolades and Big Dollars
Pixar Animation picked up 5 Academy Awards in 1997 and 1998. William Reeves received the Scientific & Engineering Academy Award while Rick Sayre got the Technical Achievement Academy Award in 1997. The following year saw Geri’s Game take home Best Animated Film, while William Reeves, Tom Duff, Eben Ostby, and Thomas Porter carried the Scientific and Engineering Award during the 70th Academy Awards.
Pixar and Disney’s pack of 5 films in 10 years between 1998 and 2004 led to the production of films that received a total of 14 Academy Awards nominations. The 2001 Monster’s Inc grossed $100 million in just 9 days in the U.S. alone, faster than any other animated film at that time. Finding Nemo grossed $940 while The Incredibles brought in $633 million in earnings.
Other big money earners include 2007’s Ratatouille, 2008’s WALL-E, 2009’s Up, 2011’s Cars 2, 2013’s Monsters University, and 2015’s Inside out. Toy Story 3 released in 2010 is Pixar’s highest-grossing animated film and is the third highest-grossing animated film of all time earning over $1.066 billion. Followed closely by Finding Dory follows with revenues exceeding $1.023 making it the 4th highest-grossing animated movie ever.
Disney Takes Over
In 2006, Cars was the last film Pixar Animation produced as an independent company before its purchase from Steve Jobs by Walt Disney in a $7.4 billion acquisition deal. With Disney on the wheel, Ed Catmull was made the president and John Lasseter became the Chief Creative Officer of the newly merged Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
What the Future Holds
Pixar Animation has entertained the world with a ton of family thrills for more than 30 years now and is showing no signs of putting the brakes on. The world does not have enough of their stories, and for that reason, several films are currently in various production stages.
In November 2017, you can expect the release of Coco, the tale of a musician desperate to show his talent by embarking on an extraordinary journey. The Incredibles will once again be on screens with its sequel in June 2018. John Lasseter will be back in action as the director of Toy Story 4, which is due to be released in 2019.
Having so much more to come, all we can do is wait patiently for Pixar Animation to take us from reality to the fun world of animation where entertainment is inevitable.
Here is a list of Pixar animated movies starting with the most recent.
- Toy Story 4
- Incredibles 2
- Cars 3
- Finding Dory
- The Good Dinosaur
- Inside Out
- Monsters University
- Cars 2
- Toy Story 3
- The Incredibles
- Finding Nemo
- Monster, Inc.
- Toy Story 2
- A Bug’s Life
- Toy Story
Also check out DreamWorks Animation Studios