Pixar: BUILDING CHARACTERS
Though Pixar Animation Studios is known for the fantastical ideas that power their films—toys that come to life, an old man flying his house away with thousands of balloons, a family of superheroes—the stories come from the everyday ups and downs of the filmmakers’ own lives. “Our stories talk about the challenges, successes, and joys of our own experiences,” says Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter. “We tell those stories through the metaphors of characters and worlds we’d like to see brought to life.”
From the earliest back-of-envelope notes and sketches to the finishing touches of lighting and effects, Pixar’s filmmakers constantly strive to support the characters’ emotional journey with all the tools at their disposal. Everything you see on screen is designed and built from scratch with the story’s specific needs in mind. Though this is an incredible amount of work, it’s also an incredible opportunity, giving the studio’s filmmakers an unparalleled degree of precision and power in their visual storytelling.
This exhibit will give you an inside view of Pixar’s visual design process, from the perspective of the artists themselves. Though the pieces in these rooms are no more than the smallest fraction of the art that has been created at the studio, they give a sense of the years of experimentation, deliberation, and iteration that go into every film.
April 14 – August 22, 2021
November 26, 2020 – March 21, 2021
Pixar: 30 Years Of Animation
Many people don’t realize that we have many artists at Pixar working in traditional media—hand drawing, painting, pastels, sculpture—as well as digital media. Most of their work takes place during the development of a project, when we’re working out the story and the look of the film. The wealth of beautiful art created for each movie is rarely seen outside the studio, and the finished film we send around the world would never be possible without it.
Computer animation is both an extraordinarily liberating and extraordinarily challenging medium. While it contains no limits except those that you choose for yourself, it also contains nothing, down to the smallest detail, that you do not create yourself. You get nothing for free.
The development stage, the time before we build our digital world, is the time when we have the most creative freedom. We encourage our artists to explore as much as possible, to let their imaginations run wild. In turn, their art inspires our storytellers and filmmakers to new heights.
In the early days of computer animation, people used to ask us if the computer made the film. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then. It’s been deeply gratifying to have our medium recognized for the art form that it is. In the years since the Museum of Modern Art in New York premiered Pixar: 20 Years of Animation, the exhibition has been updated and traveled around the world, throughout Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and Australia. It’s been wonderful to bring this inside look at the studio to so many different countries and to see how enthusiastically everyone has greeted the work of our talented artists.