To infinity… and beyond!
Pixar has become one of the premiere animation studios in the film industry, but they had humble beginnings. The company started as a subsidiary of Lucasfilm, became a hardware company under the prescient gaze of Steve Jobs, and broke out later to make the first computer animated film, Toy Story, which changed film and animation forever. The backbone of all their success has always been the short films. What could have been mere examples of evolving computer imagery (as most computer animation was done in its infancy), Pixar took the medium and paired it with clever storytelling, compelling characters, and groundbreaking technology. This tried and true formula is still what makes Pixar the storytelling powerhouse that it is today. Despite being a very successful feature film company, they continue to make short films. They offer new, talented filmmakers a chance to show what they can do, and for the animators and innovators, they get to see how far they can push computer animation into a new frontier. This infographic is a brief look at some of the shorts Pixar has created, with a little bit of historical information as well as some fun facts. Enjoy!
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Pixar Short Films Transcription
1984 - The Adventures of André and Wally B.
This short was created under Pixar's original name, The Graphics Group. It did not have a theatrical release at the time, but premiered at SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Groups on Graphics and Interactive Techniques), an annual computer graphics conference. The characters of André and Wally B. are named after the characters seen in the classic Louis Malle film My Dinner with Andre.
- Trivia!: Wally B. is featured on the Lasseter Family wine labels.
1986 - Luxo Jr.
Luxo Jr. is the first Pixar short ever made after separating from Lucasfilm. The short introduced classic Disney-style character animation to computer animation, something unprecedented at the time. The film premiered at SIGGRAPH yet again to wide acclaim, and even garnered a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: Luxo and Luxo Jr. appeared in specially-created spinoff shorts on Sesame Street.
1987 - Red's Dream
Red's Dream also premiered at SIGGRAPH. Portions were rendered using the Pixar Image Computer, the hardware the company was trying to sell at the time. It is perhaps the saddest of all the Pixar shorts, but convinced Disney animators that computer animation was capable of conveying emotion on the level of traditional 2D animation.
- Trivia!: Right at the beginning of the short there is a hidden André on the clock, which starts a tradition of sneaking Pixar Easter Eggs into nearly every film.
1988 - Tin Toy
The short, like all the others, first premiered partially at SIGGRAPH. Audiences lauded the short as a breakthrough in computer animation. The film went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, the first computer-animated film to do so. At the time, animators said that animating the film was the hardest thing they'd ever done.
- Trivia!: Tin Toy is about toys coming to life, an idea that never quite died at Pixar. The idea eventually convinced Disney into producing Toy Story with Pixar, the first computer-animated feature film.
1989 - Knick Knack
Knick Knack was inspired by Chuck Jones and Tex Avery style cartoons, with the focus on physical comedy and gags. This was the last short created by Pixar while it was still a hardware company. Unfortunately, the Pixar Image Computer was considered too expensive and never quite took off. The animation wing of the company, however, was better than ever.
- Trivia!: In re-releases of Knick Knack, the female figures had their breast size decreased because in the original they were deemed too large and emphasized.
Sidetracked by Commerical Work
Remember the Listerine commercials where the bottle was swinging on a vine like Tarzan, or the dancing gummy Lifesavers and the Lifesavers "Holes" that had a fun and exciting day at the beach? Yep, that was Pixar. The commercial endeavor allowed their artists to master their art while pre-production on Toy Story began in mid-1991, eventually solidifying Pixar as a major new voice in film and animation.
1997 - Geri's Game (released with A Bug's LIfe)
Following Toy Story, this Academy Award winner was the first short created. It featured an elderly man, Geri, playing chess with himself in a park reminiscent of the one in The Adventures of André and Wally B. Geri was the first leading human character as a test for human and clothing movement believability.
- Trivia!: Geri would reappear later in Toy Story 2, as the toy repair expert. If you look closely inside his toolbox, you will see chess pieces; a nod to the original short.
2000 - For the Birds (released with Monster's Inc.)
For the Birds was the only project (so far) to be directed by Ralph Eggleston, a longtime Pixar animator and art director. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
- Trivia!: In both Cars and Inside Out, you'll see the same birds from this short sitting on telephone wires.
2003 - Boundin' (released with The Incredibles)
This short was directed, produced, written, starred, narrated, and had music created by Bud Luckey, Pixar's fifth animator. He was a veteran of the animation industry and was responsible for many recognizable TV commercials. Boundin' was nominated for the Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: bud Lucky's son, Andy, inspired the name of Andy in Toy Story.
2005 - One Man Band (released with Cars)
One Man Band features two musicians competing for a tip. The makers of the short worked with a large orchestra for the music, and had to gradually increase the complexity so it would be believable that the musicians were actually playing all the instruments. The short also went on to be nominated for the Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: this short was co-directed by Mark Andrews, who would go on to co-direct Brave.
2006 - Lifted (released with Ratatouille)
Lifted was the directorial debut of Gary Rydstrom, a multiple Oscar Award winner for sound editing and sound mixing. He worked on such films as Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, Jurassic Park, and Terminator 2. Lifted received a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: The control board that Stu, the alien, uses in the short is inspired by the complicated mixing boards Rydtrom was familiar with in his work sound mixing and editing.
2008 - Presto (released with WALL-E)
The film was directly inspired by classic cartoon hijinks as seen in Tom and Jerry and the classic Looney Tunes shorts. Many of the secondary character models are from Ratatouille, which made development time much shorter and easier. Presto went on to be nominated for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: Presto, the magician, is based on classic Hollywood actor William Powell.
2009 - Partly Cloudy (released with Up)
Partly Cloudy features clouds and storks delivering all kinds of babies to the world below. This was inspired by the scene in the Disney classic, Dumbo, where the stork picks up Dumbo in the clouds to be delivered to his mother. Partly Cloudy was the directorial debut of Pete Sohn, who would go on to direct The Good Dinosaur for Pixar.
- Trivia!: The director Pete Sohn inspired the character of Russell in Up, he was the voice of Emil in Ratatouille, and was the voice and visual inspiration for Squishy in Monsters University.
2010 - Day & Night (released with Toy Story 3)
This was only the second short to be a combination of 2D and 3D animation after Your Friend the Rat. With traditionally drawn characters on one layer and 3D "windows" behind the drawn lines, the film had a unique visual depth when seen in 3D. The short was also nominated for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards.
- Trivia!: The speech heard in the film is a recording of Dr. Wayne Dyer, a self-help guru, writer, and speaker. Director Teddy Newton heard these speeches as a young man and never forgot them.
2011 - La Luna (released with Brave)
It features a child named Bambino and his family crew cleaning the falling stars off of the moon. Director, Enrico Casarosa, was born in Italy and drew inspiration from all the fairytale and fanciful stories he heard during his childhood. To give the film a hand-made quality, they used real watercolor and pastels for textures and backgrounds.
- Trivia!: Casarosa said he was inspired by the timeless work of Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.
2013 - The Blue Umbrella (released with Monsters University)
The film served as a test and experiment for new rendering techniques called "Global Illumination" which allowed for more complicated types of photorealistic lighting and reflection. It was perhaps the most realistic animation ever done at Pixar at the time. Director Saschka Unseld said he got the idea for the film when he was in San Fransisco on a rainy day and found an abandoned umbrella.
- Trivia!: The film's score was done by Jon Brion, an industry veteran who also scored such films as Magnolio, Punch Drunk Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I Heart Huckabees.
2014 - Lava (released with Inside Out)
Lava was viewed theatrically by Inside Out moviegoers, but actually premiered nearly a year before that release at the 2014 Hiroshima International Animation Festival. It is the directorial debut of James Ford Murphy, longtime Pixar animator who currently holds the title of Head of Pixar Animation. He was inspired by the Hawaiian underwater volcano, Lo'ihi.
- Trivia!: Uku, the lonely volcano, is visually based on actor Jackie Gleason and Marc Antony, the Looney Tunes bulldog character.
2015 - Sanjay's Super Team (released with The Good Dinosaur)
Sanjay's Super Team is set to release during The Good Dinosaur (November 25th in the US). Director Sanjay Patel based this idea on his own experiences growing up as the story follows a young Indian boy daydreaming of a "what if" scenario where the Hindu gods are all superheroes, effectively combining his parent's religious heritage with his own passion for comic books.
- Trivia!: The film's setting is based on The Lido Motel along old Route 66, where Patel worked with his parents as a child.
Feature Spinoff Shorts
2002 - Mike's New Car (Monsters, Inc.)
Mike's New Car is the first spinoff short to feature characters from a Pixar feature film. It's the first Pixar short to use extensive dialogue not delivered by a narrator or voice over.
- Trivia!: All the original voice cast returned, including Billy Crystal and John Goodman, and was co-directed by the Monsters, Inc. director, Pete Docter.
2005 - Jack Jack Attack (The Incredibles)
This short was inspired by a scene that was cut out of the feature film. They liked the idea so much they thought it would make a great short. Like Mike's New Car, all the original voice cast returned.
- Trivia!: Agent Rick Dicker is voiced by none other than Boundin' director, Bud Lucky.
2006 - Mater & The Ghostlight (Cars)
Mater & the Ghostlight was directed by Pixar creative genius, John Lasseter, who also directed the original Cars (and Toy Story). All of the original voice talent returned for the short.
- Trivia!: The Ghostlight is inspired by a real Missouri legend known as the Spooklight, the Hornet Spooklight, Hollis light, and the Joplin Spook Light—a strange light that would appear at a certain time of day on the Missouri countryside.
2007 - Your Friend the Rat (Ratatouille)
Your Friend the Rat was the first Pixar short to feature traditional hand-drawn animation and is the longest Pixar short at 11 minutes running time. The entire original voice cast returned, including Pete Sohn as Emil, director of The Good Dinosaur.
- Trivia!: There is a WALL-E cameo in the film (driving the futuristic bus), which was at the time still unreleased.
2008 - BURN-E (WALL-E)
The short film features BURN-E, as seen in the feature film WALL-E, and fills in some gaps in the film's story from BURN-E's perspective. It was directed by the feature film's lead animator, Angus Maclane, who is currently co-directing Finding Dory for Pixar.
- Trivia!: BURN-E stands for Basic Utility Repair Nano Engineer.
2009 - Dug's Special Mission (Up)
Dug's Special Mission works as a prologue to the feature film, showing the special mission that Dug was on before he ran into Russell and Carl. It was the directorial debut of Ronnie Del Carmen, who would go on to co-direct Inside Out.
- Trivia!: Screenwriter of Up, Bob Peterson, provided the voice for Dug.
2009 - George & A.J. (Up)
With a limited animation style that is reminiscent of storyboards, George & A.J. poses inconsistencies with the feature film, including differences in dialogue, character placement, and spellings.
- Trivia!: One of the news tickers claims that a Charles Muntz biopic is in production (he was the villain in the feature film).
2012 - The Legend of Mor'du (Brave)
The Legend of Mor'du explains the backstory and origin of the main villain from the feature film, Mor'du. The short combines 2D and 3D animation, and uses motion-comic movements with concept art to get its unique, stylized look.
Trivia!: Steve Purcell voices the Crow, and is also well known for creating the cult favorite comic book characters, Sam & Max.
2013 - Party Central (Monsters University)
Party Central was originally intended to be released with The Good Dinosaur, but that film was postponed to 2015 so the short went with Muppets Most Wanted. The entire original voice cast from Monsters University returned.
- Trivia!: It's the first PG-rated Pixar short and only the second Disney animation short to be given the rating since 1990's Roger Rabbit cartoon Roller Coaster Rabbit.
2015 - Riley's First Date? (Inside Out)
This short picks up where the film left off, showing Roley's (sort-of) first date and her parents' reactions. The boy from the end of the feature film, Jordan, makes an appearance. The entire original voice cast returned.
- Trivia!: The short is directed by Josh Cooley, who directed the short George & A.J. and is currently set to co-direct Toy Story 4.
2008-2012 - Cars Toons
The Cars Toons (a fun take on "cartoons") premiered in 2008. They're short films using the Cars characters and settings for inspiration.
- 2008 - Rescue Squad Mater
- 2008 - Mater the Greater
- 2008 - El Matador
- 2008 - Tokyo Mater
- 2009 - Unidentified Flying Mater
- 2010 - Monster Truck Mater
- 2010 - Heavy Metal Mater
- 2010 - Moon Mater
- 2010 - Mater Private Eye
- 2011 - Air Mater
- 2012 - Time Travel Mater
2011-2012 - Toy Story Toons
Toy Story Toons, like the Cars Toons, are short film subjects that feature all of the original Toy Story characters after the film Toy Story 3, with the original voice cast returning.
- 2011 - Hawaiian Vacation
- 2011 - Small Fry
- 2012 - Partysaurus Rex
2013-2014 - Tales from Radiator Springs
Continued shorts from the world of Cars, all these shorts were directed by Jeremy Lasky and released on the Disney Channel.
- 2013 - Hiccups
- 2013 - Spinning
- 2013 - Bugged
- 2014 - The Radiator Springs 500 1/2
2013 - 2014 - Toy Story TV Specials
When Pixar was first working out their deal with Disney, they pitched the idea of a Tin Toy TV special to prove they could do a feature film. If Pixar could do 30 minutes, they could do 90, so they went ahead with pre-production on Toy Story. Decades later, Pixar finally got into television specials with the Toy Story franchise.
- 2013 - Toy Story of Terror!
- 2014 - Toy Story That Time Forgot
Sources: Pixar.com, Wikia.com, Pixar Commentary Tracks
Do you have a favorite Pixar short or Pixar film? Please let us know in the comments below! The Good Dinosaur will be hitting theaters on the 25th and you don't want to miss the release of the newest short. Also, Christmas time is right around the corner so if you are looking for some great gift ideas, we have all the Pixar and Disney gifts you could want right here!
Design Credit: Kate Lemke