Tag Archives: Pixar
So with the imminent release of Brave, Pixar’s latest sampling of visual cocaine I thought an appropriately topical blog post was in order.
It’s no secret that Pixar are the Zeus, Budda and Chuck Norris of the 3D animation world all rolled into one. Well Pixar itself is well aware of this fact as well and every now and again, they like to remind the rest of us none-Pixar animators of who they are. Effectively saying “we have a more talented artists than you as footstools.”
The way they do this is by adding one or two shots that show off some of the ridiculously complicated techniques that they’ve used in the film. Just so there’s no confusion, Pixar didn’t come up with any of these 3D tricks, they just improved the living shit out of them.
It’s pretty obvious what Brave is trying to show off……… pitch prefect Scottish accent simulation. Every actor in the production was actually speaking in a thick New-Delhi accent. That’s how good Pixar is.
In A Bugs Life it was crowd control, the possess of controlling a large group of characters with some simple instructions. Watch it back and you’ll notice there are quite a few lingering shots of the big crowds.
Monsters Inc was Pixar showing that it can do Fur simulation better than real life can.
Finding Nemo – volumetrics. All those pretty underwater shots were made possible by volumetrics.
They were subtle in The Incredibles, most people probably didn’t even see it. There’s one single scene where Bob is talking to his boss and for one quick shot, we cut to a close up of the guys hands as he interlocks his fingers. That was it, soft deformation. May not seem like much but at the time, it blew our freaking minds.
Cars was all about the lighting. All that damn neon was no small feat.
And remember that one shot in Up where the sunlight is shining through the balloons onto a building in over-saturated Technicolor. That’s colour bleeding and it’s complicated as hell to do properly.
So now you know, pretty much every time there’s an out of place shot in a Pixar film, it’s actually them waving their big 3D balls in our collective faces. Hopefully that mental image will stick with you for a bit.
See you next week!
This week is going to be somewhat similar to last week in that it combines two of my favourite things: Comic books and movies. There have been some fantastic comic book movies made in the last few years. In fact, I think the Dark Knight is probably the best movie of the last decade. Even some excellent non-superhero fare has been turned into some pretty highly acclaimed stuff, like A History of Violence and Ghost World. But, what most people think of when they hear the words “comic book” is superhero.
The superhero was born in the medium of comic books, and that’s where they thrive. For whatever reason, sequential art seems to be the main way stories of costumed vigilantes are told. Not the only way, though. I’m going to present three examples of superheroes that were created for movies.
Probably the most obvious example. They’re a family who all have super powers and have to learn to love each other or something. This was made by the studio-that-can-do-no-wrong Pixar, and like all the rest of their movies it’s pretty amazing. As an animated film, it can really take advantage of the limitless imagination that spurs the best superhero stories. It also manages to capture a real sense of family, just like it’s most obvious source of comic book inspiration – The Fantastic Four. In both instances, they are a family first and a team second. They squabble and complain about each other, but they always find a way to work together. Like the best action movies, it has amazing spectacle that’s anchored by real emotion. Even though they’re cartoon characters, you really worry when they fight giant, cyclopean, robot destroyers!
It’s a story that might sound familiar – a man decides to become a superhero in the real world even though he has no powers, abilities, or money. This is the essentially the premise of Defendor, Special, and, most notably, Kick Ass. Kick Ass doesn’t count on this list because it’s based on a comic book, and I haven’t seen the other two… But Super is great! It pushes the envelope to the breaking point. I’m the first to admit it’s not for everyone. It’s violent and a touch disturbing, but it adds up to a fascinating look into a vigilante with a bit of a messed up moral compass. To him, every crime is worthy of the same punishment whether it’s dealing drugs or budding in line – a brutal wrench beating. It’s a comedic take on a character like Rorschach or The Question, except without any talent.
This is the most serious movie on this list. First and foremost, it should be noted that this is by M. Night Shyamalan, and I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea these days. But, Unbreakable stands up there with Sixth Sense as a truly great movie. It’s not as flashy as some of his other movies. In fact, it’s fairly subdued. The performances are all pretty quiet which is especially impressive since it stars Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson. But beyond all that, it’s a superhero origin story. It’s kind of atypical of most superhero origin stories, in that he doesn’t really realize that he has powers for a good chunk of the movie. He’s become so beaten down in his day to day life that he refuses to believe that there’s anything exceptional about him. Gah! Just writing about it makes me want to see it again. It’s very underrated and could be such a great entry point for people who are interested in superheroes but don’t care for the costumes and bombast.