Don Quixote 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Moviegoers who love animated movies know that there is one studio that towers
about the rest in terms of quality, inventiveness and every other measure of
success: Pixar. Pixar has brought us the Toy Story series, as well as such other
gems as A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, Ratatouille, Wall*E, Monsters Inc.
and The Incredibles.
So animated film fans will be delighted to learn
that two of Pixar’s masters, Matthew Luhn, a story supervisor, and Andrew
Gordon, an animator, will be visiting Israel to give a Pixar Master Class as
part of the Animation in Pessah Festival. The festival will take place from
April 20-23 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the Israeli Animation College
(Hamichlala Ha’israelit Le’animatzia) and is being sponsored by the
The master class is designed for adult animators who are serious
about their craft, but the festival includes programs and films for animation
lovers of all ages.
There will be more than 30 workshops, including
workshops about 3-D animation, stop-motion animation done with clay, comics,
creating video games, and screenings of animated films around the
“This Pixar Master Class goes to many places in the world, and we
are very pleased that they have decided to come to Israel,” says Kfir Ram, the
director of the Israeli Animation College and one of the co-directors of the
Polygon Animation Studio in Tel Aviv.
The local animation scene is
flourishing, according to Ram, who says that many animated cartoons shown around
the world, on networks such as Nickelodeon, are produced in Israel.
Luhn and Gordon of Pixar are looking forward to visiting Israel. Luhn, who
hasn’t been to Israel since he was 13 years old, has worked on all three of the
Toy Story movies, as well as Up, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Cars.
what’s Pixar’s secret for making movies that strike such a deep chord with
audiences of all ages? (Remember, Toy Story 3 received an Oscar nomination for
Best Picture, as well as for Best Animated Feature, for which it won an Oscar.)
It’s simple, according to Luhn.
“Pixar created an environment where
creative people could be creative without any pressure from producers or
managers,” he says. “With that being said, creative people need to know how to
make good stories. We are creating movies that are not just for kids, but that
doesn’t mean creating films that are rated ‘R’ for violence. It means showing
real characters going through real adult character arcs, whether it’s a car or a
fish or a toy. Take Woody in Toy Story 1, 2 and 3. His inner conflict in all
three movies is that he fears being abandoned. That’s the one fear he bases all
his decisions on in all three movies. Whether he fears being abandoned because
Buzz is the cool new toy [in Toy Story] or because his arm is ripped [in Toy
Story 2] or because his owner is growing up [in Toy Story 3], it’s always the
fear of abandonment.
Kids and adults both need to feel for the main
character and have to relate to them.”
The Pixar studio has a unique (and
uniquely successful) system for creating its films, says Luhn: “For Pixar
movies, we don’t start with a script. We start with an idea, and then we have
five story artists and a director and a writer work on it. We put together the
idea for the movie, decide who the characters will be, and we also write it.
After we figure it out, we draw up the storyboards.”
Storyboarding is a
process that Luhn likens to “drawing giant comic books” in which virtually every
shot is represented.
“You then re-storyboard them and re-storyboard,” he
says, in a process that takes years. “You constantly try to perfect the story
you are trying to tell and try to make it look as if it were easily put
Each story artist is assigned certain scenes or sequences. “I
came up with Tourguide Barbie,” says Luhn, with a touch of well-earned pride.
“And also the crossing the road sequence.”
In Toy Story 3
, “I created
Mr. Pricklepants,” the hedgehog, and the Spanish-speaking Buzz
To learn more secrets from the Pixar vault and to take your
children to an affordable and creative festival this Pessah, go to the festival
site at www.ani-mator.com. Matthew Luhn’s site on teaching cartooning is