Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

At last week’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, The Walt Disney Company unveiled the first look of a 3D model for its new “Star Wars” attraction, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” which was first announced at the same Expo two years ago. The planned exhibitions, to be housed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, will cost $1 billion each and open in 2019. The exhibitions will be the most immersive the company has offered in a theme park, and will include a themed hotel, allowing guests to have a “Westworld”-like experience. Continue reading Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

HPA Tech Retreat: Pixar Team Talks Localization, ‘Inside Out’

A team from Pixar talked about the massive amount of work the company puts into “localization” or “regionalization” of every film they make. “John Lasseter, from the early days, placed a high importance on creating content for international markets, without the disruptive experience of subtitles or language they don’t understand,” said Pixar executive Cynthia Lusk. “That’s been a priority for the studio since ‘Toy Story.’” Lusk said that they regard each movie as a snowflake, with a different approach from title to title. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Pixar Team Talks Localization, ‘Inside Out’

Nintendo Characters Come to Life with Interactive Gameplay

Nintendo recently released a Wii U version of the popular “Super Smash Bros.” in addition to a series of Amiibo toy figurines designed for interactive gameplay. While facing the growing popularity of less expensive games for mobile devices, Nintendo has also recently struggled to compete with other console manufacturers, leading to disappointing overall sales of its Wii U. Nintendo hopes that the Amiibo line can reignite interest in some of its most beloved characters such as Mario and Luigi. Continue reading Nintendo Characters Come to Life with Interactive Gameplay

Marvel Superheroes to Appear On Tour and Disney Cruise Ship

Hero Ventures will produce “The Marvel Experience,” a $30 million attraction featuring Marvel superheroes that plans to go on tour beginning next year. The first person superhero experience will include a 4D motion ride, 3D animation, motion comics, virtual reality and holographic simulations. In related news, Disney recently announced that it will also feature a number of Marvel’s superheroes aboard its Disney Magic cruise ship as part of its Oceaneer Club for kids. Continue reading Marvel Superheroes to Appear On Tour and Disney Cruise Ship

Waiting in Long Lines at Theme Parks Can Actually Be Fun

Our community member Lee Lanselle of the Entertainment Development Group and AsiaParks Partners Limited forwarded interesting news regarding how theme parks are ensuring that guests are not bored while waiting in long lines. Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flags are among those that have incorporated interactive elements, animatronic characters, and even play areas for kids so that park attendees can be entertained while they wait in line for a ride. Continue reading Waiting in Long Lines at Theme Parks Can Actually Be Fun

Viewer Email: Pixar CEO John Lasseter Answers Fan Questions

  • CEO John Lasseter answers New York Times readers’ emails as Pixar Animation Studios turns 25 this year.
  • Lasseter on Walt Disney: “The films take me to other worlds through the amazing stories and characters…He really inspired me to do my life’s work and to try to entertain audiences in that same way.”
  • On his favorite animated feature: “‘Dumbo’ is my favorite film for many reasons. It’s very tight storytelling. It’s amazing to have a main character not speak at all through the whole movie.”
  • On CalArts: “The original instructors were all these amazing Disney artists that had gone into retirement, and so they came out of retirement to teach us.”
  • On advice for aspiring animators: “Every young person gets so excited about new software packages and new technology. Technology never entertains an audience on its own. It’s what you do with the technology.”
  • Steve Jobs during the making of ‘Toy Story’: “John, you know at Apple when I make computers, what is the lifespan of this product, two years, three years at the most, and then about five years, they’re like a doorstop. But if you do your job right, these films can last forever.”

Company Culture: Former CTO Outlines 5 Secrets to Pixar Success

  • Oren Jacob, Pixar’s former CTO, talks about the company’s keys to their success: Honesty about the quality of their films, a willingness to address problems quickly, looking at the source of problems, storyboarding out the issues, and hiring people that fit the company culture.
  • The story behind the overhaul of “Toy Story 2” was presented regarding the importance to: “Be honest with yourself. When the work isn’t great, say so. Then get to work making something you can believe in.”
  • Fast Company also points out the company’s hiring philosophy: “When Pixar is evaluating potential hires they look for three traits: humor, the ability to tell a story, and an example of excellence.”
  • And one of the more interesting lessons (applicable to a range of businesses): “Sketching storyboards and acting out scripts are the currency of ideas at Pixar. Try a variety of different media to find what works best for you and your organization.”