Pixar Short Films & A Way Through The Company’s History

Does anyone here agree with me on how AMAZING Pixar is? I’ve always loved its movies, ever since I have memory. But what I want to point out in this post is not precisely Pixar’s long-lenght movies. Instead, I want to focus on those awesome three or four minutes you get to see BEFORE the feature films: I’m talking about Pixar Shorts. Because, apart from being as great as any other thing Pixar does, they are a very interesting way to get to know more about the company’s history. What I did here was to write a brief comment about each short film Pixar ever did, including a video of it (as most of them are in HD, you can see them full screen perfectly), plus a bit of info about what was going on with Pixar at the time the short was released. It all took a lot of work, so I really hope you like the post. And here we go! 🙂

The Adventures of André & Wally B. (1984)

This film is considered Pixar’s first animated short, though it was actually made by its predecessor, Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group, a part of George Lucas’ production company (yeah, THAT George Lucas). Having recently been fired from Disney, John Lasseter was the one in charge of animation in the film, which was very restrictive since only geometric shapes could be animated. Nevertheless, Lasseter and his team worked hard and found the way to make it work. And it was totally worth it. The Adventures of André & Wally B., using totally new techniques such as blur motion and complex 3D backgrounds, became really revolutionary and was the starting point of the huge company we now know as Pixar.

Luxo Jr. (1986)

At the beginning of the year 1986, Lucas Film Computer Graphics Group was purchased by Steve Jobs (you probably knew that already, but in case you didn’t: yeah, I’m talking about THAT Steve Jobs), who had resigned from Apple the previous year. Renamed as Pixar, the company created its first film as an independent studio, a short called Luxo Jr. With it, John Lasseter showed what Pixar was capable of, introducing new techniques, like the one used to simulate light and shadows. Luxo Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Animated Short Film) and its animated lamp became Pixar’s icon.

Red’s Dream (1987)

To tell you the truth, this is my least favourite of Pixar’s short films, since I think it is quite depressing. However, the film came in handy for the creative team to explore new territories. Nighttime scenes as the ones used in it were quite uncommon in digital animation at the time, and added to the raindrops, juggling and the use of an organic character (the clown) for the first time, Red’s Dream meant a real challenge.

Tin Toy (1988)

On the other hand, I think Tin Toy is lovely! The toy itself is really expressive and sweet, and doesn’t the whole thing remind you of Toy Story? Besides, the film was Pixar’s first attempt at creating a human form with digital animation. Oh!, and it was also its first film to win an Oscar (Best Animated Short Film).

Knick Knack (1989)

After creating such a difficult film as Tin Toy, this short was kind of a relief for the Pixar team, since it consists mainly of geometric shapes and plastic surfaces. Two years later, in 1991, Pixar made a deal with its partner Disney to produce three-computer-animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. Tin Toy was the last short film to be made before it.

Geri’s Game (1997)

Geri’s Game (amazing, in my opinion), was attached to the theatrical release of A Bug’s Life. This time, the challenge was to “take human and cloth animation to new heights”. As usual, everything went really well for Pixar, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for the second time.

For The Birds (2000)

I remember seeing this short film for the first time along with Monsters, Inc in VHS. At the time I thought it was hilarious, and I really liked the biggest bird (it gave the other little mean birds what they deserved! Well, maybe not on purpose, but it did!). The most difficult thing in this film was to make the birds’ feathers look as much natural as possible. And it’s definitely something that calls one’s attention. For the third time so far, Pixar won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Mike’s New Car (2002)

This film features Sulley and Mike Wazowski, and for me, that’s enough to make it awesome! Mike’s New Car was the first Pixar short to use dialogue and the first starring characters from a previous installment: Monsters, Inc. (a movie a totally love ♥). Can you see the enormous improvement in animation here? The detail in Sulley’s fur: OMG.

Boundin’ (2003)

While Steve Jobs was having some serious disagreements with Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner, Pixar came out with a new short for its collection, getting a nomination for an Academy Award one more time. Pixar animator Bud Luckey (who created the character of Woody for Toy Story) didn’t only wrote and designed this short, but also composed the music and lyrics for it. And he sang and performed the banjo! But apart from this, isn’t the sheep extremely cute? 😀

 To see the whole short, click here

Jack-Jack Attack (2005)

The same year Pixar and Disney broke their relationship, the long-lenght film The Incredibles was released, and with it, an opportunity for another short: Jack-Jack Attack. I laughed so much with this one! It’s funnier if you have seen The Incredibles before, of course, because it’s based on it. In the movie, there’s a scene where Jack-Jack’s mother calls the babysitter, and she sounds really crazy. When the worried mom gets to the house, her baby is alone with a horrible villain. Well, in this short film, you get to see the story from another point of view: the babysitter’s 😛

One Band Man (2005)

This time, Pixar came back to its old way to make short films, and made it free of any dialogue. In One Band Man, there’s only music… and playing a really important role. So important it was, that music and scriptwriting couldn’t be developed separately but in a simultaneous process. The result was magnificient.

Mater and the Ghostlight (2006)

Once again, Pixar created a short based on a feature film, Mater and the Ghostlight. While making the movie Cars, co-directors John Lasseter and Dan Scanton went on a road trip down Route 66 to do some research for the film. On their way, they were told the legend of a glowing white orb that terrorizes folks up and down Route 66, what gave them the idea for the short.

Lifted (2006)

At the beginning of 2006, The Walt Disney Company aquired Pixar for $7.4 billion, and Steve jobs became a member of Disney’s Board of Directors. And remember the legendary animator John Lasseter? After Disney’s purchase, he was named chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney animation studios. Anyway, the same year appeared Pixar’s short Lifted, which was so good that got nominated for an Oscar (though that is kind of becoming a habit for Pixar). Plus, the film was directed by the SEVEN-time Academy Award winning sound editor and mixer Gary Rydstrom.

Your Friend The Rat (2007)

This was both Pixar’s longest short film (11 minutes) and the first one to feature traditional animation. It also includes 3D animation, stop-motion and live action, resulting in an interesting combination of several different techniques. Your Friend The Rat stars two characters  from the feature film Ratatouille (2007), the French rats Remy and Emile. After introducing themselves, they start talking about the history of the rat, then they go on explaining why rats are cool and end up performing a song about the relationship between rats and humans. Well, this is more or less what I got from the film, because the only decent video I found was in French and I do not understand a word of the language (maybe one or two, but not more than that :P). And that is the video I’m posting here, so sorry for that :S

Presto (2008)

The idea that filmmakers had for this short was “to bring an old cartoon tradition to life with brand new Pixar characters”, and I think they got it right (they got a nomination for an Oscar and everything!). Presto easily reminds of the classic cartoons like Looney Toons or Tom & Jerry in which everything was fast-paced and logic was essential. The formula is always the same: two characters fighting each other, usually one being pretty impulsive (like the cat Tom in Tom & Jerry, or Looney Toons characters Wile E. Coyote and hunter Elmer Fudd) and the other thinking every movement carefully, obtaining the expected results and finally winning the fight (Bugs Bunny is the perfect example). In Presto, the roles are quite clear: the magician is that very impulsive character who fails over and over again, and the rabbit… he’s that freakin son of a * who always gets what he wants.

BURN-E (2008)

In the feature film WALL-E, timidly makes his appearance a robot with a secondary (maybe terciary) role, but Pixar gave him another opportunity and made a short film starring him as the main character! BURN-E (Basic Utility Repair Nano Engineer) is an extremely hard-working robot who’s  always prepared when duty calls. This time, the task is very simple: to install a replacement lamp outside his ship. Easy, huh? Well, that’s what it seems at first, but the most unexpected things happen to this poor robot, complicating his work in unimaginable ways.


Partly Cloudy (2009)

Making this film must have being a really hard job… The most difficult thing, according to what I’ve read, was to design and animate the character of the cloud (you think for a while, what is a cloudy person supposed to look like?) But apart from this, I think the idea Partly Cloudy plays with is SO original. Really, how can this people have such imagination? It’s incredible. Besides, it only lasts like 4 minutes and a half, but this short film actually moved me. It’s so beautiful ♥. My favourite? Maybe.

Dug’s Special Mission (2009)

I like this thing Pixar often does, showing you a part of what happens in a movie, but from a different point of view (the same as in Jack-Jack Attack and BURN-E). In the movie Up, a Golden Retriever joins Carl and Russell in their journey, coming out of nowhere. In Dug’s Special Mission you get to see what this dog was actually doing before that.

Day & Night (2010)

I have never ever seen anything like this before. Day & Night is immensely creative and rather than just a short film, it is a work of art. By mixing 2D and 3D animation, Pixar got a really interesting effect and exploded it to its extreme. You just have to see it for yourself. Of course, the film was nominated for an Academy Award.


Click here to watch a brief video about the making of Day & Night.

Hawaiian Vacation (2011)

I guess that any other Toy Story fan must have felt the same as me when I watched the end of the third movie. “That’s it”, I said to myself, “no more Woody, no more Buzz… it’s over”. But luckily, Pixar decided to give us just a few extra minutes of our favourite toys with the short Hawaiian Vacation! It hasn’t been released yet (it will be soon), but according to the little I’ve seen and read, the short is about the holidays Barbie and Ken take in “Hawaii”. And of course, we’ll get to see what our friends’ lifes are like after what happened in Toy Story 3 (hey, I’m not going to spoil you anything!). So I’m really looking forward to it 😀

So, what do you think? :]

This post FINALLY got to an end (yeah, I know it is incredibly long xD), and what I want now is to hear your opinion. Did you like the post? Did you read anything you didn’t know and thought it was interesting? What is your favourite short? And if you’re a Pixar lover as I am, feel totally free to express it 😀

– Written by GuadiRC –


9 Responses to Pixar Short Films & A Way Through The Company’s History

  1. Pingback: Pixar Short Films & A Way Through The Company’s History | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Ben says:

    Actually, I have seen the all of the short films before I read this post except 2010 and 2011. I can’t really choose which is the best but “Lifted”, “Burn-e” and “One-man band” is definitely included. Thanks for the history recap of the company.

    PS: I agree Pixar’s short film’s concept is always original and innovative. :]

    • fictionworms says:

      Oh really? Even the first ones? I hadn’t seen all of them, just five or six I think, so it was really fun to write this post and discover all those great shot films!

      I also love Lifted and One Man Band (along with Partly Cloudy, Day & Night and Presto), but to say the truth, they’re all awesome 🙂

      • Ben says:

        I watched one Pixar short film one afternoon out of boredom. In the end, I watched them all :] i just can’t help it. Yea, they are all awesome.

        I have finished the “Lord Of The Flies” but I didn’t really like it XD But the theme was good :]

    • fictionworms says:

      Oh, what a shame :/ What didn’t you like from Lord of the Flies?

      • Ben says:

        It was the writing style and how the story shapes. One of the themes, I presume, was how people act if left isolated. It drags down to the climax and also there wasn’t really a psychological basis why Jack goes on killing everybody. If you say because of hunger of power, I get that but it wasn’t synthesized properly. It’s just like you count 1,2,3 then you jump to 7,8,9,10. I felt like that when reading towards the climax.

    • fictionworms says:

      I guess that the author wanted to illustrate how Jack became a savage without the civilization that used to contain him. At first things started to get a bit out of hand and the kids didn’t care much about it (at least, Jack and the rest that followed him). But then, they really intended to do all those bad things because they found out that there were no grown-ups to stop them. And yes, Jack loved power.

      Anyway, it’s true what you say about jumping from 3 to 7 (and BTW, that’s a great way to explain it!). Maybe we’re not used to that kind of writing, that’s all.

      • Ben says:

        I get the whole plot (after reading some the reviews). According to what I’ve read and what I’ve analyze, the book seeks to explain the savagery of human. Also, it mirrors Freud’s theory of id, ego and superego.

        I guess you’re right. I’m not used to read that kind of style. But still I’m going to write a review about my view on the book. ha ha XD (

    • fictionworms says:

      Yes! I’m looking forward to your review 😀

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