Secrets of Pixar’s Success (VIDEO)

Pixar has carved out a reputation for itself as the best in motion picture animation. Their name stands for quality. So how do they do it? How does Pixar continue to create stories that are loved by critics and the general public? It is not an easy task. Join us as we take a look at Pixar’s work to see how they beat the odds to become the best animation studio in the business.

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PIXAR… just hearing this unique two-syllable word can conjure up visions of fantastic lands, vibrant colors and lovable characters. It can resuscitate emotions of joy, excitement… and sadness. PIXAR has a way of bringing out the best in ourselves. To take the wildest thoughts out of a child’s imagination and bring them to life. Like… “What if my toys are really alive?” Or “I wonder what the life of all these ants is like in their anthill?” “

The Oscars first introduced the “Best Animated Feature” category in 2002, just in time for the release of Pixar’s MONSTERS INC. However, the film did not win. That honor went to DreamWorks‘ surprise hit SHREK. There were only three films nominated for best animated feature that year. MONSTERS INC., SHREK and JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS. PIXAR may have been beaten by DreamWorks that year, but they won the award for Best Animated Feature time and time again with films like Ratatouille, Up, WALL-E, Coco, Toy Story 3 and 4, and more recently, Soul.

Pixar stands for quality animation and superb storytelling. More than any other studio. When most people think of animated films, they think of Pixar. So why does Pixar comfortably stand above the rest of its competition? What sets them apart from the multitude of animated feature films that flood theaters and televisions year after year? Well… first of all, they did it first. They weren’t the first studio to make animated films, of course. But they were the first to make a feature film entirely animated by COMPUTER. These days, that’s pretty much all you see. The days and nights of painstakingly hand-drawn feature films are a thing of the past. It is essentially a dying art form. And while it’s sad in a way, computer animation is just the way of the future. And that’s mostly thanks to John Lasseter and the Pixar team.

Lasseter says he was originally inspired to make computer animated films after seeing Disney’s light cycle scene Tron and realizing that there were limitless opportunities with technology. He saw those inspirations come to life with his 1995 directorial debut, TOY STORY. That same year saw the release of GHOST IN THE SHELL, the Japanese anime about a cyborg agent, and the Disney classics POCAHONTAS and A GOOFY MOVIE. And yes… A GOOFY MOVIE is a classic. It is not for debate. But, TOY STORY stood out. Not just because of its unique animation style, but also because of the incredible creativity and the heart of the story.

Pixar has a way of bringing REAL emotions in their stories and make us worry about things that are outside of our usual reality. They explore worlds we humans could never see and allow us to be a part of them. And that brings us to point number 2. PIXAR is at its best when it takes you fully inside a single world and allows that world to work as it should. Example. PIXAR’S FINDING NEMO was released in 2003 and DreamWorks’ SHARK TALE was released in 2004. Both are animated films with an emphasis on fish and other ocean creatures as the main characters. But in A SHARK TALE, the fish don’t move like fish. They don’t feel real or natural. They sit inside restaurants and read menus. There are billboards, towns and JellyFish DJs. The audience doesn’t feel like they’re living the depths of the ocean, and the plot isn’t specific to this environment.

But in FINDING NEMO, Marlin and young Nemo live inside a sea anemone in the Great Barrier Reef. The anemone looks and functions like a real anemone. They are not surrounded by billboards or underwater buildings. They are surrounded by the ocean in its natural form. Jellyfish are not DJs and animals move as they should. You feel like you are watching a fish and the struggles and limitations that would come with being a fish. Sure, they’re talking and going on a great adventure, but it’s an adventure that stays true to ocean life and whatever we imagine it would be.


This is why MONSTERS INC. works so well, but not MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. In MONSTERS INC., The story is unique and relevant to the characters who are monsters. They work in a Scare Factory, they feed their city and their life with the cries of little children. The story plays out with each little child’s fear of the monster in their closet or under their bed and twists it, making monsters as frightened of children as children are of them. Then at MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, it’s just freaks… in college. Besides the fact that all students are monsters, the university setting is neither unique nor original. This is irrelevant for the characters who are monsters in the least. It plays out like ANIMAL HOUSE meant for kids, but it doesn’t explore anything new or unique in the monster world. And therefore, most people think of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY to be a lower level PIXAR movie.

But one thing PIXAR does better than anyone else, what really sets them apart from their competition is their bizarre ability to create a story that’s not just entertaining, but that’s genuine and heartfelt. This is point number 3 and it is the most important. Only PIXAR could get us to care as deeply about a lone trash compactor robot as they did with WALL-E. Director Andrew Stanton, who also directed Finding Nemo and its sequel, Finding Dory, creates a world of total solitude. The entire beginning of the film follows WALL-E as he works endlessly on the seemingly impossible task he was programmed to do. Collect, compact and stack the world’s waste. As the film progresses, we realize that life on earth is non-existent outside of the titular robot. Wide shots and far camera angles help create a feeling of loneliness and show just how lonely WALL-E really is. Then the moment he first lays eyes on EVE and falls head over heels, we know something special is about to happen.

The film tackles many heavy topics for a children’s film. Obesity, destruction of the planet by pollution and garbage. But it is mostly WALL-E. This little robot with big dreams who dared to be more than what was expected of him. He dared to save the world. It’s an emotional experience from start to finish in a way only PIXAR can. They have a way of showing that love and family can come in different shapes and sizes. That it’s not the same for everyone, but it’s still special and important. Woody’s love for Andy in the Toy Story series is one of the purest loves depicted in the film. We know he would do anything for Andy. And when the time comes at the end of Toy story 3 For Andy to leave, to go to college, it’s a heartbreaking moment.


We see an equally heartbreaking moment in Toy Story 2 when Jesse, the cowgirl doll from Woody’s Roundup, explains to Woody why she doesn’t trust or believe in the connection between a child and a toy. Through the use of flashbacks and the emotional song “When She Love Me,” written by Randy Newman for the film and performed by Sarah McLachlan, we learn that years ago Jesse had an owner named Emily who represented the world for her. We see Jesse and Emily spending their days together, playing on swings and falling in piles of leaves. Jesse is happy. But then Emily grows up, moves on and ends up abandoning her. That’s how Jesse sees it, anyway. What makes this moment so sad is that Jesse doesn’t understand what happened. She doesn’t age like people and can’t understand that children grow up and don’t play with their toys like they used to. The story is important because not only does it give us important information about Jesse, but it helps Woody come to terms with and deal with what will eventually happen to him and Andy.

But hands down, the biggest example of PIXAR’s innate ability to make us cry like little babies has to be Up’s first few moments. The whimsical 2009 film about an old man lifting his house off the ground with thousands of balloons has one of the most heartbreaking openings in cinema. Not just PIXAR or animated films, but ALL cinema. We see a young boy named Carl meeting a young girl named Ellie. The two share a love of adventure and exploration. And they immediately share a bond that turns into love. Years later, the two married and move into an old house that Ellie used as a clubhouse as a child. They spend their lives together repairing the house while planning their dream vacation to Paradise Falls. They suffer financial hardship and heartache when they learn that they cannot have children. But together, they persevere. When the two are old, Carl finally manages to plan their dream vacation. But unfortunately, Ellie dies before the dream comes true.

Carl and Ellie Up

PIXAR films are about loss. About suffering unimaginable heartache. But more than that, they are on the verge of overcoming this loss. About finding life after heartache and going through those times in life that we feel like we’ll never get over. Follow your dreams when they seem unattainable. It’s about exploring worlds beyond our comprehension. Maybe one day another animation studio will catch up with PIXAR. And if they do, it will be a great day for all of us. Because I think we could all use a little more fantasy, adventure, and heart in our lives. Even if it comes in the form of an animated film. Remember to like and subscribe if you haven’t already. And I’ll see you in the next video.

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