Pixar Animation Studios is a leading contender for SCENES Media’s favorite media creation entity. Pixar shorts are dense masterpieces of motion picture joy. Every one of them has a compelling story, strong characters, poetic aesthetics, and, of course, the latest in animation technology, that, importantly, doesn’t call attention to itself but furthers the story it serves. Their various incarnations of the Renderman technology that they developed (and re-perfect, every year) has, as Wired magazine just reported, helped “Pixar win 27 of the last 30 Oscars for visual effects.”
Shorts are where most budding filmmakers start, and this is more true in animation than not because of the time and expense required of the art form. Pixar shorts, thus, have gifted up-and-comers with first-time director credits from “Piper” (see below) director Alan Barillaro to Pixar Founder John Lasseter himself. Both Barillaro and Lasseter were nominated for Academy awards for their shorts (both shorts are below) as first-time directors, and Barillaro won for “Piper.”
Pixar’s shorts are, in a word, generous. With literally every frame, they give the viewer a gift, and they are perfect for watching with the family over the holiday break. Here are three of our favorites, spanning the decades, and the rest (and latest!) can be found on Pixar’s short film page… sheer delight.
The magic all started with Luxo, Jr. Luxo Jr., solidly immortalized in the studio’s motion graphic logo. Luxo Jr. was one of first animated characters that brought “shadow mapping” to a whole new level. Pixar visionary and animation hero John Lasseter worked round the clock for four months with his Industrial Light and Magic compatriot, Ed Catmull, to create a timeless classic.
“Geri’s Game,” another classic from Pixar has the four pillars of Pixar films: story, character, animation technology and solid visuals, but it also brings the Pixar whimsy to a whole new level of poignancy. Jan Pinkava, like Barillaro (and Lasseter) was a first-time director. With another example of Pixar proving that the new filmmaker’s dreams can come true, Pinkava took home the Academy Award for best short in 1997.
Last but not least, 2016’s unforgettable “Piper” is impossible to watch without smiling. You’re welcome!