My Wee Part in Toy Story

Not An Offical Toy Story Page, But This Is!

Toy Story opened nationwide on 22 Nov 95, worldwide in March of 96, video in October 96, and it's been doing great in fact, it's brought Pixar multiple Oscars and become the biggest box-office winner of 1995!
As you surely know, the film was made by Pixar Animation Studios in conjuction with Disney. The paper name for this collaboration was "Hi Tech Toons" or HTT (watch for the license plate HTT1195).
Your humble correspondent was fortunate to have worked on Toy Story from May 93 through completion, and has also had the pleasure of contributing to the Nintendo, Sega, and two CD-ROM incarnations: the Toy Story Animated Storybook and Toy Story Activity Center.
Toy Story is the result of a lot of work by a lot of really great people at Pixar. As Randy Newman put it, "They're actually okay just as people as show business people, they're 99th percentile!"
Doing what? My own contributions are scattered throughout. I built and shaded Rex, Etch-a-Sketch, and an assortment of props; wrote shaders for various parts of Andy's room, Sid's room, Sid's yard, and the gas station; was layout lead artist on ~300-400 shots, including the truck chase; and performed tons of animation support and "little fixes."

Personal Notes....

Did you use NatPix software on Toy Story?
No. Pixar already has really great software, known as "Marionette" or "MenV" (pronounced "Men-Vee"), superbly tailored to Pixar's character-animation tasks and environment.
Did you use any Mac software?
Yes! During the early days, and on some sick days, I modeled a few things using two Mac programs, VIDI ModelerPro and Macromedia Macromodel running on my aging but trusty Mac IIx. Sadly, I used the old 68xxx versions of both of these programs, and neither of the new versions do what I need....
Did you use any Amiga software?
[gulp!] No. And I do have more than one Amiga at home. Forgive me, kids.
What exactly does a Layout Artist do?
Bridge the gap between the storyboard and what's actually going to be animated. Pick the lens. Put the camera in there. Put Woody here, and Buzz down there. Move Woody over there. Make sure you're not looking at the part of the room that was never modelled. Make it read in the simplest graphic way, played back as complete scenes with sound. Work with the director and the editors to be sure the story plays clearly. Animation tradition calls the job "layout," but in live-action it would probably be called "staging" (Fun Fact: in France, a layout person is knowns as un layoutiére).
Are there anime influences in Toy Story?
Yes, but don't read too much into them.
Does this mean the otaku-tachi are in charge of the asylum? No, just that good animation is good animation, regardless of its origins. Anime is part of that spectrum.
So where is Björke in the big book Toy Story: The Art and Making of the Animated Film, then?
Look closely at the top of page 62, and you shall find the answer. Keep an eye open for Isaac's first on-screen credit, too.
So what about the Web?
Believe it or not, every single shot in Toy Story has its own web page, on Pixar's in-house-only server.
So what about the next movie from Pixar?
There is one, called Bugs. Yes, I worked on it, and yes, we did sit down and watch Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa during layout preproduction.
There is a sequel to Toy Story now in production, but I didn't work on that show... too busy on Bugs.
Is Pixar a great place to work?
The East Bay Guardian called it the best place to work in the Bay Area. Disney Adventures called it "The happiest place on Earth." Would they lie? Besides, the back wing housing the animation dept has the highest density of former CalArts students of any single square mile north of Val Verde...
So how do I get a job at Pixar?
What do you want to do? Mail me, but do be aware that since October 1998 I've been working at Sqquare USA

Toy Story is © 1995 Pixar and © 1995 The Walt Disney Company.
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Updated Nov 98 Feedback Home