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Art of Pixar Short Films [Hardcover]

Amid Amidi , John Lasseter
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2009
While Pixar Animation Studios was creating beloved feature-length films such as Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, and WALL*E, it was simultaneously testing animation and storytelling techniques in dozens of memorable short films. Andre and Wally B proved that computer animation was possible; Tin Toy laid the groundwork for what would become Toy Story; and Mike's New Car exposed Pixar's finely tuned funny bone. In The Art of Pixar Short Films, animation expert and short film devotee Amid Amidi shines a spotlight on these and many more memorable vignettes from the Pixar archive. Essays and interviews illuminate more than 250 full-color pastels, pencil sketches, storyboards, and final rendered frames that were the foundation of Pixar's creative process.

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Product Description

About the Author

Amid Amidi is the co-founder of CartoonBrew.com and author of Cartoon Modern. He lives in New York City. John Lasseter is the chief creative officer at Pixar, and the director of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writeup but more art required March 23 2009
By Parka HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Length: 0:27 Mins
This book contains every short films Pixar has made. That's from 1984's The Adventures of Andre & Wally B to 2007's Lifted, including three feature film-based shorts.

The format of the book is a bit peculiar. The accompanying text for all the short films are presented together at the start of the book, the art goes behind. There are no additional captions for the illustrations except for labels of credits.

The writeup is great. There's a short history of Pixar before it was even known as Pixar (founded in 1986). Following on, it details the making of each short film. There are interesting things like how depth map shadowing and tweening were used in Luxo Jr or how John Lasseter would animate into the morning and sleep under his table.

There are also plenty of stories on how each director thinks about their design and their stories. Especially intriguing because the background of these directors are amazingly varied. For one, Gary Rydstrom made his debut directing Lifted, and he's a sound designer. Each of the directors have lots to say about their production process.

If you've owned To Infinity and Beyond!, you have read some of these production stories already. The Art of Pixar Shorts provides additional information, and it has the feature filmed-based shorts which are not in the other book.

Now for the art. There are sketches, film stills, storyboards and some full colour illustrations (colour keys and beat boards).

For the 13 films featured, I felt that the amount of art shown was slightly underwhelming. Sketches from the earlier films were too little. For example, there are only 3 pages of sketches for Andre and Wally B (totalling 4 big pencil character sketches), 3 pastel paintings and 2 pages of 4 film stills.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential Feb. 23 2009
By Greg Ehrbar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There have been several fine books about Pixar's relatively brief yet extraordinary history and artistry, as well as "Art of" books on the features. None of these books take such a detailed, thorough and image-rich look at this extremely important aspect of "how Pixar does it."

Amid Amidi, co-creator of the essential website Cartoon Brew, gives roughly half of the moderately coffee-table-sized volume over to an intense chronicle of Pixar's story told through its shorts, which are truly instrumental in the development of Pixar's features, technology and especially their creative team. What is especially impressive is seeing the degree of loving detail that goes into these mini-masterpieces, which can be as short as 3 minutes and 20 seconds (For the Birds).

I can really appreciate the difficulty of writing the establishing section, distilling highly technical systems and challenges in understandable terms while avoiding the obvious out of respect for the readers. As each short appears in the book, historic narrative is woven in order sustain the context of the films and their impact. For that reason, the very early film sections (devoted to Andre and Wally B., Luxo Jr., and Knick Knack) are somewhat lengthier. Once the Pixar organization is "up and running" as far as the text is concerned, than each entry focuses on the films, their directors, artists and particular challenges.

At this point, each film is examined for one or more artistic landmarks or histories: Geri's Game for its remarkable human animation; the evolution of For The Birds from a Cal Arts project; the singularly unique vision so much a part of the director's personality and background in Boundin'; the sometimes contentious partnering of two very different directors at the helm of One Man Band and the transformation of a sound designer to a director for Lifted.

The remaining shorts (Presto was not released in time for inclusion in the book) are all based on features: Mike's New Car, Jack-Jack Attack and Mater and the Ghostlight, but are no less meticulous and easily stand on their own.

The entire book then becomes a sumptuous portfolio of concept art, storyboards, production stills and wire frames. Again, seeing it all at once is staggering. As you peruse the pastels, pencil sketches, pen & marker renderings and finished scenes, the personalities of each artist, including John Lasseter himself, come through loud and clear -- Pixar has a style, but one that is the sum of its parts rather than a stern adherence to established creative restrictions.

You can't help feeling that, if Pixar did nothing more than produce short films, they would still be an industry flagship.

I was especially taken with each director literally having a personal "stamp" for approving the film art (in the case of One Man Band, a shared stamp). The stamps reflect their style just as the films do.

This is a book worth revisiting for reference and inspiration. It's also recommended if you happen to have the Pixar Short Films Collection DVD from last year that collects all of these film on one disc, along with several audio commentaries.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writeup but more art required March 23 2009
By Parka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book contains every short films Pixar has made. That's from 1984's The Adventures of Andre & Wally B to 2007's Lifted, including three feature film-based shorts.

The format of the book is a bit peculiar. The accompanying text for all the short films are presented together at the start of the book, the art goes behind. There are no additional captions for the illustrations except for labels of credits.

The writeup is great. There's a short history of Pixar before it was even known as Pixar (founded in 1986). Following on, it details the making of each short film. There are interesting things like how depth map shadowing and tweening were used in Luxo Jr or how John Lasseter would animate into the morning and sleep under his table.

There are also plenty of stories on how each director thinks about their design and their stories. Especially intriguing because the background of these directors are amazingly varied. For one, Gary Rydstrom made his debut directing Lifted, and he's a sound designer. Each of the directors have lots to say about their production process.

If you've owned To Infinity and Beyond!, you have read some of these production stories already. The Art of Pixar Shorts provides additional information, and it has the feature filmed-based shorts which are not in the other book.

Now for the art. There are sketches, film stills, storyboards and some full colour illustrations (colour keys and beat boards).

For the 13 films featured, I felt that the amount of art shown was slightly underwhelming. Sketches from the earlier films were too little. For example, there are only 3 pages of sketches for Andre and Wally B (totalling 4 big pencil character sketches), 3 pastel paintings and 2 pages of 4 film stills. Throughout the book, there are a few pages with only one or two character sketches on it, which I felt was too loose. Surely these people must have done a lot more concept art and sketches.

The film stills take too much space. I'm fine with film stills if they are used effectively, such as when comparisons between storyboard and final render is made. Nice as they are, not all film stills require one page to themselves.

The pages fill better towards the back so I guess it must have something to do with the lack of archiving in the early days. The art is great but it would be better if it was filled to the brim with sketches literally.

Overall, it's still recommended even though the art pages feels a bit light in content. It's more for Pixar and animation fans.

The full list of short films:

* The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.
* Luxo Jr.
* Red's Dream
* Tin Toy
* Knick Knack
* Geri's Game
* For the Birds
* Mike's New Car
* Boundin'
* Jack-Jack Attack
* One Man Band
* Mater and the Ghostlight
* Lifted

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their best Feb. 11 2011
By Dominique Gantois - Published on Amazon.com
For me this is one of Pixar best books in the 'new format', (Toy Story and Bugs Life having another format),
This book is a going back to the source of computer animation, explaining without a word too much or less, showing with drawings, technical research and film-stills,
and with pictures of the artists behind the movie, ..., it's not really a show-off book, it's more one that is telling and showing us an amazing adventure.
A very good buy (for not that expensive actually, I got mine for less than 10$, new)
4.0 out of 5 stars Great way to enjoy the art and the story behind it. April 6 2011
By jeffery s summers - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have always enjoyed Pixar art and really enjoy reading the stories behind it. The concept art is always interesting and it's fun to see where the final product comes from.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Process! July 30 2010
By Blaine Wisniewski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is one of those books revealing the creative process! If you own the DVD of the Pixar shorts, look at the sections for each video before viewing. It's a real treat!
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