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After almost 20 years in the vanguard of computer animation, Pixar Animation Studios (home of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo, among others) is releasing another technological wonder, The Incredibles. Brad Bird, who made The Iron Giant and is described by Pixar executive producer John Lasseter as "the ultimate geeky animation fan," dreamed up the story of the Parrs, a family of superheroes who have been forced by law to stop using their powers and live normally, sort of, until a vengeful supervillain emerges and kidnaps the father. The book describes the long process that went into making Birds ideas a reality, with accompanying art showing the projects design at all its stages. Short interviews with Bird and his animation crew reveal the collaborative work and innovation necessary to produce a computer-generated feature focusing on humans, which are much harder to depict realistically than, say, angelfish. As the supervising technical director says, "the level of effort it takes to have the Parr family sit down to dinner is comparable to having Bob pick up a bus and throw it through a wall." Its fascinating to see the various images created in advance of the computer illustrations; on any given page, one can find the initial collages, sketches and, in some cases, digital effects that hint at how the movie comes to life. If Pixars track record holds, The Incredibles will be a major hit, but even if it isnt, graphic arts fans and those interested in finding out how such impressive productions are realized will enjoy this inside glimpse at the movies making.
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This Christmas, what promises to be the latest in Pixar's unbroken string of smash-hit digital animation features will be released--The Incredibles. The movie depicts a family of superheroes--paunchy, middle-aged dad; domesticated mom; and three kids--forced to go underground when the government outlaws them. Director Brad Bird envisioned the film as a tribute to the comic books and TV shows of his 1960s youth. As this handsome book shows, he has given The Incredibles a look that celebrates mid-twentieth-century American design, including the era's conception of how the future--our present--would appear. Bird, whose background is in hand-drawn animation--he directed the undersung The Iron Giant--has, with the help of Pixar veterans, made a smooth transition to the computerized medium. This attractively designed book features hundreds of conceptual drawings, character designs, storyboards, and other illustrations, plus enlightening, behind-the-scenes commentary from the movie's creators. Libraries wherever tie-in books to such Pixar blockbusters as Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. have proved popular should prepare for similar demand for this latest volume. Gordon Flagg
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