Monday, July 6, 2015

More Super Stuff: First Images from Pixar's 'Sanjay's Super Team'

More details and two new images from Pixar's next short, Sanjay's Super Team, have surfaced!

For those who don't know, Sanjay's Super Team is a personal short film for long-time Pixar story artist and animator Sanjay Patel, and it'll be showing up at Comic-Con this week. The short itself, of course, will be released to the public in front of Pixar's next film, The Good Dinosaur, this coming Thanksgiving.

It's already made the waves because it's the first Pixar film - short or feature - to have a lead character that isn't Caucasian. It's also an autobiographical film, and it explores Patel's childhood and how he was more into what American kids were into, while his parents were very traditional.

The synopsis...

"The seven-minute short begins with young Sanjay watching cartoons and eating cereal in a bland, beige room as his father jingles a bell, beckoning him to join in meditation. Reluctant and bored by the ceremony, Sanjay begins daydreaming a kind of ancient, Hindu version of The Avengers, with the gods appearing like superheroes. As the daydream progresses, the color, light and animation of the film grows increasingly dazzling and cosmic, and Sanjay grows closer to understanding his father’s inner world."

The color, light, and animation growing "increasingly dazzling and cosmic"? One of the two new images gives us a taste of that, but first, here's what Sanjay himself will look like and what the non-daydream visual style will look like...

Sanjay's design is unique amongst the other Pixar humans, it's much more cartoony and caricatured than what we've seen before. Pixar's best human designs, to me, were always their more abstract ones. The human design work in films like the Toy Story films and Inside Out are definitely much more realistic, to me those films are like Cinderella or Lady and the Tramp. In those films, the Disney artists went for more traditional, lifelike humans (though those films did have their exceptions, like in Lady and the Tramp, Darling and Jim Dear are more realistic, but Tony and Joe? Not so much.) rather than the more caricatured ones we saw in Pinocchio, Dumbo, and many others from the 1940s.

Meanwhile, other Pixar films have more quirky, outlandish human designs. Up has fantastic character designs, ditto Brave. Films like these are more like One Hundred and One Dalmatians, for that film the crew went with odd shapes and designs, and it makes the film all the more unique amongst the Walt films. After the 1980s, many different varieties of Disney human designs came about: Aladdin is certainly no Hercules, and The Emperor's New Groove is no Atlantis!

I hope future Pixar stories about humans kind of drift away from the Toy Story rules, because as much as I love Inside Out, they did go back to those principles for the human character designs. Then again that makes for a nice contrast to the more loose and cartoony design work of the brain world. Moving on...

Here's what Sanjay's daydream will look like...

Now look at that! Wow!

See, I love it when animated films all of a sudden change styles. It's especially cool in more hyper-real computer animated films, and this is something that Pixar rarely does. Outside of credits sequences, Ratatouille has that one sequence where abstract animation details how things taste to Remy, but that's about it. Inside Out has the wonderful "Abstract Thought" sequence. The shorts do this kind of experimentation more so than the features, some fine examples being Your Friend the Rat and Day & Night. The visual fan in me hopes that Pixar will make more films that change animation styles in certain parts, art shifts. Disney Animation did it for a little while recently with films like Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, and Winnie the Pooh. On top of the many times they did it in the past...

Anyways, the above is image is very colorful and the superheroic takes on the Hindu gods are very clever. I hope that short has more than two animation styles, but the daydream look alone makes it look exciting, not to mention the concept alone. Again, I congratulate Pixar for moving ahead and opting to finally let people from different backgrounds tell stories. (Good Dinosaur director Pete Sohn is Korean, and he'll be bringing his background, experiences, and perspective into the picture.)

Producer Nicole Paradis Grindle (who was an associate producer on Toy Story 3 and Monsters University) said...

"Patel’s animation very clearly comes from a different cultural place than all the other stories we’ve told before. And for kids who come from these backgrounds to see themselves on screen, it’s exciting for us."

Patel himself had this to say...

"If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short. I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy’s story to the pop culture zeitgeist. To have a broad audience like Pixar’s see this … it is a big deal. I’m so excited about that."

Lastly, and a lot of us knew this beforehand, the score will be done by Mychael Danna (Life of Pi, and also Good Dinosaur), a fitting choice!

What's your take on this new short film? What do you think of the look of it? Sound off below!

(via /Film)

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