Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Emeryville Experiments: Pixar Creates New Shorts Division


It looks like Team Emeryville might just up their game in a small way...

According to Cartoon Brew, Pixar is setting up a new short films division that will focus on making films that are "off-the-rails." These shorts are apparently going to be created with minimum resources, "amidst the backdrop of a busy studio." They have a picture in the works right now titled Smash and Grab. Its director is Brian Larsen.

Larsen directed the Brave short The Legend of Mor'du, which was a visually neat - and at times traditionally animated! - origin story of the film's antagonist. He was also a story supervisor on the original film, and was head of story on the short Piper. Prior to his Pixar days, he had worked on several Cartoon Network shows that were around/running at the beginning of the aughts. (Samurai Jack, Foster's Home, Powerpuff Girls)

I see this as a logical step forward, because... Pixar already had a short that didn't follow any family-friendly guidelines... That short was Borrowed Time, a moody Western with a shock ending that was definitely in the PG-13 territory. A short made through their Co-op program, it apparently rankled a few at the mouse, because... Why put money into something animated that's not made for family audiences? Sadly, the film didn't take home the Oscar for Best Animated Short. The mainline Pixar short - the aforementioned Piper - took it home, instead. A shame, I saw it during its brief appearance on Vimeo a year ago, a truly great short. Piper was cute and entertaining, but wasn't anything special.

Anyways, "off the rails..." As in visually experimental? Or content-wise? Will we see more adult-oriented shorts? Who knows! But there's a lot of promise here, and it seems like an answer to the criticism of some of Pixar's more recent short films.

While I didn't mind the likes of Lava and The Blue Umbrella, they didn't sit well with others. Most complained that they took the concept of Disney Animation's Paperman and applied it to inanimate objects, which they did... But I didn't mind how they executed that same story. Perhaps having the two being released back-to-back (disregarding the Monsters University short Party Central) made it a little annoying? I think that two-punch is why Piper ended up getting so much love when it came out. All this talk of it being the "best Pixar short in years," I very much preferred Sanjay's Super Team... But not too many people saw The Good Dinosaur, the feature that it preceded, so I digress.

Let's just hope this new venture leads to something special!

What say you?

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