Pixar, Technology

Pixar is a technology company. With Inside Out, its newest feature due later this year, Pixar had its own unique set of technical challenges to overcome. A bigger vision led to scaling problems, the duality of the film’s narrative meant creating not one, but two worlds and visual languages — not to mention a main character made entirely of light.

One of the major technical hurdles to overcome was how to shoot the movie in a way that communicates the tumultuous, expressive world of emotions — yet can also transmit the subtleties and nuance of our ‘outside’ human world.

Typically, when you want to direct a camera in a virtual world for an animated film, you do it point-by-point. If the desired effect is a mechanical, tracking, dolly or even handheld shot, each of those is programmed in by a camera operator to mimic the real-world equivalent.

In addition, as the story progresses, the camera techniques move from a swooping, 30’s-style mechanical camera into a much more modern hand operated camera style.

Lin had previously used the technique while making The Blue Umbrella, a short that ran before Pixar’s Monsters University. The version they used then was significantly improved for use on Inside Out.

“On Blue Umbrella it was really in its infancy. The gearbox that we have, that is actually built by one of our lead layout artists Adam [Habib]. He also built a focus ring, too, that can actually do live focusing, so that we can get that perfect focus more naturally. Everything we do has to be deliberate, and nothing is accidental.”

One of the main characters in the movie is Joy, as voiced by Amy Poehler and featured prominently in the trailers and other marketing. As you can see here, Joy glows. Not only does she glow, but she’s actually a full on light source.

Having a light bulb walking around in your scenes presented some difficulties to Pixar’s lighting staff.

Character lighting lead Angelique Reisch says that Joy’s glowing nature was one of the tougher technical challenges to overcome.


Timeline Task

Steve Jobs purchases the Computer Graphics Division from George Lucas and establishes an independent company to be christened “Pixar.” At this time about 44 people are employed. Luxo Jr. (dir.John Lasseter) is completed. the first three-dimensional computer animated film to be nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar


1986 This represented the start of Lasseter’s dream of creating a feature length film. Jobs bought into the idea of using computer animation and he was dedicated to investing into the hardware and software necessary to push the boundaries of animation. “Art inspires technology and technology inspires art” – Lasseter not only had the Disney training, he also was dedicated to working alongside physicists, mathematicians and computer programmers to help create incredible new levels of computer animation.
Disney and Pixar announce an agreement “to make and distribute at least one computer-generated animated movie 1991 This will attract more of a mainstream audience as it will have better quality. It would be their first one it would receive many more views and so more of a profit. Also, it was new thing so everyone would be interested in seeing it, thus earning a higher profit.
Toy Story, the world’s first computer animated feature film, is released in theatres on November 22. Toy Story also becomes the highest grossing film of 1995, making $192 million domestically and $362 million worldwide.




Disney gained a lot of money from not only the movie but the merchandise as well. It was also released in many other countries as it was the world’s first. This meant that everyone would want to see it not just the target audience of children.
The Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios announce an agreement to jointly produce five movies over 10 years. Pixar now employs 375 people. Geri’s Game is completed. It premieres at Laemmle’s Monica Theater in Santa Monica on November 24. It will be Pixar’s second winner of the Best Animated Short Film Academy Award®.




This has helped Pixar also get bigger thanks to Disney. Also, another award means more publicity, more money. ‘We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.’ Was said by Micahael Eisner. So we can see that all the agreements with other companies are only there for their benefit. So they can earn more money.
Finding Nemo is released in theatres on May 30, accompanied by a remastered version of Knick Knack. Finding Nemo breaks opening weekend box-office records domestically for an animated feature. Finding Nemo will be nominated for four Academy Awards® and win the Oscar® for Best Animated Feature.




Breaks open box office records. Like no one has seen before. Along with all the DVD/Cassette selling’s and merchandise, Finding Nemo receives a higher profit than they ever intended.
Pixar celebrates its 20th anniversary. Cars is released in theatres on June 9, and will receive Academy Award® nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Disney announces its agreement to purchase Pixar. Ed Catmull is named President and John Lasseter
is named Chief Creative Officer of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Lifted premieres at Laemmle’s Colorado Theater on September 11 and will be nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar®.




They keep getting winning more awards. By doing that they are getting more publicity along with money. This then results in them broadening their ownership and being more powerful by buying other companies and producing the most creative movies that aren’t necessarily aimed at just children.
Up is the first animated feature to open the Cannes Film Festival and debuts in theaters on May 29 with the original short Partly CloudyUp will be nominated for five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture; it will take home the Oscars® for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score. The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences honors Ed Catmull with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award®.




Again, a Disney movie being nominated for many awards because of the greatness of their movies. The latest cutting edge technology and the highest quality movies with the relevance of it all looking so realistic for the audience to watch and love.
Pixar celebrates its 25th Anniversary and completes construction of a new building on its Emeryville campus. Cars 2 is released in theaters on June 24, accompanied by the first Toy Story Toon, Hawaiian Vacation .La Luna premieres and will be nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film. David M. Laur receives the Technical Achievement Academy Award® for Alfred Render Queue Management System.




25th anniversary means that they would not be hesitating to go all out with every movie they create as it is a milestone. People would also believe that because it is a quarter of a decade that most of the good movies will be coming out at that time so more will go to see them, rising the profit numbers. This benefits Disney also as they work together.

Everything simply shows that whatever Disney has been doing is to benefit itself, including its relationship with Pixar.


Point Example (with link) Explanation and analysis Argument (find examples for and against the point)
Monopoly Global reach: https://www.statista.com/topics/1824/disney/ Made 52 billion 2015

Over 1 billion on advertising


For: It is one of the big 6 so it owns a majority of the world’s media output.

Against: It was not ranked first but second most reputable.

Monopoly Robert W. McChesney – The New Global Media (slide 17)

Gerald Caplan (slide 27)

Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly (slide 11)

Authoritarian governments and all those in the private sector who fear public exposure For:
Monopoly Horizontal integration –



Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion and Marvel for $4 billion. For: They would now be having more up to date technology and more profit. Their target audiences have now widened as they could now produce more movies based on the two companies’ audiences from before. So they would also be able to sell more merchandise.

Against: Disney would now be changing both Marvel and Pixar a little bit so they can find a way to get more profit.

Monopoly Vertical integration –



Disney bought ABC for $19 billion and ESPN for $1 billion. For: Disney would now be able to be fulfil their obligation of earning more money. They would have an even bigger audience.

Against: They now own so much power that if one of these companies they would have the rest to fall on, they are now unstoppable in the media world.



Negative female stereotypes: http://www.american.edu/soc/film/upload/gender-roles-in-disney.pdf

Film 1 Snow White

Film 2 The Little Mermaid

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of the seven dwarfs is straight up named Dopey, and each and every one of them is portrayed as a hapless dummy who can’t take care of himself. Snow White saves these slovenly adults from their pigsty by dusting, sweeping, washing dishes, tidying and sprucing.

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel starts out as a brave, curious, and adventurous young mermaid. However, later she turns into a quiet, lovesick puppy, spending most of her time obsessing over the prince and staring wide-eyed in admiration at him — and he is totally into this version of Ariel.

For: Women were seeing how they are being represented and believing that that is the way of living. It also shows young girls that they are supposed to change for a man (Little Mermaid) or that girls must look after men.


Against: Disney has been creating movies that are more modernised. For example, Frozen. The movie shows that a sisters’ bond is stronger than any with a man.

Disneyfication Racist stereotypes: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/apr/06/repressed-brits-evil-mexicans-arab-villains-hollywood-animated-movies-stereotypes

Film 1 Lady and The Tramp

Its Siamese cats, Si and Am, are drawn with slanted eyes and they speak with a stereotypical Asian accent, and also also portrayed as villainous and sneaky. There’s also a chihuahua who speaks with an exaggerated Mexican tone. For: Disney is owned by white people. This means that they like to show that they are superior to others.

Against: Some say that they are just fitting the characters with their backgrounds.

Disneyfication Check out the critically acclaimed films, Waltz with Bashir, The Illusionist, Persepolis and Spirited Away – how many have you heard of? How successful were these films in comparison to Disney’s? Why is it so hard for these films to compete?


But ultimately it is politically conservative, because the media giants are significant beneficiaries of the current social structure around the world Shows that they do not want to change the way they film things
Profit motive Michael Eisner (CEO)



Michael Eisner was the CEO of Disney and he believed that Disney’s products were only there to make money and are not for the enjoyment of audiences. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. We have no obligation to make art. To make money is our only objective.” This quote from Eisner proves that he only wanted to make more money.
Profit motive


Film 1 –    
Profit motive


Film 2 –    
Difficulties for indie films Spike Lee (slide 33)



Difficulties for indie films British indie films (slide 46)


Four Lions (slide 45)


Indie film success Dreamworkz and Aardman Animation, Passion of Christ, Slumdog Millionaire,



Positive aspects of new digital technology http://www.raindance.org/top-13-sites-for-independent-filmmakers/



New technology has allowed films to look more professional and smooth. This means filmmakers can use more innovative ways of filming. Against- Indie film maker’s do not have as much of a budget so they are unable to use the latest technology.

Summary of Disney



Disney’s billion-dollar blockbusters in 2016
1. Captain America: Civil War: $1.15bn
2. Zootopia: $1.023bn
3. Finding Dory: $1.022bn
4. The Jungle Book: $966m
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $2.07bn ($736m in 2016)

  1. In 2006, Disney spent $7.4bn on Pixar, the hit factory behind Finding Nemo, its new sequel Finding DoryToy Story and The Incredibles.
  2. Walt Disney Studios is tipped to amass a record $7bn (£5.6bn) in cinemas around the world this year
  3. In 2009 came the riskier $4bn purchase of Marvel Comics’ sprawling superhero universe
  4. This was followed by nailing down the world’s most famous sci-fi franchise by buying Lucasfilm, maker of Star Warsin a $4bn deal that has paved the way for a string of new releases
  5. Disney films have enjoyed a stellar year, with four blockbusters to date: Captain AmericaZootopia and Finding Dory made more than $1bn each and The Jungle Book made $966m.
  6. The Force Awakens. That film clocked up more than $2bn from cinemagoers, with $1.33bn of that banked as box office takings in the 2015 calendar year.
  7. in just the first year following the premiere of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, merchandise sales are predicted to hit $5bn, with Disney reportedly taking about 10%. Another Disney blockbuster, Frozen, is reportedly the biggest merchandise moneyspinner of all time, with sales of more than $107bn.
  8. The global appeal of Disney’s character franchises also plays well in the increasingly important international movie market – which has been driven by a boom in Asian countries such as China and Indonesia, where much Hollywood fare has traditionally not performed well – as well as the rise of markets in Latin America and eastern Europe. In 2015, 61% of Disney’s total $5.88bn global box office take came from outside the US.

Independent Movie

500 Days of Summer is a 2009 Independent film. It was produced by RatPac-Dune Entertainment which is a merge of two Independent companies. As it is an independent company it was not able to distribute the movie itself, so it relied on Fox Searchlight Pictures, a well known distributor owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Finding Dory is an animated movie aimed at children, 500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy aimed at more of a mature audience. The fact that their target audiences are different would definitely have an impact on the profit, not only that but Finding Dory was a sequel so more people would have been wanting to go. Also, Finding Dory was produced by Disney and Pixar which are two of the biggest names in the media industry. This was bound to get more attention. Finding Dory grossed at $486,188,497 whilst 5DOS grossed at $32,391,374. This is a big difference between both but not a surprise as one is an independent movie.

As 500 Days of Summer is an independent movie its budget was around  $7,500,000. This meant that they could not have had the money for the latest technology, equipment or merchandise.

Finding Dory

Finding Dory (2016) is a children’s animation movie produced by both Pixar and Disney. It’s also a sequel to the popular Finding Nemo (2003) resulting in them already knowing that there would be a big opening weekend profit as it was long waited for.

The budget for Finding Dory was $200,000,000 whilst Finding Nemo was $94,000,000. This vast difference shows just how confident they were that they would make such a big profit from this all and have it better than the first. The box office received $1.025 billion alone without the DVD sales and all the merchandise. The movie not only sold its own merchandise but also helped the fish industry as many children wanted the breed of fish of both Dory and Nemo.

They did not have to spend much money on marketing as it was a sequel so it would already inherit the audience from Finding Nemo. Also, social media also had the news going around so it was free advertising for them.