As has become a tradition, this summer famed animation studio Pixar is ready to release another beloved and groundbreaking feature film. This year, they try their hand at the prequel with “Monsters University,” a prequel to 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.” that tells the story of how Mike and Sully first met in their college days. To promote the film’s release, I had the great privilege of touring Pixar’s campus across the bay in Emeryville for two days.
The two day press event was, like many of their films, magical. After arriving to the beautiful campus, which looks more like a college quad than movie studio, all of us reporters were escorted into the main building, aptly named the Steve Jobs Building after their late co-founder.
Inside, I was shown Pixar’s latest short film, “The Blue Umbrella”, which will precede “Monsters University” in theaters. Without giving too much away, “The Blue Umbrella”, which is a love story between umbrellas in a rainy metropolis, is fantastic, employing some of the most photo realistic animation from Pixar yet.
After screening “The Blue Umbrella,” “Monsters University” director, Dan Scanlon and Producer Kori Rae, took the stage to present 40 minutes of the film. Again, without saying too much, the film looks very promising, filled with hilarious jokes and “monsterized” versions of the college experience, as well as stunning animation. With that, day one of the tour was concluded.
Day one was about the finished product, but day two was about how that product was made. Upon arrival to the campus, I had the chance to sit in on presentations with animators, character designers, voice artists, storyboard artists, and even Scanlon and Rae. In just 20 minutes per person, I learned something about every key part that goes into crafting a Pixar film. If there was a bad part about the tour, it was having to leave the Pixar campus.
Though I only saw a fraction of the daily operations, it’s obvious that the people at Pixar are having fun, something that shows in their excellent work in “The Blue Umbrella” and “Monsters University.”