Welcome to the first in a new format of Sunday Suggestions, where instead of suggesting alternatives to products, I will be reviewing them. As it is Pixar week I have decided to review one of my favourite books when I was younger, Pixarpedia.
The Pixarpedia is a book dedicated to everything Pixar created by DK. DK like to produce books like this centered around different films, shows, and games. This book was written in 2009 and features all the films and shorts from before that date. They did do an updated version where they included Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. The book has 352 pages with 3 main divisions. These divisions are:
Forward – A forward by Andrew Stanton, an introduction into the history of Pixar, a timeline, and how they make the films.
Movies.. – Dedicated to every Pixar film, character, and setting. Each character gets a write up with information about them, while each setting is explored and described.
…and Beyond – A few pages for each film including easter eggs, hidden details, fascinating facts, and staff interviews. It also includes an index of all terms mentioned throughout the book.
As a huge Pixar fan having a book full of every character you can think of, including non talking characters, is great. Each character has a description of them; with the more well-known characters having more written about them. I find the sheer breadth of characters astounding. The fact that the authors found time to write up descriptions on obscure characters is brilliant. Throughout the book there are various text boxes containing little snippets of info separated from the overall content. All the pictures and image have been taken straight from the films. In the Movies section all the characters are seen as the characters they were in the film, so for example, Hamm from Toy Story has info about his role in the film, a fact file containing his full name, occupation, and talents, as well as some plot points he was involved in. It is in the Behind the Scenes pages where they list the credits. Each film has it’s own style with different fonts, colours, and decals. The Behind the Scenes pages are very nice with some great facts and hidden details. They show where each A 113, hidden Mickey, and Pizza Planet truck appears in the films. The staff interviews are good too.
A great book for any Pixar fan.
A good way to learn the different characters and their roles in the films.
The superb behind the scenes pages.
The insane amount of supporting characters.
Maybe the main font could be nicer. (All I could think of)
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Pixar, character design, and animated films in general. It is a great reference book, which you will find you dip in and out of. I would give this fascinating book…
If you would like to buy this book it is available on Amazon UK.
In 2012, Pixar’s Brave flashed on the big screen for the first time. A year-and-a-half later, Disney unveiled Frozen to audiences all around the world. Brave takes place in medieval Scotland while Frozen seems to take place in mid-1800s Norway. The stories happen in two completely dissimilar locations. However, looking beyond these differences reveals two remarkably similar fairy tales–which begs the question:
Did Brave Inspire Frozen?
Notice the similarities between the two films:
Each tale begins with the main characters as children.
Merida is gifted her first bow and arrow as a child and practices archery for the first time. The scene shows little Merida laughing and playing with her mother (the queen), indicating that they had a close relationship at this time.
Elsa, casting ice and snow from her hands, turns the inside of the castle into a winter wonderland for her and her sister, Anna to play. Together, they built a snowman and turned the place into an ice skating rink. This would be one of the last times Elsa was allowed to play with Anna.
Both films events begin with a family dispute, caused by a main character’s special ability.
Brave’s redheaded protagonist, Merida avoided betrothal by handily beating her suitors in her favorite sport: archery. Merida’s actions strained–and nearly broke–her relationship with her mother (the queen). Her mother did not believe that a princess like Merida should be practicing archery. Archery, after all, is un-ladylike.
In Frozen, princess Elsa possesses the ability to cast ice and snow out of thin air. She accidentally used this ability on her sister, Anna. Her parents (the king and the queen) reacted by splitting her off from the family and confining her to her room. Elsa spent the rest of her childhood separated from Anna.
One of the main characters is affected by a spell.
Merida got more than she bargained for when she asked for a spell to “change” her mom. The spell changed her mom into a bear, which Merida did not expect.
The spell that Elsa accidentally cast slowly froze Anna from the inside out.
In an attempt to cure the spell, the main characters journey into the woods:
Merida visits the same house where she initially bought the spell. She finds that the witch who sold it to her is on vacation. The witch left a holographic message (powered by a spell in a simmering cauldron) revealing that the clock is ticking on the spell. Merida has until the “second sunrise” to cure it. Otherwise, her mother will be a bear forever.
Kristoff, Olaf, Anna and Sven journey into the snowy woods until they find the trolls that raised Kristoff (and cured Anna the first time) The gang consults with the elder troll, who reveals that if the spell isn’t cured soon, Anna will freeze forever.
Both spells are cured by an act of true love–which mends a tattered relationship.
Merida mends her mother’s tapestry (she sliced it with a sword in the beginning). After this didn’t cure the spell by itself, Merida broke down, cried and began hugging the giant bear her mom turned into. Through tears of pain, she confessed that she loved her, she wished she’d listened to her and that she needed her back. This breaks the spell, reuniting the duo. Weathering the struggles of the spell strengthened Merida’s relationship with her mother and brought them closer together than ever before.
Anna–seconds away from freezing to death–sees Hans (evil guy) with his sword raised into the air with Elsa on the ground. Just as he plunges his sword downward, Anna jumps in front to take the blow. Just before the sword hits her hand, she freezes solid. The sword shatters as it smashes into her hand. Elsa is ecstatic to see her sister, but is soon realizes that she’s solid as ice. Devastated, she clings onto her frozen sister, sobbing. Unexpectedly, Anna begins to thaw–until the color returns to her face and she’s back to normal. The spell is cured! The pain of losing Anna followed by the joy of getting her back strengthened Elsa’s relationship with her sister and brought them closer together than ever before.
Observing these similarities and noting that Brave was released a full year-and-a-half before Frozen, do you believe that Brave inspired Frozen? Or are all these similarities merely convenient coincidences?
This post was written by Andy Carr. You can contact Andy via his email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Andy.
Thirty years ago today, Feb 4, 1986, one of the greatest animation studios was founded. Known for brilliant storytelling, jaw-dropping scenery, and relateable characters this studio is of course Pixar! The history of Pixar is full of intrigue with each staff having their own story. In my opinion the founding of Pixar is down to 4 men, men who were each good in their own fields…
Ed Catmull (Technical Whizz)
Way back in 1974, Ed completed his doctorate in computer science to then be employed by a gentleman named Alexander Schure to help him with the new Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology. Ed had already been recognised as a leader in the industry by discovering and inventing various subtleties and techniques in computer graphics. His first bit of animation, which he made of his left hand, appeared in the film Futureword, making it the first computer generated graphics in a feature film. It was while at NYIT, that Ed created different bits of software to help people create computer animations. His most notable was simple named “Paint”; this eventually became the computer animation system CAPS that Disney would use for their 2D animation work. With his obvious expertise, Hollywood beckoned. And who could be more Hollywood than George Lucas? George hired Ed to work on a new computer graphics department of Lucasfilm in 1979, named Industrial Lights & Magic.In that same year he was made Vice President of the department. In 1986 Steve Jobs invested in ILM and turned it into Pixar. Ed then created Pixar’s landmark 3D animation software, Renderman. The same software they have made every film from since.
George Lucas (Visionary)
As a man who made money from creating live action films, it makes you wonder why George Lucas was so keen on computer animation. Before he set the Pixar ball rolling, he had already created Star Wars. Remember that the first Star Wars used old-school effects like stop motion and compositing. To Lucas, the initial outlay for computer graphics could make a lot more money in the long run. This is why in 1979, he hired Ed Catmull and John Lasseter to help him create 3D effects for films under the Industrial Lights & Magic department. Lucas could see the potential of 3D graphics and really wanted to make a full feature film, but as he was losing money from his divorce and the drop-off in Star Wars merchandise sales he had to sell up to Steve Jobs.
John Lasseter (Artist and Animator)
John had had a hard run while working for Disney as an animator. He was fed up with doing 2D animations and wanted to try out 3D. Him and some colleagues tried out a 3D short with a 2D animation over the top based on the book Where the Wild Thing Are. Pleased with the results, John wanted to create a full 3D feature film. He pitched idea of the Brave Little Toaster as a 3D film. Disney did not like the idea as they felt it would be too expensive, and sacked John from their animation department. This meant John was a free agent, and a perfect target for Ed Catmull. Industrial Lights & Magic needed an animator and John fit the bill. They couldn’t call him an animator as Ed was told he wasn’t to hire any. John worked freelance with Lucasfilm where he created the first ever fully 3D animated short, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. After finding the funding for Brave Little Toaster was gone, he was offered a job by Ed and went to work full-time at ILM. This partnership between Ed and John eventually led to the creation of Toy Story.
Steve Jobs (Money and Direction)
In 1986 Pixar were a company mainly focused at selling computers and software while animating in their spare time. George Lucas didn’t want to run a computer business, and added to his personal finances, he decided to find investors. In walks Steve Jobs. After recently being fired from Apple, Steve needed something to work on. So in 1986 he bought the Pixar technology and Pixar company for $5 million each. The $5 million for the company was used as an investment in the company, while the other $5 mil was for the rights for the software. Steve knew the company needed money, and selling the computers was not going to pay the bills. Steve suggested doing animated adverts while they worked on the feature films.
These four men created one of the best animation studios that created some the most highly acclaimed films ever. Each man had a part to play, and had a piece to pplace in the Pixar jigsaw. They each had a skill they brought to the table. If you were to take out one of these men Pixar would not be the company it is today; financially or creatively. They are part of the history of Pixar. I can’t believe its been 30 years Pixar, here’s to another 30!
It is no secret that Pixar and Dreamworks are against each other and always will be. They are the two powerhouses for 3D, CGI films, so it is obvious they will be at war. Standing from the sidelines the battle looks fairly mundane with both studios releasing films for the public to enjoy, each trying to create great films. The battle between Pixar and Dreamworks is way more than this; Pixar and Dreamworks have history…
It all starts with a man named Jeffery Katzenberg. Jeffery was brought into Disney by CEO Michael Eisner in 1984. Eisner wanted him to look into the motion picture division of Disney. At this time Disney was one of the worst performing studios in regards to film making. Katzenberg was able to turn this around by creating some more adult orientated live action movies, as well as some of Disney’s best animated films. These animated films included Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and the Lion King. It was also Katzenberg who agreed the partnership deal between Disney and Pixar.
When Eisner’s second in command died in a helicopter crash, Katzenberg was not promoted to the free position of president. Katzenberg fell out with Eisner, and left Disney in 1994. He also even attempted to sue his old company for money he felt he was owed. This breakup inspired Katzenberg to seek revenge, eventually leading him to create Disney Pixar’s mortal enemy, Dreamworks.
Thus commences the biggest movie studio rivalry known in the business, and a fairly shady movie battle too…
Bug’s Life vs Antz
Hyped up by the success of Toy Story, Pixar started work on its next film, A Bug’s Life. Remember that Katzenberg knew John Lasseter and Steve Jobs after Toy Story and Pixar’s collaboration with Disney. To be honest, Katzenberg hindered the process of Toy Story by wanting it edgier and appeal more to adults. It wasn’t until he left Pixar to it, when they were able to create the film they wanted. Katzenberg had already had a run in with the Pixar staff, so when Katzenberg invited John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton for a meeting after his founding of Dreamworks, they should have smelt a rat. Katzenberg was asking them a lot of questions about their “bug” film, and pointing out how close the release date was to Dreamwork’s Prince of Egypt. This meeting was in 1995. John and the Pixar team started getting word that Dreamworks were also making a CGi film based around insects; this film became Antz. John phoned up Katzenberg who initially said it was a rumour, but later admitted it was true. Jeffrey told John that the Antz pitch had been given to him years before any news of A Bug’s Life. John obviously found this hard to believe and felt he was the cannon fodder between Disney and disgruntled Katzenberg. Katzenberg then phoned up Steve Jobs, and told them he could stop the production of Antz if Disney and Pixar moved the release date of Bug’s Life to avoid it colliding with Prince of Egypt’s date. Jobs told him it was extortion and refused to move the date. Disney would not have let him anyway. Katzenberg then made the decision of moving Antz’s release date from Spring 1999 to October 1998, just to get an edge on Pixar’s Bug’s Life. The sad thing is that most of the Pixar crew knew and were friends with the PDI crew (PDI being the computer animation group Dreamworks bought and used), and would have supported their new film, had it not been in direct competition with theirs. John Lasseter has even said that he would have closed the studio for the day just to go and see PDI and Dreamwork’s first film. PDI and Pixar were on good terms after the whole debacle, but the competition between Dreamworks and Disney still whirred on.
Film’s Similarities and Differences
Based on insects
Main character is a male worker ant that wants to get out of the colony
The worker ant falls in love with a princess
They both save the colony
In a Bug’s Life the colony is the safe place, while the big city is dangerous. In Antz the colony is bad and the place they try and find is good
Antz is not afraid with death with many characters dying, while Bug’s life shows little violence and no deaths
Bug’s life is family friendly, whereas Antz tried to be edgy, using satirical and rude humour and violence
Antz is the dark side of theme, while Bug’s Life is the light. Antz used darker colours, humour, and plot. Bug’s Life is colourful, juvenile, and much brighter.
On Rotten Tomatoes:
As you can see from the ratings both films are highly acclaimed. They each win out in different areas on different websites. The reason Antz beats A Bug’s Life on some websites is due to the harder hitting story and better voice cast, while Bug’s Life wins for memorable characters and child friendly plot.
Even if their critical reception was similar, Katzenberg’s gamble with Antz beating Bug’s Life didn’t pay off at the box office.
Bug’s Life cleaned up with $363,398,565 in box office sales to Antz’s $171,757,863 worldwide sales. The fact that Antz lost out to Bug’s Life even though it came out earlier speaks kindly to the marketing Pixar did for the film, and the lack thereof from Dreamwork. It also shows that the fact Antz was rushed out into cinemas just to beat Pixar’s efforts was a stupid idea, and thus lacked any real traction in the theatres. Judging by the reviews Antz could have easily been stiff competition for Bug’s Life if it had been marketed better.
In all credit to Katzenberg and Dreamworks, they did bring out a good film with good reviews. So you can only feel the cheap tactics and fired shots between the two studios only really harmed Antz. Had Katzenberg waited for Bug’s Life to come and really finish off the film, it may have beat Bug’s Life in the box office. After Jeffery had laid down the gauntlet there was no real going back; Dreamworks and Pixar were to be long time enemies. From similarities between Shark Tale and Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Flush Away, and even Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove and The Road to Eldorado only strengthened the animosity between the two even if they were just “coincidences.” After Bug’s Life vs Antz, animation fans actually had two great films to watch and enjoy. So I suppose it wasn’t all bad.
When I saw this film recently in the cinema, I couldn’t wait to get it on DVD so I could pause each moment to try and find all the hidden details. So to carry on in the Aardman series, I have found some of the best Easter eggs hidden in the recent Shaun the Sheep Movie.
Without further ado, lets start with a quality cameo! If you don’t know this bus conductor is none other than Blakey, from UK show On the Buses.
This next one shows the amount of detail that goes into these films. In any old cobbler shop in the UK an animatronic man mending shoes can be seen in the window. The man is advertising Phillips shoe products. They are often seen in Timpson’s windows.
Its great to see a cameo from Shaun’s creator, Nick Park!
Near the end, when the pigs are watching TV, you should be able to hear the Morph theme tune coming from the set.
If you look carefully at the graffiti, you should see the names of people involved in the production of the film.
Time for another cameo. This time it is from the Wallace and Gromit universe. Miss. Thripp, one of the West Wallaby Street residents, can be seen in a few scenes in the film.
A few of pop culture items making an appearance.
This may sound a bit far-fetched, but bare with me. Rhett and Link created a character named Dope Zebra. This zebra was two men inside a zebra suit dancing to some funky music. During the film we see a pantomime horse doing a moonwalk to funky music. A coincidence? Probably.
A couple of Breaking Bad references.
Ending with a Blue Peter badge.
After seeing the posters for the new Nick Park film, Early Man, I couldn’t help but see the resemblance.
Another lot of credits. These names are all the set designers!
This is perhaps the biggest cameofest in an Aardman film to date. On this board we can see:
Only one more Aardman film to look through before I create some accompanying videos.
Continuing with the Aardman easter eggs, I watched Flushed Away to see the hidden details. This was the best film so far, probably because they could add whatever they wanted because it was CGI, rather than having to make it physically for stop motion.
We start with a 50 Cent reference. Introducing to you 40 Pence!
Two Aardman books including Cracking Animation.
A Tail of Two Cats. Alex the Lion from Madagascar and the Cat from Creature Comforts.
Some more Creature Comfort characters.
Some recognisable DVDs including Over the Hedge, Shrek, Antz, and Wallace and Gromit Curse of the Were Rabbit.
This looks like a fighting game with Feathers McGraw vs Preston. The question is who would you back and where do I get an arcade machine like that?
A Gromit Pencil topper available at all good ebay stores.
Surely another Gromit reference?
Gromit Plushie. Need I say more?
A sock monkey of the monkey from Madagascar.
An obvious reference to Dreamwork’s rival Pixar. Doesn’t really look like Nemo though.
These penguins sneak in everywhere.
The rabbits from Were Rabbit.
Rex the Runt, Aardman’s TV series gets a reference too.
Shaun also gets two nods.
We also get a Shrek reference.
Recognise this picture?
Or this one?
Or this Costume?
Two for one. A Wendolene picture and a Chicken Run DVD.
A newspaper reference to the Were Rabbit terrorising West Wallaby Street.
Last but not least, a Wolverine reference. Wolverine is played by Hugh Jackman, and so is Rodney, so why not have a Wolverine costume.
Thanks for reading. I have finally found all the other DVDs for the other Aardman films, so stay tuned Fishy Friends!
I was watching some videos on Youtube and suddenly saw an advert for a new series of Scooby Doo. I was shocked when I saw it, especially after re watching all the Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated episodes.
The new Scooby Doo, named Get Cool Scooby Doo, was announced in March 2014 alongside reboots of Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny’s Wabbit. This is the twelfth incarnation of Scooby Doo following on from Mystery Incorporated. As I said, I have been watching all the Mystery Incorporated shows again mainly because I really love the over-arching storyline, unfortunately the new series does not have a bigger story as each episode is separate and standalone.
They have cast the normal voice actors for Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and Scooby, while Velma has a new voice actor. Fred and Scooby are voiced by Frank Welker who has been voicing them since Scooby Doo’s first show in 1969. After Casey Kasem’s retirement and 2009, and death in 2014, Shaggy has been permanently voiced by Matthew Lillard, although he played Shaggy in the live action films in 2002 and 2004. Daphne is voiced by Grey Griffin who has been her actor since 2001. Velma’s new voice actor is Kate Micucci, who has previously voiced characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ben 10: Omniverse.
With the new title, Get New Scooby Doo, you would assume that all the characters have been revamped… and you would be right! All the characters are keeping their signature styles, but the overall character design is very different. The character design is very reminiscent of Family Guy and Adventure Time with large eyes and simplified features. I personally don’t like the new look, but I am sure I will get used to it. Anyone remember the weird look on Shaggy and Scooby Doo: Get a Clue?
In a Comic-Con article it was said that the series would be less grim compared to Mystery Incorporated, while its producer says it is a “more comedic ensemble.” I personally liked the edgier story’s mainly as the characters struggled through them. The romance between the characters has also been squashed in the new series. I am yet to see an episode, but the previews I have seen seem to be full of humour and quick quips instead of drama.
I hope I am wrong and that it is really good, but I am worried the attempt to make it more attractive to different audiences may backfire. You can watch this new Scooby on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the UK and Ireland.
After watching all the Wallace and Gromit films and finding all the Easter eggs in those, I decided to do the first Aardman feature film… Chicken Run. I must say, even though it is a film about chickens, I didn’t find that many Easter eggs. I did try my best, however, so sit back and enjoy.
The first hidden detail is a tin of chicken soup. How on earth could they get a tin of chicken soup? The logo even looks like Campbells.
When I watched the film the first time I couldn’t place this next detail. It wasn’t until I watched an episode of Rex the Runt, when I put two and two together. The company Chuffy Dog Snacks appears in Chicken Run when the rats are watching the chickens fly, and also in Rex the Runt episode 2 when Bad Bob is eating in the telly.
Just took this little bit out as everyone knows that Cornflakes have a rooster on the front, and obviously Aardman didn’t forget either.
The next is a nice nod towards two war time heroines; Get and Daisy. They were some of the most well-known radio personalities during the war. This is the actual cover of their wartime recipe book. You can see the amazon listing for the book here.
Nick Park likes to make cameos in his films and this one was no exception. Nick voiced this chicken. This is the chicken that whistles when Mr. Tweedy is looking at the covered teapot.
Although it is very hard to read, the propellers are actually road signs. They say Halifax 32, Lancaster 40, and Sunderland 59 making the location of the farm somewhere around Wensleydale, Wallace’s favourite place!
This radio has some interesting place names on it, but the most interesting is Nick Park’s beloved Preston.
How witty. If you didn’t know, Stephenson’s Rocket was the name of the first train ever made.
The last is a nod to Bristol, the home of Aardman. There is a Stokehill in Bristol, so I can only assume there was a good green grocers there.
Well he we are, the last Wallace and Gromit movie; it’s been fun hasn’t it? This film was chocked full of hidden extras like all the others, so sit back, relax, and enjoy.
In the first scene we see Bob Baker, the same baker who appeared in a Close Shave. He is also named after the writer of Wallace and Gromit, Bob Baker.
I wouldn’t usually point out any nods to films, but this time I made an exception. In A Grand Day Out we can see a red sledge named Rose Bud after the film Citizen Cane, and now in this film we see a poster in Gromit’s room of Citizen Canine.
We see Feathers McGraw yet again make an appearance. I have a theory surrounding this shady character so stay tuned.
Another nod to an older film, this Meatabix brand can also be seen in the Wrong Trousers.
The bike and sidecar hasn’t been discarded since its use in the Close Shave.
At the Zoo enclosure we can see some familiar looking penguins, but bare in mind none of these can be Feathers because he is missing.
This rocket has also appeared in every film.
No sheep pictures to be seen in this film, but we do still see some sheep on Gromit’s wall.
Now the Wallace and Gromit films are finished with, we can now turn our attentions to Aardman’s other films, so keep an eye out and follow this blog so you don’t miss out.
Although Grand Day Out is the first Wallace and Gromit film, I was only able to get a digital copy the other day hence being after the other 3 films so far. This film doesn’t have as many Easter eggs as its predecessors, but I hope you enjoy them just the same.
One thing you will notice if you have read any of the other posts is the pictures of sheep dotted about the sets. This film was no different. These pictures are seen as nods towards the Close Shave film and Shaun the Sheep.
I have already mentioned the red sledge in a previous post but this is the film it appeared in. The red sledge shown is a nod to the Citizen Kane film, where, spoiler alert, Rose Bud is the name of his childhood sledge.
The next is potentially a reference to Batman, but Nick Park has said the headline is actually a childhood story of when one of his chickens was saved by another of his chickens. He also mentioned that is could have been a foreshadowing of Chicken Run.
The last hidden detail can be seen on Wallace’s suitcase that he puts in the rocket. You should notice that one of the stickers says Beaconsfield. This is actually the place where the National Film and Television School is situated and also where Nick filmed some of the scenes in the film.
As I said not many things in this one, but stay tuned for Chicken Run, A Matter of Loaf and Death, and all the other Aardman films!