Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Story Permutations

This story from Yahoo (U.K) highlights the animation workplace (with swell photographs!) known as Pixar.

“Everyone here is an overachiever. One colleague is a professional carpenter. He made his own bar! There’s another guy who’s like the third best violinist in his class in the world.”

... “There’s guys in animation have their own clothing line. They go off and make and design clothes in their spare time. Everyone here is quite OCD about everything they do.” ...

“John Lasseter once said: ‘At some point in every Pixar movie it’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen’ and that’s true. The reason our films ended up great is because we’ve made them horrible internally. We work though those bad versions of the movie.”

“[There were] five versions of [‘Monsters University]. We did versions where it was Sulley’s story. We thought we had to follow what ‘Toy Story’ did, with Woody as the driving force of those films. Actually we don’t.”

John Lasseter, of course, is the new Walt Disney. As Walt was endlessly quoted when I arrived at Walt Disney Productions in the middle seventies, so John is now quoted in the same manner.

The difference (happily) is that John is alive and creating.

But let's put a bit of historical perspective on this: Every animated feature that I know about goes through story permutations, the good ones and the bad ones. (I spent two years of my life on a feature that started out promising, got changed a lot, and every change made it worse.)

Seventy-six years ago, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had animation and whole sequences thrown out. Story legend Bill Peet said of Disney feature #2:

"After Snow White was such a success, Walt started padding out, and he didn't know who was doing what. Here were all these people jammed in there. Pinocchio was just a ponderous, impossible thing. They had hundreds of story boards on that thing, and countless storymen. They threw people in from shorts. They were just thrown in there. Walt thought that if they had ten times as many people, they'd do it ten times as fast".

A "ponderous, impossible thing," (sort of like "worst movie you've ever seen?") and Mr. Peet was in the middle of it. His first assignment in the story department was working on sequences that never made it into the finished picture.

The drill for animated features is: Draw it, try it, throw it out. Draw something else. It's been that way for three-quarters of a century.


Floyd Norman said...

And sometimes, the horrible version is released.

Story, much like of the rest of Hollywood is where nobody knows anything.

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