red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen

 

 

Pixar

the animation studio started by Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and Apple Computer

 

Pixar got its start in the mid-1980s with the invention of the Apple Macintosh computer, the first "graphical interface" computer, and Pixar's proprietary software (Marionette, RingMaster, RenderMan) that was able to display graphics on the screen in close-to-real-time, as they were created by the artist.

These days, watching graphics appear as the mouse moves seems like no big deal, but back in those dinosaur days of personal computing technology, seeing graphics on screen (not simply the text-based, "command-line" interface Big Blue declared as the only "real" type of computing) was a revolutionary concept and capacity. Animated films have been migrating to the computer desktop ever since.

As a film studio, Pixar first leaped into the theatrical scene with the likes of A Bug's Life, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and the 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo. But for Pixar, the process of making feature-length films got its start in short animated features.

On the Pixar.com website, you'll find an engaging collection of its animated short films, many of which were nominated for and/or won Academy Awards for their stories and technical achievements. In fact, Pixar's first short animated film, Luxo, Jr. (a "story" about a lively Luxo-brand artist's table lamp), won an Oscar nomination in 1986. Geri's Game was the 1997 winner, and For the Birds took home the trophy in 2003. Each film broke new ground in computer animation and led to many more industry achievements. Watch them for free online.

In 1997, Pixar began its relationship with Walt Disney Studios, which helped realize its feature-length dreams in the perennial favorite Toy Story movies. Since then, the combined effort has morphed into a major player in feature films, moving through Monsters Inc. and landing solidly with 2003's phenom Finding Nemo. If you like animated films — whether you're a kid or not — it would be hard not to enjoy Pixar's animated shorts (pun intended!).


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