Book Review: The Art of Pixar Short Films

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This book contains every short films Pixar has made. That's from 1984's The Adventures of Andre & Wally B to 2007's Lifted, including three feature film-based shorts.

The format of the book is a bit peculiar. The accompanying text for all the short films are presented together at the start of the book, the art goes behind. There are no additional captions for the illustrations except for labels of credits.

The writeup is great. There's a short history of Pixar before it was even known as Pixar (founded in 1986). Following on, it details the making of each short film. There are interesting things like how depth map shadowing and tweening were used in Luxo Jr or how John Lasseter would animate into the morning and sleep under his table.

There are also plenty of stories on how each director thinks about their design and their stories. Especially intriguing because the background of these directors are amazingly varied. For one, Gary Rydstrom made his debut directing Lifted, and he's a sound designer. Each of the directors have lots to say about their production process.

If you've owned To Infinity and Beyond!, you have read some of these production stories already. The Art of Pixar Shorts provides additional information, and it has the feature filmed-based shorts which are not in the other book.

Now for the art. There are sketches, film stills, storyboards and some full colour illustrations (colour keys and beat boards).

For the 13 films featured, I felt that the amount of art shown was slightly underwhelming. Sketches from the earlier films were too little. For example, there are only 3 pages of sketches for Andre and Wally B (totalling 4 big pencil character sketches), 3 pastel paintings and 2 pages of 4 film stills. Throughout the book, there are a few pages with only one or two character sketches on it, which I felt was too loose. Surely these people must have done a lot more concept art and sketches.

The film stills take too much space. I'm fine with film stills if they are used effectively, such as when comparisons between storyboard and final render is made. Nice as they are, not all film stills require one page to themselves.

The pages fill better towards the back so I guess it must have something to do with the lack of archiving in the early days. The art is great but it would be better if it was filled to the brim with sketches literally.

Overall, it's still recommended even though the art pages feels a bit light in content. It's more for Pixar and animation fans.

The full list of short films:

  • The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.
  • Luxo Jr.
  • Red's Dream
  • Tin Toy
  • Knick Knack
  • Geri's Game
  • For the Birds
  • Mike's New Car
  • Boundin'
  • Jack-Jack Attack
  • One Man Band
  • Mater and the Ghostlight
  • Lifted

The Art of Pixar Short Films is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP | CN)

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1 Comment

Well, I know with Andre and

Well, I know with Andre and Wally, it was never meant to be a cartoon. It was just part of the demonstration of the program they came up with. That it happened to be funny was a bonus. The most they would have needed was probably some character designs they could make out of simple shapes.

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