Monday, March 30, 2015

ThisDayInPixar Giveaway Details!

As I mentioned earlier, I thought the fact that I had reached 2000 followers at about the time that I would be in Disney World lent itself well to a giveaway. So here I am in Disney World and I think it's time for the giveaway!

To celebrate 2000 followers, I'm giving away a Finding Nemo tumbler. This travel mug has a stainless steel interior and comes with wonderfully cute seagulls artwork and the seagulls favorite (only?) word, "Mine". The tumbler has a twist-off lid and slide-lock sipper.  Note, it is not microwave or dishwasher safe, and should be thoroughly washed before first use.

The rules for entering the giveaway are simple! To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and live in the 48 contiguous United States. If you are under 18, you can have a parent enter. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Multiple submissions will be ignored. No purchase necessary to enter. The giveaway starts NOW and will end Friday, April 3, 2015 at 11:00pm Eastern Standard Time. One random winner will be chosen and contacted via the email address used to enter the contest. Once the winner claims their prize, I will announce it here in this post and on Twitter.

If you're good with all that, then just fill out the form below and good luck!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Announcing The First Ever ThisDayInPixar Giveaway!!

I've just crossed 2000 followers! Wow, what a milestone! Time is one of our most precious commodities, and the fact that you follow me and spend a few minutes of your time reading my posts, well,  I am very grateful.

To show my appreciation, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway. The timing is perfect, as I will be at the Walt Disney World Resort in a little over a week. Once there I'll find some Pixar-related merchandise (I'm hoping there's some Inside Out merch!), then announce the details of the giveaway on Twitter and this blog. So keep an eye on my Twitter feed, and again, thank you!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pixar News Articles for March 15, 2015

It's been a few weeks since my last news article, but since then there have been a few great interviews and articles I wanted to point out. The first, brought to my attention by Twitter user Everything Pixar, is an interview with ex-Pixarians Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, on leaving Pixar and their Academy Award nominated short film The Dam Keeper.

This next article I originally saw on John Huikku's Twitter feed, and is a look at how Pixar has been able to create 14 straight hits with $8.5 billion in worldwide box office receipts. This interview with Pixar and Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter has a number of great lines, such as "Hard work. Great people. Honesty. Focus on creativity." and " amount of great animation will save a bad story."

Finally, John Lasseter and Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull recently shared Variety's Creative Impact in Animation Award. Variety published a number of articles for this award with ones highlighting both Lasseter and Catmull. The award was part of Variety's 10 Animators to Watch event, which included Toy Story 4 co-director Josh Cooley and former Pixar Canada Creative Director Dylan Brown.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pixar News Articles for February 8, 2015

It's been a busy week for Pixar-related articles and interviews! Here are a few of them. First, former Pixar story artist Matt Jones retweeted a post from The Independent that linked to an article showing how Pixar (along with Marvel and Lucasfilm) has helped propel Disney to the top of the box office, and how this success has translated to a growing business in merchandising and at their theme parks. The article also discusses the merger of Disney and Pixar and how Disney CEO Bob Iger won the trust of Ed Catmull.

The next article was brought to my attention by John Huikku, and covered a speech Ed Catmull recently gave at Brigham Young University on breaking down the barriers that get in the way of creativity. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I've been interested in Pixar's culture for a long time, so needless to say I loved this article.

Sticking with Ed Catmull and creativity, Thought Economics published an interview with Catmull, director Nick Park and Distinguished Research Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College Jonathan Gottschall. The interview goes into the secrets of creativity and the importance of storytelling.

Last is an interview with Ronnie del Carmen that I found from Annie Alejo. del Carmen was story supervisor on Finding Nemo and Up, and now is co-directing Inside Out. I'm a huge fan of Ronnie's personal projects, especially his books on Nina. Ronnie was born in the Philippines and this interview took place when he recently visited there. It's a very personal interview as del Carmen recounts how his father's business failed and they moved to the United States, and how he showed storyboard sequences from Up to his hospitalized dad. Ronnie's story is definitely one of perseverance!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pixar News Articles for February 1, 2015

This is my second post in a series highlighting articles and interviews covering technology, animation or culture and featuring Pixar.  To start, Steve Muench tweeted a link to a YouTube video with Pixar's Tony DeRose on how the studio uses math in the simulation of cloth and hair. You may remember this Numberphile interview with DeRose from last November; this new video contains extra material not used in that original video.

Second, Diego Rojas tweeted a link to a great Harvard Board Review article on the importance of organizing for innovation, and highlighting how successful Pixar has been in creating and maintaining their innovative culture.

Next is an article on how Oculus is using virtual reality in an innovative, new way to tell films. Lost is the first short film from Oculus Story Studio, where ex-Pixarian Saschka Unseld is now Lead Creative Director. You'll remember Unseld as the director of Pixar's short film The Blue Umbrella. We've seen some very cool, new ways to tell films from ex-Pixarians, including Lost and Windy Day by Jan Pinkava, director of Geri's Game and co-director of Ratatouille.

Finally, let's finish with an interview The Chronicle did with composer Michael Giacchino. While Giacchino doesn't discuss any of his Pixar scores (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Cars 2, and short films One Man Band, Lifted, La Luna and Toy Story of Terror), the article contains a couple of images of Michael with awards he won for the score to Up. I originally found this article due to a tweet from Michael's sister Maria. And speaking of Giacchino and Pixar, just last week Michael posted a couple of photos from one of his Inside Out scoring sessions with Pete Docter. Can June just hurry up and get here so we can finally see this movie?!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This Day in Pixar History: Toy Story Revenue and Profits

If you've followed my blog for a while, you probably know I have an ongoing series of posts looking at Pixar's earnings from when they were a standalone public company. I started with their first quarter after their IPO (January - March, 1996), and am now up to the last quarter of 1998 (which I hope to post in a few weeks). Pixar's earnings during this period of time was primarily driven by Toy Story - its theatrical release in November, 1995, the home video release in late 1996 and related merchandise sales.

By the end of 1998, Disney and Pixar had received the majority of revenue that would be generated by Toy Story. Sure, there would be continuing revenue from merchandise sales and television syndication fees. But this would be minimal, especially compared to the imminent release of A Bug's Life. So I thought it would be fun to take a look at the revenue and profit Pixar made from Toy Story's original theatrical debut, home video release and merchandise.

Below is a table of revenue, gross profit and gross profit margins Pixar had for the years 1996 through the first quarter of 1999:

Quarter Film Revenue
Film Gross Profit
Film Gross
Profit Margin
1st Quarter, 1996 $76 $67 88.2%
2nd Quarter, 1996 $5,000 $4,586 91.7%
3rd Quarter, 1996 $11,146 $10,224 91.7%
4th Quarter, 1996 $2,625 $2,419 92.2%
1st Quarter, 1997 $6,301 $5,743 91.1%
2nd Quarter, 1997 $11,596 $10,827 93.4%
3rd Quarter, 1997 $3,509 $3,424 97.6%
4th Quarter, 1997 $5,508 $5,436 98.7%
1st Quarter, 1998 $4,036 $4,036 100%
2nd Quarter, 1998 $2,912 $2,912 100%
3rd Quarter, 1998 $1,260 $1,260 100%
4th Quarter, 1998 $1,551 $1,551 100%
1st Quarter, 1999 $559 $559 100%
Total $56,079 $53,044 94.6%

There are a few significant points I'd like to point out regarding this table:
  • Gross profit margin - Wow! The reason it is so high is because of how the Feature Film Agreement was written. Disney reimbursed all production costs that Pixar incurred except for any budget overages. These payments were not treated as revenue but as cost reimbursements, which lowered cost of revenue to almost nothing.
  • Notice how the profit margin started increasing in mid 1997 until it reached 100%. This was due to how much better Toy Story performed than expected, causing all production costs to be fully reimbursed sooner than Disney had expected. Once all the costs had been reimbursed, all revenue received by Pixar was pure profit.
  • While Pixar had huge profit margins, the actual amount they made from Toy Story isn't very much. To put it into perspective, let's look at the revenues through 1996 which came from the theatrical release of the film. Toy Story made over $361 million worldwide but Pixar's revenues were not even $19 million, equating to only 5%. This was a big reason for Steve Jobs pushing for the Co-Production Agreement, which became effective with A Bug's Life and would give Pixar 50% of all revenue.
Looking ahead to A Bug's Life, the new agreement would mean Pixar receiving half of all film and merchandise revenue, and in exchange would be responsible for half of all film production costs. Without spoiling future earnings report posts, it's easy to expect that while revenues will be significantly higher, we won't see profit margins of 90%! But I think it's safe to say the new Co-Production Agreement works out well for Pixar. Just as a tease, if we look at only a single quarter, the 3rd quarter of 1999, Pixar reported $77 million in film revenue and $55.8 million in profits. Those numbers for that single quarter are higher than the total that Pixar made from Toy Story!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pixar News Articles for January 13, 2015

I'm thinking of starting a new series of posts to highlight cool and interesting Pixar-related news articles, interviews and other events. There's so much going on with Pixar, I'm hoping these posts will capture a good portion of the interviews and technology events that are occurring. If this works out I hope to have a post every week or two.

To start with, Fortune has had a couple of excellent posts recently. As part of their recent cover story on The Walt Disney Company, they interviewed Disney and Pixar president Ed Catmull, which covered Pixar's spin-out from Lucasfilm, their merger with Disney and the use of technology in animated films. They also did an in-depth piece on Disney CEO Bob Iger and his role as CTO, which not only covered Pixar but Marvel, Star Wars and technological changes in their theme parks.

Pixarian Colin Levy tweeted a link to an article on short films that launched the careers of famous directors. The article included John Lasseter for the short film Luxo, Jr., which was released in 1986, the year Pixar spun out of Lucasfilm and became a standalone company. The article itself linked to an interview Entertainment Weekly did with Lasseter which went into more detail of the making of Luxo, Jr. and other early short films like Red's Dream and The Adventures of André and Wally B.

Did you see the pre-production artwork for the Toy Story 3 film that never got made? Former Disney artist Jim Martin has released a number of pieces of concept art from when he was at Circle 7 working on the sequel. This was back before Disney bought Pixar and there was a lot of animosity between the 2 CEOs. Fortunately Bob Iger became CEO, purchased Pixar, and put Lasseter and Catmull in charge of animation of both companies. The new leaders immediately put a halt to the sequel and closed down the division.

There have been a couple of recent videos demonstrating the story process at Pixar. First, CGMeetUp posted a video of Monsters University Head of Story Kelsey Mann showing how to pitch a movie scene. The post contains a number of links to other behind-the-scenes clips from Monsters University.

Second, Story Supervisor Matthew Luhn posted an old video of Andrew Stanton and the late Joe Ranft demonstrating the pitch process, with Ranft pitching an entire scene from Toy Story. Note how Joe is pitching the "old fashion" way, standing up at a board with story cards pinned to it, while Mann does his pitch digitally using a computer.

Although Luhn has only been on Twitter for a short time, he has quickly become one of my favorite people to follow. Many of his tweets contain great behind-the-scenes videos and helpful tips. I highly recommend following him!

There are a couple of cool auctions going on at the moment. The first, which I wrote about this weekend, is the Art to Heart fundraiser to raise money for helping those impacted in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. Many of the original art pieces were created by past and current Pixarians such as Ronnie del Carmen, Ricky Nierva, Matt Jones, Dice Tsutsumi, Robert Kondo, Chris Sasaki, John Hoffman and others. This is beautiful artwork and it's going for a great cause.

The second isn't Pixar related but is still wonderful. Cartoon Brew recently posted about an auction that the stop-motion studio Laika is holding on February 12. It doesn't sound like this is an online auction but will include puppets and props from all 3 of their films - Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Art of Elysium organization.

And for something fun to end on, David Lally tweeted some simulation bloopers from the making of Brave!

If you come across any Pixar-related interviews or news articles, please send them my way and I'll include them in a future post.