Brain Pickings

The Art of Pixar Short Films


Birds, toys, or what the history of computing has to do with the creative legacy of our time.

After the wild popularity of The Ancient Book of Sex & Science a couple of weeks ago, we thought we’d explore the wondrous world of Pixar art a bit further.

Today, we bring you The Art of Pixar Short Films from animation art historian Amid Amidi — a fantastic book that takes us behind the scenes of what we consider to be Pixar’s true gems: Their beautifully animated short films, told with utter brilliance and elegance of visual narrative.

These shorts, brimming with contagious energy and subtle humor, set the stage for Pixar’s award-winning features that followed — from the earliest animated short, The Adventures of André & Wally B, which proved computer animation possible, to Tin Toy, which later evolved into the feature-length smash hit Toy Story.

As for the authors, they bring their own magic to the mix. New-York-based animation journalist Amid Amidi has numerous books to his credit, and is it’s almost embarrassing to “introduce” a creative culture legend like John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar.

The Art of Pixar Short Films illuminates the Emeryville studio’s extraordinary history, artistry and unique creative process through essays and interviews with the animators, directors, producers and artists who created the iconic For The Birds, Luxo Jr., and eleven more short films. With more than 250 full-color pastels pencil sketches, photographs, storyboards and final rendered frames, it offers a glimpse of Pixar’s incredible brand of storytelling, which creates powerful narrative not through traditional dialogue but through character emotion, music, and perfectly timed humor.

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