Welcome to the start of my new project reviewing all the Pixar films and animated shorts. The first 5 of these reviews are going to be shorts made by Pixar from 1984 to 1995 release of Toy Story. I have a fondness for these shorts because my uncle Mark used to work for Pixar in their financing department back in 1990ish. One year for Christmas he gave us a VHS tape with some animated shorts made by his company. It had Luxo Jr, Knick Knack, Tin Toy etc. I loved watching those shorts and I’ve always felt that I was an early Pixar fangirl well before Toy Story. How many can say that?🙂
That said critiquing or analyzing these shorts is tough. By modern standards they seem crudely drawn and very simple. For example, most of them are silent films without any dialogue just music. But we have to consider these shorts were basically tools to help them create the technology that we now have with great CG animation. In that sense they are not simple and are really quite groundbreaking.
The first short Pixar ever created is called The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. It is a 2 minute bit about an android (that’s what John Lasseter calls it) named Andre that meets a bee named Wally B. He distracts said bee and runs through the forest but is eventually outwitted and stung so hard it twists the bees stinger.
Adventures of Andre and Wally B was created by John Lasseter in 1984 when Pixar was a new division of Lucasfilm for a conference called SIGGRAPH and it feels like something made for a conference, more to show off technology than tell a story.
The big breakthrough in Andre and Wally B is they were able to design a motion blur technology called the motion doctor that allowed for characters to not just be geometric shapes but move in a realistic way that flows. Lasseter had been working at Disney and was brought on to animate the characters but I really think this short has more of a Looney Tunes feel than Disney with its physical comedy and silent movie feel.
What was really interesting in the audio commentary is technical lead Bill Reeves says “In retrospect it’s amazing that John didn’t do a robot. Where would be today if he had? Who knows but I’m so glad he didn’t”
So I suppose we can all be grateful for Andre and Wally B because it forced Lasseter to start designing outside of boxes like a robot would have been. It would take 11 more years to perfect the technology to the level of a feature film but Andre and Wally B got the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing.
I have no idea what grade to give it. Just enjoy it because it was the first and it is 2 minutes long…
What’s your favorite of these early shorts? Next up the iconic Luxo!