Many Pixar fans don’t realize that the from story ideas to final animation everything is done in one place – the Pixar Animation Studio. Now, getting to Pixar isn’t as easy as just driving up to the property and walking in the front door. You have to be invited inside to see the campus. And earlier this month, I was invited with a great group of writers to check out the first part of the Incredibles 2, learn more about the company, the process of how the movie was made and explore a bit.
We learned so much about how characters were made, and while on campus we were given the chance to make our own super hero in a similar fashion to the character design artists. We were given art paper, circle templates, glue sticks and scissors and about 20 minutes to make our own super hero. With basic shapes we could make the super hero we saw in ourselves, and give a hint of what super power they may have. I’m not sure my Super would be very powerful, but the exercise was a lot of fun and something that you could have kids do to build out their own characters and see their own inner strengths.
Now, Pixar Animation Studios is a dream for any artist and animator, and their work atmosphere is exactly that too. From an open atmosphere that makes employees work together in the main atrium, bright open window spaces that bring in natural lighting, a pool, tennis court, gym and soccer field Pixar seems to have everything an employee would love to have. But there were a few things that struck me as amazing in the space like a room dedicated to just milk and cereal, the Luxo Cafe that serves amazing themed meals to employees and even a room set up for relaxing while being surrounded by clay models of the characters we all love.
Since Pixar Animation Studio isn’t open to everyone, I thought I’d share some of the great things you can see within the property with you. If you ever find your way onto the Pixar campus, be sure to stop in to the gift shop and get some limited edition items then make your way around the campus for an experience like no other.
Visit Luxo and the Luxo Ball
As you walk up to the Steve Jobs building and along the main path you are immediately greeted with one of the most iconic images of Pixar. The Luxo lamp and Luxo Ball. Both larger than life they are a great backdrop for taking pictures with while you’re on campus. Right now, the Luxo Lamp (and all of the smaller versions on campus) are lit up blue for Autism Awareness through the month of April. Strike a pose with these iconic pieces, but make sure to do it again at night time when Luxo is lit up and the path is glowing behind you.
Hidden Characters Throughout the Whole Property
Ok, not all of the characters are hidden quite as obviously as Hank is there – but all of the major characters that Pixar is known for are around campus. You can pose with the Incredibles, get photos with Mike and Sully or even visit Bing Bong. Some of the character appearances are done in paintings like a large ode to Brave and Merida in the Brooklyn building, but trying to find all of your favorites is a lot of fun. Be sure to look for some of them outside as well, you may just see a seagull on top of the buildings while you’re walking the paths between buildings.
The Incredibles 2 Gallery
Every time a new movie is about to hit theaters, Pixar creates a gallery to honor it on it’s second floor. About three to six months before the opening day until a new movie is about to launch the gallery will display concept art, models, themes and more. There are hidden items for kids to find and explore throughout each gallery and hints at the final story if you know what you’re look at.
Currently there are two galleries on display Incredibles 2 and Coco. Coco will be replaced next year when they install the gallery for Toy Story 4 – and we absolutely can’t wait to see that gallery as well!
Humble Reminders Throughout
Yes, Pixar is a major company and one that is a household name. But they don’t act like they are. Instead, throughout the campus you’ll find reminders of humble moments for employees. They know that they are working for their fans, and while their movies make us cry every time (I mean Every. Time.) they keep making movies because they love doing it and we love them as well. Off of the main atrium are a couple of small sitting areas and one is filled with clear Christmas orbs – which almost seems out of place this time of year. The ornaments are actually purchased as a thank you, or recognition of employees and mentors with notes written on them. All of the proceeds of these purchases go to charity to help future artists get the education they need.
My favorite piece is just before that sitting area and a true statement of their love of their fans. In a glass awards case sits a broken down Woody doll that was sent into John Lasseter. The note next to Woody states that the doll was sent in by a fan who loved it and played with him until he fell apart. He wanted his Woody to go back home to Pixar and that is where he is displayed to this day. It shows the love and connection between the fans and Pixar every day.
Amazing Architecture and an Amphitheater
When designing the Pixar campus, one of the main features was to bring the inside out. You can see the brick pavers from outside follow through into the main atrium and large glass windows bringing in natural lighting. The design of the space over all is amazing, with large central meeting spaces and areas that can easily be adapted for multiple uses.
Even outside, meeting spaces are made in some places you wouldn’t normally expect. From a large out door amphitheater to a hidden tree house along the path between the soccer field and amphitheater. Artists and designers are encouraged to meet and work wherever they need to to inspire their creativity and from what we can tell, it’s definitely paying off!