The Story Behind the Story of Cars 3 – Meeting the Writers – #Cars3Event
At Pixar, it’s all about the story. Everything revolves around the story. The story is KING! Getting the story right is one of the most important aspects of what the creative minds at Pixar do. How to bring the story to life and make sure your audience feels the emotions of the characters. With Cars 3, much of the story needed to focus on how to have the audience relate to the cars as characters with emotions first and as vehicles second.
To explore the challenges and successes of how the writers of Cars 3 approached the third Cars installment and continued Lightning McQueen’s story, Pixar brought together writer Kiel Murray, writer Bob Peterson, writer Mike Rich, and story supervisor Scott Morse. On my recent trip to San Francisco, I was lucky enough to listen to them talk about the journey that brought Cars 3 to life.
Creating a Pixar story is always a collaborative effort. The Cars 3 team included a couple veterans and a rookie working together to fill the story with the emotion that is needed to bring the story to life. Not only was it important to bring the emotion of Lightning McQueen and the other characters alive through their story for the audience, it was just as important to give the other departments of Pixar (i.e. Animation, Lighting, etc.) a good story so that they can do their job too.
As all things Pixar – Mike Rich and Scott Morse started by researching. They traveled to overgrown dirt tracks in the South to get a feel for where the characters needed to go and how the story should feel. Peterson and Murray came on to add to the story and push Lightning McQueen into the character they needed him to be. Since the writers include both former athletes and sports fan, they knew the story had to include an important aspect: as an athlete ages, they lose their edge and they have to begin to replace youthful exuberance with a carefully-honed strategy. Lightning McQueen is struggling with deciding if he should go out on top or fight till the end. Lightning needed someone to get him back in the game so they created Cruz Ramirez, a tech trainer at the newly revamped Ruse-Eze Racing Center.
I love the direction that Cars 3 takes us and I believe the reason Cars 3 will work so well and be a huge hit is because it just isn’t your typical Car movie full of action. It also has emotion and heart that comes from the writers. Comes from the research, time and commitment they put into the story. The camaraderie of the characters mirrors the camaraderie of the writing team. They were so much fun to sit and listen to.
Cars 3 will be roaring into theaters on June 16. Don’t miss it. I know you will love it!
I was provided an all expense trip to San Francisco by Disney. All opinions are my own.
An In-Depth Look at Pixar in a Box ~ #Cars3 #Cars3Event
For those of you that don’t know, Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy is sponsored by Disney. A lesson plan full of really cool information. I’m embarrassed to admit that before I was invited by Disney to come to San Francisco for the #Cars3Event and Pixar presentations, I didn’t know as much about it as I thought I did. For one thing I didn’t realize it was free. More importantly I never considered a middle school child using Pixar in a Box for all the things they can use it. Do they consider themselves an artist? They can learn about all the things they can do with that talent at Pixar. They can learn about careers they didn’t even realize existed. They can learn how the subjects they are learning in school – like math, science, computer sciences and humanities – are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. The next time your child tells you they want to be an animator so that cruddy math or science grade doesn’t matter – you can tell him/her how wrong they are. Sign them up for this program and let them see for themselves how those subjects are used! Imagine you or your child finding a new career – one that you may not even have known existed!
Through the lessons plans, you and/or your child will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The set-up seems easy to follow along with and I love you can jump from area to area easily.
Back in 2015, Pixar joined forces with Khan Academy to launch a free online course about animation called “Pixar in a Box.” Through interactive exercises, your child (and you) can analyze what goes into creating a story – the plot, world, and characters in films, and start developing storytelling superpowers and animation interests.
The themed set of lessons are infused with videos and web-based interactive widgets to help kids get excited about and visualize the math behind some of Disney’s biggest animated features. Each lesson comes with an introductory video that explains math concepts such as using parabolic curves to model grass or using weighted averages to translate clay sculptures into 3D computer models. The student can then play around with tools based on the real tools that Pixar animators use and are given the opportunity to test their knowledge through built-in assessments.
Right up there with being an astronaut or the President, there’s one job that your average kid would probably love to snag: Working at Pixar. Pixar in a Box focuses on real-Pixar-world applications of concepts you might usually encounter in the classroom. There’s no need to register for the course, nor a requirement to watch the lessons in order — just head to their site and start exploring!
Pixar in a Box is free on Khan Academy, so don’t be shy about checking it out. New lessons will be released as time goes on and you can sign up with Khan Academy to receive email alerts when new lessons become available.
We were given a step by step walk through of the lesson categories and plans by Elyse Klaidman, Director of Exhibitions and Educational Parnterships and Tony DeRose, a Senior Scientist and lead of the Research Group at Pixar Animation Studios. I came away thinking that even in my sixties, I would really love to go through the lessons. It’s a really neat way to learn something new and when learning is fun (what else would you expect from Pixar!) I know I was always able to learn better. Also, because you can easily skip from area to area and only focus on the lessons that really spark your interest. What could be better than initiatives to help make math, science, and engineering education more inspiring and relevant for middle and high school students. This collaboration with Khan Academy is designed to show students how creative challenges at Pixar are addressed using concepts that they’re learning in classrooms. What a great program!
Here’s a look at Cars 3 coming in June. Just imagine how the creators of this great upcoming film were able to learn what they do using lessons like the ones offered through Pixar in a Box!
I was provided an all expense trip to San Francisco by Disney. All opinions are my own.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Activity Packet
Get ready to be a pirate with these fun Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales activities from Disney! Create your own spyglass, work your way through a pirate’s maze, sink some pirate ships and check out the brightest stars! I’ll be trying out these activities while I wait (not so) patiently for the opening!
Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES opens in theaters everywhere May 26th!
#PiratesLife ~ #PiratesOfTheCaribbean
Take a Lap Around Sonoma Raceway #Cars3Event
So, what do you do when you work at Pixar and you find yourself knee-deep in the middle of the creation of Cars 3. How do you make sure your animation is right? How do you make sure your story is right? How do you make sure you are being emotionally realistic? Well, of course, you head off to Sonoma Raceway and learn everything there is to know about racing, race cars, fixing race cars, and driving race cars. You live, breathe, eat and dream race cars and racing. So what do you do when Disney invites you to come to California for the #Cars3Event. You do what all those creative minds at Pixar did and you spend time at Sonoma Raceway!
Sonoma Raceway is pretty – I never expected to think of a car race track that way, but there is no denying it. Pretty, green, well-maintained and really, really fascinating. Situated among the hills, the raceway has a permanent seating capacity of around 47,000. During major races, hospitality tents and other stages are erected around the track, which brings the total capacity up to around 102,000 seats.
What a day. An early day that started off at 6:00 a.m. To get to the raceway our shuttle started winding it’s way through the hills surrounding San Francisco before it was light out. Through beautiful green hills filled with grape vines and small signs advertising wine tastings and vineyard tours. Never having been a racing fan I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was really early morning and I was still tired. I sat watching the scenery go by. Taking in the prettiness. Listening to the quiet chatter of 24 other bloggers who obviously knew much more about race cars than I did. There was a schedule full of interviews, presentations, taking a ride in a race car, a pit stop challenge and more that would have us at the raceway until late in the day.
From the moment we arrived I knew that Sonoma Raceway was just as excited for us to visit, as we were to be there! Sonoma Raceway was excited about Cars 3!
Everywhere we turned we saw something else to remind us of the film and something else that would have us appreciating the “racing family” more. Putting aside the Cars 3 Event Press Day, if you are ever in the area, a visit to Sonoma Raceway has to make it on your ‘MUST VISIT’ list.
Touring the facility gave me such an appreciation for racing. I was apprehensive since high speeds and lots of motion aren’t really my thing, but excited at the same time because I knew I would learn what went into making Cars 3 and that’s really where my interest was. I couldn’t wait to find out how the creators of the film, which I had screened a portion of the night before, were able to have me think of the cars as characters first and vehicles second. How they were able to instill the emotional realism – which is an important part of every Pixar film – into cars. Cars that have us thinking of them as humans, with feelings and emotions. I wanted to learn about racing what they learned about racing that helped them create this latest Cars film. I wasn’t disappointed!
One of the most amazing presentations was about the history of racing. Since there are portions of the film that give homage to some of the original legends of racing, this was a presentation full of great information. Stories from the early history of racing with photos and details and fun! Oh My! The history of stock car racing, the evolution of car design, stories of legendary drivers ~ told by Jay Ward, Creative Director at Pixar (think of him as basically John Lassiter’s eyes and ears on all things Cars 3) and Ray Evernham, Former Crew Chief for Hendrick Motorsports.
This was my favorite presentation of the day. I came away thinking of these two as the dynamic duo of racing comedy. It was obvious from the moment they started they have a great respect for each others knowledge. It was obvious they have spent lots of time together researching racing for the making of the film. It was obvious they loved what they do . . . and it was contagious! I came away having a totally different thought on the racing world. It’s a world full of family, full of respect, full of love and excitement. And all of those feelings will come through in Cars 3. It will come through because of their passion for the sport and their passion for the movie.
Stock car racing is a quintessentially American pastime that was developed in the days of Prohibition. Picture it – A bunch of dirt poor good ol’ boys who lived anywhere from Virginia on down to Georgia had no other choice to survive than the illegal whiskey business. They souped up their cars to haul their bounty, and then ran from the law like their behinds were on fire. Since boys will be boys – they started racing each other on local roads to prove who had the fastest car. Then, somebody got the bright idea to cut a track out of a cow pasture somewhere, and the rest, as they say, is history! By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, racing and modifying normal vehicles had become extremely popular. By 1948 it was a widespread sport. The most famous bootlegger to make a name for himself in racing was Junior Johnson.
Over the years, stock car racing has evolved from a band of drivers who raced for gas money on tracks primarily in the South, to millionaire owners and drivers who race at tracks across the country from North Carolina to California. Its a way of life for many. Its in the blood and heritage of many. The history is fascinating.
ESPN recently did an article on the legends of racing that are represented in Cars 3. You can read the full article HERE and get a sense of what I learned during the presentation.
I was not a race car fan before my visit, but I sure am now! How about you – are you a race car fan?
I was provided an all expense paid trip to San Francisco. All opinions are my own.
“Thanks for the Adventure!” My Visit to Pixar Animation Studios #Cars3Event
You all know I love Disney. You all know I love Pixar. Put those two things together and when Disney invites you to come to California and be part of the #Cars3Event that includes a visit to Pixar Animation Studios – well, let me tell you – I turned into a real fan girl over it! I was so excited I was hyperventilating!
As a huge Pixar fan, nothing prepares you for the feeling you get when you first go under that Pixar Animation Studios arch when entering the property. Then as soon as you get yourself together, you turn and walk right up to the iconic lamp. The LAMP! And . . . the BALL! Both sitting right there, right in front of you. And . . . did you know the lamp lights up at night!!
The campus is beautiful. The campus is amazing. The campus is much more than I ever imagined. The attention to even the slightest and smallest details around every corner are mind-blowing!
On the walls ~
And even in the floors ~ !
Everywhere you go you notice something amazing. Some little detail that gives a nod to a Pixar movie or short. Everywhere you go you see happy employees. Some of the most creative minds in animation work here. At Pixar everything is about the story. At Pixar everything IS happy! Even the mail room is cool! Picking up your mail? Have a putt first – be sure to note the number of strokes on the board!
Walking into the lobby of the Steve Jobs Building you get a sense of community. You begin to understand the community of creativity that everyone who works here shares. The lobby houses the restaurant for employees, mail room, and the Pixar store among other smaller areas. With the lobby being the center, the building splits off left and right. Just as our brains are split into left and right. The left side of our brain handles reading, writing, speaking, arithmetic reasoning and understanding so the left side of the building is where the writing and the story creative minds work. The right side of our brain handles visual, music and emotional expression so the right side of the building is where the animation takes place. Both sides come together in the middle!
Everything at Pixar revolves around the story and all stories are based in emotional realism. Even the offices and campus are built to reflect this. Every area of the campus has a story behind it (like the Steve Jobs Building and the left brain/right brain concept). Every area of the campus evokes an emotion. Each area of the campus is built with the happiness and comfort of the creative minds that work there in mind.
From the beautiful, grassed amphitheater ~
To the year-round heated pool for employees to use, relax, exercise and think in ~
Or the basketball court to have a quick game while sharing ideas ~
The campus also includes a a soccer field, an organic vegetable garden used by Pixar’s chefs, flower cutting gardens and a wildflower meadow and a jogging trail. All of these amenities are meant to keep the animation staff happy and animated! , jogging trail, and basketball court.
I learned so much about the location on my tour. The story behind Pixar’s headquarters starts in 1999 with Steve Jobs. He had a vision for what he wanted the campus to be. His plan was for the space to hold up to 1000 employees. He wanted it to be a place that promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations. No closed-up offices – lots of glass. The original design called for separating different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But because Steve Jobs was a fanatic about wanting unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place ~ hence the lobby I described above. The atrium lobby houses a reception, employee mailboxes, cafe, foosball, fitness center, two 40-seat viewing rooms, and a large theater. His idea was that people who naturally isolate themselves would be forced to have great conversations.
Job once said, “If a building doesn’t encourage collaboration, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”
When people run into each other, when they make eye contact, great things happen ~ and this is so evident by the layout of the facilities and the great things that come out of Pixar.
Moving beyond the atrium, the entire building plan was meant to provide a clean slate that gave Pixar the ability to creatively fill the space as it saw fit – in a very organic way. Many offices are arranged in U-shaped units of 5-6 individual offices – with a central gathering area in the middle that brings the idea of the creating unplanned collaboration down to a smaller, workspace-sized concept. There are even large Bar-B-Que areas complete with grills and picnic benches for employee collaboration outside! The campus is organized like parts of Manhattan, with sections called the Upper West Side, Lower East Side, etc. An annex building for overflow staff two blocks away, meanwhile, is called Jersey. Another building housing pre-production work is called Brooklyn – (all top secret stuff in here and no roaming the halls allowed!)
Pixar has created a work environment that people enjoy working in. Starting with the huge version of Luxo Jr, the cast of the Incredibles in the atrium, Bing Bong, Hank . . around every corner another reminder. A reminder of work that took years to complete. A connection to the great work created and the emotional connection each employee has to each film. Everyone at Pixar has a connection and a love of their work and it shows. There can be no greater feeling than walking around and being reminded of the great work you helped produce – as well as seeing the smiles of visitors like me, recollect the way each movie touched their lives.
I would love to go back. I would love to see more. I would love to be a fly on the wall when all of those creative minds come together!
Since my tour of Pixar was part of the #Cars3Event, I have to remind you – don’t forget to follow along over the coming weeks to get all the latest information about Cars 3. We were shown a portion of the new film while there and I know everyone will LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I’m actually still a bit disappointed we didn’t see the whole thing but from what I understand all of those creative minds are still collaborating to make sure it’s perfect when it opens June 16! So buckle up!
I always say that every Pixar movie teaches a lesson and Cars 3 is no different. I think the main lesson will be learning to be happy with where you are in life. When you reach a certain age you may not be able to do all the things you once loved, but there are many other things in life to make you happy. Time will tell if I’m right.