| Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, CA
During my recent trip to the US, I was invited to Pixar Animation Studios for the day by one of their talented artists - Don Shank. Don is a fellow iPad artist who I met when testing the recently released Adobe Photoshop Touch iPad Apps. You can check out some of his personal artwork at http://donshank.blogspot.com/
It has been my dream for a very long time now to visit the Pixar studio and get the chance to meet some of the amazing people behind the movies that I have grown up loving and admiring. So, when I received an open invitation from Don to drop by, I was incredibly excited and couldn't wait for the day to arrive.
The drive from San Francisco to Pixar is only a short skip across the Bay to Emeryville. As you approach the studio you are greeted by an impressive three brick pillar supported cast-iron PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS sign. Once inside, just in front of the main entrance is a larger-than-life Luxo Lamp and ball from Pixar's iconic intro and 1986 animated short Luxo Jr.
Walking through the main entrance was a surreal moment for me because I had seen the Pixar atrium so many times before in behind the scenes documentaries. The building certainly lived up to my expectations - Life size+ models of all the key Pixar characters, beautiful artwork on each wall and Pixar employees sat having conversations and riding around on scooters. I signed in at reception, received my visitors badge (with the quirky Toy Story Alien inspired tagline 'Stranger from the outside') and appoached the guest seating area. Whilst waiting I noticed that to my right-hand side there was a cabinet containing many of the numerous awards Pixar's animated films have received over the past 25 years - including 5 of their Oscars.
For the next 3 hours or so, Don Shank gave me a detailed tour of the studio around the main building looking at screening rooms, the animation department and so on. The studio has a great vibe and feels like a cross between a film studio, an art gallery and a college art studio. Very official and office like in places and very cosy and warm everywhere else. Having explored the first building, I was then lucky to get the opportunity to check out Pixar's new remarkable second building. The building had only just recently opened so much of it felt empty. Many of the offices had yet to be moved into - so there wasn't really that much to see - but there was lots of really nice artwork on the walls from the upcoming Pixar film 'Brave' .
When I learned that I would be visiting Pixar, I decided to bring a poster of a project that I was working on for Lee Unkrich (Director of Toy Story 3). Unfortunately Lee wasn't at the studio the day that I visited, but thankfully Don passed on the poster to him the following day. You can see more about Lee Unkrich recieving my poster here;http://kyle-lambert.blogspot.com/2011/05/toy-shining-ipad-painting-poster.html
Don was incredibly generous with his time and great company for the tour. Not wanting to take up any more of his time, I thanked Don and headed off to take a few photographs around the studio. I then ordered myself a Pixar pizza from the Luxor cafe and finished my day by spending way to much money in the Pixar Studio Store. I really enjoyed my day at Pixar - it appears to be an incredible place to work filled with great people who are clearly passionate about what they do. The visit has certainly wet my appetite to one day work at the studio.