Newton, Reher and Wellins Talk Disney and Pixar Shorts
TN: [laughs] Yah, he had no eyes, he had it much harder.
DS: Kevin, what are some of the main philosophical underpinnings guiding shorts production at Pixar? There is certainly a history, with John himself obviously, but strategically, why do you produce shorts? What are some of the things they bring directly to Pixar, whether they have any appeal to anyone else?
KR: For us, you said it before. John believes in the short form. He feels it’s a lost art and it’s a great chance for directors who might not get a chance at a feature, to direct something, to have ownership over something. The technical challenges of the last two films, clouds that talk in Partly Cloudy and Night & Day, making the movie four times…because we did the day, we did the night, we did it in 3-D and cg at day, we did it cg at night, those were tremendous challenges. [Teddy laughs] It’s funny, the new film we’re finishing production on now, which will be attached to Brave in 2012, it’s three characters and two sets, and man, how easy it is. It’s different, there’re no gags…”
DW: There’re no clocks.
KR: [Laughing] It’s beautiful, it’s lyrical, it’s very different from all the other ones. It’s amazing how easy it can be when you just have 3 characters and 2 sets.
TN: It’s funny because I thought ours was just going to be the simplest, mostly because I draw so simply. And I was hanging it all on that. But that had nothing to do with it.
DS: Watching your film, you see the obvious cg elements, but it’s not obvious how much cg there really is. The 2D piece of it makes it seem less complicated than a full cg film.
TN: Absolutely. That’s what they told us when we started. [everyone laughs] That’s how I thought it would be.
DW: 20 years from now you’re just going to forget all that hard stuff and you’ll say, “That was easy. All those characters, that was awesome.”
KR: The animators who we drafted to do 2D at Pixar, we had to go find them. It [Day & Night] was the hardest thing they’ve ever done and probably the most satisfying…though they’re glad it’s over. They look at it and say they’re so proud of the work they did on it.
TN: It’s almost like an actor who is used to doing movies and suddenly they do live television. It’s like a different world. They’d done drawn animation, but not in 10 years. So they were not accustomed to it any more.
DS: Were they happy to embrace it?
TN: I’d say some were. This is what happened. Either they were people who were excited and wanted to work on this movie, or they were people who were excited but were afraid of this movie and didn’t want any part of it. And then there were people who didn’t think any of those things and then got scared once they got involved. You know, it’s hard. It is a hard thing to control, 2D drawings.
KR: Things on boards, just a character going across the screen on a board, to be actually animated, it’s like, “Oh, you can’t get him across the screen, he’s got to go over here, how are we going to do this?”