Closing the Circle with Toy Story 3
In the years since we made the first Toy Story, we've all gotten a little older, and hopefully a little wiser. We've experienced many life-cycle events: graduations, weddings, births, and funerals. But one thing we have all retained is a childlike sense of wonder -- as well as the firm belief that when we're not around our toys really do come to life.
-- Lee Unkrich (Foreward to The Art of Toy Story 3 by Charles Solomon from Chronicle Books)
The biggest challenge of Toy Story 3 -- for both Pixar and the characters -- was unifying past and present and accepting the inevitability of change.
"We wanted the film to feel like a Toy Story film but look every bit as gorgeous as anything we've done recently," explains Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich. "In the end, we just hued very close to the design grammar of Toy Story in terms of how characters and sets and props were caricatured, but just made everything more visually rich: the lighting is more sophisticated, the texturing is much more sophisticated. We studied the early films and what made up the essence of movement for every character -- what defined them. We didn't stick to them completely because some of the animation we did on the earlier films is not as smooth or subtle, but if you step back a minute, Buzz is still Buzz. Woody is a rag doll and moves the same way-- it's Woody. I think if you play the films side-by-side, you can see the differences. You can see how we've advanced. You can definitely see the progression, but if you watch Toy Story 3 on its own without having watched the others, unless you're a real animation aficionado, I challenge anyone to know that it feels any different at all. It should just feel like a Toy Story film."
The primary responsibility for that rested with Guido Quaroni, the supervising TD who worked on Toy Story 2 as a modeler and shading artist. He suggests the first order of business was rebuilding the original toys from scratch.