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One glimpse of Day & Night, Pixar's latest short screening in front of Toy Story 3 on June 18, and you can see how Teddy Newton loves playing with shapes. His inventive six-minute tale about Day and Night discovering each other's unique qualities by offering a different window into the same world, mixes hand-drawn (the characters) and CG animation (the interior world) as you've never experienced it.
Teddy Newton had no idea that mixing hand-drawn with CG would be so difficult. Courtesy of Disney/Pixar.
Think The Dot and the Line meets Duck Amuck (two crucial inspirations) and you'll see what I mean.
"I have a knack for seeing shapes in negative spaces," admits Newton, who attended Cal Arts with fellow Pixarians Mark Andrews and Lou Romano, and has contributed character designs to Ratatouille, Your Friend the Rat and Presto, and created the end titles to The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Newton also voices Chatter Telephone in Toy Story 3.
"One day I just put eyeballs on a keyhole and thought this would be funny as a gag," Newton continues. "I was having the eyes on the keyhole look into itself and you could see what it was seeing inside of a room. And the benefit of this was that by making it a character, the keyhole could move around the room and reveal things. This keyhole could see everything it wanted to see. I had a pile of gags that I was left with and had to make sense of that."
Newton excels at tangents, but Brad Bird taught him to stay on point.
Yet he recalls how Brad Bird taught him a valuable lesson when they first started working together on Iron Giant. "The reason he hired me from the very beginning is that I could go on so many [visual] tangents," Newton explains. "I could just keep coming up with things that had vague [connections] to the movie but inspired him. The thing that he had taught me was how to stay on point. It took me forever to do this, and I actually got the chance to use it while making this film, because I could imagine just getting caught up in the special effects and having it end up being a big pinball machine without a point."