Jason Katz Talks Toy Story Blu-rays and TS3
Pixar's Jason Katz, who is head of story on the upcoming Toy Story 3, got his start at the studio as a story artist on Toy Story and Toy Story 2, which both debuted this week on Blu-ray from Walt Disney Home Ent. He spoke to AWN about the reference quality and bonus features while in town for a Toy Story/Boys & Girls Club/LEGO event promotion.
"The thing about our films -- and with the adoption of Blu-ray, we're starting to get used to it -- you realize that what we see on our monitors in this building is what you're now seeing at home," Katz enthuses. "One of the things about Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on Blu-ray is that you realize how much more you get. The denseness, the amount of stuff you can put in a frame, that's certainly a clear advancement in the technology, but having Toy Story look relatively modern, that's a testament to how we focused on working within the limits of the technology back then and make something feel and look right. Back then, it was how dirty can we make it? Add the scuff marks, the flashing and the things that really make it look less perfect, because the computer, especially 15 years ago, wanted to make everything look perfect. And I think we've gotten better and better and better at making things less perfect."
Despite noticing such imperfections as the flashing on the Army Men or the way the paint doesn't line up on some of the toys, Katz suggests you are so much more aware of the scale of the Toy Story world being effective on Blu-ray. "I think what you notice with the newer films is the levels of subtlety and the ability to do more when appropriate."
One of the more interesting new bonus features on the Toy Story set is "Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw," which explores how the project wasn't working because Woody was too edgy and unlikable. "At Pixar, we certainly don't take anything for granted and we are our toughest critics, and we recognize that sometimes you need to make a big shift and, quite often, you need to ask the hard questions that could lead to a bit of a reboot or a pause in the production goals and that's essential…"
And what does Katz have to say about Toy Story 3? "It's undeniable that if you pulled a frame from Toy Story and Toy Story 2, you'll see a definite technological improvement: there's stuff going on that's subtle at times and not so subtle at times. But it always feels like you're in the Toy Story world, and you can say the same about Toy Story 3. There's richness in the color and greater density with the number of characters you can populate in certain shots. But what I love about the third one is the art direction and lighting have a specificity that is so integral to the storytelling process. You think of how warm and bright Andy's room is and we've certainly captured that in the third one, but we've also pushed the envelope to let it get a little [darker]. It is absolutely respectful of the fact that this is a continuation of the story."