Anything animated is my jam. I’m a sucker for animated babies, dogs and of course, toys. So, when I was lucky enough to be taken on a behind the scenes look at the making of Toy Story from its inception right up to the recent franchise installment – Toy Story 4 at Pixar Studios, you all know I jumped at the chance.
Before the breakdown occurred, a greeting from Director Josh Cooley and Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen, who broke it all down by the numbers. From the original right up through Toy Story 4 has done it’s best to stay visually consistent throughout the 24 year history by introducing even more powerful tools to convey the story and adventures of Woody , Buzz, Bo Peep and the gang.
Did you know that…In 1995, “Toy Story” was the first fully computer animated feature film and was the highest grossing movie of the year a with three Oscar® nominations and two Golden Globes®. Four years later, “Toy Story 2” broke opening weekend box office records and won a Grammy® for best song written for a motion picture, television or other visual media (Randy Newman/“When She Loved Me”). But wait, there’s more “Toy Story 3” won Oscars for best animated feature film and best achievement in music written for motion pictures, original song (Newman/“We Belong Together”), a Golden Globe and BAFTA for best animated film, and was the second Pixar film to be nominated for the best picture Oscar. Impressive right?
Just to give you an idea of how much technological advances have put a new demand on Pixar employees, with the original Toy Story, Pixar had 129 people working on this classic animated favorite. Toy Story 4 clocked in around 475 employees, 8-10 story artists and a total of 8-10 department head screenings between the boards/music/SFX and dialogue departments over a four-year period. We were walked through the “production pipeline” – sets and characters along with camera and staging right before we were treated to the first 7 minutes of the film. Does this film hold up through the test of time? Absolutely and the technological advances from scanning clay molds to digital rigging have made the process faster and more intricate.
We learn in Toy Story 4 that Bonnie would rather stay at home with her toys than face the awkwardness of the first day of school. To help a sista’ out, Woody hides out in her backpack, but not before having a “Casablanca” style goodbye with Bo Peep whose fate is uncertain. New characters like Gabby Gabby and Forky are introduced and taken on yet another adventure through the eyes of our favorite cinematic toys.
Everyone from Josh Cooley to every department in between all agree that Bo is the most important ingredient for this feature. Story Artist Carrie Hobson broke Bo down the essence of Bo, “The new Bo is basically a toy that decided she didn’t want to sit on a shelf and wait for life to happen. She had to learn to adapt, takes chances and is somewhat unpredictable. Unlike other toys, she literally breaks her default toy mode. This means when a kid picks her up and plays with her as a toy…she chooses what pose she will be locked into giving her the ability to choose what type of toy she wants to be. She’s more active and resourceful in her new life as a lost toy, has a sense of humor and has a very go with the flow mentality to life. She also knows the realities of the world unlike Woody, so she’s willing to help a friend. True to the old Bo, she loves messing with Woody. She’s a little tougher than Woody, so she’ll do what it takes to get the job done. She loves her sheep and her best friend…Giggle McDimples. All in all, we wanted to stay true to who Bo was at the core. Bo’s a lost toy, which really challenges Woody, but with their strengths combined, together they are unstoppable.
I don’t want blow my wad here, so be on the lookout for more detailed post scattered around which will be centered on Outside the Toy Box and a special feature around the one and only Forky. In the meantime, feast on this trailer featuring Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele.