Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pixar Exhibit: It's Incredible!

With just over a week before it closes, the boys and I headed out to the Pixar animation exhibit at the Science Museum. "It's Incredible!," Thing One said, with the pun probably unintended, but well done just the same.

Pixar, for those of you catching up with the rest of the class, is the animation studio responsible for "Toy Story", "A Bugs Life", "Monsters Inc.", "The Incredibles" and the soon-to-be-released "Cars." Our family's love for Pixar cannot be adequately described. To illustrate: when we recently painted the toy room in our house, we painted it not red, but "Incredibles red."

The exhibit had hundreds of pictures and models that Pixar animators made for the movies. I wasn't really sure that Thing One and Thing Two would like or appreciate it, but they did. They loved seeing the models and some of the pictures. We also loved the spot where we could watch all of the Pixar short movies (or "shorts," as they say in the business) and the final video montage where the pictures came to life, via computer animation.

The highlight, hands down, was the Toy Story zeotrope (pictured above). We loved it so much we went back to watch it four different times. This was worth the price of admission alone. Characters from Toy Story, including Buzz, Jessie, Wheezy the Penguin, the aliens and the toy soldiers, performed various stunts on the round sculpture as it spun around under strobe lighting. Buzz bounced on a Pixar ball. Jessie did rope tricks. The toy soldiers parachuted into the action. When the zeotrope stopped, you could see that each of the characters was in a slightly different position so that the 3-D animation could occur. Even the adults around me were enraptured, with several people laughing and gasping at how wonderful it was.

(The picture above is courtesy of the New York Times and is the zeotrope from the New York exhibit. Ours was slightly different, as we had Jessie, but no Woody. The picture also doesn't really do it justice. To really appreciate it, you have to see it in action.)

The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted the exhibit first, at the beginning of the year, then it travelled transatlantically to London. You could tell that the exhibit started life in an art museum, because it certainly had an artistic-- rather than scientific-- feel to it. But the exhibit definitively proved that what Pixar does is art.

It truly was incredible.

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