For centuries -- millennia even -- the biggest goal of Pixar fanatics has been to find the Holy Grail, the rarest of all DVDs to bear the lamp: Made In Point Richmond. Given out exclusively to employees shortly before the studio moved to a larger facility, it was never sold to the public. You could only have a copy if you worked for the company at the time, and though it had grown to a staff of hundreds by the time the disc was printed, it still wasn't as big as it is now.
Why was it so important to hunt this DVD down? Because it contained everything Pixar had ever created up to that point that wasn't a movie. All the shorts, all the commercials, all the early tech demos...EVERYTHING. Some of their early work was so hard to find that there was a community dedicated to tracking down the ads -- I found out about them when I published my Casper review and they contacted me with an enthusiastic "YOU FOUND THE TWIZZLER AD!!" Wasn't trying.
But as of today, no one will have to scrounge anymore....it's here! It's dumped! It's done! It's ours! The entire Made In Point Richmond DVD has been leaked! And so has the 1997 build of Pokemon Gold and Silver! What a week to be alive! But we're discussing the DVD right now.
The "shorts" section contains EVERY short, including tech demos and the only official release of the uncensored Knick Knack, presented in anamorphic widescreen. (The lady is flat-chested in the version that played before Finding Nemo.)
|The disc opens with John
Lasseter, creator of Woody, and Ed Catmull, head of Pixar
since its Lucasfilm days, giving a short introduction and
explaining the purpose of the disc, as well as giving a
short tour of the campus (seems odd; if you were working
there, you'd know where everything is).
So how did they clear all the ads and movie clips on the disc? They didn't. To quote John, "All this is copyrighted, of course, (nervous laugh), we don't own the copyrights to this stuff, therefore we beg of you, PLEEEEASE don't sell this!"
Until now, every single one of them obeyed him. Perhaps a female staffer finally said "I'll show YOU, Mr. Grabby Hands!" and gave the whole thing to the Lost Media Wiki in revenge. Hey, however we got here...
Pixar Shorts Vol. 1 Blu-Ray is for the most part an
improvement on the Point Richmond transfers,
retaining the commentary....but this first short, Beach
Chair, is not on that disc at all. It's more of a
tech demo than a short, but I never knew it existed until
the leak and I'm shocked they left it out.
Two more demos, Blowin' in the Wind and Flags and Waves, were never made public either.
|Ready for almost an hour
of commercials? Starting with their 1989 Tropicana juice
ad and stretching all the way to 2000, this is, at last,
every single ad Pixar was contracted to animate, gathered
in one place and digitally mastered. These gigs kept the
lights on while John and company prepared to launch the
first ever all-CGI movie.
There are probably more than a few that'll take you back. I saw the drink box ad a LOT in 1991 (and I just obtained a TGIF airing that has the ad in it, so...I've got proof).
|The REAL curiosity here
are the "party videos," AKA the annual
presentations Pixar employees would shoot for fun and
debut at their Christmas party each year. They're a
glimpse into the company's formative years we otherwise
might not have seen. Pixar started out as a division of
Lucasfilm, selling high-end digital rendering computers
to other, bigger companies who would pay top dollar for
them. The first Christmas video was shot in 1986 when
they were just beginning to produce shorts. Luxo Jr. was
only a few months old.
the corny jokes typical of office-party videos like this
(har har, the stuffy accounting department is dressed
like the A-Team -- I can hear the guffaws coming from the
back table). As these videos go on, you see Pixar
transform from just another white collar employment
facility into a dedicated animation unit.
|The 1987 video is an improvement, but mostly for historical reasons -- it's mainly about the making of Pixar's second short, Red's Dream. Lasseter was barely in the 1986 video, but this time he's all over it.|
|And in 1988, Lasseter directed the
The DVD is actually mistitled -- not everything on it was produced in Point Richmond, CA. Pixar's formative years took place in San Rafael, which is where John is walking the streets. Not only was his idea for a video a good one, it's held up especially well over time by illustrating just how unknown the company was in the late 80s. Imagine somebody having not heard of Pixar today.
Then everybody sings "Don't Worry Be Happy," because it's 1988.
|There wasn't much to the 1989 video to speak of. As the ending implies, Lucasfilm had just sold off Pixar to Steve Jobs, and Jobs was loaning Pixar to Disney. The Mouse did not own the company outright at this point.|
|The videos started getting shorter after 1990. "Twin Peaks" was huge that year, so here is "Twin Pix," two minutes of redubbed footage from the pilot. Whoever made this one was probably fired.|
|In 1991 they shot interview footage with several employees, took the audio and recreated their statements with puppets. To make things extra-cheesy, the same two puppets (male and female) are used over and over with different wigs.|
|The 1992 video is about how they can't come up with an idea for the next video. Instead John and some other employees rag on every previous video, but...it's not like they're doing better.|
|They get a little more
creative with 1993, featuring "Pefessor Cornelius" riding
around the campus interviewing people. You'll find out
where that thumping is coming from soon enough, but it
might help to know this was filmed shortly after the
infamous "Black Friday" incident. Pixar's early
story reel for Toy Story was so bad that Disney
threatened to walk out of the project if Pixar couldn't
turn it around in two weeks.
The reason the reel was so bad was because Jeffrey Katzenberg kept calling for Toy Story to be "edgy," and being new at the whole "pleasing a giant corporation" thing, they took his advice so literally that every toy in the movie was written as an unlikeable, loudmouthed jerk. You can see two minutes of this on Toy Story's latest Blu-Ray, but two minutes is plenty.
This is also the first time anything Toy Story-related would make an appearance in a video, but if you blink you'll miss it -- someone is holding a model of Buzz Lightyear's head with a grid drawn on it for digitizing into the computer.
|1994 would turn out to be the last
year Pixar made a Christmas party video, and this time
they went back to the "interview people on the
street" well -- with results not as good as before.
People were asked what they would call "the next big
movie from Walt Disney Pictures," but the
interviewers were NDA'd from describing said movie when
asked. The people on the street had nothing to go on and
most of their answers were limp.
Also....DOOM! Lots of Doom! If you were surrounded by computers in the mid-90s what else would you be doing with your time?
|There is one last video in the
"Party" section, and it's the home video
footage from Pixar's Toy Story 2 wrap party. We've leaped
ahead several years and the Pixar we see here is pretty
much fully formed.
Though it only came to us indirectly and well after the fact, we should all be grateful to Ed Catmull and pals for breaking the rules way back when and giving us, the obsessive-compulsive archivist fans, a perfectly preserved catalog of the early years of one of the greatest animation factories of all time. Best bootleg ever!
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