As soon as we entered Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California, I could not contain myself. I jumped in delight at a ginormous Luxo ball along with the famous lamp, Luxo Jr. The woman at the front desk gave us name tags with the Toy Story aliens saying, "OOO. A stranger, from the outside!" The lobby of the main building was decorated with all sorts of Pixar things. Tia Kratter, the shading art director of the new Pixar movie Brave, told me that when tours are held, the kids are given a scavenger hunt to find Pixar characters throughout the building. These characters are scattered everywhere! For example, there was a small Remy from Ratatouille painted at the bottom of the staircase. Even the bathroom sign for men was a Woody silhouette, while the sign for women was Bo Peep.
The halls each had a different theme. One hall was decorated with nature pictures by one of the staff. Another was dedicated to the process of filmmaking. Each office also had its own decoration. There would be figurines and paintings in one office, while the one next to it could have plushies and paperwork.
Once we got to the theater to watch a 30-minute screening of Brave and the Pixar animated short La Luna, everything was pitch black. Then, there were "stars" that lighted up the ceiling. Every few seconds, a shooting star would pass by. The "stars" faded away, and then began La Luna. La Luna is directed by Enrico Casarosa, and is a coming-of-age tale of a boy, his father, and his grandfather. I've got to say that that was the best short I have ever seen. It was accompanied by dreamy music by Michael Giacchino, (he also composed the music for Up and Ratatouille) and glossy animation.
Before the footage from Brave began, Mark Andrews, the director, and Katherine Sarafian, the producer, came on stage to talk a bit about what we were about to see. They explained that this wasn't the final cut, and some of the animation may be lacking some shading and color. Nevertheless, I didn't even notice the unfinished parts! Then, when Brave started playing, a warm feeling in my heart started to spread all throughout my body. I felt like I was 8 years old again! For the 30 minutes, I was intrigued, and when it ended I yearned for more. Afterwards, all the journalists had an Italian-themed dinner under the night sky in one of Pixar's buildings with an outdoor patio.
The next day, the Pixar grounds had transformed into the Scotland Highlands. One could practice archery, watch a bagpiper demonstration (I even got to play one!), and watch a few Scottish people explain the history behind kilts.
After all the fun and games, we had lunch and interviews. Being a hardcore Disney and Pixar fan, I was in heaven. I got to learn about certain Easter eggs, little cameo appearances the staff puts into each movie, and the filmmaking process. Did you know that Merida, the heroine of Brave, has a total of 111,700 computer-generated hairs? And that the Pizza Planet truck, which has been in every Pixar movie except for The Incredibles, is also in Brave?
It was certainly one of the highlights of my reporting career.
Check out my story on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website for more from my visit to PIXAR!
Photo: Kid Reporter Veronica Louise Mendoza with Mark Andrews, the director of Brave, at PIXAR Studios. (Photo courtesy Veronica Louise Mendoza)