In the last 20 years, Pixar Animation Studios has become a household name. The film studio has produced such memorable movies as “Toy Story” (including its two sequels), “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” “Up,” “Monsters, Inc.” as well as more recent films “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur.”
While Pixar is famous and well-respected in the industry, much of the quirkiness of the company remains unknown. Here are five strange things you might not know about your favorite animation studio.
What’s in a name?
While Pixar’s origins as a company are interesting in their own right (involving such players as Steve Jobs and George Lucas), the origin of the name “Pixar” is perhaps even more intriguing. Business Insider reports that the company’s two co-founders stumbled upon the name “Pixar” while considering two different options. The first co-founder, Alvy Ray Smith, was partial to a word he had made up—“Pixer”—because he thought it resembled a fake Spanish word meaning “to make pictures.” Co-founder Loren Carpenter, however, liked the name “Radar” because it invoked the future. Ultimately, the pair combined the two words, and “Pixar” was born.
The success of “Luxo Jr.”
While many think of “Toy Story” as the film that launched Pixar’s success, it was actually nearly a decade before, in 1986, when Pixar released its first 3D computer-animated film, a short called “Luxo Jr.” The short was so well received that it was the first 3D computer-animated film to earn an Oscars nod, according to Disney Insider. This short helped launch Pixar’s famous lamp, named Luxo Jr., and the just-as-famous Pixar toy ball emerged. That ball has been used as an Easter egg (hidden message or item) in every Pixar film produced to this date.
The “Luxo Jr.” ball is not the only Easter egg hidden in every Pixar film. In fact, Pixar is famously known for hiding small clues about future films or links between films in every movie it produces. One of the most interesting and recurring hidden elements is “A113,” which refers to a classroom at the California Institute of the Arts, where Pixar’s own John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton all honed their skills. If you watch movies such as “Up” or “Finding Nemo” closely, for example, you will see “A113” appear on a courthouse or an underwater camera, according to Disney Insider. Spotting the numbers can make watching a Pixar film an interactive challenge.
Unusual work life
Employees at Pixar maintain their constant creativity through an atypical work setting. The entertainment website The Richest reports that Pixar president Ed Catmull encourages associates to decorate their cubicles however they choose, up to and including turning them into tiki huts, dollhouses and castles with turrets reaching 15 feet high. Disney Insider also explains that Pixar long ago scrapped the idea of conference tables and instead opted for more intimate tables that encouraged communication and idea sharing, no matter the position a person holds at the company. The campus even includes a swimming pool and a basketball court to help associates relax.
Lucky John Ratzenberger
Fans of the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” might recognize John Ratzenberger as Cliff, a know-it-all postal worker. What many don’t know is that Ratzenberger has also voiced a character in every single full-length Pixar film to date. His most memorable role was his first as Hamm in “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2” and “Toy Story 3.” However, Pixar’s filmmakers have kept him in every film from “A Bug’s Life” to “Brave” in some capacity, and, according to MovieFone, he is seen as the studio’s “good luck charm.”
Pixar has produced a host of magical movies that children and adults can enjoy together. It is perhaps the company’s unique background, from recurring Easter eggs to building castles inside the office, that has made those movies so magical.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.