— the animation studio started by Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and Apple Computer — 

Pixar got its start in the mid-1980s with the invention of the Apple Macintosh computer, the first “graphical interface” computer, and Pixar’s proprietary software (Marionette, RingMaster, RenderMan) that was able to display graphics on the screen in close-to-real-time — as they were created by the artist.

These days, watching graphics appear as the mouse pointer moves here and there seems like no big deal, but back in those dinosaur days of personal computer technology, seeing graphics on screen (not simply the text-based, “command-line” interface Big Blue declared as the only “real” form of computing) was a revolutionary concept and capacity. Animated films have been migrating to the computer ever since.

As a film studio, Pixar first leaped into the theatrical scene with the likes of A Bug’s Life, Toy StoryMonsters, Inc., and the 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo, followed by many more in the years since. But for Pixar, the process of making feature-length films got its start in short animated features.

On the Pixar.com website, you’ll find an engaging collection of its animated short films, many of which were nominated for and/or won Academy Awards for their stories and technical achievements. In fact, Pixar’s first short animated film, Luxo, Jr. (a “story” about a lively Luxo-brand artists’ table lamp), won an Oscar nomination in 1986. Geri’s Game was the 1997 winner, and For the Birds took home the trophy in 2003. Each film broke new ground in computer animation and led to many more industry achievements. Watch them for free online.

In 1997, Pixar began its relationship with Walt Disney Studios, which helped realize its feature-length dreams in the perennial favorite Toy Story movies. Since then, the combined Disney/Pixar effort has morphed into a major player in feature films, moving through Monsters Inc., landing solidly with 2003’s phenom Finding Nemo, carrying on through The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Brave, and moving into new sequels Monsters University and Finding Dory. They seem to add new techniques and greater accolades each year. If you like animated films — regardless of your age — it would be hard not to enjoy Pixar’s features and shorts (pun intended!).

Copyright ©2013 Jill J. Jensen | Clarity from Chaos