Oscar®-winning animator John Lasseter is the chief creative officer at Pixar. As director of hit films like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., he's been one of the lead imaginations driving Pixar's decade of success. John's second film with the company, A Bug's Life, is out for the first time on Blu-ray DVD, and he's chatting with the Oprah.com Screening Room about the movie's new and improved features, the future of animation and his next project.
Screening Room: How does the Blu-ray aspect of this new DVD release change the viewer experience of the A Bug's Life?
John Lasseter: At Pixar we've been huge fans of any new technology that makes the viewer experience of our movies better. Blu-ray is the best yet because the picture quality, especially for our movies, is unbelievable. The color, the clarity—what you're seeing at home on your screen is exactly what Pixar intended when we made the film. Plus, the sound quality is superb. We had all of the original people who worked on A Bug's Life look at and tweak the movie so it looks absolutely spectacular.
But beyond just getting the best picture quality of the film, there are great extra features. In the Blu-ray we had so much more room on the disk, so we could add more and more stuff. At Pixar we say we like to overdeliver. You're not just getting a great version of the movie, but we've added a filmmakers roundtable where myself, the co-director and the producers basically reminisce about the making of the film and all the adventures just after the film came out. It's very entertaining. Also, there was a major story change that happened early in the development of A Bug's Life. The main character now is a part of the ant colony, but originally the main character was a part of the circus troupe. So we've taken the storyboards of that sequence and we've created a little movie using the still storyboard drawings. We got David Foley—who did the voice of Flick—to narrate it. So now viewers can watch the original first draft of A Bug's Life.
SR: A Bug's Life was the second movie from Disney Pixar. How did you build off the success of Toy Story? Were you worried about a sophomore slump?
JL: That's a very good point. Steve Jobs, who was then the CEO of Pixar, he was so worried about the sophomore slump. He talked to us at length about the history of you name it—businesses, pop groups, filmmakers—where they have a huge success for the first one and then they have a dud. He was very worried about our second movie because during Toy Story, which took four years to make, no one knew us. No one knew who we were. Then the movie came out and it was the number one movie of the year, and then everybody was excited about it and blown away by it and it was kind of like that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid thing everyone was like, "Who are those guys?" But then at the same time we went public, and it was the most successful IPO of that year, and it was kind of like we were making a movie in a fishbowl. There was all this pressure with stockholders and a lot of worry about the sophomore slump, but we just learned from the first one and we refined. We had a real faith in ourselves, and we decided we wanted to make this a bigger movie. We called it "an epic of miniature proportions." We took a look at the insect world, and we found that at that level, it's like living in a world where everything is a stained-glass window. Everything is organic in the natural world, where things in Toy Story were pretty much geometric. By doing things organically, everything looked so beautiful, especially in the wide-screen format. I think still to this day it's the most beautiful movie we've created.
SR: It's been about 11 years since A Bug's Life, and now Up—your 10th film—is out. How did the success of the early films inform the making of Up and the new 3D element? Where do you see animation going in the future?
JL: At Pixar, after every movie we have postmortum meetings where we discuss what worked and what didn't work. We're still trying to figure out how to make these movies, even though, 10 movies in, we've really grown as a studio. We're so excited about 3D. Working with our computers, it's a truly three-dimensional world. I've always felt that, and that's frustrating because the audience is usually only looking at it from a 2D point of view. Finally now with the new resurgence of 3D in theaters, I'm so excited. So we decided to make Up in 3D, and from now on all of the movies that we're making at Pixar will be in 3D. We've also gone back to Toy Story and Toy Story 2 and produced them in 3D. We're going to be releasing those in the fall. That's the thing we've always said—we've always been making 3D movies, but people were looking at them with a two-dimensional view.
SR: So what's up next?
JL: We're so excited about The Princess and the Frog. It's coming out from Disney Animation this fall.
Up director Pete Docter opens up about the latest Pixar release.
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
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