Many are familiar with the image of a little lamp hoping across the screen and stomping over the “i” of Pixar in the beginning and end of every one of their films. This little lamp is named Luxo Jr. and is both the star and name of Pixar’s first ever animated short film. It features Luxo Jr. playing with the famous Pixar ball, yellow with a blue stripe and red star, as Luxo Sr. observes nearby. In Luxo Jr.’s over excitement and constant jumping, it accidentally deflates the ball. Disappointed but not for long, it finds a larger ball to play with as Luxo Sr. looks on, shaking its head.
Luxo Jr. is more important than people realize, having paved the way to Pixar’s greatness. According to Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar, this 2 minute short film helped change people’s perception of computer animation, taking it from a job jeopardizing technology to a tool used to artistically broaden animation as a whole (Streetuhm). Little Luxo made quite an impact when it was released and brought a new depth of realism and emotion to animated film. Becoming “the first computer-animated film that enabled viewers to forget they were watching computer animation.” (Price, 92) Because of Luxo Jr.‘s success, Pixar became a household name and the lamp has taken its well deserved place as the company’s trademark. Ever since Luxo Jr., Pixar has been a major player in the animation industry, releasing films like the ground breaking Toy Story to the most recent Monsters University. With every new movie they produce they have tirelessly pushed their boundaries, resulting with award winning films that find its way to the heart of its viewers. But most importantly it is the continuous evolution of Pixar allows it to sustain its position as a pioneer in the 21st century film animation industry.
Before Pixar came out with the first computer animated film, toy story, animated films in 1900’s were first done manually. Each frame began as a hand drawn sketch, photographed individually and stitched together so that the images appeared to move (Gross and Ward, 231). As time progressed, a process called celluloid animation came around in 1914 and revolutionized animation. Instead of redrawing every single scene, the animator could print a single stationary backdrop on a transparent sheet (cel) and be troubled with only the movement of the characters (). The most popular cartoon during this time was Felix the Cat made by Pat Sullivan Studios achieving fame comparable to that of Hollywood stars. Its success was so great that it was the first animated cartoon to have merchandise, appearing on packaging and having its own stuff toy by 1926 (Solomon 37).
The powerhouse that really changed animation history and set the standard was Walt Disney Animation Studios. “When Walt Disney arrived in Hollywood in 1923 to begin his animated cartoon business, he thought he came too late to really make a name for himself” (Capodagli and Jackson 8). But he was able to incorporate new...