Designing Toy Story
3D World UK|August 2020
Designing Toy Story
Pixar art director Bob Pauley talks 3D World through his journey with the Toy Story films

Ever since a young Bob Pauley first laid eyes on Pixar’s groundbreaking 1986 short film Luxo Jr. his mind has been made up. “I said, ‘I have to work for those folks’,” he tells 3D World. “You could tell, even way back then, the trajectory of where they were going. In such simple things as a ball and two lamps you felt for those characters.”

After some initial setbacks, Pauley landed his dream job in the art department of Pixar Animation Studios, just in time to work on Toy Story, the film that would change filmmaking forever. However, the eventual impact of Toy Story was the furthest thing from his mind. With a small team and a host of limitations, Pauley and his fellow filmmakers remained laser-focused on getting the job done.

“I remember we didn’t even have legitimate art rooms for our reviews,” he reflects. “John Lasseter would come by and just look at the boards we had up on the wall. One review, I’m working on Buzz Lightyear, and he says: ‘This is going to be huge,’ and I go, ‘Yeah, sure’.” It wasn’t until early renders from the film were screened for Pixar employees that the excitement began to take hold.

As part of the art department, Pauley and his teammates are responsible for the design of a film’s characters and sets. “We work really closely with the story department,” he explains, “a lot of the time they come up with the ideas and do preliminary drawings to get the boards down. The art department gets the fun of designing the characters and working with the technical departments to build them.”

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August 2020