Pixar animates Bay Area

By Megan Keefer

Photo Courtesy Pixar

OAKLAND – The Oakland Museum’s “Pixar: 25 Years of Animation” exhibition is where everyone’s inner child comes to play.

From the earliest sketches of characters to the latest computer animations, the exhibition guides the visitor into the magical world of Pixar.

Upon walking into the exhibit, the first thing that meets the eye is a dominating screen showing a video illustrating the process of how pencil sketches turn into full-fleshed animations in movies.

The screen shows how Mr. Incredible, Nemo, Lightning McQueen, Woody, and many other characters are transformed from simple drawings to lifelike characters that have touched the hearts of millions of moviegoers.

Throughout the exhibit, there are glass cases holding clay moldings and sculptures of some of the most famous characters, including Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story,” Lightning McQueen from “Cars,” and Nemo from “Finding Nemo.”

The concept drawings of Pixar’s most memorable characters are among the highlights of the exhibition. The drawings illustrate the millions of ideas that surround the creation of a character.

It is a refreshing experience to learn that certain characters may have looked different from what moviegoers have been exposed to now.

For instance, the concept drawings reveal that the grumpy and stocky fashion designer Edna from “The Incredibles” might have resembled a troll’s sister after all.

Another great diagram is the drawing of Mater from “Cars.” It includes detailed notes that reflect upon Mater’s signature rusty look.

One of the biggest attractions of the exhibit is the zoetrope of “Toy Story.”

A zoetrope uses still figures in various stages of movement, then spins around to create the illusion of one figure in constant movement.

“To me, it was a logical choice to put ‘Toy Story’ as the zoetrope,” said Cherie Newell, manager of the exhibition. “The characters were Pixar’s first characters and their most recent.”

Another feature of the exhibit is the “Artscape” projection.

It takes the viewer into the artist’s sketchbooks for the movies, bringing them to life in a way only Pixar can.

The images are not animated but sewn together in a flowing, 15-minute slideshow. Sketches from “The Incredibles” and “Cars” are shown as a part of the projection.

“The Artscape was so cool to watch!” said junior Rianne Meyers. “It was one of my favorite parts of the exhibit.”

The exhibit also gives the public a unique opportunity to see how the magic of Pixar begins, and a chance to see how the heartwarmings films that we all know and love came to be all that they are today.

People get a backstage pass to the inner-workings of one of the most famous companies in the United States.

This exhibition is at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak Street, until Jan. 9, 2011. It is open from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. daily.

Tickets cost $12 for adults, $9 for students over 18 with ID, $6 for youth, and free for children under eight.

The exhibit is free on the first Sunday of each month.