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Writing Credits:

Disney*Pixar invite you to discover these masterpieces of storytelling from the creative minds that brought you Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and many more. With revolutionary animation, unforgettable music and characters you love, these dazzling short films have changed the face of animation and entertainment and are sure to delight people of all ages for years to come. Experience them now – for the first time together in an amazing collection including never-before-seen footage.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 54 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 11/6/2007

• Audio Commentaries for 12 Shorts
• “The Pixar Shorts: A Short History” Featurette
• Four Sesame Street Clips
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume I (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 2, 2007)

Before Pixar launched their domination of multiplexes with 1995’s pioneering hit Toy Story, they started out with computer animated short films. Of course, they didn’t stop these just because they branched into feature flicks. For a collection of the studio’s brief cartoons, we check out the Pixar Short Films Collection.

All 13 Pixar shorts created through the theatrical release of Ratatouille appear here. (The Ratatouille DVD includes “Your Friend the Rat”, but it remains exclusive to that set.) Here’s what we find:

The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. (1984): Created by “The Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project”, a dude tries to trick a bee so the insect won’t sting him. Yeah, that’s not much plot, but what do you expect for a short that lasts less than two minutes? It’s more of an experiment than a real cartoon, though it boasts some simple charm. Andre makes its DVD premiere here.

Luxo Jr. (1986): A desk lamp plays ball with its child. Again, this isn’t exactly a scintillating story, but the short works anyway. It demonstrates a talent for making inanimate objects show personality. Disney did that often over the years, but it’s still startling to see the character put into a couple of lamps – especially since the animators don’t give them faces or any other anthropomorphic tendencies. It’s an enjoyable short that holds up well. Luxo popped up on the 2000 Toy Story 2 DVD but not on the 2005 reissue.

Red’s Dream (1987): A unicycle dreams that a clown will buy it and use it in a circus. “Dream” represents Pixar’s first real attempt at humanoid animation; yeah, Andre was some sort of being, but he didn’t really try to look like a person. This short’s clown is also stylized, but he comes closer to an approximation of a human. The rendering works fairly well, though of course, the techniques would improve radically in short order.

As for the cartoon itself, it’s a surprisingly melancholy affair. Most shorts like this would end with the object’s purchase, but here, Red stays in his corner, depressed and neglected. Not only does Dream foreshadow the theme of Toy Story, but also it reinforces the Pixar skill in terms of the depiction of inanimate objects. Indeed, it goes Luxo one better, as it shows genuine emotion. This turns into an impressive cartoon. Dream makes its DVD debut here.

Tin Toy (1988): A toy drummer tries to avoid a baby since the infant's reckless play methods will cause it harm. While Dream showed some cartoony attempts at humans, Toy goes much farther in that domain as it attempts a realistic-looking baby. And it fails miserably, as the infant looks like some sort of creepy creation. The short itself proves enjoyable anyway. As with Dream, it points us toward Toy Story, and it entertains along the way. It lacks the emotional punch of Dream but it succeeds nonetheless. The short also appeared on the original Toy Story DVD but not on the 10th anniversary edition.

Knick Knack (1989): A snowman stuck in a snow globe tries to escape so he can get it on with a Florida souvenir. Yes, this one also foreshadows Toy Story, but I don't like it as much as its two predecessors. I think much of my dissatisfaction comes from the goofy vocal soundtrack by the ever-irritating Bobby McFerrin, but I also don't much like the snowman character. His cute facial gestures just become annoying, and I don't care for him. The short shows cleverness but is less entertaining than I'd like. Knick previously appeared on the Finding Nemo DVD.

Geri’s Game (1998): An old man plays a game of chess – with himself. The first post-Toy Story short by Pixar, this one ran during theatrical screenings of A Bug’s Life and also on its DVD releases. It has some good moments, though the premise wears thin. Nonetheless, it’s a reasonably charming short. (By the way, the Geri character appears again in Toy Story 2 as the toy cleaner.)

For the Birds (2001): A bunch of small birds shun a dorky bigger bird who wants to sit on their power line. Birds appeared theatrically in front of Monsters Inc. as well as on its DVD. It shows some cleverness but not as much as I’d like. The rude birds get their inevitable comeuppance as the short plays along predictable lines. That doesn’t make it bad, but it doesn’t excel either.

Mike’s New Car (2001): The leads from Inc. go for a spin in a rad new vehicle. Originally found on the Inc. DVD, this is a very simple piece that offers a lot of funny gags. In fact, this brief cartoon might include more true laughs than all of Monsters Inc. itself. Also the first of the Pixar shorts to feature dialogue, it’s easily the funniest to date – and probably of the whole bunch.

Footnote: Car was the first Pixar short to include dialogue. All of its predecessors boasted no speech at all.

Boundin’ (2003): A lamb with a glorious coat loses his sense of self when a farmer shears his wool. It’s a cutesy short that doesn’t do much for me, perhaps because the western motif presents some annoying music. It first showed up prior to theatrical screenings of Finding Nemo and on its DVD.

Jack-Jack Attack (2005): A companion piece to The Incredibles, the cartoon follows what happened to Kari the babysitter while that film’s family was off battling Syndrome. It’s a highly entertaining piece that first popped up on the Incredibles DVD.

One Man Band (2006): The short shows a heated competition between two street musicians as they vie for the donation of a little girl. This one proves mighty amusing. It was first seen prior to theatrical screenings of Cars and also on its DVD.

Mater and the Ghostlight (2006): It stars the lovable tow truck from Cars as he plays practical jokes on the other residents of Radiator Springs and then gets his comeuppance. It’s not a classic, but it’s an entertaining little piece. We originally found it as an exclusive on the Cars DVD.

Lifted (2007): An alien force tries to extricate a guy from his house – with limited success. A clever twist on the usual alien abduction theme, this one feels like a Looney Tunes short – and I mean that as a compliment. It’s one of the set’s better efforts. Lifted ran with Ratatouille and also shows up on its DVD.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Pixar Short Films Collection uses a variety of aspect ratios through its 13 shorts, though most go with approximately 1.85:1. Luxo Jr. appeared to be 1.66:1, while One Man Band was 2.35:1. All featured 16X9 enhancement. Most looked excellent, though enough minor concerns occurred to shave a few points off of what could’ve been perfection.

The earliest shorts showed the most noticeable problems. While virtually all the Pixar features moved the computer files straight to DVD without any interference, I got the impression some of the older cartoons came from film stock. Or maybe there’s just something about the ancient computer files that meant the shorts would lack the same crispness of the more recent efforts. Whatever the case, the earlier efforts tended to look a bit soft at times. These instances weren’t tremendous, but since the rest offered excellent clarity and delineation, they stood out as slightly distracting.

Colors were also a little weak in the older pieces, as they could be a little muddy. Most of the shorts displayed very nice hues, though, as the majority showed lively, dynamic tones. Blacks were usually deep and dense, while shadows generally appeared smooth and clear. Most of the Collection featured virtually flawless visuals, but the minor flaws with the first few shorts left my overall grade as an “A-“.

As for the audio, all of the shorts but Andre boasted Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. (Andre went with Dolby Surround 2.0.) Given the span of years covered by these clips, they provided a range of auditory experiences. Nonetheless, most used their soundfields well. Even the older shorts opened things up to a decent degree and showed nice panning and involvement. None of them stunned, but they brought us a good sense of place, with some decent surround material.

Of course, the newer shorts broadened things better, though the subject matter restricted them to a degree. Low-key cartoons like Geri’s Game and Boundin’ didn’t exactly require intense soundfields. Jack-Jack Attack was probably the most involving of the bunch – which we’d expect from an action-oriented clip – and Ghostlight also broadened things nicely with all its vehicles. The soundfields did what they needed to do for their subject matter.

Audio quality always satisfied. Even the older shorts sounded quite good. We didn’t get much speech – as noted in the body of the review, Mike’s New Car was the first one to feature dialogue – but when lines occurred, they seemed natural and concise. Music was always lively and dynamic, while effects showed good clarity and accuracy. Because the soundfields usually stayed limited, I thought a “B” was most appropriate for this set. I felt the soundtracks also worked well.

As we move to the set’s extras, we launch with a collection of audio commentaries. These accompany all of the shorts except for “Jack-Jack Attack”. Here’s the roster of participants:

The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.: Animators John Lasseter, Eben Ostby and Bill Reeves. We learn a little about the origins of the Lucasfilm project, how that resulted in this short, and some character design specifics. There’s not much time for info here, but the participants – mainly Lasseter – throw out some good insights.

Luxo Jr.: Lasseter, Ostby and Reeves. Here we get details about the formal creation of Pixar, elements related to this short’s development, and its particular animation challenges. Another quick one, the participants include a mix of fine details.

Red’s Dream: Lasseter, Ostby and Reeves. More of the same comes from this discussion. Lasseter continues to dominate as we get info about how the various elements combined. He also addresses the sad ending in this nice chat.

Tin Toy: Lasseter, Ostby and Reeves. Lasseter tells us how video of his nephew inspired this short. He also reflects on how it inspired Toy Story and some technical issues. It’s another brisk and informative discussion.

Knick Knack: Lasseter, Ostby and Reeves. We hear about the decision to make a cartoony short, some story issues, the move to 3D rendering, and more technical concerns. Expect solid info in this quick little chat.

Geri’s Game: Writer/director Jan Pinkava. Hey – someone other than Lasseter and company! Pinkava discusses characters and inspirations, story issues, music, and animation choices. This isn’t as tight a commentary as the Lasseter-run ones, but it still includes lots of good notes.

For the Birds: Director Ralph Eggleston. He offers a fairly technical track that quickly runs through the project’s genesis and some fine points about the animation. He also provides a few more general remarks during this short but engaging commentary.

Mike’s New Car: Director’s kids Nicholas Docter and Leo Gould. They try to explain how their dads made the film, and they offer lots of silliness during this hilariously irreverent commentary.

Boundin’: Writer/director/narrator Bud Luckey. He discusses visual influences, his own background, story and character inspirations, music and technical elements. It’s fun to hear all the cannibalized parts of the cartoon, as Luckey mentions that he used a vehicle from Cars and a character from Nemo. Luckey presents a quick but informative chat.

One Man Band: Directors Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews and composer Michael Giacchino. They cover the way the short integrates its music and fits into its concept. They go over the basics well.

Mater and the Ghostlight: Directors Lasseter and Dan Scanlon. We find out the origins of the tale and some character notes about Mater. The track gets into different elements in a satisfying manner and tells us plenty about the short.

Lifted: Director Gary Rydstrom. He talks about lighting, design, characters, story and some technical concepts. The discussion can get a little dry, but Rydstrom still manages to provide good insights.

For a look at the background of these cartoons, we go to The Pixar Shorts: A Short History. This 23-minute and 32-second program mixes film clips, archival elements, and interviews. We hear from Lasseter, Ostby, Reeves, NASA/Jet Propulsion Labs Member of Technical Staff Jim Blinn, Toy Story producer Ralph Guggenheim, Pixar president Ed Catmull, former Pixar executive VP Alvy Ray Smith, and Pixar’s Craig Good, Loren Carpenter, Tom Porter, and Deirdre Warin. We look at the state of computer technology when Pixar formed in the 1980s and how this impacted computer animation. We also watch the development of Pixar’s work, the computer techniques/technology and how the studio evolved through these shorts. Four Sesame Street Segments appear next. Very early Pixar creations, we get “Surprise” (0:22), “Light and Heavy” (0:59), “Up and Down” (0:34) and “Front and Back” (0:42). These are brief clips that use Luxo and Luxo Jr. to illustrate their concepts. They’re good to see for their historical value.

The disc starts with some promos. We get ads for Blu-Ray discs, Wall-E, Return to Neverland, Santa Clause 3 and Ratatouille.

Pixar may be best known for their hugely successful feature films, but they also have created some fine shorts as well. The Pixar Short Films Collection provides a nice glimpse of those cartoons, as it packages most of then in one place. The DVD presents very strong picture quality along with pretty good audio and some informative extras. It’s a fine little set.

In a vacuum, I would highly recommend this set, but the fact that so many of its shorts appear elsewhere causes some qualms. Pixar fans will probably already own most of these on other releases, but they’ll also want to have the ones exclusive to this set as well as the extras. They might not be so happy to shell out for so little new material, but they’ll still like the package. More casual fans will probably dig it as well, since it’s got so much good stuff in one set. Again, the redundancy of so much footage makes my recommendation less glowing than I’d like, but I still think this is a very nice release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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