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HTF DVD Review: Pixar Short Films Collection - Volume 1



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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 01 2007 - 12:44 AM


Pixar Short Films Collection - Volume 1
Directed by John Lasseter et al

Studio: Disney
Year: 1984-2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 54 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $29.99

Release Date: November 6, 2007
Review Date: November 1, 2007


The Films

4.5/5

The thirteen films that make up this collection of Pixar animation short subjects show the evolution of an industry. From the earliest attempts at providing a three dimensional look to animation using computer programming to the latest wizardry (there really is no other word for it), this baker’s dozen of shorts should not be missed.

Truthfully, only two are appearing on DVD for the first time. The others can be found on various other Pixar releases over the past decade or so. Why buy this? Well, completists won’t think twice, and even fans of the Pixar style might want to have these wonderful shorts all in one place. There are also the invaluable commentaries (about which more later.)

Here’s the list of what’s contained on this first volume of Pixar short films:

The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984), an experimental one joke minute and a half that must have seemed revolutionary in 1984. Even today, the fluorescent colors and the expanse of it (despite being in 4:3 ratio) are appealing.

Luxo Jr. (1986), the company’s first Oscar nomination came with the creation of the company’s now-logo, the architect’s lamp in senior and junior sizes playing with a ball. This and all other of the shorts except one are presented in anamorphic video. It runs 2 minutes.

Red’s Dream (1987), the company’s first foray into pathos as a red unicycle craves to be noticed and appreciated. The short runs 3½ minutes.

Tin Toy (1988), the company’s first Oscar win came with this comic adventure of a toy being pursued by a baby eager to play with it. The genesis of the Toy Story films, this short runs 5 minutes.

Knick Knack (1989), the company’s first 3-D effort where souvenirs take on lives of their own. Done in the style of a Chuck Jones short, the film runs 3½ minutes.

Geri’s Game (1998), the company’s second Oscar-winning short involves an elderly man playing chess with himself. The 5-minute short which took 1½ years to make looks especially wonderful on this DVD release.

For the Birds (2001), another Oscar win for the company is this brief 2½-minute slapstick look at some cliquish birds getting their comeuppance.

Mike‘s New Car (2002), produced for inclusion on the Monsters Inc. DVD finds the two lead characters from the film trying to manipulate the controls of a car. This 4:3 short runs 3½ minutes..

Boundin’ (2004), a country musical song and dance short featuring a sheep who gets sheared much to his surprise. It runs 4½ minutes.

Jack-Jack Attack (2005), a 4½ minute riff on the Jack-Jack character from The Incredibles.

One Man Band (2006), a 4½ minute delight as two street musicians vie for money from a passing child. Another short similar in tone to Chuck Jones’ work with a very impressive soundtrack score.

Mater and the Ghostlight (2006), a continuation of the characters from Cars as tow truck Mater falls victim to a spooky tale told by his friends in payback for his practical jokes on them. It runs 7 minutes.

Lifted (2007), a hilarious driver’s ed lesson featuring aliens on Earth comes straight off the Ratatouille DVD and runs 5 minutes.

Video Quality

4.5/5

All of the shorts whether in 1.33:1 or in 1.78:1 anamorphic feature bold colors, solid line structures, and superb animation for the period in which they were done. The films look pristine (which some don’t do in the accompanying featurette), and the best of them do have that three dimensional quality that only the best standard definition transfers can approach.

Audio Quality

4/5

From Dolby Surround to Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, the shorts sound just fine. True, some don’t make full use of the available channels at their command, but the sound ranges only from good for the earliest films to superb for the latter half dozen.

Special Features

2.5/5

With the exception of Jack-Jack Attack, all of the shorts contain some form of audio commentary. Almost all provide excellent information about the creation of the short under discussion except Mike’s New Car which places two very young children in the sound booth to ramble on about short subjects and DVDs.

“The Pixar Shorts: A Short History” gives wonderful background on the creation of Pixar and its struggles to make a product that was at the time completely unique to the industry. This anamorphic widescreen documentary runs 23 minutes. Surprisingly, these men admirably are all about the work never crowing about the deserved accolades that have come their way.

Four very brief Sesame Street instructive lessons running only a total of 2½ minutes use the Pixar logo lamps to teach very young children about directions like up-down and front-back.


In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

The Pixar name has achieved a stamp of quality that other studios can only fantasize about. These thirteen shorts show us where it all started and contain some footage and commentaries that can’t be found anywhere else. Animation fans will certainly want to check out this release .


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Eric Peterson

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Posted November 01 2007 - 01:29 AM

Is the Knick-Knack short, the new PC version of the short?

I would be tempted to pick it up for this, otherwise I'll just hold on to my Toy Story LD set. I don't support PC editing.

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 01 2007 - 01:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Peterson
Is the Knick-Knack short, the new PC version of the short?

I would be tempted to pick it up for this, otherwise I'll just hold on to my Toy Story LD set. I don't support PC editing.

There was nothing in the commentary that indicated that the short was tampered with, and, showing my ignorance, I'm not clued in to this controversy. Please help me out here. Thanks.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted November 01 2007 - 02:06 AM

Here's the info on Knick Knack, Matt.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IMDB
The original version (available on the Tiny Toy Stories tape) features two exaggeratedly "endowed" woman-souvenirs - a sunbather and a mermaid (the later barely covered with a starfish). In the version featured at the beginning of the "Finding Nemo" theatrical release (and likely the future video release), the sunbather is flatchested and the mermaid has had reduction surgery and is now covered (a la The Little Mermaid) with a clamshell top.
Anyway, I can't wait to pick this one up!

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 01 2007 - 02:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Here's the info on Knick Knack, Matt.Anyway, I can't wait to pick this one up!

Thanks for the information. I just rewatched the short, and the changes noted are still in effect. I do think the filmmakers should have commented on this in the commentary.

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted November 01 2007 - 10:25 AM

TravisR is correct. This DVD has been out in Germany for a few weeks. There was an earlier thread here at HTF about this release. I either asked in a post or an email to a friend and he quoted also from IMDB. From what I see the cartoon on this DVD is the same as on my (PAL) issue of Nemo. The sunbather and mermaid would be "decent" for the old womens tea party. In the previous thread I learned about this DVD coming out (in the US) and the next day in my store - there it was! In the next days when I have more time, I will start a thread about the "Animalympics" by Steven Lisberger which is available in Germany.





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