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Pixar Short Films Collection
Volume 1

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 54 minutes

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentaries, The Pixar Shorts: A Short History, Sesame Street Shorts,

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,

Released: November 6th, 2007

 

 

The shorts are presented in a variety of aspect ratios, but with the exception of the very first short - "The Adventures Of Andre and Wally B." and "Mike's New Car" - they're all in anamorphic widescreen. Other than a little bit of noise on these films, they all look spectacular. Detail is phenomenal (especially in the backgrounds), and color saturation is excellent - everything looks remarkably vibrant, and really pops right at you. Pixar films were always known for their stunning quality on DVD, and that tradition continues here.

 

With an exception of some of the early films (which are in Dolby Digital 2.0), most of these shorts feature English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Just like the transfers for the short films, they are outstanding. The soundscape for these short films are rich, with great range and fine subwoofer use. Dialogue is always crisp and easy to hear, and the musical cues are quite encompassing and are richly spread through the channels (especially in "One Man Band"). Surround effects are very discrete too, with great use of the rears that really bring you into the action (such as the variety of vehicle noises in "Mike's New Car," the brooding Banshee and Mater driving around in "Mater and The Ghostlight" and the murmurs of the UFO in "Lifted). All of these Pixar stories are further brought to life with these deep sound mixes.

Other audio options are in French and Spanish, plus there are subtitles in those languages and English. (I should also mention that the video-based supplements have subtitles in all those languages, as well as Japanese.)

 

With the exception of "Jack Jack Attack," all the shorts feature Audio Commentaries, which are great listens. John Lassetter, Evan Ostby and Bill Reeves contribute to the original Pixar shorts from the 1980s, and then the respective directors appear on their own shorts (such as Jan Pinkavera, Ralph Eggelston Gary Rydstrom), and even some special guests (like composer Michael Giacchino on "One Man Band," and the kids of the directors of "Mike's New Car"). Fans of Pixar will want to give all of these listen (yes, even the "Mike's New Car" one, which is pretty cute). The speakers often talk fast since there isn't much time to get across everything, but they still jam in a lot of information within their few minutes: inspirations for their shorts, the technology at the time and tons of other fun factoids (I particuarly enjoyed the commentary on "Mater and The Ghostlight," as there was a very interesting backstory in how that short developed). Obviously these commentaries aren't much of a time investment, so even if you're a casual fan of computer animation or the work of those geniuses in Emeryville, give these a spin.

The Pixar Shorts: A Short History is a wonderful documentary on the early days of the fledging animation studio (which wasn't really an animation studio to begin with). Here, John Lassetter and the original principal players of Pixar discuss the evolution of the company, as well as their work through advances in technology. A lot of the focus is on the company's first five shorts in the 1980s, and how those developed. But there's a lot of information that I am sure people did not know about:  where most these shorts premiered (at the annual SIGGRAPH convention, to ecstatic audiences), that Pixar was originally a software company and how they ultimately became the studio they're known for today, and how they got back into making shorts after the release of "Toy Story." This is a delightful watch. Too bad it ends after 23 minutes.

Rounding out the set is a nice treat: four Sesame Street Shorts, featuring the Luxo characters. I had no idea that Pixar used these characters again for the famed children's program in little educational interstitials, so this is a great surprise. Too bad some of their commercial work can't be found, even though clips are shown in the documentary. Hmm, maybe for Volume 2?


 

Pixar may be best known for its classic animated films, but I'm glad to see that this release honors their roots, as the company has really made some wildly inventive animated shorts over the years. Like with Pixar's other DVD releases, the transfers and audio mixes are top notch, and the supplements nicely detail the studio's origins and the creation of the shorts. Now how many years is it going to be before we see Volume 2?