When I first heard that I and a few other lucky Olympian staff members had the opportunity to go to Pixar Animation Studios, a plethora of emotions swirled inside of me. I was excited, anxious, curious, and most importantly, childish. Not childish as in immature, but the feeling of awe and wonder that is bestowed onto all of us a children. That feeling came back, and I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to come.
Of course the days couldn’t go by quickly enough as I counted down to the trip. And finally the day came. We all piled into two cars at the end of lunch and soon enough found ourselves in Emeryville. The lawn was neatly manicured, and the first thing you saw after walking down the tree-lined path is the iconic Luxo ball and the Pixar lamp that is shown before each film. I immediately felt like I was a kid again, and memories of all of the wonderful films popped into my head. Looking around at the group, it was obvious that the feeling was contagious.
Inside one of the main studio buildings, there was a huge model of two cars from the movie Cars, the Incredibles family (in their iconic poses), and huge Lego sculptures of Woody and Buzz guarding the front desk.
To the right there was a case full of awards that the various films have won and it was very impressive. However, the most impressive item was an old Woody doll that sat in the corner of the case next to the awards. Jonas Rivera, a CVHS graduate and our guide for the day, explained its backstory. A boy had carried the Woody doll with him everywhere he went until his parents had bought him a new doll at Disneyland. Not wanting his treasured toy to go to waste, the boy wanted to give the old doll back to the store saying that Woody should “spend infinty and beyond” with Buzz Lightyear. Disney turned it over to Pixar, and it has been in their awards case ever since. Rivera explained that the doll is the best and most treasured thing in there, and that the joy and happiness that the movie had produced is the best award Pixar could ask for.
Rivera has been at Pixar for many years and produced films like Up and Inside Out, which just won an Academy Award for best animated picture. Our afternoon with him made it obvious that Pixar truly works to make films for everyone to enjoy and connect with on a deep level. Each film is meticulously made with tons of concept art, teams of animators, a writing staff, actors, computer scientists, artists, and countless others. Most importantly, they always have a vision. What I learned that afternoon was that every detail was important, and every single aspect of a film is significant. I loved the Pixar movies, and am ecstatic for the releases of films like Finding Dory and Incredibles 2, but my love for Pixar delved to a new level.
I appreciate the hardworking people that work hard and endlessly with the sole purpose of giving the world something entertaining and touching. Pixar is all about giving, and very much follows the expression: “It’s not what you get, it’s what you give.” The Pixar trip was amazing, and the information that I learned and the wonderful things that I saw will stick with me for the rest of my life. Rivera is an inspirational man from Castro Valley who gives back to the world with his wonderful films for all ages.