To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios (Chronicle Books, 2007) by Karen Paik is exactly the type of book you’d expect it to be, nothing more and nothing less, and so cautious as to be boring. Such might also serve as an adequate assessment of the studio’s last couple of films.
The first three chapters of the book are dedicated to Pixar’s big threeÃ¢â‚¬”Ed Catmull (the tech guy), John Lasseter (the art guy) and Steve Jobs (the business guy)Ã¢â‚¬”and the story of their individual paths that led them to Pixar. It is followed by a look at Pixar’s early day as a hardware and software manufacturer, TV commercial producer and maker of short films. The bulk of the book is devoted to the studio’s features, with one chapter offered to each film from Toy Story through Cars. The book concludes with a chapter titled “Pixar Joins with Disney” which is a frank account (as far as corporate vanity books go) of the drama of the past few years which led to Disney’s eventual acquisition of the studio. Throughout, there are also spotlights on Sound, Voices, Music and RenderMan.
As a coffeetable book, it is handsome though hardly spectacular. The front and back cover, with their Buzz Lightyear stickers pasted onto cloth, strike me as not only a surprisingly thrifty approach for such an expensive book ($75 cover price), but also something that doesn’t evoke the proper image for a studio that has pioneered computer graphics. Interior layout is clean but bland; the artwork printed here is largely redundant if you have the earlier ‘art of’ volumes devoted to individual Pixar films. Among the types of visuals that can’t be found in those other book are some photographs and caricatures of the artists. Another type of art unique to this book is the inclusion of final rendered stills from the films, which is good or bad depending on your perspective.