woodyshorts woodyshorts

Pixar opening shorts studio in Canada

Pixar is opening a satellite studio in Vancouver which will be dedicated to producing short subjects. According to a story in The Vancouver Sun, the new studio will not work on Pixar’s feature films, but will make shorts which, general manager Amir Nasrabadi hints, could include TV series.

“First and foremost for us is to concentrate on Pixar legacy characters,” said Nasrabadi, citing Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, and Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars as four of its legacy characters. “We want to keep these well-known and well-liked characters alive without creating a distraction to those working on the full-length motion pictures in California.

“The types of products we produce will be niche products, such as short films, whether they are standalone or episodic in nature,” said Nasrabadi, a 12-year veteran of the digital entertainment business. “They will be helpful to all of Disney’s ancillary businesses, such as television, compilations on DVD, Internet broadcasting, as well as theatres.”

It sounds like the new studio will be producing DVD bonus materials, at least to start with. After that… who knows?

UPDATE: Canadian animation director and historian Mark Mayerson offers his take on Pixar’s new studio. Historically, he writes, “[S]atellite studios tend to stay satellites. Rather than regard the satellites as minor league teams, where talent is developed and then moved up to the majors, the satellites are walled-off as facilities for lower budget work.”

  • Trevor

    I wonder if it’s just going to be 3d or maybe throw in some 2d or stop motion as well in the future.

  • Whoa! I really didn’t see that one coming. Pixar is so devoted to maintaining the “Pixar culture” I would have thought that they would want to keep everyone together, say in anew division at Emeryville. Especially when the new studio will be working with their legacy characters.

    Not that I’m complaining. A studio focused entirely on shorts is a great thing! I’m so glad to see the short form making a resurgence. And for those of us who are just graduating, its a fantastic opportunity.

  • Ace Weems

    One more reason that makes Vancouver the top North American city and the fourth most livable city in the world.


  • The British Columbia Film Commission recently published that money spent on animation in the 2008-year showed a dramatic increase over previous years. A 79% increase for domestic animation spending, apparently.

  • YES!!!! FINALLY! Woooo! *cheers*
    We’ve all been so worried about the industry slowing down over here…hopefully this will help bring a little more attention to it! :D

  • corey

    This is great news!

  • Since that I live in Vancouver, the news is incredibly exciting for me.

  • OMG Wow this is HUGE. I’msooooo happy :)

  • We can easily expect ton of worderful animated pieces on its way !

    Following Trevor comment, I wonder if they r going to release 2D stuff too.

  • Great news! Good to hear “shorts” are given their fair share of attention. Finally an Aardman-type studio in canada. There’s enough talent here to fill a football stadium(*maybe two!)

    Good luck BC!

    From: Jealous in T.o.

  • Circle 7 north?

  • Joseph

    Great news if you happen to be Canadian.

  • No, Floyd. Unlike Circle 7, this happens to be a real studio.

    I gotta admit, it sounds exciting, eh?

  • This is awesome news, animated shorts are a very important part of the cartoon viewing experience!!!

  • I’m reminded of the time that Disney opened studios in Toronto ( and Vancouver? Memory is bad). Shortly after the Beauty and the Beast Christmas special, the Toronto studio disappeared.
    Very short lived idea, unfortunately.

    I do hope the Pixar project will have a long life. Plenty of good people working in Vancouver. Glad to hear more animation work opportunity in Canada.

  • Bravo Vancouver!
    I have animation friends there and they were getting rather worried at the downturn in work over the last 6 months or so. Excellent news for them :)

  • Just curious

    Just a little bit curious as to why they are expanding, seeing as part of the PIXAR philosophy is to keep talented people under one roof. Could this be the beginning of a downward spiral?

    Just making conversation!

  • Laurie

    JMatte – yes the Disney studios were in both Toronto and Vancouver and were open from 1996 to 2001. Everyones contracts said 5 years and that’s what we got. Unfortunately they just didn’t plan carefully enough to keep the studio going and it was cheaper to ship the work to their Austrailian facility.

  • I second the excitement shared by the comments above.

    I enjoy those little shorts they air on Disney channel from time to time with Mater and Lightning McQueen —”El Materdor” was the best— if they can make more of this I’d definitely start spending more time watching Disney channel.

  • William

    Sounds great, although I think Pixar is still too young to be tossing words like “legacy” around.

  • My only question is why in Canada? I guess the answer is obvious, but it sure would be nice to have additional outlets in CA.

  • Wahoo! now all we need is for the Cunucks to win and my Vancouver fantasy will be complete.

  • Someone

    “I think Pixar is still too young to be tossing words like “legacy” around.”

    It always cracked me up when ever Disney would call a film they produced just two years ago a Classic. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were calling The Frog Princess a classic already.

  • Industry Vet

    This announcement completely destroys all the PR Pixar has been feeding it’s fans for years. Although they might have been in the past, they are clearly no longer an all-inclusive art house film studio. I believed JL when he said that Pixar, unlike other studios that like to keep people employed, was not in the business of sequels. TS3 and Cars2 kinda disproves that. I thought that the Disney purchase might have been a play by them to reclaim animation history, and restore the art form a bit. Nope, it ended up with a lot of really happy friends being given an uplifting speech, then laid off within days. This is clearly strike three for them. Based on the article, and whether it’s intended for the animation community or the business community, the wording changes. For sites like this one, it’s all about shorts. For anything an investor reads, it’s about DVDs, commercials, “legacy” characters, building the library…oh, and shorts. I just wish they would be honest with their fans and let them know they are running a business, just like every other studio, large or small, in the world.

  • Hulk

    Well- Industry Vet I hope you’re wrong. I don’t think that shorts featuring Legacy characters are a bad thing necessarily. After all one could argue that Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Goofy, and Woody Woodpecker are also “legacy” characters in their own right- and who among us would not want to see shorts starring them? My guess is that the Pixar shorts produced in emeryville will be one off’s as opposed to the canadian legacy characters.

    OtherDan- I also wish they’d do it in LA instead of Canada. One can only hope.

  • Sketchees

    To industry Vet: Of course Pixar’s running a business. Do you really think people(*ie. fans) don’t realize that? Get off your bumbed horse and celebrate “work opportunities”(*whether long or short term) And sequels, she-mequals.. Pixar’s still a first-rate art house, even with the Disney marriage. Do you think Aardman’s any-less of an art house now that it’s collaborating with Disney? No. Enjoy work in canada.. while we still have it.

  • More animators and creative folks getting jobs with a successful company that has, as far as this outsider knows, a pretty decent reputation for treating its people well… Who could complain?

    If the quality of this satellite is up to par with the work which comes from the main campus, I say, fantastic. The audience will be the ones to benefit the most.

  • From the article: “We want to keep these well-known and well-liked characters alive without creating a distraction to those working on the full-length motion pictures in California.”

    I didn’t realize Pixar saw their short films as a “distraction”, and I would bet the artists don’t feel that way.

  • @ Floyd Norman: I had friends that lost their jobs when Circle 7 went away. Whether or not the studio was real or if they were just pawns in a game of business is up for debate I guess, but the studio and their paychecks were quite real to them.

  • Bingo

    Okay and the Emperor has no clothes. Yet another example of “faster, cheaper”. Pixar/Disney could have chosen to place this operation in California or Florida, making use of the talents from other projects. Instead, we’re heading north of the border to the land of less expensive film and television production. Such is life.

  • Hmm

    How many artists will relocate up to Canada, I wonder?
    You know if this were any other domestic studio of this kind what the reaction would be? Not saying that’s good or bad, but think about it.
    The reality is that Pixar is owned by the Walt Disney Company. It seems very unlikely this would be happening if it wasn’t.

    As for the “distraction” of other sorts of things I’d bet shorts in the vein of Presto and Lifted won’t be made in Vancouver. They sure won’t be conceived and boarded there.

  • Chelsea

    As an animation student in Vancouver I am thrilled at the arrival of Pixar. I have stars in my eyes, I’m sure, but this will no doubt generate some good buzz for the animation inudustry in Vancouver.

  • chap

    Well, if PIXAR is going to make this studio, I would hope that they carry over all of the same values, mostly the ‘investment in people’ one that I hear Catmul going on about a lot.

    “As for the “distraction” of other sorts of things I’d bet shorts in the vein of Presto and Lifted won’t be made in Vancouver. They sure won’t be conceived and boarded there.”

    …why not? The amount of amazing artists & storytellers here is astounding.

  • Floyd why are you beating up on Floyd. He’s justing stating the facts.

  • Alfons Moline

    I´m glad about this for the Canadian animators. However, it would be also nice if Pixar opened as well yet another satellite studio in Europe -just like Disney´s now-defunct Paris studio-, for instance in France, the U.K. or Spain. There are also talented 3D animators and artists here in the Old Country, you know!

  • Matt Sullivan

    Why do this?

    There are lots of AMERICAN animators who need work!

  • Jimmy

    “I didn’t realize Pixar saw their short films as a “distraction”, and I would bet the artists don’t feel that way.”

    Pixar is like the only studio now encouraging the tradition of shorts before main features. They carefully choose the short to accompany their films. I don’t think they see them (the original shorts) as “distraction.” At least not until Partly Cloudy.

    This is likely the expansion of the B-Team that did the Cars Toons and other supplemental animation for home video. The way they treat those things is exactly like distraction. I don’t like where Pixar is heading, but the days of old indie Pixar are long gone. It is Disney now.

    Toy Story 3 I can live with, Cars 2 will kill the Pixar I used to love.

  • Tragedy of P

    Everyone is sharing their 2 cents on this news. They forgot to ask this: “HOW DO WE APPLY?” (as in where do we send our portfolio.)

  • Jason

    It’d be great if the Toronto studio was employed to create special programming for the Disney and XD channels. Fresh content is the only thing that will lift Disney’s cable division above its rivals. It tried to create excitement by renaming Toon Disney and refurbishing it with rather lame live-action shows and even lamer toons from Canada; and it hasn’t worked as of this writing. Disney ought to worry less about its stockholders and more about its audience. It goes back to the hoary old saw: You gotta spend money to make money.

  • Marcus

    Amir Nasrabadi, along with people like Sharon Morrill, contributed to the demise of Disney Toon Studios by slashing budgets and smothering creativity. She got fired, but I’m wondering why Pixar would let the likes of Amir run this new venture. Nothing like having an accountant run an animation studio. They must be planning to do cheap sequels there–no matter what their press release says.

    My bets is he goes the way of David Stainton in short order.

  • Poo

    This is great news – despite the poo-pooing going on here.

  • There goes the neighborhood

    “Why do this?
    There are lots of AMERICAN animators who need work!”

    It’s cheaper!!!!!!!

    They can easily exploit a new, young group of talenetd Sheridan graduates by over working them and under paying them!

    Any one who denies that’s the real reason behind this, isn’t being honest with themselves. It’s the exact same thing DreamWorks has talked about doing in India.



    It’s guaranteed that Pixar/Disney will continue to follow DreamWorks’ business model as time goes on, because it has been a financially successful one. “Quality” is obviously not the best business plan anymore, saturating the market is.

    Pixar could have exploited its “legacy characters” years ago, but refused to based on artistic integrity.

    Wonder what happened to that philosophy??

  • I wonder if they will train up 2D animators?

  • Vvek

    @ corey

    i seriously doubt that. i remmember reading somewhere that, studios no longer train 2d animators for 3d, 2d animators need to prepare themselves for the industry, if not, there are many who already are (and this was many years ago)

    however, with studios demanding 3d and 2d capabilities of their animators, i doubt 2d animation will ever out do animation of the golden age. that kind of quality comes from absolute dedication, and unlike 3d, drawing is a very sensitive medium, where practice, practice & more practice is the only key to consistency.

  • Johnnie

    Floyd Norman. For the people that worked at Circle 7, it was real.

    To everyone else. This was obviously done for cost cutting purposes. If anyone thinks otherwise, you are fooling yourselves.

  • Matt Sullivan

    I’m sorry. This is bullshit. Utter bullshit. Why are we LETTING our industry go to some foreign country? Yes, Canada is FOREIGN. I know so many good animators out of work here! And yeah, it’s bad enough so many of us have to leave out nice cheap digs and come to a RECTUM like Los Angeles, San Fransisco, or New York. So what, once we get here we just sit back and watch greedy studios heads destroy our industry!

    We LET them destroy 2D. We gonna let them cheapen Pixar too?
    GOD. So sick of this faster cheaper crap.

  • @ Vvek

    They have their own software is why I’m asking. I *think* they train people to use it even if that person has never touched 3D. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Tim S.

    Adam said: “If the quality of this satellite is up to par with the work which comes from the main campus, I say, fantastic. ”

    Pixar will also say “Fantastic” And then the very next thing they will do is move their FEATURE jobs out of the country too. BYE BYE PIXAR! Its all about profits.

    I hope everyone working in that Vancouver studio saves their money…. because you can be damn sure that as soon as Korea or China can crank out work that can even loosely approximate the same quality level, that studio sure as hell is gonna move to an even cheaper marke than Vancouver. It would be pretty easy to undercut ANY North American studio. If it will happen to LA and SF, it will also happen in Vancouver. Nobody ever cares, until it happens to them.

    Hey, it happened to traditional animation, why wouldn’t that happen to 3d animation?

    Matt Sullivan “gets it”.. he must work in the biz too…. this faster cheaper stuff is BS.

  • Matt Sullivan

    I don’t know if I “get” it. All I know is I’m sick of American jobs going overseas.

  • Thomas Dee

    I wonder if Canada’s xenophobic control over the right to work there will effect the quality of these projects? A friend of mine from the US suffered for years while Cookie Jar screwed up one of his properties again and again attempting to bring it to television, and legally he could not help them in any way whatsoever. They mangled that thing to death over a few seasons of would be development.