Whenever the phone in our studio rings and there’s a +44 country code at the beginning of the number, we get pretty excited – a phone call from Great Britain almost always means a new assignment from the folks at Wired UK and always something new and exciting for us to go shoot.
This latest cover and feature shoot was no different; we were asked to shoot the creative and technical geniuses who are behind the world famous computer animation studio, Pixar. This particular project took shape over many weeks and came to fruition as two separate shoots in California. First we set off to photograph the director, animator, producer, and all around creative genius John Lasseter. For the cover image, John was to be composited into a scene with the Arlo, the star of Pixar’s newest film The Good Dinosaur.
As usual with most cover shoots and important subjects, we had a short amount of time with Mr. Lasseter – Chris planned to shoot 3 unique setups in under 30 minutes. After a few hours of setup and testing, our shoot was a breeze – John was a natural and totally enjoyed himself with Chris and our team.
By far the most unexpected moment of the shoot was on our final all-white set when John called out to everyone behind the scenes asking if anyone had a sharpie. As if she was reading his mind, our awesome prop stylist Kim Creigthon was ready with a set of markers. The next thing everyone knew, John Lasseter was sketching out an original drawing of Buzz and Woody from Toy Story – right on the middle of our set (quite literally)! I have a feeling that drawing is currently framed back at Wired UK Headquarters in London.
Arlo may have been CGI that was added in later, but we still needed something to simulate the presence of a giant dinosaur in frame. It may be a bit smaller than a dinosaur, but in this case, a tennis ball attached to a C-arm did the trick. No need to book an animal wrangler for this shoot.
A few days after our quick cover shoot with Lasseter, we flew back to California to spend the day at Pixar’s campus near San Fransisco, capturing images of the incredible space and some of the creative minds behind the company.
First on our shot-list was Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Disney Animation. Similarly short on time to John Lasseter we only had a few moments with Mr. Catmull to shoot our portraits, and were able to capture a handful of great options (if you look closely on the top portrait you may notice the very familiar looking art from the recent Pixar film Inside Out).
We also shot portraits of Denise Ream and Peter Sohn, the producer and director of The Good Dinosaur. With the upcoming release set for only a few weeks away, these two were also very busy wrapping up any final details on the film, but spared a few moments for a portrait session in front of Chris’s camera.
The other unspoken star of the show on our shoot day at Pixar was the building itself. Designed and meticulously managed and built by Steve Jobs, the space was beautiful, refined and architecturally stunning, yet reflected the playful and quirky nature of Pixar – truly an inspiring space to drive creative ambition. We honestly feel very lucky to have spent the day in such an inspiring place.