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Watch: ‘Toy Story’ Documentary Captures a World Before Computer Animation

From the Indiewire Vault: “We’ve gotten to the point where animators can use their power to get those performances on the screen.”

This Friday, Pixar releases its 17th film (and fifth sequel) “Finding Dory,” itself the hundredth or so computer animated film made in the last couple decades. Andrew Stanton directed and John Lasseter (the chief creative officer of Disney and Pixar) executive produced the feature. Yet just over two decades ago, Lasseter and Stanton were finishing production on the computer animated film that would pivot the medium in a direction so new even their actors could not describe what they were seeing.

READ MORE: How Andrew Stanton Found the Right Path for ‘Finding Dory’

Produced for Disney Channel, this 1995 documentary “The Making of Toy Story” provides an overview on production of the first Pixar film. We see the seeds of story development provided by the remarkably young Lasseter, Stanton and “Inside Out” director Pete Docter all the way to Randy Newman composing the final music. The 28-minute doc does not go into the same length of history as something like Leslie Iwerks’ “The Pixar Story” or the specificity of Ed Catmull’s “Creativity, Inc.,” but it offers the joy of watching Lasseter and company geek out over what computer animation could accomplish.

Narrated by Annie Potts (the voice of Bo Peep), the doc shows how the animators and tech directors accessed a world that “only existed in [Lasseter’s] imagination.”

For 13 years, Lasseter led an army to give computer animated characters not only movement, but life. “We’ve gotten to the point where animators can use their power to get those performances on the screen,” he said. “One frame of ‘Toy Story’ is so unbelievably complex and detailed. And if you compare that with the early graphics from the 70s… they were just bits of light on a screen.”

READ MORE: Pixar President Says “Toy Story 4” Will Be A Romantic Comedy Not Tied to the Trilogy

Watch the full documentary below.

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