If you’re all caught up on today’s Oscar nominations, you might have seen that Disney-Pixar’s Bao has earned itself a nod for Best Animated Short Film. The competition is fierce for writer-director Domee Shi‘s tale about a Chinese-Canadian mother-son relationship, but the Pixar pedigree is strong with this one. I highly recommend seeking out each of the nominees, including Bao and Trevor Jimenez‘s award-winning animated short Weekends, which you can learn more about here. But if you’re all-in on all things Pixar, you’ll want to check out the Pixar Short Films Collection, Vol. 3 Blu-ray.
The home release includes the following awards-worthy shorts, in addition to bonus features discussed below:
- Oscar-nominated Bao
- Oscar-nominated Lou
- Oscar-winner Piper
- Oscar-nominated Sanjay’s Super Team
- Riley’s First Date
- The Radiator Springs 500 1/2
- Party Central
- The Blue Umbrella
- The Legend of Mor’du
- Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex
Check out the trailer for the collection below:
These facts are short and sweet! Find plenty of Easter eggs and more on the Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 3, now available on digital and Blu-Ray.
Shorts and Audio Commentaries:
Each short is accompanied by a commentary option that includes a video intro from the filmmakers as well as an audio commentary track from them:
Bao (Commentary with director Domee Shi, producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, and production designer Rona Liu)
- Turns out that food, and specifically raw meat, is pretty difficult to animate in an appealing way.
- Bao is a word that means both “steamed bun” and “treasure”, depending on how it’s pronounced in Chinese.
- Domee and Rona took trips to their relatives houses to take pictures of their decor and their family members as inspiration.
- Keep an eye on Bao’s mom’s outfits as the short goes on; they grow brighter and bolder the more emotional she gets. They were inspired by women’s outfits in Toronto’s Chinatown.
- The static camerawork and family dramas of Yasujirō Ozu was an influence on Bao.
- Chinese folk art inspired the characters’ designs and proportions; One Piece and Japanese anime was also referenced for expressions.
Lou (Commentary with writer-director Dave Mullins, producer Dana Murray, and editor Tony Greenberg)
- Dave Mullins talks about his inspiration for Lou as a kid who moved around a lot and was always the “new kid” in school.
- Lou is a “magical guardian of the elementary school.” J.J., on the other hand, is a kid who wants attention but only knows how to get it through bullying.
- During the storyboard phase, Lou was originally going to have a human voice in order to convey emotions, but they opted to let the animation do the heavy lifting.
- J.J.’s stuffed animal toy is named “Pickles”, named after Dave Mullins’ beloved toy as a kid. The little girl with the toy pig on the playground is modeled after Mullins’ daughter and her favorite pig toy. J.J.’s name comes from Mullins’ mother’s initials while his eyes are Mullins’ wife’s eyes.
- Lou was always intended to “give himself away” to the point that he disappears, but the filmmakers had no idea that it would be received so well.
- “Lost and Found” was originally the title, but legal issues forced a change to Lou.
Piper (Commentary with writer-director Alan Barillaro and editor Sara Reimers)
- Barillaro opted to features rock musician/Piper composer Adrian Belew to help him with his own unique video intro.
- Barillaro’s impetus for the short was to tel a story about being a parent; he has three kids and wishes he was more like the mom in Piper.
- The rhythm of the waves on the shore is meant to feel like rhythmic breathing and a gentle waking up of the environment.
- They opted to shoot the characters from farther away like a documentary-style film. This was important to establish scale, especially for such a small and fragile character.
- In the world of Piper, older birds behave more naturally while young Piper is a bit more cartoonish.
- Once Piper emerges from under water, her whole worldview has changed and so has the perspective of the camera, the lighting, and more.
- Murphy uses a ukulele and some anecdotes from his Hawai’ian honeymoon to introduce his short story.
- The clouds around the island are based on actual weather patterns and the leis from Hawai’ian culture and hula mythology. Look for cumulus cloud leis throughout.
- The Pizza Planet truck is hidden away within the timelapse montage as one of the starry sky’s constellations.
- Originally, the island’s eyes were going to be red-hot lava, but that proved to be too creepy and looked like a jack-o-lantern.
- The characters’ names are Uku, for the male island, and Lele, for the female island, so that their union is the island of Ukulele. You can see Uku’s arm around Lele as part of the landscape in one of the final shots.
Sanjay’s Super Team (Commentary with writer-director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle)
- Patel talks about preferring to stay home and work on his drawings rather than direct, but Sanjay’s Super Team was too important and very personal to him not to give it a shot.
- The TV and the Hindu shrine being the same shape and being opposite each other on the Western and Eastern sides, respectively, were by design.
- The 2D cartoon animation proved particularly difficult for Pixar animators since they’re set up for 3D computer-generated productions. Patel also wanted a cheesier Saturday morning cartoon show, but John Lasseter advised making it a cool show which necessitated some production tweaks.
- In the altar, the diah (a small brass candle) is introduced as a stand-in for the Hindu culture. The three deities are Vishnu, Durga and Hanuman.
- Blowing out the light of the Diya, even accidentally, allowed darkness to creep into the world. It’s also a stand-in for Sanjay disrespecting his father’s culture.
- The deities’ motions were brought to life through traditional dance.
- The bad guy in the short isn’t destroyed, he’s calmed and allowed to meditate.
- The end-credits drawings were submitted by kids, who sent them in at Pixar’s request.
- Cooley got the idea for the short while working on Inside Out. The character of Jordan is based on him a bit, while Riley’s parents are inspired by Cooley’s own parents and father-in-law.
- Riley’s First Date? takes place after the events of Inside Out, so it’s important to see the movie first.
- Riley’s dad’s start-up company is “Brang”, a company that makes it easier for partygoers to send things directly to the party rather than bringing it themselves.
- There’s an unfinished live-action clip called “Ninja Shark” used in one of the TV monitors within Jordan’s mind.
- Bill Hader voices the guitar player and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is the voice of the guy who attacks him.
- Riley’s dad is wearing a “Shatter Daddies” logo from one of the production team’s bands, but Legal shut that idea down.
- Diane Lane apparently called her own daughter to check in on whatever the script’s slang was supposed to mean.
- AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was used since it was often played at Cooley’s high school.
- The idea of getting Riley’s dad and mom to kiss at the end was one of the main reasons Cooley wanted to make the short in the first place, to see how that would look in the world of Inside Out.
- Morse introduces Lightning McQueen’s defense of Radiator Springs from a band of hooligans.
- The idea of the short was to celebrate the town and its people. That morphed into a Spaghetti Western idea centered on a showdown during the off-road Baja 1000-style race.
- Mater sets up the course through Carburetor County to show off the landscape and the points of interest. Mater also acts as the sort of “Jungle Cruise” tour guide of the slower, older cars in Radiator Springs.
- The dual storytelling allowed them to jump between the off-road race and the sillier but just as picturesque tour, keeping things from getting stale.
- The nighttime sequence reinforced the dangerous nature of the Baja 1000, and the car graveyard sequence gave them a chance to create monster movie elements.
- Mann, the story supervisor on Monsters University, pulled an idea from that film to create this short: The Oozma Kappa brothers finally get to throw a party. He shares seven tips he learned from the experience:
- Get into your story as quickly as possible.
- Take advantage of things that can only happen in this specific world.
- Have a simple setup that pays off with gag after gag.
- Conga lines are complicated; a conga line gag proved to be too difficult to make the final cut.
- Sometimes going too far is just the right amount, when it comes to story, animation, lighting, or effects.
- Just have fun!
- Oh, and cross-stitching is kind of relaxing.
The Blue Umbrella (Commentary with writer-director Saschka Unseld, lighting supervisor Brian Boyd, and supervising technical director Chris Burrows)
- Unseld talks about his experience moving to San Francisco and finding a crumpled, “miserable-looking” umbrella discarded on the sidewalk; he wanted it to have a happier ending. The umbrella is an homage to Unseld’s childhood in rainy Hamburg, Germany.
- The decision was made to go with a photorealistic look for the city and its characters, but also make them stylized.
- Sarah Jaffe sings the song throughout the short.
- The animators worked with several types of rain in the short; Unseld sees the rain as the third main character.
- Easter eggs: The bus stop that the owner of the red umbrella is waiting at features a German poster for John Carter of Mars. The model of Elinor from Brave was used as the driver of all the vehicles in the short, while Pixar’s models for Andy and Andy’s mom are all the people under the umbrella, who were stretched out and dressed in business suits; that may mean that Andy and his mom are the two people on a coffee date at the end of the short.
- Larsen talks about the tragic version of the lesson learned in Brave: If you don’t figure out a way to work together and fit into society (as in a medieval kingdom), bad things can happen.
- Mor’du means “great black” in Gaelic.
- The lore of Mor’du didn’t quite fit into the main story, but Larsen and Purcell felt that it was a tale that needed to be told.
- The four cuts of the families’ feud mimics the seasons of time. The elements of the stones, the wisps, and the witch are enduring throughout time.
- Scott Morse suggested the idea of the bottle passing in front of Mor’du’s face that teased his change into the bear.
- The runes going into the horn spell out Mor’du.
- The character is compared to Moby Dick; you never quite know how long he’s been around but clearly he’s quite powerful.
- Louis Gonzalez painted the bear/stone background for the end credits sequence.
- Walsh talks about two sources of inspiration: Bath time and his own childhood insecurities. He reveals that he used to make things up in order to fit in, which complicates things for Rex.
- The commentary was recorded on the night of their crew wrap party; some of the short’s fellow creative teams pop in to add their own two cents. It’s a cute little setup for the party-themed short.
- The biggest shot in the bathtub had 3.3 million bubbles; that’s a lot of bubbles.
- Electronic artist BT composed the music for the short.
- John Lasseter wanted a bunch of dancing toys for the bathtub rave, so the animators put their own dance moves into their specific characters.
- “What up, fishes?” came from sketch artist Jay Shuster.
Marine Life Interviews (Commentary with director Ross Haldane Stevenson and Finding Dory associate producer Bob Roath)
- The original idea to have the animals interviewed about Dory came from Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton.
- Angus MacLane helped to put together the stage play with Stevenson and Roath to record with the cast and edit the interviews together.
- There are lots of elements of “found footage” throughout, making it stand apart from the main feature.
Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (Commentary with writer-director Jim Murphy and producer Marc Sondheimer)
- The inspiration for this short spotlighting crazy characters from Cars 3 comes from a cheesy informercial. They studied car commercials, local used car ads, and local appliance store ads to see how canned music and applause could be used for this short.
- The long shot was one of Pixar’s most difficult production pipelines in the studio’s history due to how many characters, interactions, props, and set dressing elements there were throughout.
- 1-800-FRITTER was already taken, so they had to use 1-800-RETTIRF
Making Bao (6 minutes)
- Writer-director Domee Shi walks viewers through the process of making Bao, from working on stills in her spare time, all the way up to getting to direct her first short.
- “Bao” can either mean a steamed dumpling or something precious, like a treasure, depending on how it’s pronounced.
- There’s some sweet memories captured in photographs and on-camera interviews with Domee and her mom, who also shows up to demonstrate how she makes dumplings.
- Shi talks about Toronto as a setting and the various Easter eggs for the city scattered throughout, along with specific items in the house that were included to make if feel authentic.
- The decision to keep the camera static is shorthand for the mother’s stagnant life, just one of many details that Shi and her team call out in this behind-the-scenes featurette.
Caricature: A Horrible Way of Saying “I Love You” (~4 minutes)
- Pixar’s story artists let off some steam by drawing pictures of each other in caricatures, which they reveal along with their live-action inspirations in this super cute featurette.
- To keep things civil, they designated a “Mean Caricature” night to show off the most extreme versions of the caricatures and their subjects. Things get pretty weird as the night wears on, so luckily they include all those oddities here.