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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Book review - Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey

Toy Story Films - an Animated Journey 

Hey howdy hey!

It's time for another Tip Tuesday and this week, let's shift gears and move to the good ol' Disney library shelf for a little Disney book review.

This week, let's review a new book called The Story Story Films:  An Animated Journey (2012), by Charles Solomon, published by Disney Editions.  This is a pretty large book, measuring 12" by 11.8" with 192 pages chock full of beautiful pictures from all three Toy Story films as well as renderings, concept art, storyboards and some of the back story behind the Toy Story(s). This book was released less than two months ago.  (Full disclosure notice:  Disney sent me a review copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not those of the Disney company).

Toy Story Films - an Animated Journey 

If you're a fan of Pixar and/or a fan of the Toy Story films and/or a fan of John Lasseter (he wrote the afterword), you will flat out love this book.  Seriously.

This is a great coffee table book and currently joins a few of my other high quality Disney-related books.  What makes this book special is all the stunning photography.  Sure, there have been books about films before.  What is different here is that the frame captures of images from the three Toy Story films are crisp and clear.  Too often, frame captures are soft and lack definition.  This is primarily due to the nature of film - it's not at the same resolution as print.  So when a frame of film is transferred (and blown up) to the printed page, details tend to get washed out.  Not so with Solomon's book.

But wait, there's more.

Toy Story Films - an Animated Journey 

Throughout the 192 pages are tons of storyboards, renderings and concept art, much of which really helps to tell the back story behind Toy Story.  I won't divulge any of the nuggets here, but I was surprised to read about how the character of Woody was created and what and who inspired John Lasseter in creating Woody.

Which leads me to another key factor of this book.  In many respects, this could also be called The Lasseter Story.  Toy Story is due to the vision and work of John Lasseter and his team.  Solomon helps tell the story of Toy Story through the triumphs and, sometimes, failures of Lasseter and company.  In reading this book, you will discover there was a time when Toy Story almost stopped before it really ever got started (Solomon, 2012).

Toy Story Films - an Animated Journey 

All stories come full circle and Toy Story is no different.  Perhaps one of the most moving scenes (and frightening to some children) in any of the films comes as Woody, Buzz, Jessee, Ham, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Rex seem destined for a fiery end in Toy Story 3.  In a literal case of deux ex machina (translated: "god from machine") the machine in this instance is the Claw, which, with the help of the Little Green Men, rescues our heroes at the last moment, moving the story to the ultimate ending - where Woody and Andy part ways (the most heartbreaking moment of any Pixar film to date).

The Toy Story Films:  An Animated Journey is a fitting tribute to three films that have defined this new medium of computer-generated animation.  This is one book that should be on your Disney bookshelf.

Amazon ($37.80):

Barnes & Noble ($39.47):

Referenced works:
Solomon, Charles. (2012).  The Toy Story Films:  An Animated Journey. New York:  Disney Editions.

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