The shuttled arrived at The Four Seasons San Francisco and the group of us continued to check-in and register with part of Pixar's "Smile Squad" (Monsters University related) where we were informed that the bus to Pixar would leave at 4:30 PM. This gave us just enough time to unwind from our flight and grab a quick bite to eat before departing.
Before we get too much further, be sure to check out our five-minute high-definition (1080p) video highlighting our adventure (including pictures, video and an interview clip) to prime you for the rest of our two-part writeup. Then, be sure to tune in the week of May 5th when we will also upload episode 11 of the Pixar Post Podcast with a ton of additional details and over an hour of audio from Pixar discussions and interviews.
Standing in front of Luxo Jr. and the Pixar ball you could see the outdoor amphitheater to one side and the incredible Brooklyn building (the second animation building recently added on) to the other side. A large field with a soccer goal post separated the amphitheater and Brookyln bulding - it's just a simple reminder of the fun Pixar employees take part in after (or in between) work.
|This is the moment it felt real for me.|
Once I took my ID photo we were ushered to the Pixar theater where I met fellow Pixar bloggers Greg, Samad and Derrick - all of who are so wonderful and shared with me their previous experiences of being in the Pixar theater. The four of us sat together in the cozy theater and the first presentation was The Blue Umbrella. Director Saschka Unseld and Marc Greenberg were also on hand to present the film and give a quick insight into the film.
T.J. and I were lucky enough to view the short prior to interviewing Unseld back in March, but to see it in the Pixar theater with an audience who had not seen it was magical. We never gave details about the short before but eluded to the photorealism and the gasps from the crowd gave me chills. At one point, I glanced around the room and saw a room full of smiles as the screen flashed bits of light on the crowds faces. We still won't reveal the details of the short yet, but it is an artistic masterpiece with a beautifully simplistic story that carries you through "Blue's" journey seamlessly.
After The Blue Umbrella ended the audience erupted into applause which was so heartfelt. On June 21, you are definitely in for a treat with Pixar's latest feature short.
Immediately following The Blue Umbrella, Monsters University Director Dan Scanlon and Producer Kori Rae approached the front of the theater and spoke about the background between Mike & Sulley and what we could expect in the 40 minutes of footage we were about to see. The theater went dark and Monsters University began. This review will NOT contain any spoilers of the film - from the moment the film began the audience was engaged and everyone was rooting Mike Wazowski along on his journey as Monsters University is really Mike's movie. The music, the lightning, the character designs (old and new) are all amazing and completely on par with what we've come to expect from Pixar. There are so many things to note, but all I can really say is that this is a hilarious and heartfelt Pixar film.
After the 40 minutes were up, the screen faded to black and the audience let out an audible groan as we were all hoping to see more of the film. Keep in mind that after this event, we were also lucky enough to catch one of the MU Pre-screenings in Ann Arbor - be sure to check out some more details here.
Following the groans, we were informed that we would be treated to a The Blue Umbrella themed reception in the Brooklyn building and we filed out of The Steve Jobs building. When we were leaving, I noticed the three large Monsters University concept art hung around the atrium.
During the reception we were treated to delicious hors d'oeuvres and were able to mingle with Directors Saschka Unseld and Dan Scanlon as well as Producers Kori Rae and Marc Greenberg - this was a surprise that was unexpected, but one that I completely appreciated. I enjoyed my talk with Dan as we spent most of time discussing the lighting and technical points that I had noticed in the Monsters University footage. Scanlon was so gracious and was able to share some insight into one of the biggest technical challenges on the movie - the student's backpacks!
I was also surprised by the fact that I was able to meet Director Mark Walsh (PartySaurus Rex) who greeted me as we talked like old friends. Mark was another amazing surprise on this mind-blowing day and I couldn't believe I was actually talking with the originator of the PartySaurus Rex short!
As the first night came to an end we were ushered back to the buses with the promise that the next day was going to be the BIG event. How do you top this day? Be sure to read our review of the second day of the MU press event.
- Day Two: Monsters University Pixar Press Event
- Episode 011: Pixar Post Podcast Monsters University Press Event
- Monsters University Fun Facts
Pixar Post - Julie