CFP REMINDER: 30 years of Pixar Animation Studios – Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Christopher Holliday / King's College London

CFP: 30 years of Pixar Animation Studios – Symposium


Saturday 10th December 2016, King’s College London


On August 17th 1986, Pixar Animation Studios premiered its ground-breaking computer-animated film short Luxo Jr. (John Lasseter, 1986) to an enraptured audience gathered at the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in the Dallas Convention Center Arena. Screened alongside two other test shorts – Flags and Waves (Bill Reeves and Alan Fournier, 1986) and Beach Chair (Eben Ostby, 1986) – Luxo Jr. pioneered the possibilities enabled by new digital technologies and announced Pixar’s proprietary computer software as a landmark filmmaking tool. Luxo Jr. rapidly became a signature success for the company, marrying technical achievements in the field of digital technology with effective storytelling and strong characterisation, and is widely credited among animation historians as being as significant to Pixar’s early animated history as Steamboat Willie (1928) had been for the Walt Disney Studio nearly sixty years previous.


Since this breakthrough tale of two desk lamps, the Pixar studio has garnered a reputation for producing quality computer-animated features with an unparalleled degree of commercial and critical success. The studio has released a total of seventeen computer-animated feature films and over thirty short films, as well as a range of digitally-animated advertisements, television specials and supplementary spin-off media. While Pixar’s feature films alone have made over $10 billion worldwide and won thirteen Academy Awards (including Best Animated Feature eight times), nine Golden Globes and eleven Grammys, their wider contribution to the industry revival of animated film cannot be overlooked. The release of Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995) on 22nd November 1995 prompted a number of companies, facilities, divisions and subsidiaries to make the transition from visual effects companies offering customised services to computer-animated film production. With post-millennial mainstream U.S. animation seemingly in ‘good health,’ it is the Pixar studio that are universally recognised for their role in reimagining feature-length animation once more as an economically viable and desirable Hollywood studio product.


To coincide with the 30th anniversary of Luxo Jr. and following the recent cinema release of their computer-animated feature-film Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton, 2016), this one-day interdisciplinary symposium invites proposals for twenty-minute paper, 5-minute micro-talks or video essays on any aspect of the Pixar studio that interrogates the qualities of its animated legacy. By bringing animation theorists and practitioners together with scholars of contemporary Hollywood cinema and popular media, this symposium will discuss the success, appeal and specificities of this critically-lauded animation studio, and explore the broader implications of animation’s digital shift. 30 years of Pixar Animation Studios seeks to collect a broad range of critical approaches to the analysis of Pixar, and potential paper topics include, but are not limited to:


  • The origins of Pixar and relationship to Industrial Light & Magic/ Lucasfilm
  • Software (CAPS, RenderMan, Marionette), labour and computer-animated film production
  • Questions of authorship (John Lasseter, Eben Ostby, Bill Reeves, Sam Leffler, Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs)
  • Early Pixar ‘for hire’ and the studio’s commercial projects
  • Pixar, digital technology and the history of visual effects
  • The Pixar shorts
  • Case studies of particular Pixar films
  • Pixar on television (Toy Story TreatsBuzz Lightyear of Star CommandToy Story ToonsCars ToonsToy Story of Terror!Toy Story That Time Forgot)
  • Pixar and the landscape of contemporary Hollywood animation
  • rivalry with DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Illumination Entertainment
  • The Emeryville campus and the Pixar University
  • Pixar’s corporate history and the Disney/Pixar merger
  • Production culture and the Pixar Brain Trust
  • Pixar Home Media
  • Fandom and critical reception (The Pixar Theory, ‘Pixarification’)
  • Art exhibitions and installations (‘Pixar: 25 Years of Animation’, ‘The Science Behind Pixar’)
  • Pixar and film genre
  • Pixar, style and digital aesthetics
  • Ideology
  • Sound design and soundtrack (Randy Newman, Michael Giacchino, Thomas Newman)
  • Stardom
  • Pixar and animation studies

Speakers are invited to submit a 250-word abstract and short biography to Dr Christopher Holliday ( The deadline for proposals is 1st October 2016. Please do get in touch if you wish to discuss possible topics or have any questions regarding the symposium.


Conference organiser: Dr Christopher Holliday (King’s College London)