A Trip to Pixar Studios in Emeryville, California

A few weeks ago I had the unique opportunity of visiting Pixar Studios in Emeryville, California to learn more about their upcoming movie Brave and watch the short film La Luna.

Pixar Main GatePixar Main Gate

Upon entering the massive lobby of Pixar Studios, which was designed by Steve Jobs to be open and informal, you'll notice that there are subtle nods to Pixar's current project. Banners, tapestries and artwork adorns the walls in anticipation for Brave. After we entered the screening room, the lights were dimmed and we were treated to a sky full of stars. Twinkling lights represented shooting stars and was a perfect segway into the Academy-Award nominated short La Luna, which will be shown before the movie Brave.

Pixar LobbyPixar Lobby
Brave is the story of Merida, a skilled archer but also the feisty daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the lords of the land. Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury into the kingdom and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.

La Luna is the tale of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. For the very first time, his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work with them. In an old wooden boat, far out at sea, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the boy and he must decide whether he should follow the example of his Papa or his Grandpa. Perhaps he should follow his own heart? This sweet story quickly became my favorite Pixar short to date.

Movie Posters for Brave and La lunaMovie Posters for Brave and La luna

All around the lobby, you can view a life-size Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc., a Woody and Buzz made out of Legos and our favorite little green men from Toy Story.

Lego Buzz and WoodyLego Buzz and Woody
In addition to trying our hand at archery and learning about the history of kilts and bagpipes, we were also treated to a tour of Pixar Studios.

The atmosphere is casual with many of the employees wearing jeans and hoodies, zipping around on scooters as they munch on a bowl of cereal from the Cereal Room or enjoy an ice cream cone. To get the creativity flowing, there's ping-pong, pool and an air hockey table inside and a swimming pool, soccer fields and a basketball court outside.

Pool Table with Brave ArtworkPool Table with Brave Artwork
To remind you that you are in a place where some of the most creative people in the World work, there's a case of Oscars and other awards they have received for their critically acclaimed and beloved films.

Once we took the stairs to the second floor, all cameras had to be put away since that is where most of the magic happens. They are currently working on up to 6 projects right now and they didn't want anything leaked out! We were first introduced to Story Corner, where we learned how a story is pitched at Pixar Studios. No stories are accepted from outside, they all come from in house. When a story is pitched, they will present it with story boards. No ideas are ever torn down " Pixar embraces the idea of "plusing". With "plusing", no story is even torn down, it's always added to!

Iconic Pixar Lamp and BallIconic Pixar Lamp and Ball
We then went on to learn a bit about the process of how a film at Pixar is created. Most films take 4-5 years to make with The Incredibles being the shortest at 3 years. Currently, Brave has taken 7 years to complete! What can take the majority of the time is the rendering process. Each frame is 1/24 of a second and a frame can take anywhere from 5-50 hours to render! It takes a long time to make a Pixar film, but we all know it's worth it in the end!

Touring Pixar Studios was an incredible opportunity and a huge thanks to Disney for making it possible! Make sure to check out Brave, in theaters June 22nd!

Mase wrote on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 05:09:

Mase's picture

Very cool! Very flippin cool! Would love to tour that place someday... just too cool!

Debbie V. wrote on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 11:27:

Debbie V.'s picture


Kristen K. wrote on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:38:

Kristen K.'s picture

What a wonderful opportunity, thanks so much for sharing it with us Melissa!

Will wrote on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 19:10:

Will's picture

Very interesting look into an amazing company. Thanks! I'm determined to work there some day.

Sammy Bizzle wrote on Fri, 04/27/2012 - 20:53:

Sammy Bizzle's picture

One thing that I've always wanted to do! Love anything Pixar, and to see where it all comes from would be truly amazing!

Laura F. Italy wrote on Sun, 01/19/2014 - 09:26:

Laura F. Italy's picture

Dear Melissa W. Thank you for your interesting report! My daughter studies in Venice at Accademia di belle arti and her passion is Pixar works. Next July we'll fly to California almost especially to try to visit Pixar studios. I know that normally tourists are not admitted but I'm a journalist and my daughter is an art student. Can you help us to realize this big dream?? Thank you very very much. Laura

dong wrote on Wed, 05/18/2016 - 19:01:

dong 's picture

Dear Lissa,
I teach coding to children in a approach of pencil to pixels, therefore we create, imagine and use a PIXA IN THE BOX a lot. children are so exited of what they are learning. However I have particularly 5 students that really love Pixar in the box and are so good at it. They are magnificent drawers, and story tellers,They have a big Dream to visit Pixar and get inspired. Is any possibility that this team of 5 could come to visit Pixar? their ages are 9 and 10 years old
please help us.
Thank you so much!!


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