Originally a part of Lucasfilm before being bought by Steve Jobs in the mid-80's for $5M (which turned out to be a rather good investment - there's actually a lot of interesting discussion about the interaction between Jobs and Pixar in Walter Issacson's bio of Jobs), Pixar has gone on from a small start-up to become an enormous success, with films like "Toy Story 2", "Monsters, Inc.", "Finding Nemo", "The Incredibles" and others all grossing over $400 million dollars worldwide. "Pixar: 20 Years of Animation" was an exhibition highlighting the studio's work, which ran at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC from late 2005-early 2006 and is currently making its way around the world.
While the studio has become legendary for their critically and commercially successful animated feature-length films, Pixar has also produced some wonderful short films that have either ended up on the DVDs of their feature films or have played before the films theatrically. Highlights this time around include a pair of new "Toy Story" adventures ("Hawaiian Vacation" and "Small Fry", as well as the short that appeared prior to "Wall-E", about a magician's rabbit.
Shorts for Vol. 2: Your Friend the Rat, Presto, Burn-E, Partly Cloudy, Dug's Special Mission, George & A. J., Day & Night, Hawaiian Vacation, Air Mater, Small Fry, Time Travel Mater, La Luna.
VIDEO: The shorts are presented in their original aspect ratios. No artifacting, edge enhancement or other faults are spotted. Colors look bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults. Overall, these shorts looked mostly marvelous.
SOUND: All of the shorts are presented in DTS-HD 7.1. While short films like this certainly can be expected to get high quality production value in terms of the visuals from Pixar (and mostly do), the surprise continues to be the level of attention paid to the sound design. While nothing here is demo quality, surrounds are often put to use to provide small details and ambience. Audio quality is first-rate, with well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: Commentaries are included with each film, and like the other Pixar releases, the commentaries are informative and fun as the directors discuss their approach to the shorts, challenges and production tidbits.
We also get student films from Pixar directors John Lasseter (two), Pete Docter (two) and Andrew Stanton (three), including an introductions from the directors.
Final Thoughts: While it's a little short at 75 minutes, this is a highly entertaining collection of treats from the folks at Pixar. The Blu-Ray provides solid audio/video, as well as a few extras. Recommended for fans.