Saturday, May 30, 2009

Promoting Pixar's 'Up'

Starting yesterday, Pixar Animation Studios released its tenth computer-animated feature.

In "Up," the story revolves around the main character, Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner), who, frustrated with his mundane life and impending enforcement into a retirement home, ties thousands of balloons to his house and sets off for adventure in South America. A small boy named Russell (voiced by Jordon Nagai) who is trying to earn his last Junior Wilderness Explorer badge for helping the elderly accidentally ends up on board, and hilarity ensues. The film is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and "Up" is also Pixar's first 3D adventure.

Having seen the movie premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, critics boast that the film continues to exemplify Pixar's flawless record in never releasing a bad film.

The film is a "captivating odd-couple adventure that becomes funnier and more exciting as it flies along," wrote Variety's Todd McCarthy. "The two leading men are 78 and 8 years old, and the age range of those who will appreciate the picture is even a bit wider than that."

After seeing "Up" for myself, I could not help but fall in love with it. The plot line of the movie will touch audiences hearts. The 3D effect is remarkably and tastefully done unlike other 3D films in recent years (i.e. Spy Kids 3D, Shark Boy and Lava Girl). In this case, you truly feel as though you are in the movie. But even if you see "Up" in the traditional 2D format, you are still in for an epic adventure.

Now that I'm back working at Regal Entertainment Group's Westbrook Cinema 4 for my last summer, I wanted to get the lead out on my promotional technique by doing something for this film in particular (mostly because I'm an avid Disney/Pixar fanatic). Since Westbrook is typically the short stick of the draw when it comes to getting promotional materials it created more of a challenge (though welcomed) for me.

Before opening yesterday I assembled a cut-out, with a cardboard backing, of the the house used in "Up" to attached to the marque box for theater hall one. Then I went out to get a few helium balloons to attach behind the cut-out using a dead weight to hold them in place. On the bottom side of the marque I attached a cut-out of Fredricksen holding on to the garden hose to make it appear as though he is holding on to the house.

I'm happy to say that as families came into the main lobby, quite a few of the small children would tug on their parent's shirts, pointing at the promotion and/or yelling out "Look at the balloons!" Knowing that the younger guests enjoyed the display was all I needed to see for the display to be a success.

And one specific note I want to mention about "Up" before I close was Pixar's triumph in the animation of the balloons. For this feat they used a process called procedural animation which uses an algorithm, or set of equations, as well as Newtonian physics which allowed software to simulate the actions of each individual balloon without animators having animate each balloon themselves. To read more about what it took to create the amazing sequences, read's report "How technology lifts Pixar's 'Up'"
Above photo: The promotional display above theater one at Westbrook Cinema 4.

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