Feature films and shorts
While some of Pixar's first animators were former cel animators, including John Lasseter, they also came from stop motion animation or computer animation or had recently graduated from college. A large number of animators that make up the animation department at Pixar were hired around the time Pixar released A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2. Although Toy Story was a successful film, it was Pixar's only feature film at the time. The majority of the animation industry was, and is still located in Los Angeles, California, while Pixar is located 300 miles (480 km) north in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, traditional 2-D animation was still the dominant medium for feature animated films. Not many Los Angeles-based animators were willing to move their families so far north, give up traditional animation, and try computer animation. Partly because of this, animators hired at Pixar around this time either came directly from college, or had worked outside of feature animation. For those who had traditional animation skills, the Pixar animation software (Marionette) is designed so that traditional animators would require a minimum of training before becoming productive. According to an interview with John Lasseter with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, Pixar films follow the same theme of self improvement. With the help of friends or family, a character ventures out into the real world and learns to appreciate his friends and family. At the core, according to John Lasseter, "it's gotta be about the growth of the main character, and how he changes."
To date, Toy Story is the only Pixar film to have sequels. Toy Story 2 was commissioned by Disney as a direct-to-video, 60-minute film. When Disney executives saw how impressive the work-in-progress imagery for the sequel was, they decided it should be reworked as a theatrical release. The resulting change in status of Toy Story 2 was one of the major causes of the disagreement between the two companies that nearly led to a split. Toy Story 3 will be the second theatrical sequel when it is released on June 18, 2010. Cars 2, the third theatrical sequel, is scheduled for release summer 2011.
Pixar is not against sequels, but believe that they should only be made if they can come up with a story as good as the original. Following the release of Toy Story 2, Pixar and Disney had a gentlemen's agreement that Disney would not make any sequels without Pixar's involvement, despite their right to do so. In 2004, after Pixar announced their unsuccessful attempt to make a new deal, Disney announced that they would go ahead with sequels to Pixar's films with or without Pixar, although they stated they would prefer Pixar to agree to work on them. Toy Story 3 was put into pre-production at the new CGI division of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Circle 7 Animation.
When Lasseter was placed in charge of all Disney and Pixar animation following the merger, he stated that all sequels were immediately to be put on hold, with Disney going so far as to actually state that Toy Story 3 had been cancelled. However, in May 2006, it was announced that Toy Story 3 was back in pre-production, now under Pixar's control.
Lasseter further fueled speculation on future sequels when he stated, "If we have a great story, we'll do a sequel". Cars 2, Pixar's first sequel not based on Toy Story, was officially announced on April 8, 2008.
Expansion to television
Toy Story was the first Pixar film to be extended into television, with the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command film and TV series. Cars was expanded to television via Cars Toons, a series of shorts (three to five minutes) running between regular Disney Channel shows and featuring Mater (the tow truck voiced by comedian Larry the Cable Guy).
Animation and live-action
All Pixar films to date have been dominantly computer-animated features (WALL-E has so far been the only Pixar film to not be completely animated, featuring a number of live-action elements). A live action film is being planned by Brad Bird, 1906, about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which is currently in development. Bird has stated that he was "interested in moving into the live action realm with some projects" while "staying at Pixar [because] it's a very comfortable environment for me to work in."