Alums in the news: Life in cartoon motion edition

Andrew Pienaar ’01 has worked for Pixar on films such as The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Finding Nemo, and is now Lead Lighter for the upcoming short Day & Night, which will be released June 18, with the highly anticipated Toy Story 3. “It is the corollary to live action movies’ director of photography,” Pienaar said. His job encompasses 3-D lighting on the computer, which he compares to stage lighting.

Pienaar described the short as “very innovative,” and something that “no one has ever attempted before,” because Day & Night combines 2-D animation with 3-D technology. Day and Night are characters that are animated in 2-D, but there is a 3-D world literally within their bodies that reflect their internal states.

“It’s a simple but amazing concept,” Pienaar said. “The short is about two characters meeting with different viewpoints of the world and going through an arc of relating to each other. It’s about the fear of the unknown and discovering the unexpected within each other.”

He added, “I’m truly proud of the final product.” But because the film uses styles that have not been before, Pienaar thinks “people won’t know what to do with it when they first see it. They might have to see it multiple times.” The film is a way to “see how we can explore 3-D and change it a little bit.”

And yet, Pienaar thought working on the project, not seeing the final product, was the most satisfying part of his job. While he said he enjoys working for all of Pixar’s projects, “This in particular has been the pinnacle point: working in a small crew, having individual responsibility and artistic control.”

Despite being busy with Day & Night, Pienaar also found time to work on lighting for Toy Story 3. While the title may suggest a sequel, Pienaar said Toy Story 3 is a completely different story. He added that the storyline was actually thought up during the making of Toy Story 2, but “timing wise and story-wise, it wasn’t ready.”

“It’s perfect for children following Andy,” he said, indicating that the children watching the original movie would now either be in college or going off to college, just like the boy.

Pienaar, though originally a “naysayer to sequels and 3-D,” believes that it would be worth it for viewers to see Toy Story 3 and Day & Night in 3-D because “the story is so original – it is the perfect next step for Toy Story.”

While working for Pixar, Pienaar, a computer science concentrator, has been back to Brown to recruit graduates for the company, which has hired many alums. “The curriculum and professor at Brown have been influential across the years,” he said. “Brown has a very unique environment, which is rarely duplicated. There is a creative liberal freedom that Brown offers that caters to well-rounded intelligent people.”

Currently, Pienaar is working on a new movie Brave, originally titled The Bear and the Bow, set to be released in June 2012.

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