After almost 20 years in the vanguard of computer animation, Pixar Animation Studios (home of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo, among others) is releasing another technological wonder, The Incredibles. Brad Bird, who made The Iron Giant and is described by Pixar executive producer John Lasseter as "the ultimate geeky animation fan," dreamed up the story of the Parrs, a family of superheroes who have been forced by law to stop using their powers and live normally, sort of, until a vengeful supervillain emerges and kidnaps the father. The book describes the long process that went into making Bird's ideas a reality, with accompanying art showing the project's design at all its stages. Short interviews with Bird and his animation crew reveal the collaborative work and innovation necessary to produce a computer-generated feature focusing on humans, which are much harder to depict realistically than, say, angelfish. As the supervising technical director says, "the level of effort it takes to have the Parr family sit down to dinner is comparable to having Bob pick up a bus and throw it through a wall." It's fascinating to see the various images created in advance of the computer illustrations; on any given page, one can find the initial collages, sketches and, in some cases, digital effects that hint at how the movie comes to life. If Pixar's track record holds, The Incredibles will be a major hit, but even if it isn't, graphic arts fans and those interested in finding out how such impressive productions are realized will enjoy this inside glimpse at the movie's making. -Publishers Weekly
The Incredibles came to be in a three-dimensional idiom, not intending to simulate documentary reality but straddling a line between photorealism and cartoons. While you can sense from the film itself that these 3D figures are borne of cartoon archetypes, the actual evidence is here in the book: early drawings of Edna Mode, Bob Parr and Syndrome carry the textures and flourishes of the finished characters in the form of only of a few lines or snips of paper cut from Magazines.
The book is dominated by collages from character designer Teddy Newton; gouache drawings by Lou Romano, production designer; and pencil and marker drawings by animation supervisor Tony Fucile. Highlights for fans will surely include a 1998 drawing by Lou Romano depicting the whole Parr family. What's amazing about this unique image, drawn two years before the film went into production, is that four of five family members look virtually the same here as they do in the final film. Six years and a million story changes and yet these character designs haven't budged. There is also a complete color script from the film in a giant double foldout at the center of the book.
With nearly all story references carefully eliminated, this becomes a picture book that, at least for those who haven't seen the film, can veer in many different directions. Sketches of abandoned characters and scenes share spreads with finely rendered cartoons that you might mistakenly think have been licensed back from the pages of The New Yorker. All told, in a season overflowing with movie tie-in literature, for any serious student of the art form, The Art of The Incredibles is a must-have. -Animation World Magazine