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Ultimate Toy Box Part 3(Extra Features Disc)

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 24, 2000 | E-mail the Author

Intro: This is the 3rd disc in the "Ultimate Toy Story" box, and it easily is one of the more impressive supplemental feature-focused discs that I've ever seen. The disc starts off with a very funny introduction from director Lasseter and crew before entertaining the main menu, which has two televisions - one is "Toy Story 1" and the other is "Toy Story 2". Once you select a television, we zoom in and recieve another menu worth of choices.

For this review, I will start off with what is offered for the original picture. The first choice on the menu for Toy Story 1 is History, which gives us the choices of History and Development, Early Test, Original Treatments, Production Notes and The Cast.

History and Development is a short featurette that has interviews with the director, who talks about where he was and what influenced him at the time that he came up with "Toy Story". This featurette also gives the viewer information about how Pixar considers the way they animate as not the focus of the movies they create, but that having great characters and story is first on the list. Early Test is a test that Pixar did in 1992 to give an idea of how the "look" of the film might be - it's a very funny scene with early versions of Buzz and Woody. In the Original Treatments section, you'll find three treatments that Pixar presented to Disney to begin to outline where they wanted to take their story. These include story ideas and the occasional drawing.

The rest of the section involves things we see on most DVDs - production notes and bios for the cast and crew..

The next section we find is Music and Sound, which offers the viewer two choices - one of which is a featurette that looks at the sound design work that Gary Rydstrom did, and we hear from him in an interview at his ideas for how to create the sound for a world that is fantasy. It's very interesting to listen to the touches that Rydstrom did to add to the "reality" of the presentation. The other half of this section is devoted to demo material from composer Randy Newman, which includes a bio for him, as well as the demo audio versions for 6 songs.
The next section is Design. This involves three sub-sections, Character Design, Art Design and Environmental Design. Character Design provides a wealth of material about how the characters of the movie were created. If you look under Woody, who's the first listing, we find galleries with images of various stages of development for the character, early animation tests of Woody with commentary by an animator, a short featurette on modeling Woody and a final feature that spins around Woody to show us a complete view of the character. Not all of the sections for all of the characters offer as many supplemental features (for example, Bo Peep only has a design gallery and the same spin-around that I talked about with Woody), but they all give the viewer a good idea of how this particular idea was built into a role in the final film.

Art Design opens with a short featurette that has interviews that talk about the "look" of the picture's scenes in terms of color and feel. The rest of this section provides galleries that allow a more in-depth look at pictures dealing with concept art, color script and color keys.Environmental Design is a section that takes us on a tour of some of the "sets" of the film, providing gallries of design concepts for "Andy's Room", "Gas Station", "Pizza Planet", and "Sids Room", as well as literal "location tours" for all but the "Pizza Planet" area.

The next section in the menu is Story, which starts off with an option to watch a Pixar pitch meeting for one of the scenes in the movie, while the storyboards for the scene that are being talked about are shown in the opposite corner of the screen. The next option on the list(this story section is also one of my favorite menus on the disc) is editing, which is a series of screens that provide insight into the process of refining the story as the steps of animating the film advance along. Next is a story reel, which provides storyboards edited together to begin to build a rough version of one of the film's sequences. The next option in this section is to watch a completed scene in the film and compare it to the stoyboards in a split-screen comparison. The final part of the Story section is an area called abandoned concepts, where, after an introduction from the filmmakers, we see in storyboard form 3 sequences (including one that sort of ended up being used in Toy 2).

The next section on the disc is Computer Animation, which starts off with a bit of an intro from the director and others, who give a good general idea of the steps that are taken by the animators on the way to completeing the animation. Layout Tricks is a fascinating featurette that shows us how shots can be composed in the computer, and how the animators have to keep the camera in the correct place as well as other obstacles that these workers have to face in keeping the animation in the frame.Animation Tour is something that I mentioned in the reviews for the first film - we get a tour of the workstations for the animatiors at Pixar and they're so elaborately decorated that it looks like such a fun place to work or just hang out. The rest of the featurette leads us through again, steps of the process.Character Animation has the director telling us about how an animator works at Pixar, and how the computers are run to create these characters. This is a bit more in-depth looking at the computers doing there thing, and bascially showing the viewer how it functions. Next is lighting and shading, which looks at the role that light and shade, as well as other features have in the picture. Again, this shows us a scene from the very begining, as we get a first look at a scene, but then see it again as texture and surfaces are added, then finally lighting and shading to complete the image. Two sub-sections go further into showing us details of how lighting and shading work as they're added in.

Also in the Computer Animation section is Building A Shot, which is a short featurette that leads us through the steps of building a scene, from the original storyboards edited together, then begining to block the scene and get timing down, and then putting in additional details such as the previous section - lighting and shading. As we go further into the computer animation section, we arrive at production progression, which lets viewers use the "angle" button to flip between "storyboard", "layout" and "final scene" for one of the sequences in the film. The final area in the computer animation section is special effects, which allow the viewer to learn more about some of the additional tricks that went into the making of the movie. Here, Motion Blur and Reflections, Rain Effects, Particle Systems and Rendering and Compositing are the areas covered.

The final two sections covered are Deleted Animation and Publicity. Deleted Animation offers us an introduction from editor Lee Unkrich and 3 deleted sequences from the original "Toy Story". Publicity offers us promotional materials from the movie, including trailers (we get both a teaser and a full trailer in Dolby 2.0); 4 TV Spots as well as galleries for both the ad campaign and for the merchandise from the film.

As we leave the menu for the original film's extra features, we go back out into the room with 2 TVs, and then go back inwards to the section for the second film, which also starts out with a History section. The first option is a short featurette called Why a sequel?, where director Lasseter talks about the choices that had to be made as the sequel progressed. This also deals a bit with what I mentioned in the review for the second film, where this originally was set as a "video" release, but was re-thought out when the tests were so successful. The featurette ends with an emotional discussion by the director on why the sequel had to be great for those who loved the characters from the original. Also in this opening section is the next featurette, Continuing the World Of "Toy Story, where the Pixar crew continue their discussion on the ideas that they had not used for the first film that they brought back to the surface to use for this movie as well as where the ideas for the second film came from. One step further in the history section and we find A profile of director John Lasseter, where we look at the role of the director at Pixar, and again, we get a very genuine scene that Lasseter absolutely loves what he does. To finish off this section, we again get production notes and cast/crew bios for the second film.

The design section is similar to the first film in that it offers a wealth of supplemental features and images to get a greater understanding of where these characters came from and the steps it takes to put them on the screen. Again, we get character, art and environment design for the second film. The Environmental design looks at these locations: Zurg's Planet, Andy's House, Al's Apartment, Al's Toy Barn and the Airport.

The story section is a little bit different this time, offering two different sequences from the film - "Woody's Nightmare"(introduction, storyboard pitch, storyboards only) and "Jessie's Song"(introduction, storyboard-to-film and storyboards only). Here, we get to use the multi-angle button again with the last two features, to only have storyboards on-screen, or have the other option playing on-screen.

The Computer Animation section for "Toy Story 2"'s set of extras also offers some differences. Here, we only get a production tour, production progression demo and more information about the special effects. These are somewhat similar in general to the same features for the first "Toy Story" extras section, but they are given a fresh perspective here as different folks from Pixar give us their viewpoints on the different steps of production for an animated feature. The production progression set for "Toy Story 2" also allows the viewer to use the "angle" button to see the opening scene in story reel, layout, animation and shades and lighting. The special effects section is a single featurette this time around where the head of effects for the film talks us through the steps of adding the kind of additional effects that the film needed in a scene like the opening, which is the focus here.

Music and Sound is also a section for the "Toy 2" supplemental features, but there are some more fascinating things to look at here, such as Sound Mix section, which includes an introduction from Gary Rydstrom. This section allows you to watch a particular scene with a screen that looks like the equipment that Rydstrom himself uses. The viewer can choosen to watch the elevator scene in the film with just the dialogue, music or effects. Again here, we also get another short featurette dealing with sound design, as sound designer Gary Rydstrom is interviewed for his thoughts on how he went about creating the sound for the movie. During the featurette, we also are lead through the different layers of sound that went into the "Crossing The Street" sequence from the movie. In terms of music, there is also a featurette about the music from the film, a music video and also an audio version of a demo for "Jessie's Song" by Randy Newman.

Deleted Animation and Publicity return again here, with the animation section offering a short introduction as well as 2 scenes deleted from the movie. Publicity offers the teaser and full trailer for the movie (Dolby 2.0); 4 TV spots and galleries for the film's ad campaign and autographed character pictures.

The final section for "Toy Story 2" as well as the 3rd disc is The Toy Box, which starts off with a featurette called Who's the coolest toy?, which is a cute promotional featurette. Hidden Jokes is a nicely done set of images that point out little hidden jokes that the animators add into the backgrounds of some of the shots, most of which deal with Pixar's previous film "A Bug's Life". The final two extras are a sub-section about Woody's Roundup and a scene that had to be changed due to international audiences.
Final Thoughts: What I really love about the extras for all 3 of these "Toy Story" discs is that unlike some of the extras that were provided for the special edition of Disney's Tarzan, these are not "promotional" in nature, but genuinely informative and entertaining supplements that are definitely re-watchable and a lot of fun. The menus that went into this final disc are also pretty stunning, with fantastic animation. The two films themselves are wonderful, and I consider both classics of animation.

Pixar did an excellent special edition for "A Bug's Life", but this really takes the whole thing much further, and this third disc is almost shockingly full of stuff to look through that will take quite a few hours to catch. And again, what I really love about what's included here is that there's a lot that I know I'll be able to come back to and enjoy a second time rather than promotional materials that I'd just watch once. Pixar took animation to new places with "A Bug's Life" and you see that same effort here, as they try to take the DVD format to new places and succeed fantastically. "The Ultimate Toy Box" is absolutely recommended!.

Ultimate Toy Box Overall Grade: A
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