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Interview: The Creative Minds Who Make The ‘Lightyear’ Visuals Soar: Greg Peltz & Jeremy Lasky

There’s a lot of Buzz about Lightyear and with good reason. I was recently given access to screen about 30-minutes of footage from the highly anticipated animated adventure. I have been dying to discuss it and can now finally reveal just how amazing it is. What I saw goes beyond the Toy Story world where we first met Buzz Lightyear and into a world teeming with detail and realism.

In addition to the footage I was also treated to a presentation from the ultra-creative people behind the film. Director and Screenwriter, Angus MacLane and Producer, Galyn Susan walked through much of the process and goals for the film. Hundreds of artists’ working at designing and creating the setting, people, creatures, vehicles and even the buttons (lots and lots of buttons) for this action-packed film.

The amount of attention to detail is simply mind-blowing. Everything you will see on screen has been discussed, researched, and discussed some – then brought to life by teams of artists working together, all to take Lightyear to new heights of storytelling.

Two of the creative minds behind the look and feel of Lightyear are Sets Art Director, Greg Peltz, and Director of Photography, Jeremy Lasky. I had the honor of speaking to them about their role in designing the look of the film. It is a fascinating conversation because it was not business as usual in terms of animation. For Lightyear, Disney and Pixar had a specific goal in mind, to make a sci-fi action popcorn movie with the same pathos you would expect from a Pixar film. From what I have seen, I can whole-heartedly say, I think they nailed it. 

Transcend beyond the toy version of Buzz we all know and love was a crucial challenge to overcome if they were going to deliver the film they intended. This could not feel like a toy story, this film needs to tell a human story. “We really wanted to make sure was that the character was true that you felt like you were watching Buzz Lightyear and yeah, ‘I know this Buzz,’ said Laskey. “There’s much more depth to the human Buzz, as you would imagine.”

Part of the strategy was to put Buzz in a world that felt fully functional. Part of that challenge required building machines that felt like they might just exist and work in the real world. To accomplish this, the team researched actual NASA space crafts and equipment as well as revisited decades worth of science fiction films, media and toys of their pasts. Peltz explained why the attention to the mechanical design matters so much, “They have a purpose and they function right and when you see them working, you have the sense of awe and excitement scale to it. This was a very appropriate movie to be able to celebrate mechanics and the cool things operating. In addition to just being cool, it just adds this depth to the world and a reality, a bigness to it.”

Check out my fascinating interviews with Greg Peltz and Jeremy Lasky for a peek into the minds of the two artists dedicated to making this film not only beautiful, but hold-your-breath exciting. Also included are some cool images showing just a small bit of the work that they and the Pixar creative teams put into making Lightyear soar to infinity and beyond.


Creativity In Action Behind “LIGHTYEAR”

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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.
Email: filmsnork@gmail.com

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