"Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," and now "Cars." Call them Pixar's magnificent seven.Making exceptional, family-friendly movies is hard but rewarding work. Unlike live-action films that can be completed in a year or less, animated films often take four or five years to finish and employ hundreds of creative artists, technicians and storytellers.Some critics have tried to deflate the tires of "Cars," finding fault with its "we've-seen-this-before" story and its nearly 2-hour running time. It could even be said that a certain box-office, numbers-driven curmudgeon has been trying to p--- in Lightning McQueen's gas tank after having a bad experience with his breakfast cereal. Still, even among the harshest of the critics, "Cars" has been widely praised for its glorious look and attention to detail.Two of the artists responsible for the look of "Cars" are production designers Bob Pauley and William Cone. Both have worked at Pixar since 1993, when the upstart studio led by John Lasseter began working on its first film, "Toy Story."For "Cars," Pauley spearheaded the design for two racetrack environments and all the vehicles. Cone led the design of the film's settings, its roadways, the scenic Ornament Valley and all the quaint, somewhat dilapidated buildings in the small Route 66 town of Radiator Springs.Research to enhance the story has always played an important role in Pixar's films and "Cars" is no exception.Lasseter started talking to Pixar's head of story, Joe Ranft, about doing something with cars as characters in 1998 as the work on "Toy Story 2" began to wind down.
Copyright 2006 Disney / Pixar