Disney and Pixar have released a first look clip at Lou, the animated short that will be shown before the release of Cars 3. The animated short at the beginning of Pixar films have become a beloved tradition, almost as anticipated as the films themselves. With diverse animation styles and subject matters, they serve as a nice appetizer to the main course ahead. The shorts have been the recipients of four Academy Awards, winning last year for Piper, which preceded Finding Dory. With just days to go until its next theatrical release, Pixar has released a 40-second clip to introduce fans to Lou, the cuddly star of the new short.
Lou is a monster who lives in the lost and found box at a school for young children. The six-minute short chronicles Lou's attempts to stop a bully from destroying the toys of the other kids on the playground. The brief clip establishes this conflict, as Lou looks on disapprovingly from his box as the bully harasses his fellow students.
Pixar has typically used shorts as a means to test out different animated techniques before putting them to use in major releases. For example, the Day and Night short that premiered before Toy Story 3 in 2010 featured a mixture of traditional 2D animation and CGI animation.
Last year's Piper experimented with the process of animating sand. It's been said in past interviews with Lou director Dave Mullins that Pixar used Lou to practice animating the texture of cloth. Lou's character is partially made of cloth, or is at least draped in it within the box. There also seems to be an impressive cleanness and definition to the clothing of the children that makes it clear they've been working on that look.
These shorts also give some of Pixar's many talented minds a chance to head a project. Directors Mark Andrews and Peter Sohn parlayed their work on the shorts One Man Band and Partly Cloudy into feature films Brave and The Good Dinosaur. Mullins has been a part of the animation department at Pixar since Monsters, Inc. in 2001, coming up with the idea for Lou as part of a 2012 pitch meeting. For inspiration on the short's themes of bullying, the director drew upon his own personal experiences.
Lou had its world premiere in March at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. It'll be available in front of all showings of Cars 3 this weekend.