Located in an undisclosed area, the Pixar Archives are a sight to behold for any and all animation and movie fans, especially Pixar fans. During our visit to Pixar for Toy Story 4, we were guided through the Pixar Archives by lead historian Christine Freeman, who was more than enthused to share the history of Pixar Animation and the studio's unique assets with Screen Rant and other entertainment news outlets. And we learned quite a bit.
While the current location of the Pixar Archives is a secret - it used to be located near the Port of Oakland - it's interesting to note that the building itself is called Queens. This is in keeping with Pixar's general theme of taking inspiration for building and location names from the five different boroughs of New York City. And the Pixar Archives building is fittingly called Queens because the staff is comprised primarily of women.
Inside the Pixar Archives, people will see materials that were used in the making of every Pixar film - art, pencil drawings, sculptures, models, paintings, toys, and more - which have been gathered and preserved. Some materials, of course, are in much greater condition than others - and the ones that are deteriorating are kept in separate rooms. But all the materials in the Pixar Archives represent the studio's history, from when they first started out making software to developing Toy Story 4. They even save certain press clippings.
It's truly astonishing to see what went into the making of the original Toy Story movie almost 30 years ago. Everything from the original script drafts to Pete Docter's wooden board with old shoes taped to it, the latter of which was used by the creative team to determine how the army soldiers would walk and run. In fact, there's meant to be a video of it on one of the Blu-rays, and Freeman joked about it eventually showing up on Disney+. Given that Toy Story is a Disney movie, it just might one day.
But there's more to Toy Story's history than just an old wooden board. Freeman explains that the idea for the movie evolved out of John Lasseter's Tin Toy short film from 1988, which won an Academy Award for Best Short Film. Disney was taken by the short film, and the studio ended up funding a full-length adaptation of Tin Toy, which ultimately became known as Toy Story. And the characters of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and later Jessie, evolved throughout the scripting process into who they are today.
Interestingly, Woody was originally supposed to be a ventriloquist dummy with a pull-string. While the character retained his pull-string in the final film, the ventriloquist part was removed. And now, after all these years, Pixar is finally allowing themselves to introduce a true ventriloquist doll in Toy Story 4. One of the characters - or, more accurately, one of the villains - is a ventriloquist doll named Benson. He's the right-hand man to the film's true villain: Gabby Gabby. It's only natural that Woody comes into contact with them at various points in the new story.
And the Pixar Archives contains material that shows the design progression for some of these characters. In fact, the original sculptures for Toy Story characters like Woody and Bo Peep, which were made out of clay and later baked, are still in the Pixar Archives. Other sculptures, however, were made the "normal" way - though that doesn't mean they are any less important.
While the Pixar Archives is where everything is stored for safekeeping and preservation, animators, writers, directors, and so on, find themselves visiting the Archives every now and then to study up on previous films. But ever since Pixar began digitizing their inventory (which they are very much still in the process of doing), just Disney has been doing for years, Pixar employees may find themselves visiting the non-descript building less and less. But anyone ever has the chance to step inside the Pixar Archives, they shouldn't waste the opportunity as it's absolutely exceptional.