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Remembering the little desk lamp that could: Pixar’s “Luxo, Jr. “

Computer History Museum celebrates two-minute movie that started a revolution

By Layer 8 on Thu, 05/02/13 - 3:51pm.

People can toss around the phrase "game-changer" with perhaps a little to much ease these days but the two-minute short animated film "Luxo Jr'" released in 1986 by Pixar could be argued invented the term - at least in the world of computer animation.

If you have never seen it, the movie revolves around two desk lamps: one large and one small.  The larger lamp watches while the smaller, "younger" lamp excitedly smacks around a small ball but in the end ends up squishing it and moving onto a larger beach ball.

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Anyway the Computer History Museum curator Chris Garcia this week posted an interesting look at the history and background of "Luxo Jr'" and the director/creator of the movie John Lasseter. 

According to Garcia, a visit from a co-worker's baby led Lasseter to experiment with the idea of a baby Luxo lamp.  Lasseter worked with the then-small animation department of Pixar to complete the film. The most important thing to the team was to complete the film in time for the SIGGRAPH festival in Dallas. To do this, Lasseter actually brought a sleeping bag into the office and slept under his desk.

The work was more than worth it as Garcia notes: A standing ovation that began before the final frame of the film had even reached the screen

Luxo Jr. went on to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film thus becoming the first CGI film nominated for an Academy Award and launching a whole new era of computer generated art.

Meanwhile, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.,  recently inducted its Class of 2013 includes Ed Catmull, a computer scientist and Pixar co-founder, along with two PC pioneers: Harry Huskey and Robert W. Taylor. My colleague Bob Brown recently wrote about the incoming class, for more read all about it here.

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