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Santa Cruz Welcomes Back Pixar Icon

blog_slug_toy-story1In the top story of the unfinished E.C. Rittenhouse building on Pacific Avenue, UC Santa Cruz students and staff gathered along with community members to welcome Technical Director Mark Henne of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios back to Santa Cruz.
Henne received his Master of Science from UCSC in 1990 and began working for Pixar in 1994. The UCSC Baskin School of Engineering invited Henne to speak about his involvement with the film “Toy Story” and coordinated the event with Nextspace.  
The lecture was part of UCSC’s Pixar week, which will also feature documentary “The Pixar Story” Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Del Mar. The week will conclude with a speech by Ed Catmul of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios at the UCSC Music Recital Hall Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 at 3 p.m..
“People ask what my favorite Pixar films are, and ‘Toy Story’ is definitely at the top of the list,” said Henne, who has also worked on “WALL.E,” “Monster’s INC,” “A Bug’s Life” and “The Incredibles.”  “There is nothing like the making of the first ever Pixar film.” Jeremy Neuner, co-founder and CEO of Nextspace was proud to coordinate the event with the Baskin School of Engineering.
“Mark Henne proves the point that there's a lot of really cool talent at the university… who can then go on to be movers and shakers in the high tech world,” Neuner said.
In his lecture, Henne showed the audience, frame by frame, how he created steam in the well-known scene in which Woody has a hole burned into his forehead and, screaming, dumps his head in a bowl of cheerios and milk.  He said the process has grown simpler over time.
“If you wanted something, you had to write it yourself,” he said.
Henne shared secrets from behind the scenes as well. He said Pixar got Tom Hanks involved by sending him a sound clip of Tom Hanks from Turner and Hooch yelling at his pet dog. They synchronized the sound clip with animation, creating a scene in which Woody was yelling at Rex, telling him not to eat a toy car.  
Henne shared that the inspiration for Woody's movement came from Ray Bulger's character as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.  He showed the transformation of Lunar Larry, a small robotic figure with metal arms, who barely came up to Woody's waist, into the more commonly known Buzz Lightyear.
He also showed the audience things they might want to look for during their next viewing.
“Well, one little dirty secret is Sid's bed got peed on,” Henne said.
Neuner was impressed and excited after the lecture.  “I have a three year old and a six year old, and I've seen never seen the pee stain on Sid’s bed, and I’ve seen Toy Story probably 100 times,” Neuner said with a smile on his face.  “Now I have a reason to see it for the 101st time.”
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