Every movie has three things you have to do - you have to have a compelling story that keeps people on the edge of their seats; you have to populate that story with memorable and appealing characters; and you have to put that story and those characters in a believable world. Those three things are so vitally important.
When I started work with LucasArts Computer Division back in 1984, I went to the Palace of Fine Arts and saw the Festival of Animation for the first time. I loved the diverse collection of animated films the festival held.
I quickly realized that this medium had a lot to offer someone like me. To do Disney-quality hand-drawn cartoons, you have to be a master of two art forms. Seriously, you have to be able to draw like a Leonardo da Vinci or a Michelangelo. But also you have to know movement and timing and control that through 24 frames a second.
When I was a freshman in high school, I read a book about the making of Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty' called 'The Art of Animation.' It was this weird revelation for me, because I hadn't considered that people actually get paid to make cartoons.
Take any movie with an actor you like. Turn your head and just listen to the performance. In some cases, the physical presence remains as strong when you can't see the actor, when it's just the voice.
'Cars 2' is about a character learning to be himself. There's times in our lives where people always say, 'Well, you've gotta act differently. You should always be yourself.' That's the emotional core of the story.
Every technology that comes into filmmaking is first a gimmick. Think about sound with 'The Jazz Singer' or the first colour or surround sound - it takes a while for filmmakers to understand how to use it.
Look at the films of Walt Disney: 'Snow White' came out in February 1938, and I can't think of another film from that year that's watched as much. The same is true of 'Bambi,' 'Dumbo'... even, frankly, 'Toy Story,' which is probably watched more than any other movie of 1995.
The Walt Disney Animation studio is the studio that Walt Disney started himself in 1923, and it's never stopped and never closed its doors and never stopped making animation, and it keeps going as kind of the heart and soul of the company.
If you're sitting in your minivan, playing your computer animated films for your children in the back seat, is it the animation that's entertaining you as you drive and listen? No, it's the storytelling. That's why we put so much importance on story. No amount of great animation will save a bad story.
When you take something that's inert, and through motion, give it life, make it appear to be alive, living, breathing thinking and having emotions, that's animation. But when you take something that's live-action, and move a part of it, that's a special effect.