Pixarblog: What sort of mindset do you get into when you’re working on the „Cars Toons?“
Rob Gibbs: I try to familiarize myself with the genre we’re working with. I get a lot of inspiration from watching movies. Sometimes it’s just bouncing ideas off my colleagues.
Pixarblog: How did you choreograph the Falcon Hawk sequences to get them right?
Rob Gibbs: We watched formation flying videos and mimicked a lot of the camera work and choreography. Also, in San Francisco every October there is fleet week, which is an amazing demonstration of aerial acrobatics.
Pixarblog: Do you feel the Cars shorts will have the longevity of classic cartoons such as the Looney Tunes?
Rob Gibbs: I certainly hope so. From my experience, I know that there is a large audience that just loves these shorts as much as I do.
Pixarblog: What do you think defines Mater as comedy character and one of the best Pixar characters ever?
Rob Gibbs: Mater’s such a genuine and loyal character, he has a big imagination and a big heart. I will say Larry the Cable Guy, brings so much to Mater’s character. When we animate Mater, Larry is a huge part of our inspiration.
Pixarblog: Do you believe in pen and paper to catch your ideas or do you use also a lot of modern technologies/tools (like Wacom Cinteq pen displays) for the visualization of your visions? Did you use other special tools/software for the development of the story of “Air Mater”?
Rob Gibbs: I start with pen and paper and now do a lot of my storyboards using a cintiq tablet and Photoshop.
Pixarblog: Is there something you did learn from John Lasseter during the co-direction of the previous ‚Mater‘-episodes for TV?
Rob Gibbs: John Lasseter has been a huge part of the shorts from the very beginning, and yes, he has guided me every step of the way.
Pixarblog: What is your favorite part of being involved in the „Cars“ world?
Rob Gibbs: I worked on the first Cars movie, and during that time we were inventing the whole world of Cars as we went. Cars are so limited in what they can do, finding creative ways of animating them has been challenging and fun.
Pixarblog: When were you originally boarding „Cars,“ do you ever think that these characters would become as popular as they have? That they’d then become the basis of a successful series of films & shorts?
Rob Gibbs: From the beginning I saw huge potential for these characters. At first I had no idea they would take off like they did, but I’m so glad they have. Working on the shorts has given me a great opportunity to explore the world of Cars as well as work with awesome people.
Pixarblog: What was the inspiration for the Falcon Hawks?
Rob Gibbs: The Falcon Hawks were inspired by the F14 and F16 jets and formation flying. It’s just amazing what those pilots can do.
Pixarblog: What are the key points that as an animator you can use to make a car or a plane (or a machine) interesting as a character?
Rob Gibbs: It’s about being inspired by real life. Whether it is an astronaut, a jet plane or a private investigator. We pay attention to every detail of the subject we are exploring.
Pixarblog: Can you give young artists, dreaming of working at Pixar, some advice for making that dream came true?
Rob Gibbs: It’s not just the knowledge of technology, its the passion to come up with ideas and tell good stories. I loved drawing as a kid, and I found a school called Cal Arts that helped me develop my talents.
Pixarblog: How much freedom do you have in producing a short, especially one based on a feature length film? How did you work with John Lasseter on it?
Rob Gibbs: We have all the freedom in the world at first, but then we have to decide what is a good idea and what isn’t. Limitations inspire creativity, without setting boundaries within the Cars world, it would be impossible to develop any of these stories. We had a lot of time working with John Lasseter on these shorts, he was involved from the beginning of each concept to the very end of production. He has been an inspiration and a wonderful mentor in creating these shorts.
Pixarblog: Mary Gibbs, your daughter, put her voice for the adorable Boo in the ‚Monsters Inc.‘ movie. What does she think About the work of His Father? Do you ask her advice or to check your work to see what might work and what not?
Rob Gibbs: She is 15 now, and I often bounce ideas off her to see what she thinks is good. I would like to think she’s very proud of me, but at her age I’m just not that cool.
Pixarblog: Why did you/studio decide to make Mater the star of the shorts and also the sequel, don’t kids identify more with the cool McQueen?
Rob Gibbs: We started coming up with ideas for shorts to expand the Cars world. One of our animators, Bobby Podesta, had a little idea that Mater could tell tall tales about previous adventures. That sparked a whole series of thoughts of what Mater could do. Lightning McQueen is an awesome race car and Mater is a rusty tow truck, each are appealing to kids in their own way. After we decided to center these shorts around Mater, we thought it was a great idea to include Lightning McQueen in each one of them. At the height of each short Mater reminds Lightning McQueen that „he was there too“.
Pixarblog: Rob, any final thoughts on Air Mater as we close out this roundtable?
Rob Gibbs: After completing each one of these shorts, the latest one becomes my favorite. Air Mater is right up there with the rest. Working with the studio in Vancouver and our artists here in Emeryville, it was a huge challenge to build the world of Propwash Junction and its characters. It was so rewarding to see it all come together, I hope you enjoyed Air Mater.
Ende des Interviews.