Pixar partnered with the North American International Auto Show (held in Detroit) today to host a special Cars 3 event featuring a real-life Lightning McQueen, behind-the-scenes presentation, as well as a never-before-seen clip from the upcoming Summer film.
We were in attendance as John Lasseter kicked off the event, recounting his past connections with the auto industry (his father was a Chevrolet parts manager) as well as his passion for the open road. John told a story of how the first Cars film was pulled from his family’s personal adventure driving across the famous Route 66, noting it was the time he realized the truth behind the phrase, “the journey in life is the reward, it’s not about the destination.”
Lasseter then dove into the importance of getting the details right in Pixar films and joked about buying toys on the company credit card for Toy Story research, as well as holding his first Cars research trip at the Detroit Auto Show many years ago.
So, to pay homage to the Auto Show, he wanted to hold today’s event where it all started for him and the team.
Rascal Flatts’ version of Life Is A Highway came over the loudspeaker, and we were transported into a slideshow of the Cars crew’s research trip along Route 66 (including other destinations) — it definitely looked like a blast.
Next, Jay Ward (Cars Franchise Creative Director) and Jay Shuster (Production Designer) were welcomed to the stage to discuss a few new characters in Cars 3 — Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez.
The duo bounced back and forth discussing how the characters are originally crafted on paper, then sculpted in clay, translated into digital form, and intentionally scrutinized to ensure they “read” appropriately on screen.
One element they talked about which fascinated us was how Jackson’s symbol on his car is the international symbol for a hurricane — which translates into Storm’s iconic S. Jackson’s sponsorships are also left intentionally minimal to correspond to his sleek and modern design.
The team also dug into the design challenges for Cruz Ramirez, noting that they had to get the look just right for Lightning McQueen’s new female high-tech trainer.
Ward noted, “We needed a car design that made it look like she could hold her own against any other top racer out there. But at the same time, she’s not a race car, she’s a trainer.“
Additionally, they showcased a screenshot that we absolutely loved — a final, rendered look at Ramirez and McQueen on the beach getting ready for a training session (a la, Rocky).
Watch the presentation by clicking the link below:
Before John Lasseter was welcomed back on stage, Ward discussed the updated look of Lightning McQueen and how, just like NASCAR graphics change over the years, McQueen now has a refreshed look as well. But they didn’t just show a still image of Lightning — along with Lasseter’s return to the stage they also brought out a real-life version of #95 himself.
The show wrapped up with an approximately two-and-a-half-minute exclusive clip of the film, and although we can’t say much about it, we can say that it is a very intense and emotional moment for McQueen.
Pixar is definitely setting a new tone for Cars 3, and it sure looks like McQueen is in for quite the ride.
We were also ecstatic to run into Pixar veterans, Bob Pauley and James Ford Murphy, on the event floor and the two were an absolute joy to speak with. James directed the character profile videos released a few days ago, and Bob was the Production Designer for the first Cars film.
What are your thoughts on the special event — leave a comment below.
Additionally, if you’re in the Detroit area and want to see Lightning McQueen in person, he’ll be on display (along with a Cars 3 branded area) for the entire duration of the Detroit Auto Show (public show open from January 14 – 22). Tickets are still available on the North American International Auto Show site.