Details Surrounding Pixar’s Next Experimental Storytelling Short Film, ‘Purl’ — Additional Plot Details & Images from SIGGRAPH 2018

At SIGGRAPH 2018, Pixar will reveal additional details surrounding their next experimental short film, Purl. Read plot details images in our post.
Pixar Purl teaser image with logo

At the 2017 SIGGRAPH conference, Pixar covered many topics including the announcement of Smash and Grab — the first short film created under the new experimental storytelling initiative at the Studio (launched internally in 2016). At the 2018 SIGGRAPH conference, Pixar will provide additional details on their next short film included in the experimental storytelling initiative, Purl.

The initiative allows for approved short films to be created at the studio without executive oversight — allowing filmmakers to explore their creative visions and increase studio opportunities.

This is such an exciting program for artists who would like to work on stretch assignments while still managing their existing workload in order to develop their own creative passions. But, artists also have to remain on their toes as the budgets are usually 20% of a normal short film budget and you’re only given roughly six months of production time.

Pixar Purl image of Drew checking Purl's badge
©Pixar Animation Studios. All rights reserved.

As part of the full lineup of Pixar sessions at the 2018 SIGGRAPH conference, Kristen Lester (Director) will talk with three other Pixar associates (David Lally, David Munier, and Farhez Rayani) about their experiences on Purl (link to SIGGRAPH’s site has unfortunately been removed). The session will take place today, Monday, August 13 from 3:45 – 5:15 PM Pacific Time at Production Junction, West Building, Ballroom C, Vancouver Convention Centre.

The talk will explore the use of “digital backlot” management (USD-converted assets from prior films), an evolution of Smash and Grab’s motion-capture application, shareable animation libraries, Pixar’s real-time shading software “Flow,” and production practices.


The 8-minute short film, Purl, follows a ball of yarn trying to make her way in a male-dominated corporate world and acts as a visual metaphor for some of Kristen’s personal experiences within the industry. 

Pixar Purl shading system
©Pixar Animation Studios. All rights reserved.


Purl was revealed on Twitter on June 28 by Director, Kristen Lester, who announced that it would be shared at SIGGRAPH.

Pixar Purl Luxo Ball Covered in Yarn
The perfect way to hint at Purl’s release by covering the Luxo ball with yarn on International Women’s Day

In addition to the screening taking place today, August 13, it was also secretly screened at the Annecy (back on June 12). This was additionally confirmed by Pixar’s recruiting department who tweeted an image noting that they were still thinking about the film on June 29 (bonus, you could see the logo in the background).

Pixar screening of Purl at Annecy 2018

So, why is Purl, the ball of yarn, called Purl? We have to assume that the name came from the actual stitch, called a purl stitch (here’s an instructional video on YouTube in case you’re intrigued).

What are some other fun facts? Purl’s eyes were created by modifying toys from Toy Story 3 and her two-dimensional lips were sourced from Bing Bong (Inside Out).

Have you seen some of the items on Purl’s box? Most moving or storage boxes have a section where you can signify where the box should be placed when moving it into the new location. Her box notes the areas:

  • Garbage (instead of Garage)
  • Rumpus Room
  • Bedroom
  • Floor
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Outhouse
  • Storm Cellar
  • RV/Trailer
  • Out’n Front
  • Out’n Back

Our favorites have to be Out’n Front or Out’n Back. The added names make us believe the short may be touching with some great humor sprinkled throughout — which sounds like the perfect mix for a Pixar short. 

So, where will we be able to view this short film? Outside of SIGGRAPH’s presentation, we’re actually not sure. Last year’s Smash and Grab still hasn’t been released broadly — although we’d love to see it and we don’t anticipate that it would be released alongside Pixar’s next theatrical release (Toy Story 4), although it is a small possibility. As we learn more, we’ll be sure to update the post.

* Additional post details via SIGGRAPH and ACM Digital Library.

Be sure to share your thoughts on Purl with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum Purl topic, or leave a comment below.

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