During the 2020 SIGGRAPH annual computer graphics conference, the world premiere of the latest Pixar co-op short film, Automaton directed by Krzysztof Rost. It is unknown if the approximately 6-minute film is an official short film, a SparkShort, or a co-op produced short film (utilizing Pixar’s internal resources after hours without a company-provided budget).
Updated: We have received confirmation that this is in fact a co-op film in much the same was as Borrowed Time was. A Pixar co-op film is an internal professional development initiative that allows employees to utilize Pixar’s resources while crafting their own films with their own budgets. Essentially, the team works with Pixar’s internal pipeline to ensure they’re not stepping on the toes of any official Pixar projects — if they can find a time slot to work around, they’re able to take advantage of the program, but it is not an official Pixar short and Pixar doesn’t have any claim to the film.
Updated: Pixar has uploaded the short film to their YouTube channel.
Thanks to our friend, Luis with Pixar Brasil Blog for the heads up on this listing.
Screening on Monday, August 24, 2020, between 6:35 and 6:41 PM PDT during the Computer Animation Festival, the short title image and synopsis have a serious look and tone.
A poetic tale of a dust devil and a field of grass moves in the wind. Lightning interrupts a balletic interlude. A glowing ember precedes a raging fire. A wake of destruction deforms a landscape. A new beginning unfolds; a new world built.
The logline is also listed as, “Automaton is a poetic interlude between a reality and an abstraction.”
Let’s break down a few things to hopefully get a few new clues about the short. The official definition of Automaton according to Dictionary.com is shown below.
Automaton [ aw-tom–uh-ton, -tn ]
noun, plural au•tom•a•tons, au•tom•a•ta
- A mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
- A person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
- Something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.
A Dust Devil is noted on Wikipedia to be “a strong, well-formed, and relatively short-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a meter wide and a few meters tall) to large (more than 10 meters wide and more than 1000 meters tall). The primary vertical motion is upward. Dust devils are usually harmless, but can on rare occasions grow large enough to pose a threat to both people and property.
We’re extremely interested to see how the short unfolds. With the mention of the dust devil moving in a ballet-like manner and lightning interrupting the peaceful nature of this, it definitely seems like this is a short which will take viewers from beauty to destruction, and back to “new beginnings.”
While we wait for the film to premiere, here are some additional details surrounding the film’s director.
Krzysztof Rost — Director
Official bio from SIGGRAPH is listed below.
Krzysztof Rost began at Pixar Animation Studios in April 2015. He has been a technical director on feature films including “The Good Dinosaur,” “Finding Dory,” “Cars 3,” “Incredibles 2,” “Onward,” and “Soul.” Rost worked on the Academy Award®-winning short film “Piper,” that played in theaters before “Finding Dory.”
Prior to Pixar, Rost started his career as an effects artist at Xaos Inc. in San Francisco in 1994, before joining PDI/DreamWorks Animation in 1997. During his time at DreamWorks Animation, Rost was nominated for both Annie Awards and VES awards for his effects work on “Shrek 3,” “MegaMind” and “Peabody & Sherman.” Rost has also been mentoring students form FilmAkademie in Ludwigsburg, Germany as Senior Lecturer since 2012.
Krzysztof grew up in Poland in a town called Opole. Emigrated to the United States in 1986. He attended the School of Visual Arts and the State University of Purchase in New York.
Be sure to share your thoughts on Automaton by leaving a comment below or chatting about it with other fans in the Pixar Post Forum thread regarding the short film.
PIXAR at SIGGRAPH
We also compiled a complete list of the live presentations, on-demand sessions, technical papers, as well as the screenings of the Best in Show short film, Loop in our comprehensive PIXAR at SIGGRAPH post (check it out).
Pixar Post — T.J.