The November issue of Wired tells the story of how the creative masterminds behind Pixar revived Disney Animation Studios, a onetime standard-bearer that had gone into a steep decline. Not only did Pixar’s John Lasseter and Ed Catmull bring Disney Animation back to life, they restored it to powerhouse status with movies like the record-breaking smash Frozen and now Big Hero 6.
For the cover, Wired’s director of photography, Patrick Witty, and senior photo editor, Anna Goldwater Alexander, envisioned a triple gatefold showcasing a massive group portrait of Lasseter and Catmull with some of the animated stars of Disney’s and Pixar’s biggest hits. Well, not some—31 characters, to be exact. And they knew just who to get for the job: Art Streiber.
It was Art, after all, who photographed the triple-gatefold Star Wars cover for Wired’s March 2013 issue, which featured Chris Hardwick and 17 Star Wars characters (not to mention two droids).
“Wired magazine photo assignments are consistently challenging,” says Art, “and it’s always an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to this incredibly forward-thinking and ingeniously designed magazine.”
For this new cover assignment, Art and his team scouted the Disney Animation building, where they came upon the original art studio. “I fell in love with it,” he says. “This studio is where Disney artists come to sketch live figure models and live animals to understand their musculature and movement.
“We shot extensive plates of the studio,” he continues, “which allowed the animators to move and replace benches as necessary, depending on character placement. We were very careful to make sure that the characters would end up on the cover at the size they would be if they were actually in the room.”
Art then worked very closely with designer Daniel Clark, whose company handles all of the Disney Animation Studios key art and other printed materials related to their animated movies. “Daniel’s team carefully shaded the light on a number of the characters to match the shape of the light that we had used while shooting Ed Catmull and John Lasseter,” he says.
“But the highlight of the shoot was being able to photograph Ed and John in John’s office, every square inch of which is covered with Disney toys and memorabilia, including original Disneyland tickets from the 1960s. Lighting that portrait with multiple sources and without breaking anything was the real challenge—and we succeeded!”
Below, a glimpse behind the scenes of Art’s shoot…
Scott Dadich, editor in chief
Billy Sorrentino, creative director
Patrick Witty, director of photography
Anna Goldwater Alexander, senior photo editor