Since zoetropes first depicted horses running well over a century ago, animators have been fascinated by the idea of transformation – of something becoming something else, or maybe even something more.
From nightmarish Fleischer Brothers’ ghosts shifting into skeletons, to Tom’s head morphing into a donkey in Tom & Jerry (signaling that he had been duped by the mouse once again), these kinds of metamorphoses have endured throughout animation history to this day.
For instance, you can look at Pixar’s adorable upcoming feature Turning Red, a movie about a girl who turns into a huge red panda, and trace a line right back to The Wolf contorting as he whistles at Red Hot Riding Hood in the 1940s.
There’s one studio that has taken this concept, played with it, and stretched it further than those turn of the century animators could ever have seen coming: Pixar.
From the introduction of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story, to transforming into a pre-birth version of yourself in Soul, the company have long been interested in the concept of transformation.
Over the years, this idea has evolved from something tactile and entertaining on a surface level, to something more introspective and thoughtful.
In this month’s issue of our free digital magazine The Lowdown, we reflect on the changing ways Pixar have tackled the concept of transformation over the years, in the lead to the release of Turning Red.