On animated films it’s usually the characters — and the animators who bring them to life — who earn the oohs and ahhs. But every floor, tree, car, shelf, window and wall, every inch of Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” is created by a team of virtual architects, toymakers, urban planners, set dressers and landscape architects led by sets supervisor David Eisenmann.
“My mother says when I was six, I saw some Disney animation in Florida. I looked to her and said, ‘This is what I want to do,'” Eisenmann says.
But Eisenmann took a circuitous path to his dream. He became an architect and was working in San Francisco when he spotted a Pixar job posting.
He worked on set dressing for “A Bug’s Life,” and “Toy Story 2.” “We had to take so many shortcuts back then,” he says. “Andy’s neighborhood was mostly buildings. Now, you see mature vegetation. And it moves.”
Indoors, toys overflow baskets, boxes and shelves. “We had 2,600 unique models in the daycare center alone,” Eisenmann says, among them a Fisher-Price farm from his childhood. “There’s also a red piano that is surprisingly similar to my daughter’s piano. And all the hanging artwork, even on the tiles in front, is from children of people working on the show.”
This is one reason why, when an artist on “Toy Story 3” asked Eisenmann what kind of personal artwork he does outside the studio, he answered, “I came here as an architect. My artwork ‘outside,’ is my work in here.”