I’m an Apple Junkie, Says Toy Story 3 Director Lee Unkrich [Exclusive Interview]

I’m an Apple Junkie, Says Toy Story 3 Director Lee Unkrich [Exclusive Interview]

Unkrich during production of "Toy Story 3" in November 2009 (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

This is a guest interview by Mike Bastoli of The Pixar Blog, a popular news blog about the studio.

Lee Unkrich is the director of Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3, the highest-grossing animated film of all time, which was released on DVD, Blu-ray and iTunes today. He also served as co-director of Toy Story 2 and editor of Toy Story, and is a member of Pixar’s Senior Creative Team.

Unkrich is an avid Mac user and Apple ‘addict’ who can be spotted at Apple’s events from time to time. “Whenever I’m invited, it’s something awwwwwwesome,” he tweeted to his 80,000 plus followers on Twitter ahead of the launch of the iPad in January.

Here’s an exclusive interview with Unkrich, who talks about his first Mac, Apple cameos in Pixar’s movies and Steve Jobs feeding his Apple addiction.

In your view, what makes Apple’s stuff great?

Their unrelenting quest to make beautiful, functional devices. They practically drip with the care and attention that went into their creation. Kind of like our movies.

You know Steve Jobs. Have you ever discussed that with him?

I don’t know if I ever have, but he knows I’m an Apple junkie. He’s helped to feed my addiction over the years.

How is that?

That’s all I’m gonna say on that one.

Tell me about your first Apple product.

My very first Apple product was an Apple II Plus computer, which I got around 1981, when I was about fourteen. It had 48k of memory.

How many have you owned through the years? Any favorites?

How many Apple products? Wow, I don’t know if I can account for them all. Practically one of everything. And I’m not exaggerating. Yes, even a Newton.

I can tell you how many PC’s I’ve owned: Zero.

Were there any that didn’t live up to your expectations?

I seem to remember having some problems with a Mac Quadra 840AV I once had years ago, but other than that, no.

What are you using now?

My house is filled: Mac Pro, three iMacs, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, Mac mini, Mac mini server, two iPhones, two iPads, three iPods, two Apple TV’s, and a graveyard of retired gear.

Do I get to be in the Mac Geek Club?

I think that qualifies you for the Mac Rehab Program (laughs). But seriously, that’s a very big club at Pixar, isn’t it?

Yes, we’ve always been pretty Apple-heavy at Pixar. But not just because of our connection to Steve. Because Apple makes the best products. And in any creative-heavy, artist-driven work environment, you see lots of Apple stuff.

How many Apple references has the studio put into the movies over the years? Are there any most people missed?

Not a lot — the ones that come to mind, but I’m sure I’m missing some, are: Mac startup sound in WALL-E when he recharges; WALL-E watches Hello, Dolly! on an old video iPod; Bonnie has an iMac in the kitchen of her house in Toy Story 3; Andy’s sister, Molly, has a 2nd generation iPod nano [also] in Toy Story 3; and the Apple logo race car in Cars.

While we’re on the subject of work, how were Macs used during the production of Toy Story 3 and previous films?

They’re used for the editing of the films, and are also heavily used by the artists and designers in the art departments. Additionally, most employees have Macs for their general desktop computers.

Finally, I assume you stay tuned to Apple news. What announced product are you looking forward to the most; and what rumored product?

…I guess iPad iOS 4[.2]. Looking forward to that.

Not sure about rumored products, but here’s what I’d love to see: FaceTime over 3G; FaceTime on iPad (requiring cameras on iPad, of course); and WiFi/3G podcast updating.

About the author

Mike Bastoli

Mike Bastoli is the “very nerdy” writer of The Pixar Blog, dedicated to news about Steve’s other company. He is also a staff writer at The Disney Blog. His work has been cited online by numerous major media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly (EW) and The New York Times.

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