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In 2011, Emma Coats, a now-former Pixar story artist, tweeted out a series of twenty-two storytelling tips she’d picked up during her time at Pixar.

The Internet, as is wont to do, misinterpreted Coats’ tips as ‘rules.’ Innumerable major media organizations and blogs republished Coats’ tips as the “22 Rules of Pixar Storytelling,” some even going so far as to illustrate them with stills from Pixar films. The unfortunate effect of this irresponsible distortion was that the average person now believes Coats’ tweets represent some kind of definitive rulebook about Pixar’s storytelling process.

While it may be true that Pixar, in its maturity, has slumped into formulaic story structures and characters relationships, it is still a gross mischaracterization to suggest that all of the studio’s story artists use the same playbook of warmed-over story tips.

Industry veteran Mike Bonifer, a founding producer of the Disney Channel who was instrumental in the classic documentary series Disney Family Album, has written a thoughtful corrective called “Rule #23″ that addresses the creative hazards of misreading Coats’ tweets. In his piece, Mike looks at the rules through the prism of a personal friend, Joe Ranft, Pixar’s original head of story who died tragically in a 2005 car crash.

Bonifer writes eloquently about Ranft’s approach to creativity and his refusal to put himself into a box:

When it comes to Joe Ranft, he had more than 22 games or rules, or whatever you call them. It went way, way deeper than that. He was a magician, a card-carrying member at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, so he had sleight of hand games and gestural games. A gifted mimic, he had voice and impersonation games. He had a Tell it Like James Brown Would Sing It game, a Conga Line game, a Sling Blade game, a Fake Teeth game, a Boxcar Children game, he had games for losing weight, games for raising his children, games for what to do with the money he made at Pixar. He had a game for deciding which side of the street he’d walk on. He had a game for appreciating how precious water is. He even had a game whereby he’d take a sabbatical from Pixar every few years to work with his pal, Tim Burton. No one else at Pixar could’ve gotten away with that one. See, he was a rule-breaker, and he had as much game as anyone I’ve ever known. He didn’t call them games, that I know of, although he was a Groundlings alum, and surely would’ve recognized his moves as being games in the improvisation sense. Whatever you call them, they were gifts that made things better in a thousand different ways, it didn’t matter if it was storyboarding on a Pixar film or waiting in a supermarket checkout line. Joe’s participation in it guaranteed it’d be better than it would’ve been if he had not been involved.

Bonifer goes on to suggest a perfect rule #23: “There is always another Rule.” It’s worth your time to read the entire piece, which can be found on Bonifer’s site GameChangers.com.

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Oliver Hartung's photos from 2007 through 2009 evidence the omnipresence of the Assad dynasty in Syria and its psychological grip on the people, and also how that presence - and the nation itself - has changed dramatically since.

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In this week’s photos from around New York, dinosaurs are unloaded in New Jersey, handbell ensembles perform, activists release black balloons at an Apple store and more.

A model apatosaurus, left, and ankylosaurus, right, were unloaded from trailers Wednesday to be assembled and set in place at Field Station
A model apatosaurus, left, and ankylosaurus, right, were unloaded from trailers Wednesday to be assembled and set in place at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus, N.J. The dinosaur theme park is set to open in late May. (See related article.) (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal )


NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, with space shuttle Enterprise mounted atop, flew up the Hudson River past the New York City skyline Friday on its way to JFK International Airport. (See related article.) (Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)


Activists from Greenpeace released black balloons into the glass cube of the Apple store at Fifth Avenue near 58th Street on Tuesday to protest the absence of renewable energy fueling Apple’s cloud-based data storage service. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal )


Four handbell ensembles from New York and Virginia came together at Riverside Church on Sunday for the 34th Annual English Handbell Festival. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Ben Nguyen of Vietnam shook hands with U.S. Congressman Jose E. Serrano in an event organized by Citizenship and Immigration Services at a special Earth Day naturalization ceremony at the Bronx Zoo on Sunday. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


The lap pool in the basement of a newly built townhouse on East 74th Street. (See related article.) (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


Police on Monday wrapped up the excavation of a basement on Prince Street, where law enforcement officers had been looking for clues in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz. (See related article.) (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Police arrested a member of AIDS activist group ACT UP at Wall Street and Broadway, near the New York Stock Exchange, on Wednesday. AIDS activists joined supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement in a march through lower Manhattan. (See related article.) (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)


A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from a Lower Manhattan space that had served as an informal headquarters on Monday. Here, the group gathered their possessions on the sidewalk while they figured out where to move next. (See related article (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal )


Nine people were injured and several trees, street signs, and newspaper stands were damaged in a car crash at the northwest corner of Bryant Park late on Saturday. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Donette Skinner, right, 13, cried as she walked home in Harlem. One of her best friends, Annie Fryar, was shot and killed early on Tuesday. Police said Steven Murray fatally shot his teenage half-sister as she slept, turned the gun on his mother and then confronted police in a frenetic shootout on a nearby street. (See related article.) (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)

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Coma patient at the wheel!
The forthcoming Driver game (subtitled “San Francisco”, but could probably do with being called “Coma Wars”), has an excellently weird videogame premise: the protagonist is in a coma and, as a consequence of his horrible unconsciousness, can psychically take over any driver in the city. Yes, it’s a game about the psychic danger of people in comas. A warning, some might say. Ubisoft are aware that this is super-bonkers, and have put out a new video to explain how the feature works. You can watch it at your leisure, below.
(more…)

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