ⓘ Geri's Game

Geri's Game

ⓘ Geris Game

Geris Game is a 1997 American computer-animated short film written and directed by Jan Pinkava. The short, which shows an old man who competes with himself in a game of chess, was Pixars first film to feature a human being as its main character; Geri later made an appearance in Toy Story 2.

Geris Game was released eight years after Knick Knack, the last short by Pixar, made as part of an effort to reignite the studios short film series, which had been put on standby in order to focus on the creation of the studios first feature film, which would become the first-ever full-length computer-animated film, Toy Story. A dedicated research and development team worked alongside the filmmakers to devise ways to get around the burdens of animating a human character, leading to an in-house computer simulation to mimic the natural movement of clothing on a character. Subdivision surface modeling, a technique partly pioneered by Edwin Catmull in 1978 but mostly ignored in favor of NURBS surfaces, was used to bestow natural movement and realistic skin textures on the human character himself.

Geris Game premiered on November 24, 1997, winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film the following year. It was later shown with the theatrical release of Pixars second feature film, A Bugs Life, the following year, and therefore became part of a Pixar tradition of pairing shorts with feature films.


1. Plot

At a peaceful park in Paris, against a backdrop of fall leaves in early October, 1997, and the sounds of an accordion softly playing A Night in Tunisia, the title character, Geri voiced by Bob Peterson, although the character never forms any actual words, a balding elderly man in a lounge suit fond of smacking his toothless gums and lips together, plays a game of chess against himself. He "becomes" each player after every turn by slowly walking to the other side of the chessboard, where he changes his personality and either puts on or removes his glasses to show this change in character.

As the game progresses, the cuts speed up, and it seems more and more as though there are two people playing; at one point, 2 minutes and 25 seconds in, the frame even shows the "opponents" hand in the foreground and the other Geri in focus in the background. Geris aggressive alter ego, playing as Black, soon gains the upper hand over the original Geri, capturing every one of his pieces except for the king and queen. After one bad move of the king, Geris queen is captured and is soon put in checkmate.

However, Geri outsmarts himself by faking a heart attack to distract his alter ego so he can spin the board around, knocking the box of pieces off the table he is playing on. While his alternate self is still preoccupied with his gloating, Geri checkmates what is now his opponents king. Finding that he is now the one who is losing, and realizing what has happened, the nonbespectled Geri begrudgingly resigns the game by tipping his king over and hands over a set of dentures as the prize. Timid Geri then puts them into his mouth, chuckling and basking in his victory as he sits by himself, smiling a toothy grin, while the camera pulls back to reveal that he was on his own the whole time.


2. Development

Geris Game was Pixars first original short film since 1989, when Knick Knack was released. It was directed and written by Jan Pinkava, who joined the studio in 1993 to work on their TV commercials while the other directors and writers were preoccupied with the production of Toy Story, and had been continuously approaching executive producer Darla K. Anderson with the proposal that the studio make a new short film.


2.1. Development Initial conception

Work on the short began shortly after the release of Toy Story and during early production of A Bugs Life, when Ed Catmull decided that the studio should resurrect its short films production as a way to not only bring new animators and storytellers into Pixar, but also as a way to further push research and development for the studio. For the first of these shorts, which would be the first one made in 8 years, Catmull wanted Pixar to create a story which featured a human as its central protagonist. Upon Andersons suggestion, he reached out to Pinkava to direct the short. According to Pinkava himself, Catmull said he could direct the short as long as it starred a human character and had a serviceable story behind it.

When trying to brainstorm a concept, Pinkava asked himself if he would be able to come up with a story that featured only one character, which would both give it an artistic edge and make development easier on the technical side of things, as coming up with just a single stylized, but credible, human character was hard enough. He designed an elderly character – belonging to the polar opposite age sector of "Timmy", the infant character Tin Toy, and one of Pixars earliest attempts at creating a human character. He felt it would be interesting to animate a character with the body language of an old man, similar to how Timmy was animated with the gesticulations of a baby.


2.2. Development Story evolution

After spending time storyboarding and brainstorming ideas, Pinkava came up with 3 different concepts starring an elderly male character; one of these concepts was about him playfully riding up and down an elevator, while another one involved him playing a game of chess against himself. The latter idea was inspired by Pinkava and his elderly relatives love of chess - particularly his grandfather, an avid chess player who would often play rounds of the game with only himself.

Pinkava pitched an early animatic version of the chess story, and was turned down and given a second chance to restart and further develop the story. After giving a second pitch with a more structured plot, the project was green-lit and Karen Dufilho was issued to produce the project.

Pinkava, who grew up in Czechoslovakia, was inspired by the works of Czech filmmaker and storywriter Jiei Trnka, particularly his stop motion puppet films; Trnkas characters, usually human ones, were marionette puppets that had vastly stylized body and facial features, which Pinkava similarly applied somewhat to Geris character design, with facial attributes such as his nose and chin. Pinkava did several maquettes of different designs for Geri before settling on his final appearance, which he then sculpted into a 3D clay model that was baked by Jerome Ranft and digitally scanned into Pixars animation software.


2.3. Development Technology

Geris voice vocal entonations came from Pixar writer Bob Peterson. Peterson wanted Pixar to be able to create a short that could technologically push the studio to new heights; specifically, he wanted Pixar to create a short film featuring a character that could display both convincing-looking skin and realistic cloth animation. The first Pixar short film with a human main character, Geris Game was produced with the goal of human and cloth animation to new heights". To achieve the goal of producing a believable 3D human character, two people were brought on to do research for the project: Michael Kass, who did the calculations behind the physics for a dynamic cloth system, and Tony DeRose, who made use of subdivision surfaces, a technique invented by Catmull in conjunction with Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark, which allowed for more lifelike skin surfaces.

Previously, most 3D character surfaces were crafted using several non-uniform rational B-splines NURBS that had to be "stitched" together, which made for less expressive movement and caused models to frequently tear. The use of subdivision surfacing, which renders a characters skin as one large surface, allowed for smoother object movement, as well as more intricate detail. DeRose had been working on the technology at the University of Washington, and had already brought subdivision surfaces to CAD makers, who were ultimately unconvinced, and held their faith in NURBS, before bringing it to Pixar, which was much more receptive.

On the clothing side, after toiling endlessly, Kass managed to create a system which could emulate/simulate the movement of cloth, at which point the team realized that the suit jacket they had modeled didnt fit with Geris movement outside of a default T-pose. According to Pinkava, Steve Jobs, upon a hearing about the issue, had offered to help him by enlisting tailor Giorgio Armani to help them design an outfit for Geri, which he ultimately declined. The development of a dynamic cloth simulator made several changes to the way that animators work; for instance, the animation, when completed, needed to be sent to the simulator, which would automatically insert Geris jacket and calculate its movements, rather than being directly sourced to the renderer after being finished. Geri also needed to be animated 30 frames in advance in order to get the simulation going, and animators couldnt "cheat" by having off-camera body parts go unanimated, as it would affect how the simulating program moved the clothing.

Like other Pixar shorts, Geris Game contains no spoken dialogue, and so is driven only by the actions and expressions of its main character. To further push the ability to convey the films story, extra detail was put into Geris facial rigging compared to previous rigging methods, with rigger Paul Aichele giving the character hundreds of face controls for animators to use. These new, more detailed rigging methods went on to be used in A Bugs Life, which was being worked on at the same time.


2.4. Development Staff

Like previous short films made by Pixar, Geris Game was made by a temporary branch of Pixar employees, and was separate from the people working on the studios feature films. It took roughly a year to produce, according to Pinkava, largely due to the amount of time allotted to developing the cloth simulation. While the short was being made, most of Pixar Studios was preoccupied with making A Bugs Life. Despite this, there were 18 different animators that worked on the project including Pixar storywriter Pete Docter, who contributed a few scenes out of sheer interest. Despite being preoccupied directing A Bugs Life, John Lasseter suggested adding a scene in which Geri checks to make sure hes alright after seeing his alter ego stage a heart attack and keel over; Lasseter physically staged out the entire scene to Pinkava.


3. Release

Geris Game premiered on November 24, 1997 at Laemmles Monica Theater in Santa Monica, California. It was also attached to the theatrical release of Pixars second feature film, A Bugs Life, in 1998, and subsequently featured on that films VHS and DVD releases.


4. Awards


  • Academy Award – Best Animated Short Film
  • Florida Film Festival – Best Short
  • Annecy International Animated Film Festival – Jan Pinkava
  • Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films – Internet Favourite
  • Annie Award – Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject
  • Anima Mundi Animation Festival – Best Film x2
  • World Animation Celebration – Best 3-D CGI by Professional Jan Pinkava
  • 1980 album by German band Der Plan Geri s Game a 1997 short film by Pixar Geri a Somali word for giraffe Geri s Hamburgers, a defunct fast food restaurant
  • 2010. Tories dismiss Geri s Labour role BBC News. 14 May 2001. Geri Halliwell, Just for the Record OVERNIGHT RATINGS C4 s Geri doc spices up its schedules
  • Texas, United States in 1987. and produced Jan Pinkava s Geri s Game and Ralph Eggleston s For the Birds, which both won Oscars for Best Animated Short
  • Czech British writer and animator. He directed the Pixar short film Geri s Game and served as co - director and co - wrote the story for Ratatouille, both
  • Peterson has also voiced characters for Pixar films such as Geri in the short Geri s Game 1997 Roz in Monsters, Inc. 2001 and Monsters University
  • worked on more than 100 films since 1990. Mission: Impossible 1996 Geri s Game 1997 Grandia 1997 Quest for Camelot 1998 Drole d oiseaux sur une
  • Home Video Production: Batman Mr. Freeze: SubZero Best Short Subject: Geri s Game The 26th Annie Awards were given by the International Animated Film Association
  • Geraldine Geri Donnelly born 30 November 1965 is a Canadian former soccer player. A midfielder, she represented Canada at the 1995 and 1999 editions
  • School of Design. Angus joined Pixar in 1997, starting as an animator on Geri s Game He has now worked on every Pixar feature film with the exception of
  • director Jan Pinkava who received an Oscar for Geri s Game in 1998 and also illustrated GraveLarks. Jan Kresadlo s official website, in Czech and English English
  • Mawashi geri 回し蹴り can be translated as spin kick although it is also sometimes referred to as a roundhouse kick. It is a kick used in Japanese martial
  • short Geri s Game Best Animated Short Film, Academy Awards 1997. He contributed a variety of technologies to Pixar animated films, from A Bug s Life through