Every time Pixar releases another sequel like Monsters University or Cars 3, a hefty portion of fans wring their hands and declare that the studio is past its prime or lost its edge. And there’s probably a certain amount of truth to the idea that Pixar is now more about extending franchises than creating new ones (although they’ve still pumped out a fair amount of new movies lately, like The Good DinosaurBrave, and Inside Out, which might be the best Pixar production ever).

But the recent revelation that Pixar had created an internal division to create experimental shorts flies in the face of all that. And the more you hear about this group and their work, the more it sounds like Pixar is still innovating and growing, still as much a bunch of Jackson Storms as a bunch of Lightning McQueens. (You need to see Cars 3 for this reference to make sense, but trust me; it makes a lot of sense.)

Now, via Pixar artist and producer David Lally, here’s our first look at “Smash and Grab,” the first short from this new group:

From the description in that tweet:

In 2016, Pixar launched an internal, experimental storytelling initiative to enable new creative voices and explore alternative storytelling techniques, pipelines, and workflows in production. Within the new program, filmmakers are granted total creative freedom to develop a story, design a world, and produce a short film, within six months, and without any executive supervision. “Smash and Grab” is a seven minute short film that explores the use of a comic book development process, virtual production, performance/camera capture, and procedural shading and lighting techniques.

I don’t know when we’ll get to see “Smash and Grab,” but I look forward to it, and to seeing more of what this experimental shorts group produces. As Cars 3 insists, it’s never too late to teach an old dog (or car, or film studio) some new tricks.

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