Five years ago, pundits were quick to cast doubt on "Cars." A version of "Local Hero" or "Doc
It turned out to be one of
Pixar has kept its competitive edge by embracing innovation even in its sequels. The plot of
The cartoon company has also maintained its energy by recruiting fresh talent — and promoting it.
Just a few years later, on "Cars 2," he became one of two full-fledged character supervisors. He was responsible for ensuring that each car's paint and chrome and plastic or rubber fittings reflected its personality. He was charged with seeing that four-, three- and two-wheeled characters overflowed with heart, wit and new ideas even in their shading.
Moyer grew up in Kettering, graduated from the Science and Technology Center at
Moyer said the pivotal experience in his life was watching
He was a high school junior when he "went to some movie theater … maybe Bowie, maybe the Marketplace Mall, to see it." Special effects fascinated him, even in the blow-things-up-real-good modes that were done (back then) with physical models. But Moyer was also into computer graphics. And after he saw "Toy Story," he said, "I literally came out of the theater and told my friends, 'This is what I'm going to do for a living.'"
He had always loved animation. "I was a Saturday-morning cartoon kid. We never had cable, so that meant, for me, the
He proudly concluded, "Yes, I've been a nerd for a long time."
After he got his Bachelor of Arts degree from Maryland, he enrolled at Texas A&M, aiming for a master's in visualization sciences. He knew that Pixar and A&M had established a pipeline for bringing top technical talent into the company. He won an eight-month internship — that's when he worked on "Cars" — then returned to finish his thesis project, "writing a wood-burl shader," to get his master's.
Back at Pixar, he worked in character shading on "Ratatouille" and "Up." But "Cars 2" marked Moyer's greatest challenge yet — and one of Pixar's, too.
In "Cars 2," Lightning McQueen — and Pixar — aren't resting on their laurels. When British tycoon Miles Axlerod publicizes his groundbreaking clean fuel, Allinol, with a brand-new World Grand Prix, Lightning enters the race. He recruits his Radiator Springs pals — including his best buddy, tow-truck Mater — to serve as his crew in Tokyo, London and the small town of Porto Corsa,
In this continent-hopping adventure, supporting characters pop up at you like Dickensian caricatures — flamboyant, effervescent and emotionally complete. Uncle Topolino, the sage of a small Italian village, is based on a 1930s car: the Fiat 500 Topolino. He exudes avuncular wamth. He's a prime example of the way Moyer and his team convey feelings through textures.
"Car paint has changed over the years," Moyer said. "As opposed to now, where you do the color with a clear coat or lacquer on top, for the Topolino they used a single-stage paint, where they mixed the paint with the clear coat. That gives the car this wonderful tactile quality — you just kind of want to reach out and touch it." Thanks to Moyer and his team, Uncle Topolino looks like a 70-year-old car that has aged with perfect grace. "He's not falling apart. He has this dapper-old-man-in-a-suit kind of feel to him."