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September 4, 2016

Big Changes!

First Day, Last Day

This news is a few months old, but thought I should update the ol’ blog. Here’s the text from my most-liked Facebook post from May 20th, 2016:

“I can hardly believe it, but Friday was my last day at Pixar. Lemme tell you – it feels really weird to leave your dream job. But I’ve got a [stupidly ambitious] short film that needs finishing, and it seems like the only way to make that happen.

I’ve made so many lifelong friends at Pixar – and learned from some of the most talented people you could ever hope to meet. I was lucky enough to have worked on Monsters University, Toy Story of Terror, Inside Out, Lava, The Good Dinosaur, Piper, & Finding Dory. (Go see it next month!) Truly thankful for every day of the experience.

Back in 2011, I snapped a photo before I entered the gates for the first time. Thought I’d recreate the shot, driving the other way… outward and onward!”


It’s been an emotional transition, honestly – but it’s also felt like the right step, at the right time.

So… what now?

First off, my hands/arms are killing me so I’m trying to cool off a sec and reduce my time in front of the keyboard. Be careful, kids! Animation ain’t coal minin’ but it can still be dangerous. Don’t ignore pain, read up on RSI! Finally seeing a physical therapist and hopefully I’m turning a corner.

A lil excruciating pain hasn’t kept me from chipping away on the VFX for my sci-fi short, which is coming along slowly but surely. I thought I’d have more time to focus on that but… turns out:

I’m headed back to Amsterdam for a bit, to co-direct the Blender Institute’s current short, Agent 327! Like my sci-fi project, it’s a proof-of-concept for a potential feature. This one animated – in Blender! Scary thought. Hope we can make it happen!

And now, time to pack.


Posted By: Colin Levy @ 8:52 am
Categories: News,Projects

December 27, 2015

Too Busy!

Does time fly or what? This blog’s been dead for two and a half years – but I’ve been busy!

I served as Director of Photography for Pixar's LAVA

Career highlights since 2013:

Director of Photography on Pixar’s short film, Lava.

Led a small team which handled the camerawork for all the shots in the movie. Big emphasis was on preserving the SCALE of our main character Uku, who is a mile and a half wide!

Also worked as a Camera & Staging Artist on:

1. Inside Out
2. The Good Dinosaur
3. Finding Dory

A mere glance at this list flares up my carpal tunnel. So. much. work.

Inside Out

Me, Getting Emotional about Inside Out

I pitched 3 shorts internally at Pixar (in front of some of my heroes) which was a phenomenal experience, and am working on several projects on my own time.

First and foremost, I’m developing an ambitious Proof of Concept for a sci-fi thriller, tentatively called “The Portal Experiment”.

Although I’ve been working on it in some capacity for over two years, I’ve just begun a 5-month Leave of Absence from work to focus on getting through the rest of production and push ourselves into Post, which we’re hoping to wrap up by the end of 2016.

I’m collaborating with my good friend Mike Sundy on the feature screenplay, based on the short. Writing solo is painful for me, but with the right partner it’s actually fun!

And I can’t leave this out: last October I was flown to Cairo, Egypt to speak at the Qabila Film Festival and serve on the Jury for the Animation category. An absolutely amazing experience.

A video posted by Colin Levy (@colin.levy) on

Hopefully big things on the horizon. Maybe in another two years I’ll update this blog as a bonafide director, eh?

If you’re interested in jumping back in time, check out these years-old posts below!

Posted By: Colin Levy @ 7:38 pm
Categories: Projects

July 24, 2013

Monsters University

Welp, the movie has been out for over a month and my blog has been silent for nearly ten. So I thought I’d post a lil blurb on Monsters University — my first credit for Pixar!

I worked on Monsters University in the Camera & Staging department for nearly a year, and it was a pretty amazing experience. I’ve been working with some of the most welcoming and talented people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been doing my best to just absorb. I feel like I’ve learned a little bit about a whole lot of things, from storytelling to shot design, from studio management to how to best to mix six cereals together.

I contributed to several sequences in the film, and I’m definitely proud of the work I’ve done. One scene in particular was “shot” entirely by yours truly! And hundreds of thousands of theater-goers out in the real world have experienced it! The coolness still blows my mind.

Not sure at what point I’ll be able to show the work that I’ve done specifically, but I’ll be looking into that. I’d love to show a layout / final comparison…

Since finishing work on Monsters University, I’ve been bouncing between three other projects, including the next Pixar feature “The Good Dinosaur,” and the 22-minute TV Special, “Toy Story of Terror.”


What’s kinda cool about the above promo still is I got to be the one to frame it up. Looking at it now, I feel like I should’ve tilted down a bit more and lost some of Woody’s hat.

Ehhh, maybe. I don’t really know what I’m doing, actually. Pixar just hasn’t realized it yet!

Until the next update.

Posted By: Colin Levy @ 3:49 pm
Categories: Musings,News,Projects

Not too long after the release of “The Secret Number,” I was turned on to an interesting web enterprise called Tongal, which basically is in the business of crowd-sourcing video advertisements for major brands.

I thought it was a cool concept, and I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring for an advertisement for NASA’s Zero Robotics Challenge. I teamed up with a few colleagues from work, and this is what we came up with in 30 days:

We won second place in the contest. So consider this experiment a success!

Posted By: Colin Levy @ 12:18 am

My senior film The Secret Number has been in the works for nearly two years. And now it’s finally online!

Lemme know what you think. We’ve got a Visual Effects Breakdown, Behind the Scenes, and Previs Comparison Reel up on YouTube as well.

And check out the official site!

Posted By: Colin Levy @ 10:22 am
Categories: Projects

When I was in highschool I spent like a year and a half working on a 5-minute short film. The movie was silly, starred my dad. I made it in my backyard. But somehow it went on to win a national contest called YoungArts, and soon found myself at an award ceremony in NYC, being told I had an appointment with Martin Scorsese. Uhhh… yes! Okay, awesome?



The unfortunate thing was, they gave me no more than a couple hours’ notice. At the time, I had not even seen Taxi Driver, or Goodfellas. Yet Scorsese, I was told, had watched my film already.

I was thoroughly unprepared.

Thelma Schoonmaker greeted me at the door. The woman who had edited practically every Scorsese film since Raging Bull. But I had no idea who she was. Nice lady, I thought. She gave me a little tour of his studio, his screening rooms, his [their] editing rooms. His impressive archive of films on laser disk. And then we stepped into his office.

Martin Scorsese was intimidating, to say the least. But very jovial, very talkative, and he took me seriously. (Or convinced me, at least.) I pretty much kept my mouth shut. Every 30 seconds he would mention an actor, producer, director or film title I had never heard of before. I was stunned just to be in his presence. He liked my film, he said. “How did you do the little creatures?” I tried to explain how I figured out the basics of 3D animation. His eyes lit up and he started talking about the digital effects in The Aviator.

The juxtaposition of scales was overpowering. I felt like I was in a movie. Why he spent so much time with me I do not know, but it was amazing just to be in his presence. A few weeks afterwards I labored over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I specially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.

A few weeks later, I got a reply — he had his assistant send me several books and DVDs (including “A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies“)… and also the list of 39 Foreign Films to watch!

In the following months and years I wanted to be able to write Scorsese back and be able to say, “Yes sir, I’ve gone out and watched every film on your list. They’ve changed my life, they’ve made me a better filmmaker, thank you so much.” But this was nearly six years ago, and I’m more than a little ashamed to admit that I have only seen a few of those films on his list.

I have done a piss-poor job of educating myself, and I wanted to do something about it. Starting three months ago, I began going through the list. Methodically. From the top-down. I had see a few films already, but I was going to make a point to watch them all — in order, to finally rid myself of the guilt.

When it came time to see NAPOLEON, the six-hour-long silent black-and-white Epic of 1927, directed by Abel Gance, I decided to share a quick version of this story, in 5 tweets:

Well, within 3 hours it was on the front page of reddit, and since then it has popped up on a dozen other websites. The image itself has gone viral, with over 250,000 views in the first day:



And it’s nearly twice that now!

This morning a story was posted on The Huffington Post about the list.

I’ve been pretty blown away by the exposure! Anyway, meeting with Martin Scorsese was pretty much the highlight of my life, and thought I’d at least share the full story here on my rarely-updated blog.


Posted By: Colin Levy @ 1:53 pm
Categories: News,Ramblings

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Welcome to the online portfolio of Colin Levy - filmmaker, visual effects artist, storyteller... occasional blogger.

My best filmmaking work: