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See also: Luxo Jr. (character)

"In 1986, Pixar Animation Studios produced its first film. This is why we have a hopping lamp in our logo."

Luxo Jr. was the first short film produced by the newly formed Pixar Animation Studios. It debuted at the 1986 SIGGRAPH conference in Dallas, Texas.

The short was re-issued in 1999 and shown before screenings of Toy Story 2. Luxo Jr. is also part of PIXAR's logo. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.


The short takes place in a dark room, where we see a large illuminated desk lamp named Luxo Sr., who sees a small yellow ball with a blue stripe and a red star on the front rolling up to him. Luxo Sr. eyes the ball curiously, and nudges it away with his shade, but the ball returns to him. He pushes it away again. The ball returns to him again, but this time, it rolls past him. A happy and excited smaller desk lamp named Luxo Jr. hops up to his father. The two lamps play with this ball, which is Luxo Jr.'s favorite toy. Luxo Jr. tries balancing himself on top of the ball, like a circus elephant. Unfortunately, he bounces around too hard, causing the ball to deflate. Luxo Jr. nudges the ball, which flops onto its side. Luxo Sr. signals to Luxo Jr. that his ball is ruined. Luxo Jr. seems sad, now that his ball is deflated forever, and there was nothing he could do about it. Luxo Sr. feels bad for Luxo Jr., but is glad the kid has settled down. Then a giant beach ball rolls past Luxo Sr., and Luxo Jr. (who found the new ball) bounces by him, happy again, and this time really excited. Luxo Sr. looks at the camera before bowing his head in embarrassment.


  • Luxo Jr. is the first computer-animated short film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
  • Luxo Jr., the small lamp, was actually inspired by one of Pixar's employee's kids.
  • Luxo Jr. serves as Pixar's mascot and the ball serves as one of Pixar's tops found easter eggs.
  • Luxo Jr. is the only original Pixar short not shown as a book on Andy's bookshelf in Toy Story.
  • John Lasseter has said that while the parent lamp is a father, he is based on his mother.[1]
  • When this short debuted at SIGGRAPH, as soon as the audience first saw the ball come in and the lamp move, they applauded throughout the whole short.
  • Rendered at a resolution of 724x434.


On the technical level, the film demonstrates the use of shadow maps to simulate the shifting light and shadow given by the animated lamps.[2] The lights and the color surfaces of all the objects are calculated, each using a RenderMan surface shader, not surface textures.[2] The articulation of "limbs" is carefully coordinated, and power cords trail believably behind the moving lamps.[2] On the cinematic level, it demonstrates a simple and entertaining story, including effectively expressive individual characters.[3]

It was Pixar's first animation after Ed Catmull and John Lasseter left ILM's computer division. Lasseter's aim was to finish the short film for SIGGRAPH, an annual computer technology exhibition attended by thousands of industry professionals. Catmull and Lasseter worked around the clock, and Lasseter even took a sleeping bag into work and slept under his desk[4], ready to work early the next morning. The commitment paid off, and against all odds it was finished for SIGGRAPH. Before Luxo Jr. finished playing at SIGGRAPH, the crowd had already risen in applause.[5]

"Luxo Jr. sent shock waves through the entire industry – to all corners of computer and traditional animation. At that time, most traditional artists were afraid of the computer. They did not realize that the computer was merely a different tool in the artist's kit but instead perceived it as a type of automation that might endanger their jobs. Luckily, this attitude changed dramatically in the early '80s with the use of personal computers in the home. The release of our Luxo Jr. ... reinforced this opinion turnaround within the professional community.” –Edwin Catmull, Computer Animation: A Whole New World, 1998.

In 1986, Luxo Jr. received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film. It was the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award.[6]

In To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios, a book of Pixar's history up through January 2007, film critic Leonard Maltin said that he "like[s] the fact that Luxo [Jr.] still has significance to the people at Pixar", and remarked that it was something like Disney's Mickey Mouse.


  • Story, Design, Models, Animation: John Lasseter
  • Animation Software, Models, Rendering: Eben Ostby
  • Models, Rendering: Bill Reeves
  • Rendering: Rob Cook, Sam Leffler, David Salesin
  • Laser Scanning: Don Conway
  • Additional Modeling: Paul Heckbert
  • Sound: Gary Rydstrom, Sprocket Systems
  • Post Production Coordinator: Graig Good
  • Computing:
    • Pixar 
      • mickey
      • donald
    • CSRG, UC Berkeley
      • okeeffe
      • manet
  • produced at Pixar, Marin County California 
  • Music: Brian Bennett & Cliff Hall

Other appearances[]

  • Luxo Jr. (sans cord) is seen in the opening logo of each Pixar film (standing in for the "i" in "Pixar").
  • Luxo meets WALL•E at the end of the film, WALL•E.
  • Luxo's light once turned into the "0" in "20" in Cars.
  • Luxo's light also once became the "c" in "celebrating" in Cars 2, but cannot be seen in Blu-ray and DVD.
  • Since the short's release, the Ball has appeared in almost every Pixar production to date.
  • There is a scene in Toy Story 2 where Hamm rapidly flicks through TV channels to find a certain commercial. One of the channels is showing Luxo Jr. Coincidentally, the short was also shown before screenings of Toy Story 2.
  • When the short was shown before screenings of Toy Story 2, the modern Pixar logo is plastered over the original P•I•X•A•R logo, followed by info about the short being the studio's first film, hence the reason Luxo Jr. appears in the current logo.
    • A small bit of silence between the ending scene and credits (which was in the original master) is also truncated, even when the original master was re-released on the Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1 DVD.
      • On that DVD, the APM "Take a Bow" music that plays during the original P•I•X•A•R logo was muted, possibly due to copyright issues.
  • An audio-animatronic version of Luxo Jr. appears in Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. It comes out of shutters on the side of a building, bouncing out onto a platform. It dances around to different music that plays during the day, and at night it interacts with the lighting in nearby trees. Later, they took it away so they they will not get in trouble from Luxo markers.
  • The Pixar logo was parodied by the comedy website CollegeHumor in a short titled "Pixar Intro Parody." The logo plays out as normal, but Luxo Jr. kills the letter I; as the other letters mourn the loss of capital I Luxo Jr. is tried for murder and subsequently sentenced to the electric chair, leaving the other letters of the logo to celebrate its "death."
  • A series of four shorts featuring Luxo Jr. and his father were produced for Sesame Street and aired in 1991.




  1. John Lasseter Q&A: Is the Pixar lamp a mama lamp, or a daddy?
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Foley, J. D., Van Dam, A., Feiner, S. K. & Hughes, J. F. (1995). Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0201848403.
  3. Courrier, K. (2005). Randy Newman's American Dreams: American Dreams. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1550226904.
  4. The Pixar Story (2007) (TV documentary)
  5. Paik, K., Lasseter, J., Iwerks, L., Jobs, S. & Catmull, E. (2007). To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811850124.
  6. Paik, Karen (2007). To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC.

External links[]