See also: Luxo, Jr. (character)
"In 1986 Pixar 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.


In a dark room, a large illuminated desk lamp named Luxo, Sr. 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 its shade, but the ball comes back to it. It pushes it away again. The ball comes back to it, but this time, it rolls past it. A happy and excited smaller desk lamp, whose name is Luxo, Jr. hops up to the father. Luxo, Jr. and its father play with this ball, which is its favorite toy. Luxo, Jr. balances itself on top of the ball, like a circus elephant. It bounces around too hard, damaging the ball and causing it to deflate. Luxo, Jr. nudges the flat ball, which flops onto its side. Luxo, Sr signals to Luxo, Jr. that its ball is ruined. Luxo, Jr. seems sad, now that its ball is deflated forever, and there was nothing it could do about it. Luxo, Sr feels bad for Luxo, Jr, but is glad the kid has settled down. Suddenly, a giant beach ball rolls next to it, and Luxo, Jr. (who found the new ball) bounces by it, happy again, and this time really excited. Luxo, Sr looks at the camera, then bows its 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 kid.
  • Luxo Jr. serves as Pixar's mascot and the ball serves as one of Pixar's top 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, it is based on his mother.[1]
  • When this short premiered at SIGGRAPH, as soon as the audience first saw the ball come in and the lamp move, they applauded throughout the whole short.


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.


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. Oddly enough, the short was shown before screenings of Toy Story 2.
  • 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