The Lamp and Ball that Started It All

At Pixar Animation Studios, two seemingly mundane items have become iconic: A desk lamp and a ball.

The unassuming lamp and ball are ever-present in Pixar’s history. Even with a few variations, every Pixar intro features a hopping lamp which flattens the letter “I” in the company’s name. The ball and lamp make several cameo appearances throughout Pixar movies such as Wall-E and Monsters Inc. The Disney subsidiary even made the lamp its company mascot.

But how did these two objects become such an important part of Pixar’s history? It all started with a short film called Luxo Jr.

Image by Pixar (https://www.pixar.com/luxo-jr)

Luxo Jr. (1986)

Written and directed by John Lasseter, Luxo Jr. begins with jazz music and a lone desk lamp named Luxo Sr. Shortly after, a ball rolls into Luxo Sr. The big lamp pushes the ball back towards the direction it came from. For a second time, the ball rolls back, but this time it rolls past him. The title character, a smaller desk lamp named Luxo Jr., then hops onto the scene to chase the ball. Together, the two lamps play with the yellow-and-blue ball with the star at the front.

Luxo Jr. then hops on top of the ball. After repeatedly being pressed down, the ball deflates and squeaks until it flattens. The little lamp nudges the flattened ball onto its side and looks at the bigger lamp.  Luxo Sr. shakes his head as if to say “no”, which causes Luxo Jr. to bend down and appear dejected. The small lamp then sadly hops off-screen.

Now alone, Luxo Sr. takes a closer look at the deflated yellow ball. Before long, the bigger lamp can only watch in disbelief after Luxo Jr. chases a new, bigger, multi-colored ball.