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6/22/2012
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The Brain Behind Brave, The Movie: Press:Here Preview

InformationWeek's Fritz Nelson, on this week's episode of Press:Here, talks tech with Katherine Sarafian, producer of Pixar's new animated film, Brave.

Sometimes, yes, this job is fun. I get to test toys like the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone. And I get to attend events like when Microsoft announced its Surface tablet in Hollywood earlier this week, and when it detailed its Windows Phone 8 technology on Wednesday.

And then Thursday I got to meet Katherine Sarafian, the producer of Pixar's new animated film, Brave, along with Stefan Weitz, the head of Microsoft Bing, and Justin Kan, the originator of Justin.TV and now CEO of Exec, a Bay Area concierge service. All of that was part of filming for NBC's weekly Sunday morning talk show, Press:Here, hosted by Scott McGrew, featuring what NBC calls "world-class technology reporters," like USA Today's Jon Swartz, and, with apologies to the "world class" part, yours truly.

Press:Here is seen in the San Francisco area on NBC right after Meet The Press, and it's on cable at various times in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. But if you want to watch it now, the show's segments are available online--just click "play" on the videos embedded below.

As always, there's never enough time to ask everything you want to--like the progress of Bing in an age where search is getting embedded into applications and services, and powered and originated by voice and images, rather than the command line Google so famously exploited. We did talk about how Microsoft is suddenly cool again, and Weitz was giddy about an article on Gizmodo, calling Microsoft the most exciting company in technology. A good piece--but I wrote something similar last October. Just sayin'.

Kan's company, Exec, looks pretty fascinating--a way to get tasks done during a busy day for $25 an hour. It competes with services like TaskRabbit, and it will be fun to see how it plays across the country, and what services people want. We talked briefly about the crazy things customers have already requested. After the show, USA Today's Jon Swartz and I were urging Kan to mash up Exec and Justin.TV into a reality show.

And finally, the hyper-energetic Sarafian was fascinating. She is a female producer in what has been known as largely a boys club at Pixar (an issue we didn't touch on, but the topic is white hot thanks to a recent piece in The Atlantic, entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All"), and the movie has opened today to positive reviews. But we didn't have time to talk about some of the incredible animation work on this film--which you can see in some of the movie's trailers, and which Sarafian has discussed in some interviews leading up to the movie's release this weekend.

One river scene, for example, took almost a year to create. In one interview Sarafian said that getting some of the textures of Scotland was particularly challenging: "There's something growing on everything."

See the video clips, below:

Microsoft Bing Director, Stefan Weitz

Exec Founder, Justin Kan

Brave Producer, Katherine Sarafian

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