Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A look back at the beginning of PIXAR

As you know, there is a new book coming out soon on the story of Pixar. Well, I just found out that there is a documentary making the circuit as well. "The Pixar Story" by Leslie Iwerks. I knew it wouldn't be out on DVD anytime soon, but I checked Amazon anyway. One of the search results for "the pixar story" was a DVD of The Charlie Rose show from October 30, 1996. It had an interview with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. I found it on YouTube. The first half is about Pixar. The second half....well, I don't care. Enjoy!

(After a while, the video lags behind but it's the audio that is important.)

It's interesting to look back and see these men talk about something in its infancy, that we now know has blossomed into something major. You hear John's passion for the medium and the animation industry. He was trained as a traditional animator and he brings that to this new medium.
Charlie Rose asked Steve Jobs if he(Rose) was an animator and had a great story to tell, why should he come to Pixar? John fielded that question and gave him three reasons why.

1) Pixar is a place that can give creative satisfaction. They try to give the artist something that they can be proud of for the rest of their careers.

2) They try to give the artist, even if it's on the littlest piece, the sense of creative ownership. They let them figure out how to do it.

3) The most important reason is "at Pixar, we have a lot of fun" and it shows in their work. I've seen the featurettes on the DVDs more times than I've seen the actual movies, and I KNOW this to be true. They have FUN making these films.

An interesting fact that I love to share is that Pixar, as they mention in the interview, was originally a part of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Lucas wanted to sell it and Jobs picked it up. I'm hoping to find out more information about this in the new book coming out soon.

Another thing I love about the guys at Pixar, and I've heard this in many other podcast interviews, is that Pixar is all about the story. The story, not the visuals, is the most important part. If the story is not right, the film will never work. Lasseter remarks on this in that if the story does not work in the early storyboard phase, then that scene will not get put into production. Brad Bird remarked about this in an interview with the Spline Doctors. When asked what was the most important part of an animated film, he said, "Story, story, story, story, and storytelling. Being able to tell a story well. And story. Story. Story TELLING. And story" The computer was never meant to replace the artist. The computer is just a different type of "pencil" used to tell a story. The computer doesn't work without somebody telling it what to do.

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