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Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc.

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Published by wamu885
From the Book, CREATIVITY, INC. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace. Copyright (c) 2014 by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Book, CREATIVITY, INC. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace. Copyright (c) 2014 by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Published by: wamu885 on May 02, 2014
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05/12/2014

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AN EXCERPT FROM
INTRODUCTION: LOST AND FOUND 
 
The making of
Toy Story
 — 
the first feature film to be animated entirely on a computer 
 — 
had required every ounce of our tenacity, artistry, technical wizardry, and endurance. The hundred or so men and women who produced it had weathered countless ups and downs as well as the ever-present, hair-raising knowledge that our survival depended on this 80-
minute experiment. For five straight years, we’d fought to do
Toy Story
our way. We’d
resisted the advice of Disney executives who believed
that since they’d had such suc
cess with musical
s, we too should fill our movie with songs. We’d rebooted the story completely, more than once, to make sure it rang true. We’d worked nights, weekends, and
holidays
 — 
mostly with- out complaint. Despite being novice filmmakers at a fledgling studio in dire financial straits, we had put our faith in a simple idea: If we made something that
we
wanted to see, others would want to see it, too. For so long, it felt like we had been  pushing that rock up the hill, trying to do the impossible. There were plenty of moments when the future of Pixar was in doubt. Now, we were suddenly being held up as an example of what could happen when artists trusted their guts. 
Toy Story
went on to become the top-grossing film of the year and would earn $358 million worldwide. But
it wasn’t just the n
umbers that made us proud; money, after all, is just one measure of a thriving company and usually not the most meaningful one. No, what I found
gratifying was what we’d created. Review after review focused on the film’s moving
 plotline and its rich, three-dimensional characters
 — 
only briefly mentioning, almost as an aside, that it had been made on a computer. While there was much innovation that enabled our work, we had not let the technology overwhelm our real purpose: making a great film. On a personal level,
Toy Story
represented the fulfillment of a goal I had pursued for more than two decades and had dreamed about since I was a boy. Growing up in the 1950s, I had yearned to be a Disney animator but had no idea how to go about it. Instinctively, I realize now, I embraced computer graphics
 — 
then a new field
 — 
as a means of pursuing that
dream. If I couldn’t animate by hand, there had to be another way. In graduate school, I’d
quietly set a goal of making the first computer-animated feature
film, and I’d worked
tirelessly for twenty years to accomplish it.  Now, the goal that had been a driving force in my life had been reached, and there was an enormous sense of relief and exhilaration
 — 
at least at first. In the wake of
Toy Story
’s
release, we took the company public, raising the kind of money that would ensure our future as an independent production house, and began work on two new feature-length  projects,
 A Bug’s Life
and
Toy Story 2
. Everything was going our way, and yet I felt adrift. In fulfilling a goal, I had lost some essential framework.
 Is this really what I want to do?
I  began asking myself. The doubts surprised and confused me, and I kept them to myself. I
had served as Pixar’s president for most of the company’s exist
ence. I loved the place and
everything that it stood for. Still, I couldn’t deny that achieving the goal that had defined
my professional life had left me without one.
 Is this all there is?
I wondered.
 Is it time for a new challenge?
 
 
 
It wasn’t that I thoug
ht
Pixar had “arrived” or that my work was done. I knew there were
major obstacles in front of us. The company was growing quickly, with lots of shareholders to please, and we were racing to put two new films into production. There was, in short,  plenty to occupy my working hours. But my internal sense of purpose
 — 
the thing that had led me to sleep on the floor of the computer lab in graduate school just to get more hours on the mainframe, that kept me awake at night, as a kid, solving puzzles in my head, that fueled my every workday
 —had gone missing. I’d spent two decades building a train and
laying its track. Now, the thought of merely driving it struck me as a far less interesting task.
Was making one film after another enough to engage me?
I wondered.
What would be my organizing principle now?
 It would take a full year for the answer to emerge. 
F
rom the start, my professional life seemed destined to have one foot in Silicon Valley and the other in Hollywood. I first got into the film business in 1979 when, flush from the success of
Star Wars,
George Lucas hired me to help him bring high technology into the
film industry. But he wasn’t based in Los Angeles. Instead, he’d founded his company,
Lucasfilm, at the north end of the San Francisco Bay. Our offices were located in San
Rafael, about an hour’s drive from Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley— 
a moniker that was just gaining traction then, as the semiconductor and computer industries took off. That proximity gave me a front-row seat from which to observe the many emerging hardware and software companies
 — 
not to mention the growing venture capital industry
 — 
that, in the course of a few years, would come to dominate Silicon Valley from its perch on Sand Hill Road. 
I couldn’t have arrived at a more dynamic and volatile time. I watched as many startups
 burned bright with success
 — 
and then flamed out. My mandate at Lucasfilm
 — 
to merge moviemaking with technology
 — 
meant that I rubbed shoulders with the leaders of places like Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics and Cray Computer, several of whom I came to know well. I was first and foremost a scientist then, not a manager, so I watched these guys closely, hoping to learn from the trajectories their companies followed. Gradually, a  pattern began to emerge: Someone had a creative idea, obtained funding, brought on a lot of smart people, and developed and sold a product that got a boatload of attention. That initial success begat more success, luring the best engineers and attracting customers who had interesting and high-profile problems to solve. As these companies grew, much was written about their paradigm-shifting approaches, and when their CEOs inevitably landed on the cover of
 Fortune
magazine, they w
ere heralded as “Titans
 
of the New.” I especially
remember the confidence. The leaders of these companies radiated supreme confidence. Surely, they could only have reached this apex by being very, very good.

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