Pixar Pres Speaks at the U

By By Michael Olson and By Michael Olson

By Michael Olson

For Edwin Catmull, creativity is key.

Catmull, president of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, spoke on campus Monday night at this year’s Organick Lecture. Catmull, who graduated from the U in the 1970s, shared personal experiences as he described what he went through to create the place of creativity that Pixar has become.

Students jammed into every seat in more than one room in the Warnock Engineering building to hear Catmull.

“The tips he gave were very inspirational,” said Roman Lopez, a senior in art. “I really liked when he said you shouldn’t try to make your work perfect from the beginning8212;you have to show it raw first.”

Catmull said he initially tried to guide his company by making the story the most important thing, but soon realized that the story line wasn’t everything and that Pixar needed something more to stay ahead of the game.

His focus became creating a safe environment where people could feel comfortable sharing their creative ideas.

“We changed the way the development group worked so that their job is not to look for story ideas at all,” he said. Instead of focusing the company’s time and energy on people with good story ideas, it began looking for people who worked well together.

Catmull said it is now the norm in Hollywood for good groups to come together for one movie and then never work together again, but this shouldn’t be the case.

Marindi Clark, a senior in art education, said that Catmull’s experience gave her motivation to look for things that could spark her imagination.

“I am trying to learn how to create a creative environment, that is what stuck with me most,” Clark said.

The team that developed “Toy Story,” Pixar’s first big film, bonded together during that project. Team members were honest with each other when they critiqued the work and didn’t take it personally, Catmull said.

“Honesty depends on trust,” he said. “That group on “Toy Story’ was on a tight deadline. They were funny, they were focused and they completely trusted each other.”

The group became the foundation for the creative part of Pixar, and the model that was used for all future movies.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing from there, however. When Pixar began work on “Toy Story 2,” it brought in a different group of people because the original group was working on “A Bug’s Life.”

The original story was basically the same, but was lacking something, Catmull said.

Pixar brought the original team back and added a song to relate to the audience.

“In the end we came up with a film that I personally liked better then the first one,” Catmull said. “Oops, I’m not supposed to say that, I love all my children the same,” he said.

Catmull is the co-founder of Pixar. He has been honored with three Scientific and Technical Engineering Awards, as well as and several Academy Awards.

“I wanted to build a studio that would keep on making films that touched the world in a positive way,” he said.

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John Stafford

Edwin Catmull