Steve Jobs didn’t sketch one character in Pixar’s new movie, Brave, but his handprint is on every frame. During an interview on Charlie Rose, John Lasseter, the chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation, told a short, insightful story about the late Apple CEO who had purchased Pixar in 1986 for $10 million (Jobs would later sell Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion, making Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder). Steve Jobs introduced the Pixar team to his pixel-level obsession with excellence.
In Lasseter’s first meeting with Jobs, he wanted to tell Jobs about a short film he was working on that would show off Pixar’s technology. Pixar was mostly a hardware company at the time and Lasseter was the studio’s only animator. After Lasseter pitched the story, Steve Jobs offered fours words of advice: “Just make it great.” It was the only guidance that Jobs gave Lasseter. That short, Tin Toy, won an Academy Award for the best-animated short film, the first time an Oscar had been given to computer animation.
1979 George Lucasrecruits Ed Catmull from the
New York Institute of Technology to head Lucasfilm’s Computer Division, a group charged with developing state-of-the-art computer technology for the film industry. Lucas’s wish list: a digital (nonlinear) film editing system, a digital (nonlinear) sound editing system, a laser film printer, and further exploration of
1986 Steve Jobs purchases the Computer Division from George Lucas and establishes the group as an independent company, “Pixar.” At this time about 40 people are employed.
Pixar and Disney begin collaboration on CAPS, the Computer Animation Production System, which would revolutionize the creation of traditional animated films. The first check written to Pixar by a client after its incorporation is from Disney, for work on this project.
1990 Andrew Stanton and Pete Docterjoin the company. By the end of the year, each animates a commercial – Andrew Stanton completes “Quite A Package” for Trident, and Pete Docter animates “Boxer” for Listerine. Pixar’s commercial work gives the company invaluable experience in pitching, storytelling, and working with clients, and allows it to develop and refine its production pipeline.
1995 Toy Story, the world’s first computer animated feature film, is released in theaters on November 22. It opens at #1 that weekend and will go on to become the highest grossing film of the year, making $192 million domestically and $362 million worldwide.
Pixar’s initial public offering takes place just days later, on November 28. It is the largest IPO of the year. (More)