Creativity Inc. Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way Of True Inspiration is the story of Ed Catmull’s journey to the helm of one of the worlds most famous film studios, Pixar. With hit titles like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and WallE, Pixar was initially funded by Steve Jobs who invested over $50 million of his own money into a company that was yet to make a single dollar. It was this vision, combined with a technology that was created many years before, that made the animation movie business a reality today.
Ed Catmull started his career studying computer graphics in a time when computers were the size of a large room and in 1979 was recruited by George Lucas to help work special-effects images into live-action footage.
Soon after the original Star Wars, and at George’s request, Catmull and his team created the world’s first video editing system that would enable editors to do their work on the computer and combine animation with actual footage – truly groundbreaking work at the time that built the foundation for Pixar to exist in the future. The only problem was that the film editors at Lucasfilm resisted working with a computer. They didn’t think it would do much more than what could already be done by snipping filmstrips with razor blades and physically and painstakingly gluing them together one by one.
For me, this simple story highlights that certain processes and efficiencies can breed habits which may have indeed worked in the past, but in a time of change these same processes and efficiencies don’t guarantee future success. Eric Hoffer captures the essence of this in his pertinent quote, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
At our College, the Identity dimension in our Vision for Learning has as one of its elements Time and Change which states that students will understand that not only is change inevitable, but that peoples’ actions and values are influenced by their understanding and interpretation of the past. The lesson that Catmull shares is one of embracing the inevitability of change and allowing a brighter future to unfold – in this specific example, the amazing special effects we have in films today.
A great book about what it takes to lead creatively.