Innovation is something that doesn’t just come out of no where, ideas do but real innovation doesn’t. What sets innovation apart is that it’s the process of taking an idea and making it happen. As I have heard time and time again: coming up with ideas is easy but bringing them to life is the difficult part. In the context of the film industry, Pixar is a perfect example of how creativity can yield an idea worth taking the extra mile and making it happen through perseverance.
Pixar Animation Studios is the brainchild of John Lasseter and his team, in the early Lucasfilm animation department, and they wanted to propel animation to what they think it could be. They saw it is a new medium for expression and something that was undervalued at the time. The creators of what would be Pixar wanted to expand animation and experiment with it through the use of computer software. They desperately sought funds to get their project off of the ground and after many denials they eventually ran into Steve Jobs. Jobs would fund Pixar and also gave them access to whatever technology they needed. Pixar nearly lost everything and Jobs kept investing money to try and save the company. In fact, Pixar would get its name from one of the computers they developed. The idea that computer generated animation would cut production costs fascinated Pixar and it also intrigued buyers of their computers and software, such as Disney. Walt Disney Animation Studios was looking to computer animation and eventually made a $26 million dollar deal with Pixar for three films. Before this deal, Pixar was lucky enough to create a few commercials for companies like Tropicana. One of Pixar’s earliest ideas for their partner was about toys, yes Toy Story.
While pitching the idea for Toy Story, Disney had specific mandates it wanted Pixar to adhere to, mainly that it would be a little edgier so it could appeal to more than just kids. Pixar, trying its best to please its bigger brother, followed these directions and the resulting film was a disaster. Aside from landing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to voice Woody and Buzz, the movie was not what Pixar envisioned for their idea and Disney wanted to stop all production of it. However, Lasseter decided to just make the movie how he originally wanted to and ignored all of Disney’s prior advice. The resulting movie is now the beautiful masterpiece we call Toy Story. It was a a milestone in animation as it was the first computer generated animated feature film. Animators in the industry gave a lot of heat to Pixar because they felt threatened that their jobs as animators (those who drew by hand) were in danger. However, Toy Story was a huge commercial success and only strengthened the partnership between Disney and Pixar. Pixar allowed Disney to distribute touching tales to captivate fans and also new merchandising opportunities. After the overwhelming success of their first movie, Pixar was given full artistic license with their next project, A Bug’s Life. The pressure was on Pixar to deliver with yet another commercial hit and they did not disappoint. The rest was history as Pixar continued to deliver hit after hit with the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc, the Incredibles, Finding Nemo, the Cars franchise, Up, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Brave. Here is a tribute video to Pixar: