Bantam Press, £20. Order at the discounted price of £16 inc. p&p from the Independent Bookshop

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace, book review: How the Pixar founders shook up the world of film

 

Pixar might be one of the most interesting companies on the planet. As well as being a studio with a consistency of hits worthy of any great director, it basically created both a genre (computer animation) and the technology with which to build it.

Its films will rightly hold for decades, even when the software used to draw Toy Story, Monsters, Inc and co is as archaic as a pencil and paper is now. But can it make the dullest genre of all – management theory – come to life?

The answer is a surprising yes. Co-founder Ed Catmull may not be as well-known as other Pixar figures like John Lasseter or Steve Jobs, but his role in the company was crucial. Coming from a computer science background, his research made Pixar viable and was instrumental in convincing Jobs, then exiled from Apple, into buying it from George Lucas when it was nowhere near making a movie, let alone a profit.

The story of Pixar and its merger with Disney (Catmull is president of both) is a fascinating one. It's not told here, although Pixar's progress serves as the crutch for Catmull's lessons.

There's a reason Pixar doesn't make many duffers. It's a dedication to quality at the expense of almost everything else. How to achieve and maintain this is a blend of science and human skill, and Catmull shares an intimate knowledge of both.

We learn that Pixar has implemented an annual shutdown day where staff discuss ways to improve, we learn about the Braintrust, a set of key figures at Pixar who creatively deconstruct films in productions, how Jobs designed the new building to encourage staff interactions and we relearn old Sammy Beckett's adage about failure. At Pixar, no-one should be afraid to fail. As long as they fail quickly and correct themselves.

It seems unlikely that lessons from teething troubles on Toy Story 2 could have much use for, say, a small accountancy company, but you suspect there is. Observations on critical feedback, allowing people to not self-censor and improving on successes are broad enough to apply to anyone managing a team. Just don't expect as much fun implementing them as those who spend hours discussing the story of an overprotective fish, or a lonely trash-clearing robot.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks