I just started a book on CD this week that you HAVE TO GET. It’s called Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. I’m sure I’ll be pulling quotes from it for weeks to come.
Lehrer gives a glimpse into the inner workings of how creativity works at Pixar.
“Everyday at the Pixar studio begins the same way. A few dozen animators and computer scientists gather in a small screening room filled with comfy velour couches. They eat Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch and drink organic coffee. Then the team begins analyzing the few seconds of film produced the day before, ruthlessly shredding each frame. (There are 24 frames per second.) No detail is too small to tear apart. I sat in on a meeting in which the Toy Story 3 team spent thirty minutes discussing the reflect properties of the plastic lights underneath the wings of Buzz Lightyear. After that, an editor criticized the precise starting point of a Randy Newman song. The music began when Woody entered the scene, but he argued that it should start a few seconds later, when Woody began running. Someone else disagreed, and a lively debate ensued. Both alternatives were tested. (It’s not uncommon for a Pixar scene to go through more than three iterations.) The team discussed the motivations of the character and the emotional connotations of the clarinet solo. By the time the meeting was over, it was almost lunch.”
And playing off that nicely is a quote found at the Go Into the Story blog:
“I get calls from producers down in Hollywood asking for the secret [Pixar] recipe. And I always say it’s really hard work, and committing to slog through the bad times. Trusting that if we stick with it and support each other we’ll get there. There’s no short cut for getting it right. We’re willing to keep going back to the drawing board, put it up, look at it, throw it all away and start over. We’re willing to do that over and over and over again. It’s not always fun—despite the images of us all riding around on scooters.
On every project, there’s a point where we think we’ll never crack it. We really despair. We think the story sucks. And that’s when everybody does the hand-holding and commits to making it better.”
Senior Development Executive at Pixar
Interview with Scott Myers at Go Into The Story
And allow me to go back to the Lehrer’s book one more time:
“Everybody at Pixar knows that there will be many failures along the way. The long days be filled with difficult conversations and disorienting surprises, and late-night arguments. But no one ever said making a good movie was easy. “If it feels easy than you’re wrong,” [Toy Story 3 director Lee] Unkrich says, ‘We know that screw-ups are an essential part of what we do here. That’s why our goal is simple, we just want to screw up as quickly as possible. We want to fail fast. And then we want to fix it—together.’”
Imagine: How Creativity Works
P.S. Interested in working at Pixar? Check out their link for jobs and interships.