Innovating Innovation

He wasn’t talented enough, he thought.

To join Disney Animation Studios as an animator.

So he became a scientist

catmull_3D_hand

A Computer Scientist.

He has had a hand in innovating with a team, in a whole new way.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Now he is the President of Disney Animation Studios… and Pixar Animation Studios … and Disney Toons Studios.

Computer Science, Ed Catmull, and Innovation has come a long way baby…

And you haven’t seen nothing yet.

Not since Peter Drucker, a Mastermind Rational, has there been a Scientist who understood innovation in teamwork and organizations as well as Ed Catmull.  And he explains it all in his book, Creativity Inc., in an articulate and fascinating way.

He had started with innovation with computers, as opposed to people, however, he wanted to make full length computer animated films, like Walt Disney.  There he had a major problem to solve.  And he couldn’t do it alone.

Edwin Earl “Ed” Catmull, Mastermind Rational, [Coordinating Rational] (born March 31, 1945) is a computer scientist and current president of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios. As a computer scientist, Catmull has contributed to many important developments in computer graphics. [Wikipedia, revised]

‘“Texture mapping,” as I called it, was like having stretchable wrapping paper that you could apply to a curved surface so that it fit snugly.’ — Ed Catmull

Texture mapping is a method for adding detail, surface texture to a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. Its application to 3D graphics was pioneered by Edwin Catmull in 1974.

To make a full feature animated movie, however, it takes thousands of individuals in a team coordinated effort.  Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar.

Those Rationals interested primarily in order I call the “Coordinators,” and those primarily interested in organization I call the “Engineers.” … Now, Coordinators do the work of what might be called “arranging.” Arranging is the act of determining the various levels of rank (in other words, hierarchy, layers, echelons) or the consecutive steps (sequence, series, succession) that are required to achieve long range objectives. Hierarchical arrangement enables the mobilizing of field forces in conducting campaigns. Serial arrangement, in contrast, enables the entailing of contingencies in a plan of action.  [Please Understand Me II]

Walt Disney was one of my two boyhood idols. The other was Albert Einstein. To me, even at a young age, they represented the two poles of creativity. Disney was all about inventing the new. He brought things into being—both artistically and technologically— that did not exist before. Einstein, by contrast, was a master of explaining that which already was. I read every Einstein biography I could get my hands on as well as a little book he wrote on his theory of relativity. I loved how the concepts he developed forced people to change their approach to physics and matter, to view the universe from a different perspective. — Ed Catmull.

Pixar Animation Studios, or simply Pixar, is an American computer animation film studio.  The studio is best known for its computer generated imagery-animated feature films created with PhotoRealistic RenderMan, its own implementation of the industry-standard RenderMan image-rendering application programming interface used to generate high-quality images.

Pixar has produced fourteen feature films, beginning with Toy Story (1995) and its most recent Monsters University(2013). All of the films have received both critical and financial success, with the notable exception being Cars 2(2011), which, while commercially successful, received substantially less praise than Pixar’s other productions. As of December 2013, its feature films have made over $8.5 billion worldwide, with an average worldwide gross of $607 million per film. Both Finding Nemo (2003) and Toy Story 3 (2010) are among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and all of Pixar’s films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films, with the latter being the 2nd all-time highest, just behind Disney’s Frozen, grossing over $1 billion worldwide.  The studio has earned 27 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards, among many other awards and acknowledgments.

But…
it wasn’t easy in the beginning, the formation of Pixar and development of the company many times could have failed, but for a little bit of luck, and with the contributing effort and support of many visionary individuals, including Alvy Ray Smith, George Lucas, Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, Bob Iger to name a few.

And also important was the competition of the graphics and movie industries. For the ecology of Hollywood and Silicon Valley served as a fertile hotbed for the birth and growth of Pixar.

In their careers, Masterminds usually rise to positions of responsibility, for they work long and hard and are dedicated in their pursuit of goals, sparing neither their own time and effort nor that of their colleagues and employees. Problem-solving is highly stimulating to Masterminds, who love responding to tangled systems that require careful sorting out. Ordinarily, they verbalize the positive and avoid comments of a negative nature; they are more interested in moving an organization forward than dwelling on mistakes of the past. [Please Understand Me II]

It takes Teamwork for today’s Innovation.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Pixar gradually developed the “Pixar Braintrust,” the studio’s primary creative development process, in which all directors, writers, and lead storyboard artists at the studio look at each other’s projects on a regular basis and give each other very candid “notes” (the industry term for constructive criticism). The Braintrust operates under a philosophy of a “filmmaker-driven studio”, in which creatives help each other move their films forward through a process somewhat like peer review, as opposed to the traditional Hollywood approach of an “executive-driven studio” in which directors are micromanaged through “mandatory notes” from development executives ranking above the producers. According to Catmull, it evolved out of the working relationship between Lasseter, Stanton, Docter, Unkrich, and Joe Ranft on Toy Story.

It is called Involution and Envolution.  A learning process.  Welcome to the University of Life.

Other Mastermind Rationals include:  Ayn RandSheryl WudunnSalman Khan,  Susan B AnthonyIssac NewtonSharon PresleyBill GatesMasha Gessen,  Ayaan Hirsi AliRosalind Franklin, and Ulysses S. Grant

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