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  • (gentle music)

  • - [Voiceover] Most of us know Pixar as the established

  • dominating animation studio that it is today,

  • responsible for some of the greatest

  • animated movies of our time.

  • But the truth is that this massively successful studio

  • came from a very humble beginnings.

  • In fact, on it's first few years

  • the studio was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy,

  • losing millions of dollars

  • even after the success of Toy Story.

  • In this video I'll tell you the story behind Pixar

  • and how founding it was made possible thanks

  • to three very different people

  • with very different talents.

  • (popping)

  • (rhythmic techno music)

  • The story of how Pixar came to be

  • revolves around three major players,

  • an artist,

  • a scientist,

  • and a businessman.

  • All three working together yet separately

  • to one day find each other and create something amazing.

  • The artist of this story is a guy

  • named John Lasseter.

  • You've probably heard that name.

  • John would become an Academy Award winning director

  • responsible for some of Pixar's greatest films

  • including Toy Story.

  • But back in 1975 he was a freshman

  • at a brand new program at CalArts

  • learning Disney style animation.

  • The program was taught by industry legends

  • including some of Disney's Nine Old Men.

  • His classmates included Tim Burton and Brad Bird

  • who would later become prolific filmmakers themselves.

  • This was a very exciting and creative environment

  • for an animation student.

  • During his time at CalArts John created

  • two student Academy Award winning films

  • and after graduation he got his dream job,

  • he was hired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios.

  • (dramatic music)

  • During his time at Disney working as an animator

  • he stumbled upon computer animation.

  • He had an idea for making an animated film

  • using computer graphics for the environment

  • and pencil animation for the characters.

  • He pitched that idea to Disney executives

  • and they told him,

  • "The only reason we would consider

  • "using computer for animation

  • "is if it will make it faster or cheaper."

  • Shortly after that pitch John was fired from the studio.

  • At about the same time George Lucas

  • hired a guy named Ed Catmull

  • to develop a film editing system

  • and digital sound editing system,

  • all to advance the computer graphics

  • and create ground breaking visual effects for his films.

  • Ed Catmull grew up loving animation,

  • watching cartoons and all Disney films

  • his entire childhood.

  • He gave up his dream of becoming an animator,

  • thinking he wasn't good enough

  • and pursued a career in science.

  • He studied computer science in the University of Utah

  • where he earned his doctorate and has made

  • ground breaking work in the field of computer imagery.

  • He was then asked to run the computer graphics lab

  • in the New York Institute of technology.

  • Ed was a brilliant scientist responsible for some

  • of the most commonly used principles of computer animation

  • such as Z-buffer,

  • texture mapping,

  • and subdivision surfaces.

  • He basically invented 3D graphics as we know it.

  • While working at Lucas Films

  • Ed asked John to join his division

  • after meeting him at an industry event.

  • Nothing having the same dream of one day

  • making the first computer animated feature film.

  • The two hit it off right away,

  • but at that time,

  • 1983,

  • that dream was still far away.

  • (lighthearted music)

  • That division in Lucas Films,

  • then called the Computer Graphics Division,

  • produced some of the most revolutionary

  • uses of computer imagery in films for that time.

  • They produced the first completely computer generated

  • scene in Star Trek Wrath of Khan

  • and the first computer generated character

  • for Young Sherlock Holmes.

  • Within that small division John made the world's

  • first animated short film using computer animation,

  • The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.

  • Creating such complex imagery required building

  • a powerful custom made computer.

  • That computer was called the Pixar Image Computer.

  • Because of the high demand for computer imagery

  • and advanced computer graphics in other industries

  • the computer graphics division was reimagined as Pixar.

  • Still dreaming on making a computer animated

  • full length feature,

  • a dream George Lucas had no interest in,

  • Ed looked for an investor to find

  • such a huge undertaking.

  • But for a long time there were no takers.

  • Meanwhile at Cupertino,

  • Steve Jobs who was recently fired from Apple

  • founded his next company called,

  • well, NeXT.

  • Steve was one of the prospect investors

  • called to take a look at Pixar

  • and he decided to invest.

  • He bought Pixar from George Lucas for five million dollars,

  • throwing an additional five million

  • to keep the company running.

  • After the acquisition the team wanted

  • to make another animated short to establish who they were

  • and stay on the track of filmmaking.

  • John, who loved animating inanimate objects,

  • single handedly animated a short film

  • about a lamp and it's offspring titled,

  • Luxo Junior.

  • That short film was later nominated

  • for an Academy Award and was the first

  • computer generated short to ever receive that nomination.

  • The lamp from that film then became Pixar's mascot.

  • Despite the massive potential though,

  • Pixar was still struggling.

  • They were licensing their rendering software.

  • RenderMan,

  • which became the industry standard

  • for visual effects in films used in major pictures

  • such as Jurassic Park.

  • But despite that they still couldn't turn a profit.

  • They started doing commercials,

  • getting clients like Trident and Tropicana.

  • They did medical visualization,

  • seismic imaging,

  • they sold their hardware,

  • the Pixar Image Computer, which was very expensive.

  • Yet with all their effort they couldn't make

  • their product commercially viable enough

  • to sustain themselves.

  • Steve Jobs was losing about one million dollars

  • every year for five years.

  • The dire financial problems didn't stop the team

  • from making more computer animated shorts.

  • Their third film,

  • Tin Toy,

  • telling the story of toys trying to escape

  • a terrifying baby won the Academy Award in 1988.

  • Disney, who not that long ago before had fired John,

  • saw the success of his shorts and asked him to come back

  • and direct a feature film for them.

  • This was a life long dream for John

  • and he was currently working on a company

  • on the brink of bankruptcy.

  • Yet he refused Disney

  • and he stayed with Pixar

  • still dreaming to make the first

  • computer animated feature film.

  • (subdued music)

  • After the success of Tin Toy

  • the idea of an entire film from the toy's point of view

  • stuck with them.

  • And despite refusing Disney not too long beforehand,

  • he knew that if he wanted to make a fully length film

  • they would need the financial support of a larger studio

  • for marketing and distribution.

  • Disney was the perfect candidate.

  • He pitched them the idea and they loved it.

  • At that time animated feature had only one style,

  • the Disney style.

  • That style was so established that when Tom Hanks

  • was asked to do the voice for the film he asked,

  • "You're not gonna make me sing, are ya?"

  • But the people at Pixar wanted to do it differently.

  • They had a set of rules they set for themselves.

  • There would be no songs.

  • Mister I'll make a man

  • Out of you

  • No "I want" moment.

  • ♫ I want to be where the people are

  • No happy village.

  • Bojour

  • Bojour

  • Bojour, Bojour, Bojour

  • No love story.

  • Can you feel the love

  • And no villain.

  • This went against everything that was

  • proving to be working in the animation industry at the time.

  • Despite their drive to do something different

  • Disney executives were at their backs

  • giving them notes and ideas.

  • They were the experienced studio,

  • they though they knew what makes animated films work.

  • After a year of preparation,

  • working on story boards and story reels,

  • guided by Disney they screened the pitch

  • of what would later become Toy Story.

  • Disney hated it.

  • It wasn't funny,

  • it wasn't moving,

  • Woody was a horrible character.

  • The film was clearly not working,

  • Disney shut down production the next day.

  • (lighthearted music)

  • This could have been the end for Pixar.

  • However, John did not give up

  • on the story he believed in.

  • Within a period of three weeks

  • with a talented yet small team

  • he completely re-did the story like originally he wanted to

  • without all the notes and ideas

  • from experienced Disney executives.

  • They had a second screening

  • and this time the story worked,

  • production was back on track.

  • The film took almost five years to make,

  • and in 1995 it was released to become

  • the highest grossing film of that year,

  • making 192 million dollars domestically

  • and 362 million dollars worldwide.

  • The film got three Oscar nominations

  • and John received a special achievement award

  • for making the first computer animated feature film.

  • It seemed that Pixar was is the clear,

  • the studio was now a success and their worries were over.

  • But that was not the case.

  • There was one big problem.

  • According to the deal they made with Disney

  • Pixar didn't have the rights to any of the profits

  • for merchandise,

  • and in fact barely made any money from the film.

  • They were still struggling financially.

  • They decided that their only choice was to go public

  • in order to raise capital.

  • They went on to be the biggest IPO of 1995,

  • exceeding even Netscape,

  • raising 132 million dollars.

  • (gentle music)

  • Disney wanted to renew their agreement

  • to distribute more Pixar films,

  • and they signed a new contract to produce

  • five more films together over the period of 10 years,

  • this time dividing the profits 50/50.

  • Pixar was still, however,

  • a single success story so far,

  • not sure if Toy Story was just a fluke.

  • So it was their second film that would

  • determine the future of the studio.

  • Luckily A Bug's Life would become the most successful

  • animated film of that year.

  • The studio started growing rapidly

  • and their headquarters became too small

  • to host the number of people in it.