Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Upcoming Spline Cast

Our next Spline Cast is pretty exciting if I say so myself... Dr Burke set this one up. Our guest will be Ed Catmull, founder and President of Pixar and Disney Feature Animation. Anyway, I am posting this so that readers can send in some questions. We will pick a few of the best ones. Just send them to the comments section with your name or if you want to remain anonymous, that's fine. Obviously, we are not gonna ask him any questions that deal with upcoming films or company stuff.

Thanks to Dr. Burke and to Ed for doing this.



Blogger vineet said...

I heard an interview with Glen Keane and he spoke of pushing the tech of CG to include the intuitive nature of hand drawn animation, it sounded very interesting though he didn't go too much into detail, I wonder what Dr. Catmull thinks of the future of computer animation, perhaps in the context of what Keane referred to as "Sculptural Drawing".

11:05 PM

Blogger fluxmind said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:11 AM

Anonymous Mike Anderson said...

Here's some questions I have:

I would like to know Mr. Catmull's take on managing a film studio. What tenets does he hold closest to when managing people and productions?

Also, how does he balance artistic freedom with financial responsibility? How does this balance shift from the initial green-light of a project to seeing it through to the end?

Is he still active at all with the software development?

5:24 AM

Blogger Michael said...

I have a question for Mr. Catmull. I was lucky enough to attend the Pixar Party in San Diego's SIGGRAPH convention this year and saw Mr. Catmull there. I was making my way over to talk to him but got into another conversation and before I knew it, he was gone. I would have loved to ask him for advice for aspiring students who are looking into applying for the internships. My interest is in story and animation but I am sure that there are some helpful tips that can be applied to anyone in any specialty looking for advice. Thanks!

9:04 AM

Anonymous Lars said...

I'm wondering what Catmull's advice is for people in general. For instance does he have philosophy books that he recommends. And what i'd also like to know does he have a certain outlook on what a persons attitude should be in either starting up an animation company and or comming to work for pixar... maybe these questions are useess cos they propably allready did the interview.

Anyhow i love the way Catmull looks at the world. He did a talk at Stanford which they taped you can see it through he's got some nice deep thoughts on people and they're blindspots. You just gotta love the way that he looks at it all. I hope he takes his own advice to heart to keep listening to what happens in the company and keeps being open to change.

Anyways hope he has something cool to say bout animation cos he's the inhouse guru and not an animator.

grtz Lars

2:52 PM

Blogger Kevin Williams said...

I'm curious about Ed's background. I read somewhere that he is from West Virginia. Being from WV myself, I'm curious how he started his path in the field.

1:36 AM

Blogger Betsy Bauer said...

With the recent power shift in the Disney Feature Animation hierarchy, I'm wondering where this branch of the company is going to go. How is the recovery from all of the direct to video sequels being dealt with? It seems that a lot of great films have come out of Disney after slump periods (i.e. The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King); can we classic Disney fans expect another golden age of animation in the near future?

3:06 AM

Anonymous Dave said...

I'm wondering what Dr. Catmull thinks about the future of computer graphics research.

On a personal level, I'm curious what he thinks about physical simulation for CG films. Is there still room for improvement or are current software packages (Maya's dynamics, Houdini, etc.) and open source projects (ODE, physBAM, etc.) sufficient for the future.

2:29 PM

Blogger Daniel R said...


From what I've heard about the 2009 Disney feature film The Princess and the Frog, it seems the Walt Disney Feature Animation studio will be returning to hand drawn / 2D animation, while Pixar remains a 3D CGI studio.

But am I incorrectly generalizing? Will the aesthetic identity of the two studios be so clear-cut, or will we see a mix of mediums from Disney Features? And also, in light of the great 2D end credits in Ratatouille, will we ever see a 2D feature from Pixar?

6:44 PM

Anonymous saurabh said...

I have two questions for Mr. Catmull.

Sir i am very keen to know your vision for Pixar in the years to come.

Will Pixar ever have a teaching facility, where the best at pixar can guide artist, all around the globe in the art of film making.

12:50 PM

Blogger Bobby Pontillas said...


I'd like to know what animated films (outside of Pixar's of course) Ed has enjoyed over the past couple of years, if any.

4:00 PM

Blogger Pochat said...

A question for Dr. Catmull,

After leaving Alexander Shure by being hired by George Lucas, he thought everything was on the right path. Only to discover that George Lucas didn't want him to make movies but to improve the technology.

If Pixar didn't happen, did he have any other plan?

thanks a lot for this opportunity Dr. Gordon

4:37 PM

Blogger AJ Jefferies said...


Do you ever look at the broad spectrum & implementation of computer graphics, from CGI in feature films, to video games right down to the screen savers on cellular phones and think "I started all this..." - if so is it ever overwhelming?

Pixar has always been a fusion of technology & creativity. Are there times where you feel they are ever in competition with one another? i.e - technological achievements overshadowing artistic merits or creativity being stifled by limitations.

It's clear that Pixar opened up other peoples eyes to a 'new' market in CG animation. Given the ever increasing number of (CG) animated features released each year - as the very first studio to do so, do you ever feel as though you've created a monster?

You're personally responsible for some of the most major developments in computer graphics - do you look at what is being developed/discovered in the field now & nod your head wisely thinking "Ah yes, of course..." or do you scratch your head thinking "How...?".


2:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a lot of Pixar's films, there are cans of Dr. Catmull's Root Beer. I'd like to know, does Dr. Catmull make Root Beer?

8:21 PM

Anonymous Venki said...

My question is...what is that key element which makes a GOOD animation studio a GREAT Animation studio...

how do you see the future of feature animated movies, which are being made in such a large quantity by now n then studios...what actually happens when the AUDIENCE reaches a saturation point and starts gettin bored.

11:39 AM

Blogger AJ Jefferies said...

More questions!

At a dinner party, has anyone ever asked you "What do you do..?" - if so, what is your response & have you ever (of course, creatively...) lied?

You & your company have been branded with the (seemingly) wonderful label of 'success'. Is it ever surprising? How confident are you of 'success'..? For example, are you aware of a pressure to improve/repeat on past victories?

5:24 PM

Anonymous Mauricio said...

I just finished watching the interview that Lars linked to here in the comments (Thanks!) and arrived at these questions:

You commented on the feeling of the artist and technical guys towards production managers as "second class citizens" and inhibitors, but how did you address this issue? What methods were employed to render the perception of the entire studio to that of equality throughout departments?

Second: What would be your top 5 Books and top 5 Movies? The indispensible ones that MUST be in your library, as Mark put it to Ted in that awesome splinecast.

Also: The "Brain Trust". Does this group regularly add members, or is it a static entity? If it does add members, whats the initiation process? Where do you look for people and what do you look for?


12:42 AM

Blogger Gordon Pinkerton said...

Lots of great questions here!

I was wondering if Pixar is considering the construction of a satellite location in the future, possibly in Florida?

11:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the heels of the previous question, is there any discussion of setting up subsidiary studio(s) that deal with edgier animation material? Such as the Dimension or Tristar companies under Disney?

4:04 PM

Blogger Dagan Moriarty said...

REALLY looking forward to this one, guys! :)

11:42 AM

Blogger Dagan Moriarty said...

PS- ;)

I just HAFTA' echo this question from an earlier comment...

"Will we ever see a 2D feature from PIXAR ?"

Given the talent under that roof, I think a lot of us are aching to see that happen, let's face it! :)


5:45 AM

Blogger Samantha said...

Hi again, thanks for replying back to me I am still getting used to this blog stuff. My MA is going well and I am busy with my 2500 word essay. I am doing it on "Realism in Animation" as that is a topic I really enjoy and fully believe in. There are 7 people in my class and I am the only one who thinks that "Final Fantasy" was fantastic. Everyone else thought it was a waste of time. I personally think that film was a work of art, animation on the next level. I just appreciate the hard work and time that goes into realistic animation and I don't think that it is a waste of time. It's not going to replace real life film but it would be interesting to see how far it can go. On a seperate note I was in LA in 1997 for a couple of months and I was living in Santa Monica. I hope things get better for you guys over there after that terrible fire. Take care.

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