Pixar Animation Studios case study Analysis

Every morning, as I walk into Pixar Animation Studiospast the twentyfoot-high sculpture of Luxo Jr., our friendly desk lamp mascot, through the
double doors and into a where a man-sized
Buzz Lightyear and Woody, made entirely of Lego bricks, stand at attention,
up the stairs past sketches and paintings of the characters that have populated
our fourteen filmsI am struck by the unique culture that defines this place.
Although Ive made this walk thousands of times, it never gets old.
Built on the site of a former cannery, Pixars fifteen-acre campus, just over
the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, was designed, inside and out, by Steve
Jobs. (Its name, in fact, is The Steve Jobs Building.) It has well-thought-out
patterns of entry and egress that encourage people to mingle, meet, and
communicate. Outside, there is a soccer field, a volleyball court, a swimming
pool, and a . Sometimes visitors misunderstand
the place, thinking its fancy for fancys sake. What they miss is that the
unifying idea for this building isnt luxury but community. Steve wanted the
building to support our work by enhancing our ability to collaborate.
The animators who work here are free tono, encouraged todecorate
their work spaces in whatever style they wish. They spend their days inside
pink dollhouses whose ceilings are hung with miniature chandeliers, tiki huts
made of real bamboo, and castles whose meticulously painted, fifteen-foothigh styrofoam turrets appear to be carved from stone. Annual company
traditions include Pixarpalooza, where our in-house rock bands battle for
dominance, shredding their hearts out on stages we erect on our front lawn.
The point is, we value self-expression here. This tends to make a big
impression on visitors, who often tell me that the experience of walking into
Pixar leaves them feeling a little wistful, like something is missing in their
work livesa palpable energy, a feeling of collaboration and unfettered
creativity, a sense, not to be corny, of possibility. I respond by telling them
that the feeling they are picking up oncall it exuberance or irreverence,
even whimsyis integral to our success.
But its not what makes Pixar special.
What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have
problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover
these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and
that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve
it. This, more than any elaborate party or turreted workstation, is why I love
coming to work in the morning. It is what motivates me and gives me a
definite sense of mission.
There was a time, however, when my purpose here felt a lot less clear to
me. And it might surprise you when I tell you when.
On November 22, 1995, Toy Story debuted in Americas theaters and became
the largest Thanksgiving opening in history. Critics heralded it as inventive
(Time), brilliant and exultantly witty (The New York Times), and
visionary (Chicago Sun-Times). To find a movie worthy of comparison,
wrote The Washington Post, one had to go back to 1939, to The Wizard of
The making of Toy Storythe first feature film to be animated entirely on
a computerhad required every ounce of our tenacity, artistry, technical
wizardry, and endurance. The hundred or so men and women who produced
it had weathered countless ups and downs as well as the ever-present, hairraising knowledge that our survival depended on this 80-minute experiment.
For five straight years, wed fought to do Toy Story our way. Wed resisted
the advice of Disney executives who believed that since theyd had such
success with musicals, we too should fill our movie with songs. Wed
rebooted the story completely, more than once, to make sure it rang true.
Wed worked nights, weekends, and holidaysmostly without complaint.
Despite being novice filmmakers at a fledgling studio in dire financial straits,
we had put our faith in a simple idea: If we made something that we wanted
to see, others would want to see it, too. For so long, it felt like we had been
pushing that rock up the hill, trying to do the impossible. There were plenty
of moments when the future of Pixar was in doubt. Now, we were suddenly
being held up as an example of what could happen when artists trusted their
Toy Story went on to become the top-grossing film of the year and would
earn $358 million worldwide. But it wasnt just the numbers that made us
proud; money, after all, is just one measure of a thriving company and
usually not the most meaningful one. No, what I found gratifying was what
wed created. Review after review focused on the films moving plotline and
its rich, three-dimensional charactersonly briefly mentioning, almost as an
aside, that it had been made on a computer. While there was much innovation
that enabled our work, we had not let the technology overwhelm our real
purpose: making a great film.
On a personal level, Toy Story represented the fulfillment of a goal I had
pursued for more than two decades and had dreamed about since I was a boy.
Growing up in the 1950s, I had yearned to be a Disney animator but had no
idea how to go about it. Instinctively, I realize now, I embraced computer
graphicsthen a new fieldas a means of pursuing that dream. If I couldnt
animate by hand, there had to be another way. In graduate school, Id quietly
set a goal of making the first computer-animated feature film, and Id worked
tirelessly for twenty years to accomplish it.

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