How Steve Jobs Saved Pixar from Bankruptcy?

How Steve Jobs Saved Pixar from Bankruptcy?

The story about the people who built the world around us. Today, we all know Pixar as the king of animated films. But what many people may not realize is that while they were trying to make the original Toy Story, they almost went bankrupt. Let's see how it happened.

Pixar began in 1979 as the graphics group's subsidiary of the Lucasfilm Computer Division. This graphics group was headed by Edwin Catmull of the New York Institute of Technology. The graphics group wanted to make a computer animated feature film from 1979, they attempted to produce such a film for an early 1980s release.













The project was titled The Works and it was to be 90 minutes long, but it would never be. The computers of the time were too slow and underpowered to create a feature length film during the process. One of the team members calculated the amount of time it would take to render the frames needed for the film. It would take seven years. Despite more powerful hardware becoming available, the film was eventually abandoned in 1986.

The works would have been the first entirely 3D COMPUTER-GENERATED film had it been finished as intended. By the time it was abandoned, just over one tenth of the film had been completed. In the same year in 1986, the Lucasfilm Graphics Group would spin out of Lucasfilm as picks up a standalone corporation with Edwin as president to fix the problem of the slow computers, the Pixar team decided to work on their own computer hardware. The result was the image Pixar computer at a price of $220000.

This is Image Computer, the Pixar family of Image Computers consists of the original Pixar Image Computer, the new lower priced Pixar too, and includes a C compiler and software toolkits for developing specific applications. Pixar's image computers are being used in medical imaging. Remote sensing graphic guards, including 3D design and animation and scientific visualization.

It was powerful for the time, around 50 times faster than conventional equipment. A scene that would traditionally take around 15 minutes to render was shortened to about 18 seconds.

Each frame was computed in eight to 10 minutes. On the Pixar image computer, roughly 50 times faster than many computer rendering.

As exciting as all of this was, the fledgling Pixar needed investment money. Steve Jobs, CEO of Next Computers, had just left Apple. And he liked the idea of combining art and technology. He would invest $10 million into the new company.

From this transaction, Jobs became a majority shareholder, acquiring 70 percent ownership.

Despite the change in ownership dynamics, Pixar's ultimate goal was still the same to create a fully COMPUTER-GENERATED animated film. Walt Disney Studios subsequently bought a few Pixar image computers and custom software written by Pixar.

Disney wanted the technology to be part of their computer animation production system or caps with caps. The painstaking and inking of TV animation was now computer assisted saving effort and money. The first film to use caps would be the rescuers down under a 1990 was the first feature film to be 100 percent assisted by computers.

Aladdin in 1992 and The Lion King in 1994 would both use the cap system. It would be used up until Pocahontas in 1995 with the limited clientele of Disney for caps. The computer sales were lackluster for Pixar, realizing that financial trouble was coming. Jobs suggested to release the Pixar image computer to markets, which would be interested.

Engineers, geologists in the medical field to get this underway. Pixar employee John Lasseter went to work, creating short, completely CGI demonstrations to show off the Pixar image computer technology. The demos included Genea the Pixar Lamp in 1986 and Tin Toy in 1998. Lasseter, who had been obsessed with toys from childhood, had a knack for injecting inanimate objects with personality and character without ever having them talk. This was the critical essence for early Pixar films.

It took us a long time to build the technical foundation to do this stuff. We were pioneering every step of the way. Pixar invented all this stuff. But as John says, we don't view ourselves as a technology company. Our product is content weren't entertainment company. And all this technology really is just in the service of the storytelling.

The service of the creative people and computer animation is even a little bit of a misnomer. The computers don't do the animation, they do the drawing and they crank on these drawings for like, you know, three hours by one of the fastest computers in the world, which is why the drawings are three dimensional. But the animators act, you know, I watched John and his team work and they are the heart and soul of the characters. They do all the acting, not the computers.

The short CGI animated films caused Disney to realize the full potential in this kind of filmmaking. In an ironic twist, John Lasseter had originally been fired from Disney for pitching a fully CGI film. This was after he was shown Tron by 2 work colleagues. After seeing Junior, the Pixar lab and the other short CGI films, Disney now wanted John Lasseter back defiant. John chose to stay at picks up. He would tell Edward Catmull, quote, I can go to Disney and be a director or I can stay here and make history in court.

Despite groundbreaking demonstration films, the Pixar image computer never sold well. In fact, only 300 computers were ever sold. Pixar tried making CGI TV commercials and selling software for Windows and Macintosh, but it wasn't enough for inadequate sales threaten to put Pixar itself out of business and financial losses grew.

Jobs poured more and more money into the project in exchange for an increased stake in the company. His total investment was approaching $50 million. This gave him control of the entire company, but almost drove him into personal bankruptcy. Pixar was still struggling and eventually had to sell off their computer hardware business and lay off staff.

It looked like it was going to be the end for Pixar. They had an unexpected savior. Luckily, by 1991, Moore's Law meant that animation grade computers were finally just powerful enough to create and render a complete animated feature film and not just a small demonstration.

Disney, who now realize that they couldn't get Pixar employee John Lasseter back, decided to strike a deal with Pixar instead. It was a historic $26 million deal to produce three computer animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. Without this contract, Pixar probably would have closed its doors a few years later.

Pixar got to work on Toy Story with John Lasseter as the director and Steve Jobs as the executive producer. The first 30 second test would be delivered to Disney in 1992, and the initial preview impressed Disney oh, did not remain well, the.

The collaboration between the two companies became tense as Disney executives continuously scrapped script ideas brought forward by Pixar. For example, Disney cast Woody as an edgy, tyrannical jerk, as Tim Allen would remark while recording the voice of the character at the halfway point of production in nineteen ninety three with heads and ideas clashing. A preview screening of Toy Story was shown to the upper management of Disney. It was a disaster.

Upper management absolutely hated it. And indeed, so did John Lasseter, as lesser to put it. The movie was a story filled with the most unhappy main characters I've ever seen. The movie production was shut down immediately, and it seemed like the dream of a CGI feature film would never come to pass. But Lassiter didn't give up.

He told Disney that he would revise the script in just two weeks. He somehow delivered and the result was good enough for production to resume in 1994. For context, it's important to note that the production of such a film using early 90's technology was no easy task. Each frame took between 45 minutes to 30 hours to render this dependent on the complexity and detail within the scenes. Every eight seconds of film in which a character was speaking took the animators a week to complete. Every shot would pass through eight teams and 300 computer processes running 24 hours a day.

But disaster was still looming.

Despite receiving funding, Pixar continued to lose money, the Pixar image computers had been a failure and there wasn't enough income coming from software and CGI TV commercials to offset the cost of the Toy Story project. Steve Jobs, as chairman of the board and now as full owner, was getting nervous. And who wouldn't be after spending $50 million of their own money on a seemingly failing project?

Even as late as 1994, Jobs contemplated selling Pixar to home.I cards and also Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Luckily, the sentiment would change as the film neared completion. As the beautiful COMPUTER-GENERATED World of Toy Story began to take shape, Jobs marveled at what he saw and realized that Pixar would be historic after all.

Toy Story represents the computer graphics community, contributing not just special effects to motion picture, but the entire motion picture itself. It's a breakthrough on the scale of Technicolor, Snow White and Star Wars.

And I think that that is an achievement that many people in this room should take.

Proud ownership in Toy Story went on to gross more than 300 $73 million worldwide when Pixar held its initial public offering on November 29, 1995. It exceeded Netscape as the biggest IPO of 1995. And I'm sure when you saw Toy Story for the first time, you were just as blown away as I was. The film looked more realistic than any computer generated imagery I had seen before. Every leaf, every small detail was spot on except in my imagination and the imagination of a whole industry.

Toy Story inspired video games, theme park attractions, merchandise and three sequels. Toy Story made toys cool again for the 90s. And there was no doubt that Toy Story single handedly saved Pixar and the rest was history.

Pixar went on to produce hits like A Bug's Life Monsters Inc series, the Finding Nemo series, The Incredibles series, Wall-E Cars and the list goes on. In 2006, they would be purchased by Disney for $7.4 billion.

At the time, it made Steve Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney. Pixar is now beloved brand in the film industry and their latest film, Toy Story 4, is still melting arts. But after seeing all of this, it's strange to think that there were so very close to failing. I wonder how the computer animation industry would look today if Pixar went out of business all those years ago.

If want to know about more amazing stories and the history of humanity in the context of science and technology and you want to learn about those people and teams who built the world around us and invented the things we use each and every day and just how all of this links together.

Definitely. Check out my book, New Thinking. I've been so honored to have people reach out to me and just tell me how much they've learned and how much it's impacted their way of looking at the world.

So that wraps it up for this article. Thanks for watching. If you wanna see stuff like this and much more. Feel free to subscribe to this channel. Also, feel free to check out the cold fusion podcast anyway. This has been to go to and you've been watching cold fusion and I'll catch you again soon for the next article.

Cheers, guys. Have a good one. Cold fusion. It's me thinking.

How Steve Jobs Saved Pixar from Bankruptcy? How Steve Jobs Saved Pixar from Bankruptcy? Reviewed by Mahi Uddin on December 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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