I am sure that there are all sorts of stories out there about people leaving a plum job to pursue some insane pipe dream, only to actually crush it in that ‘pipe dream’.
Here is a case in point. Colin Levy worked at Pixar. He worked on films like Finding Dory, In and Out, Monsters University and several others. Not a bad place to be as, speaking from personal experience, I was lucky enough to take a tour of the Pixar campus last year as the son of a family friend currently works there and he was gracious enough to give me and my family a tour when we were out in San Francisco. Working at Pixar has to be absolutely awesome. Colin pretty much had the world at his fingertips. So what did he do? He quit to pursue becoming a filmmaker.
And wow, his first crack at it is pretty impressive. It is called Skywatch. It is only 10 minutes long, but wow, it is an impressive effort. Really interesting nugget of an idea – a sci-fi thriller that includes drones in a futuristic world where things can be delivered to your living room through a wall unit. What could go wrong? Great execution. Very well produced and directed. Within the first minute, you get the idea of what is going on.
I’m already looking forward to the full length feature!
UPDATE: Here is a short on how he got an Oscar nominated actor (Jude Law) to be in his short film.
In case anyone is questioning Pixar’s position as the undisputed leader in digital animation, they have gone ahead and released for free another digital animation application, this one called the Universal Scene Description tool. It is basically a method for pulling together different assets from different animation applications in a seamless manner.
What makes this interesting to me is that back in July during a trip to Boston, I went to see the amazing “The Science Behind Pixar” exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Science. It was a very hands on demonstration of how Pixar develops it’s amazing digital animation movies. What was exceedingly clear from the exhibit was the painstakingly detailed production process that Pixar applies to each and every one of it’s movies – from the tiniest short to the most epic long form movie. The rigor and attention to detail that was demonstrated in the exhibit was stunning – I can only imagine how it works within the overall Pixar operation – but what was more impressive was the way they made the exhibit so easy to understand and consume, whether you were 14 or 41 years old. They easily demonstrated all the steps that Pixar goes through to produce their movies – from Modeling, Creating Realistic Surfaces, Animation, Simulation, Lighting and Rendering the Imagery. To say that they have the animation production process down to a science is a gross understatement.
By releasing this as ‘open source’, they are doing their best to bring some standardization and rigor to the industry they work in, a subtle dig on the fact that there are so many apps, processes and standards that don’t fit into how they produce their products.
So many folks in the media and around the world talk about Steve Jobs’ influence on the technology industry from his time at Apple (which I am not at all questioning), but after seeing the Pixar exhibit at the Museum of Science, and watching the multitude of movies that Pixar has produced, you can’t help but wonder if what he created at Pixar has been more transformative in the movie and entertainment industry.
Pixar will be releasing Cars 2 in 2011. Just what my house needs, more Cars toys strewn across the floor. The plot of the animated sequel:
[John] Lasseter mentioned that he came up with the idea for the sequel while traveling around the world doing publicity for the first film. He wondered how the characters would react in various locations all over the world. Cars 2 will follow Tow Mater getting his passport and traveling to Europe with Lightning McQueen.
My daughter Rebecca is obsessed with Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo which was developed by Pixar and Disney. We have taken her to see the movie three times and she has made it to the end only once. And the most amazing thing is that the character Nemo is barely in the movie! Nemo, Elmo, Dora….the characters that a 2 year old obsesses about!