Pixar's Motto: Going From Suck to Nonsuck
March 25, 2011 | 6:50 pm or 5:50 pm GMT
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Pixar cofounder and President Ed Catmull describes Pixar's creative process as "going from suck to nonsuck."
In a world that is obsessed with preventing errors and perfection, perhaps it's ironic that despite 11 straight blockbuster movies, Pixar cofounder and President Ed Catmull describes Pixar's creative process as "going from suck to nonsuck."
That's because Catmull and Pixar's directors think it's better to fix problems than to prevent errors. "My strategy has always been: be wrong as fast as we can," says Andrew Stanton, Director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, "Which basically means, we're gonna screw up, let's just admit that. Let's not be afraid of that." We can all work this way more often.
So, for instance, Pixar does not begin new movies with a script. Far from it. Film ideas begin on rough storyboards until they work through thousands of problems throughout the process in order to take films from suck to nonsuck.
People at Pixar describe storyboards as the "hand-drawn comic book version" of a movie, a blueprint for the characters and actions. Storyboards are three-by-eight inch sheets of white paper upon which Pixar's story artists sketch ideas. As Joe Ranft, who was one of Pixar's master storyboard artists described it, "Sometimes the first try works, while other times a dozen or more passes are required."
They must persist. Pixar used 27,565 storyboards on A Bug's Life, 43,536 for Finding Nemo, 69,562 for Ratatouille, and 98,173 for WALL-E.
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