Industry of Creativity- Act it Out!

In this week’s Lecture (week 10) we had guest speaker, Simon Allen, an animator for Pixar studios who had worked on some of the most popular Pixar films such as Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, Happy Feet and Brave. I have to admit, this was a very exciting lecture as it was all about animation and the process in developing animated films. I think majority of us found it hard to take notes as it was so intriguing to listen to Simon’s discussion of Disney and Pixar’s creative developments, as it’s two of the most loved companies in animation. But I’m going to highlight some of Pixar’s historical background and their development of creative processes. This includes how animation is developed step by step and a summary of John Lasseter’s seven principles to creativity.

Simon explained that hollywood was at a stage in the 1970s where film industries diminished for a good amount of time as television took over everyone’s digital screens. The company didn’t began with the amazing life-like animations they produce today, but that they started of by producing computers as Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Pixar. These computers were worth $80,000 can you believe. Soon enough, Pixar needed to take a step further as they begun working hard on some unforgettable, animated, short films. These short films won awards and soon enough, Pixar was known for its outstanding CGI (computer generated imagery) animated films. In the process of creating these animations, Simon described two processes they use to make the scenes. These are the creative and productive processes. Their process worked on the elements of drawing, Acting it out and using time wisely. Simon explains that the drawers would sketch some of the animation while for certain characters, the technique of ‘Acting it Out’ was used. This literally involves real people acting out the scenes of the animated characters. This is so animators can capture the real expression of emotions and movement to make their characters more realistic. Simon even gave us an example of him using his children for the making of ‘Toy Story 3’. Here is a similar but different example of Simon’s brake down of the ‘Acting it out’ process as it has both the combination of  2D drawings and real life actors used to create the CGI animation in this scene of the Disney film ‘Frozen’.



This is where the creative work began in Pixar in 1979 aswell as many other films they made, working with Disney. But it was people like Steve jobs job, to encourage creativity in the animation industry. Simon mentioned how Criticism is a huge restriction to many people’s creative flow and that the only way to stop this was to find encouragement, relaxation and make employees open up with their emotions and ideas. Simon gave examples of how pixar literally made their studios a huge creative environment for their employees to collect what Simon describes as ‘open emotions’. This allows every employee to open up and explore their own emotions and ideas with others, enhancing the creative process. But one of those important aspects of working in a creative industry is that every department works together to create something that one person could never do. Team work and time management is what it takes to be successful. Simon made it quite easy for us to understand what is involved in creating a full animated movie with a step by step mind map. As you can see in my similar diagram that I have re establish from Simon’s example, the Art and Story are both separate departments that work together to finalise a film. As each section has a department or stage that leads to the final product, you can see that each stage has an important role in making a film come to life. Simon explained that this kind of process would cost the company $100,000 and little time to complete it in as there is so many people involved in this one project. New-Mind-Map_3cawrx39

Many people must wonder how people like John Lasster, the chief creative officer of Pixar, can find such inspirational ideas. When working in an industry it can be hard to control idea flow. But John Lasseter has found a way to share his seven principles of creative processing. Here’s how  he breaks down his vision into just a few steps.

1) Never come up with just one idea: He always found that many creative people would grip onto one idea, when they could easily hook into 2 or 3. Lasseter quoted “You will be surprised how this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things you haven’t considered” Having this in mind, with 3 good ideas you can determine other possibilities or have an option to combine ideas.

2) Remember the first laugh: Revising, retouching and refining is very important, but it is quite risky. Writing down a joke, or thought can lose it’s effect overtime. Lasseter would say “take notes on the first laugh” of the joke or reaction to a thought and use this method for every idea pops into your head.

3) Quality is a great business plan, period: There is one crucial rule, if you have designed an idea, but think of something better, John says start again! there is no settlement of an idea no matter what the constraints. Only that is has to be the best it can be. If the manager say it’s not finished, keep working at it.

 4) It’s all about the team: Are groups more creative than the individual? John says mostly, if they all play by the rules. If everyone is honest, direct and endeavour to help other creative individuals, it’s a successful collaboration.

5) Fun Invokes Creativity, not competition: Cooperation, Confidence and fun is the way’ John says are the ingredients to creativity. You need to believe in the support of your team and set creative challenges to keep employees motivated. Especially if you want to enjoy what your doing.

6) Creative output always reflects the person on top: Managers or others who spread bad moods in the workplace can harm the business and other employees who need encouragement to



Frozen CGI animation retrieved from:


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