Monday, April 14, 2014

This Day in Pixar History: Pixar's 1997 Annual Report

I've written a number of articles on Pixar's financial reports when it was a public company. Today, let's turn time back about 26 years to look at their 1997 annual report, which came out in early 1998. As with many of Pixar's early annual reports, it started with an informative and entertaining letter from CEO Steve Jobs. They also often included a nice little gift - the 1997 annual report came with a VHS copy of the Academy Award winning short film Geri's Game. So I will try and minimize the financial information (much of it has already been covered in the individual quarterly posts I've done) and focus on the other content.

In their 1996 annual report, Pixar warned of a significant decrease in revenue for the upcoming year due to a decrease in revenue from Toy Story. This was logical; Toy Story was released more than 2 years earlier in late 1995, and Pixar's revenue in 1996 were over $35 million, primarily from the film. But in usual Pixar fashion, they were conservative in their guidance for 1997 and the company's revenue were almost as much as in 1996, $34.7 million. In fact, film revenue was higher in 1997 than 1996: $26.9 million versus $18.8 million, or an increase of 43%!! Not too bad given the expectations of a significant decline! The increase in film revenue was due to the Feature Film agreement between Pixar and Disney: as Toy Story revenue began to accrue, Disney was allowed to capture the majority of it to offset their marketing and distribution costs. As Disney's outstanding costs declined, Pixar received a larger percentage of the revenue. By the middle of 1997 Disney had recovered all their costs, allowing Pixar to capture a proportionally higher percentage of the Toy Story home video and merchandise sales.

You might then ask why were overall revenues down in 1997? This was due to 2 areas. First was in patent revenues - in 1996 Pixar received patent revenue of over $9 million from Silicon Graphics (SGI), which dropped to only $1.7 million in 1997. The second area of decreased revenue was in animation services, such as television commercials. Pixar decided to get out of doing animation services for external customers in 1996 to focus on its feature films which caused this revenue drop.

Pixar's gross margins continued to increase, which is amazing since they already were quite high. Overall gross margins increased from 86.6% in 1996 to 92.7% in 1997. Much of the increase came from Pixar getting out of animation services, which had the lowest gross margins of all their segments. Patent licensing revenue had no associated costs and the software segment (which derived revenues from sales of their RenderMan application) had very low costs (1.8% in 1997 versus 3.4% in 1996). Cost of film revenue also dropped to 5.5% versus 8.2%, mostly due to Disney recovering all their costs in mid-1997 which allowed Pixar to receive a proportionally higher amount of the revenue.

Overall, 1997 turned out to be a better year financially than 1996, except for the bottom line. Pixar ended up paying quite a higher amount of taxes ($9.9 million) in 1997 than 1996 ($2.0 million), due to the utilization of net operating loss carryforwards during 1996. In the end, Pixar reported net income of $22.2 million ($0.46/share) in 1997 versus $25.3 million ($0.54/share) in 1996. Still, I'd consider those pretty good results given the guidance Pixar gave at the beginning of the year!

Pixar's cash position also improved in 1997, growing from $161 million in 1996 to $176 million, even with the much larger outflow of cash Pixar experienced. Pixar spent $10 million on computers and other property to run the studio and $7.7 million on the new Emeryville studio. In addition, with the new Co-Production agreement Disney and Pixar signed in early 1997, Pixar was responsible for half of all film development costs, which totaled a little over $27 million. These costs were more than offset by the higher revenues and the $15 million Disney invested in Pixar on the signing of the Co-Production agreement.

OK, enough of the financial information. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Steve Jobs started the annual report with the shareholder letter, which he wrote after watching the 1997 Academy Awards. Pixar won their third Oscar that year, this time a Best Animated Short Film award for Geri's Game. Jobs congratulated director Jan Pinkava,  producer Karen Dufilho and the entire Geri's Game team. Besides the Oscar, Tom Duff, Eben Ostby and Bill Reeves each won an Academy Scientific and Technical Achievement award for their work on Pixar's Marionette 3-D Animation System. In addition, Tom Porter won a Scientific Academy Award for his work on digital painting. The addition of these awards brought Pixar's total count of Academy Science awards to 18.

A few other pieces of information Jobs shared:
  • Hiring 97 employees during 1997 for a total of 391.
  • Expecting to break ground on the new Emeryville studio that summer with a move-in date of early 2000.
  • Investing over $8 million annually on research.
  • Growing the size of their RenderFarm to 1000 Sun processors and having storage capacity of over 5 terabytes.
  • Highlighting that Toy Story 2 had been upgraded to a full theatrical release, and that their still secret 4th film (Monsters, Inc.) was in development and was hoped to go into production by the end of the year.
Jobs was very clear on his goal for Pixar - to make it the second greatest feature animation studio in the world, only behind Disney Animation. As part of reaching this goal, Jobs stated they were trying to release one animated film per year for the next 3 years (A Bug's Life in 1998, Toy Story 2 in 1999 and Monsters, Inc. in 2000). But Monsters, Inc. would end up not being released until 2001 and Pixar did not accomplish the goal of 3 films in 3 years until 10 years later.

Jobs went into great detail on the making of A Bug's Life.  He highlighted how there were over a dozen major characters, and that each one was more complex than any characters in Toy Story. He talked about how a new subdivision surface technology developed for Geri's Game was used to bring more subtlety and lifelike expressions to the characters. He also explained how they were using simulation software for moving crowds of hundreds of ants or creating lifelike movement in blades of grass (Simulation would reach a new level of complexity and use in Monsters, Inc.). Finally, he discussed how the lighting team was challenged to create more sophisticated lighting to support the outdoors environment the film takes place in. He said the results were "breathtaking". Jobs was also excited about the wide-screen nature of the film, stating that it would look "epic".  A Bug's Life was the first film entirely transferred to film via lasers, and Pixar had to develop their own laser film recorder to perform the transfer. And with all the complexity and larger cast of characters, Jobs stated they were using 10 times more processing power to create the film as they did on Toy Story just three years earlier.

Jobs also explained how it was decided to upgrade Toy Story 2 to a full theatrical release. They originally felt that, with most of their key people from the original Toy Story working on A Bug's Life, they would not be able to find and recruit enough talent to meet the higher standard demanded of a theatrical release. But since the success of Toy Story, Jobs stated Pixar had "become one of the hottest places to work in our industry," and had pulled together a team capable of delivering the necessary quality, at that time being led by Ash Brannon and Colin Brady. The decision to expand Toy Story 2 to a full theatrical release occurred after a November, 1997 meeting in which teams from Disney and Pixar watched the completed story reels and felt the story was strong enough to receive a full theatrical treatment.

Readers of this blog are probably familiar with the story that, less than a year after Jobs wrote this letter, Pixar would realize the story wasn't as strong as originally thought, and in late 1998 production was stopped and the story underwent a major overhaul, with John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich and others coming on board to make sure the film was delivered on time.

To finish this post, many of you have probably seen the image above of Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. Interestingly, the image's origination was in this annual report but in a slightly different fashion. You can see the original image below, which is of Pixar's executive team at the end of 1997, including CFO Lawrence Levy and Vice President of Production Sarah McArthur.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Day In Pixar History: Tia Kratter Quits (and Quits Again)!

It's April Fools Day, so what better way to celebrate it than with a story of April Fools pranks! Tia Kratter is a long time Pixar employee, starting her career as a digital painter on Toy Story in 1993.  Since then she has been the shading art director on a number of films including A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Cars and most recently Brave.

Growing up in a family of practical jokers, she decided to play an April Fools joke on her co-workers. So on April 1, 1998 she sent a company-wide email saying she was quitting. She fooled quite a few people (she even got a "Goodbye Tia" cake!), and has quit every year since (at least through 2009). She even fooled CEO Steve Jobs on 3 separate occasions! You can tell Tia is a true Pixarian, as her reasons for quitting are always original, such as becoming the art director for Tron 2, going to work in a wax museum and (my favorite) air brushing monster trucks!

Not to be outdone, her co-workers did get her back one year. I won't say how - if you want to find out go to the Disney/Pixar official YouTube channel and watch the "Tia Quits" Studio Story, which is narrated by Tia Kratter and Pixar producer Jonas Rivera.

I would love to hear if Tia has kept this tradition going and if so, what new ways she has come up with for quitting!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pixarian Start and Birth Dates, January 2014 Edition

It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts, but it's a new year, and this is an exciting month for Pixarian start and birth dates! Let's begin with some Pixarians whose Pixar career began in January:
  • Alan Barillaro (1997) - Alan has been with Pixar a long time, working on early films like A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2. He was also a supervising animator on The Incredibles, WALL•E and Brave.
    Casarosa, middle, with myself and
    my son Sam at the 2011 CAM Benefit
  • Enrico Casarosa (2002) - I discussed Enrico in the October 2012 edition of Start and Birth Dates. One thing I didn't mention is the book he co-authored with fellow Pixarian Ronnie del Carmen and well known illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi. The book is Three Trees Make a Forest, and is filled with awesome drawings and illustrations by the 3 authors. Most of the artwork was originally created for the Three Trees Make a Forest exhibit at the Nucleus Gallery in Alhambra, California. I love looking through this book; each of them brings a different style to the book. If you enjoy Casarosa's water-themed and watercolor art in this book, you'll also probably enjoy his book The Venice Chronicles.
  • Julian Fong (January 21, 1999) - Fong began his Pixar career in Emeryville doing technical support for RenderMan. He continues working to enhance and improve RenderMan and related tools. Prior to coming to Pixar, Fong studied Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. He has also worked at the National Research Council of Canada, Electronic Arts and Vertigo Software.
  • Austin Lee (2002) - Lee started at Pixar doing modeling and rigging for Elastigirl and the Underminer on The Incredibles. He has done modeling/rigging work on a number of other characters such as Colette from Ratatouille, WALL•E, and Buzz Lightyear and Molly from Toy Story 3. Lee received a Best Character in an Animated Feature award from the Visual Effects Society for his work on WALL•E. His latest work was on Brave. Lee studied at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and received a double major in Fine Arts and Computer Science.
  • David MacCarthy (2001) - David is a technical director, and has worked on many of Pixar's films including Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Cars. He was also an effects supervisor on WALL•E and Brave. MacCarthy was born and raised in Cork, Ireland. After moving to the United States he studied sculpting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Colin Thompson (2002) - Thompson started his Pixar career doing sets and character shading on Finding Nemo. He did similar shading work on The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille. He was the sets shading lead on both Up and Brave. Thompson graduated from Skidmore College in New York with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, specializing in painting, sculpting and computer graphics. Prior to coming to Pixar, Colin was a technical director on the Blue Sky Studios film Ice Age.
  • Derek Thompson (2005) - Thompson is a story artist at Pixar. He first worked on WALL•E and also worked on Brave. Previous to Pixar, Thompson worked at Dark Horse Comics, worked on video games at Rhythm & Hues and did storyboards for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith for Lucasfilm. Derek received his BFA in Illustration from Otis Parsons Art Institute.
Now let's look at some January birth dates:
  • John Lasseter (January 12, 1957) - John Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. He is also the Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter started at Pixar before it was Pixar, back when Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith were running the computer graphics lab at Lucasfilm. His first work was animating on The Adventures of André and Wally B. He was one of the forty original employees of Pixar when it was spun out of Lucasfilm in 1986. He has directed 5 Pixar feature films (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars and Cars 2), and has been executive producer on almost every Pixar film and all the Disney Animation Studio films since Pixar was bought out in 2006. Lasseter and his wife Nancy have 5 sons and own a winery in Glen Ellen, CA.
  • Bob Peterson (January 18, 1961) - Peterson is one of the earliest Pixar employees, hired in 1994 to do animation on commercials before moving over to animate on the original Toy Story. He was a story artist on both A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2 and was story supervisor for Monsters, Inc.. Peterson wrote the screenplay for Finding Nemo, along with director Andrew Stanton and David Reynolds, and they were nominated for a Best Writing Academy Award for that screenplay. He co-wrote and co-directed Up, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Film (you know, back when Pixar was being recognized by award organizations), and he was again honored with an Academy Best Writing nomination, along with director Pete Docter and Tom McCarthy. Peterson is also well known for voicing many memorable Pixar charaters, such as Roz in Monsters, Inc., Mr. Ray in Finding Nemo and Dug in Up. Peterson was scheduled to make his sole directorial debut on The Good Dinosaur but sadly was removed from the project late last year.
  • Jenifer Lewis (January 25, 1957) - Not a Pixar employee, but Lewis is well known in the Pixar universe as the voice of Flo in Cars and Cars 2. Lewis has done other voice work, such as Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog, and Motown Turtle in Shark Tale.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Animation Awards Season (UPDATE)

UPDATE 4/2/2014:  I've added the major award organizations, plus a few more of the minor organizations.

Well, here we are again, in the midst of the awards season. Close to 3 dozen critics organizations have announced their winners, and we are now close to some of the major award ceremonies - the Golden Globes will be awarded this weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be announcing the Oscar nominations next week, plus we have the Annies and BAFTA awards coming up over the next few weeks.

Below is a list of the critics organizations that have awarded a Best Animated Film (or in a couple of cases a Best Family Film), and the winner of that award:

Academy AwardsFrozen
Alliance of Women Film JournalistsThe Wind Rises
American Cinema Editors Eddie AwardsFrozen
Annie AwardsFrozen
Austin Film Critics AssociationFrozen
BAFTA AwardsFrozen
BAFTA Children'sDespicable Me 2
Boston Society of Film CriticsThe Wind Rises
Critics' Choice AwardsFrozen
Central Ohio Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Chicago Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Florida Film Critics CircleFrozen
Golden GlobesFrozen
Hollywood Film AwardsMonsters University
Houston Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Iowa Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Kansas City Film Critics CircleDespicable Me 2 / Frozen (tie)
Las Vegas Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Los Angeles Film Critics AssociationErnest & Celestine
National Board of ReviewThe Wind Rises
Nevada Film Critics SocietyFrozen
New York Film Critics CircleThe Wind Rises
New York Film Critics OnlineThe Wind Rises
North Texas Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Oklahoma Film Critics CircleFrozen
Online Film Critics SocietyThe Wind Rises
People's Choice AwardsDespicable Me 2
Phoenix Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Producers GuildFrozen
San Diego Film Critics SocietyThe Wind Rises
San Francisco Film Critics CircleFrozen
Southeastern Film Critics AssociationFrozen
St. Louis Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Toronto Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Utah Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Washington DC Area Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Women Film Critics CircleThe Wind Rises

Here is a summary of the animated films and the number of Best Animated Film awards it has won:
Despicable Me 23
Ernest & Celestine1
Monsters University1
The Wind Rises11

For the most part, I'm not surprised by these results. I thought Frozen was an excellent film with a great story, good characters, good music and amazing animation, sets and effects. I haven't seen The Wind Rises but given the history of Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki, it's not surprising it has won a number of awards.
© Pixar

What does shock me is that Monsters University has won only 1 award! Really?! I recently wrote about how Disney Animation has really upped the quality of their films over the past few years.  But it seems that as Disney has continued to deliver better films, people are acting as if Pixar is going the other way and delivering lower quality films, which I disagree with. I thought Monsters University had a great story with some really nice, unexpected twists. And while Disney continues to improve upon the technical aspects of their films, Pixar still reigns supreme in this area. They continue to lead the way in areas like physically based lighting and shading and rendering optimizations. Being able to put such detail into the large and varied range of characters in this film is stunning. I have an image of Dean Hardscrabble as my iPad's background image, and I still look at it in awe whenever I wake up my iPad.

How did Monsters University do in terms of critical reception? Below is a table with the 5 animated films that have won awards this season and their Rotten Tomatoes ratings:

Despicable Me 274%
Ernest & Celestine100%
Monsters University78%
The Wind Rises81%

Again, with Frozen at 89%, it's no surprise how many awards it has won. But Monsters University is only a couple percentage points behind The Wind Rises. I don't see how that translates into almost a dozen more wins for The Wind Rises. And Monsters University did better with the critics than Despicable Me 2, but the latter has 3 more wins. Monsters University didn't even score a nomination from the Golden Globes (The Croods, which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 70%, took the third spot along with Frozen and Despicable Me 2). So I really don't understand what's happening this year. Some people may say I'm just being too biased. And yes, I am biased (I think the word Pixar is somewhere in the name of this blog). But I can also say that Frozen is a wonderful film and deserves award recognition. Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of excellent animated films from other studios getting recognized (I'm thinking of Wreck-It Ralph, ParaNorman and Frankenweenie), and that's a great sign for the industry. But I still think Monsters University was technically better than the majority of the other contenders, and storywise it's on par with Frozen and better than Despicable Me 2. So how this translates into only 1 award is beyond me. In any case, I'm looking forward to the rest of the award season and to see how all these films fare.

If you're interested in seeing the nominations and awards bestowed upon Monsters University, take a look at its Pixar Wiki page!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Upcoming Pixar-Related Events at the Walt Disney Family Museum

If you happen to live near San Francisco, there are a few upcoming animation events at the Walt Disney Family Museum that will be hosted by current or former Pixarians.

© Alex Mandel

The first event is a workshop titled Music and Animation with Alex Mandel. This workshop will explore the role that music has played in Walt Disney feature films and shorts, and will highlight some of the people involved in creating this wonderful music. The workshop will be led by Mandel, a Pixar manager who is also a very talented musician and composer. Alex wrote 2 songs for Pixar's 13th feature film Brave, Into the Open Air and Touch the Sky (which he co-wrote with director Mark Andrews). Mandel also composed the score for the short film Your Friend the Rat, which won the Annie Award in 2007 for Best Animated Short Film. The workshop will take place on Saturday, Feburary 8, 2014 from 10am - noon. It is limited to only 25 students, so I would recommend getting tickets soon!

The second event is a talk titled Disney Animation Directors, being hosted by Disney historian Don Peri and my favorite Pixar director Pete Docter, who directed Monsters, Inc., Up and Pixar's next film Inside Out.  The talk will center around how to direct an animated film, and will discuss and highlight some of the key Disney directors. The talk will take place at 3pm on Saturday, March 1.

Finally, there will be a panel discussion entitled Women in Animation, taking place from 11am - 12:30pm on Saturday March 15, 2014. The panel is being moderated by Jenny Lerew, previously a storyboard artist at Pixar (and author of The Art of Brave) and now story artist working on Dreamworks' next film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Also on the panel will be Brenda Chapman, creator and co-director of Brave, plus Disney visual development artists Lorelay Bove and Claire Keane. This panel sounds awesome and I'm sure will be inspirational as they discuss their struggles and successes in the male-dominated film-making industry.

© Walt Disney Family Museum

There are a number of reasons I would love to live in the Bay area, and one big reason is to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.  Besides all the in-depth and rare exhibits covering the life of Walt Disney, there are a number of film screenings and animation-related workshops and classes. There are screenings and events occurring almost every day. Check out the museum's calendar for the full list.

If anyone attends one of the above events I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Disney Animation, Frozen and the Influence of Pixar


A few days ago, I received a tweet from a follower. We had both recently seen Disney's latest animated film, Frozen, and had been singing its praises. It has a strong story with great characters, stunning effects and really good music, for me rivaling the music from The Lion King. One of the tweets in our conversation was:
Do you see how Pixar’s mentality/mindset is creeping into Disney? :)
I was a bit guarded in my response. Yes, since Disney bought Pixar in 2006 and put John Lasseter and Ed Catmull in charge of both Pixar and Disney Animation, we have seen a steady improvement in the films coming from Disney Animation. Besides the first film released after the merger, Meet the Robinsons (which was released in 2007 and was too far into production for the new management to have much impact), all the other films have Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 83% or higher:

Meet the Robinsons200766%
The Princess and the Frog200983%
Winnie the Pooh201190%
Wreck-It Ralph201286%

For comparison, the last film released by Disney Animation prior to the merger, Chicken Little, has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of only 36%.

So yes, I think it's safe to say that Pixar has had a positive affect on the quality of Disney films, especially in a couple of areas, such as coming up with fully developed stories and focusing on the characters and their relationships, researching the topics and environments of their films, and advancing the technical quality of the films (Along these lines, I think Big Hero 6 is going to be stunning). I also think Lasseter and Catmull have introduced the collaborative, director-led culture that has played such a critical part in Pixar's success.

Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
and Peter Del Vecho
But I don't want to sound like the recent success at Disney Animation is all Pixar's doing. I think the talent and ability was already there at Disney. Folks like Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Lino DiSalvo and Lisa Keene, plus all the other animators, effects artists, engineers and production crew had the passion and energy to deliver quality products, they just needed the spark to release them. So while Lasseter and Catmull have provided the appropriate environment, the artists and animators have stepped into that environment and delivered in a big way. I think we have entered a new Disney Animation renaissance that will last a long time. Combined with the strength of Pixar, The Walt Disney Company has become an animation powerhouse that I don't see any other animation studio being able to compete with.

As an aside, I recently listened to episode 452 of Inside the Magic podcast, where a large portion of the podcast covered Frozen with a number of clips from interviews with the filmmakers. I had a blast listening to the clips; it reminded me a lot of listening to the interviews during a Pixar film press day. It was so enjoyable listening to the directors, producer and artists share their excitement for the film and discuss the research they did by going to Norway, building in themes like the power of happiness over fear, and the technical and artistic challenges of designing and lighting Elsa's castle. If you're into behind-the-scenes details I recommend listening to this episode, and keep abreast of future episodes as it sounds like Ricky has a lot more of these interviews that he plans on releasing.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This Day in Pixar History: Toy Story 2 Theatrical Release

14 years ago today, on November 24, 1999, Toy Story 2 hit theaters. The film became one of the few sequels that matched, and many would say exceeded, its predecessor. It made over $485M worldwide at the box office, spending its first 3 weeks of release in the #1 spot and stayed in theaters for 35 weeks. In addition, it is one of very few films to hold a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (along with Toy Story). Toy Story 2 was directed by John Lasseter and co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon.

Toy Story 2 had quite a roller coaster of a ride to release. It was originally planned as a direct-to-video sequel originally scheduled to be released in late 1998. But Disney management was so impressed with the story that in February, 1998 they upgraded it to a full theatrical release, requiring the story to be reworked and expanding the film length from 60 to about 90 minutes.

One of my favorite Toy Story 2 production stories is how they almost lost the entire film when someone accidentally ran a command on the file server that began removing all the Toy Story 2 files. I first heard this story in The Movie Vanishes Studio Story that can be found on the Toy Story 2 Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The story is narrated by Oren Jacob, who previously was Pixar's CTO and a technical director on Toy Story 2, along with Galyn Susman who was the supervising technical director of the film. I love the animation of Oren Jacob as he and Susman describe how they watched as more and more of the film was deleted and that their backups were bad. As a previous system administrator, I can imagine the panic they were feeling! Recently, Oren Jacob, now co-founder and CEO of ToyTalk, confirmed on Quora that this story is in fact true (the Quora page includes a link to The Movie Vanishes on YouTube).

Back to the production of Toy Story 2. While Disney was very happy with its story, the folks at Pixar realized there were serious problems with the story and with the team developing the film. So at the end of 1998, immediately after the release of A Bug's Life and only 9 months before the film had to be completed, they stopped production of the film and basically started from scratch with re-boarding the entire film. The team worked long hours but delivered the film on time. In a speech to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Pixar president and co-founder Ed Catmull talks about the lessons learned from making Toy Story 2. Besides talking about the changes implemented afterwards to reduce stress and hours, and the importance of quality, he discusses how critical it is to have the right team, something I have personally experienced in my own career. Catmull states the basic premise or idea of the film never changed, but that the team that came on board at the beginning of 1999 took the good premise and turned it into the fantastic result that Toy Story 2 is. He also speaks of the misconception in the press and by people that a movie, or any product, is often thought of as being a single idea. But in fact, a film or product is comprised of many ideas, and that to have a successful film/product, you need to get the majority of these ideas right, which is another reason why you need to have a strong team that works well. I strongly recommend you listen to the entire presentation as it is full of great ideas for how to run any creative business. If you're interested in the part on Toy Story 2, it begins at about 14:30 of the talk.