Rob Cook’s featured speaker keynote took us on a journey behind the scenes of a Pixar production. Interestingly, Rob is the Vice President of Advanced Technology at Pixar Animation Studios, yet he hardly spoke about technology. He talked about story, story, story, and art. It might just be that he is so humble to rather highlight other folk’s contributions to Pixar’s final products, but it surely is connected with Pixar’s secret recipe to success – their stories.
Rob highlights the process that John Lasseter had introduced to the previously technology driven group in the early Lucasfilm VFX days, before the formation of Pixar. As John Lasseter put it “art challenges the technology, technology inspires the art.” Throughout his breakdown of the production process, Rob highlighted the importance of story and art, and the artist driven process.
In relating the painting Mona Lisa to the film Ratatouille, he explains that the painter now is the team, and the brush is the computer technology. Yet the process of painting, which is an intuitive and entirely right brain activity, is very different than what computer artists struggle with: a creative decision is made on the right brain, and then the artist has to find a left brain, technical solution, and then switch back to the right brain to assess the results. He compares our current state of tools to the Ford Model T car, which back then needed an elaborate process to start it up. His vision for the future is the creation of artist centric tools, enabling right brainers to work intuitively on the computer.
Melanie Beisswenger is character animator and animation teacher based in Singapore. Some of her past projects include the Academy Award winning feature film Happy Feet, the stereoscopic 3D animated feature Fly Me to the Moon and the TV launch commercial for the blockbuster game BioShock.
Melanie is teaching as Assistant Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, NTU in Singapore and has been involved with SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 as Computer Animation Festival Producer.