Ed Catmull || The Soul of Pixar

May 6, 2021

Today it’s great to chat with Ed Catmull. Ed is the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and former president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. He has been honored with five Academy Awards, including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of computer graphics. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah and is the author of Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.

[1:04] Ed’s childhood growing up in Utah in the 50s
[3:57] Ed’s entry point into the field of animation
[7:30] The evolution of computer graphics
[12:20] How Ed broke barriers in his field
[15:21] Ed’s encounters with Silicon Valley and emerging technologies
[20:29] Ed’s interactions with Steve Jobs
[34:36] How to create a sustainable creative culture
[43:22] Ed describes his leadership style
[46:01] How to protect the creative process and handle internal conflict
[56:33] What it means to take risks at Pixar
[1:03:32] The core principles that make Pixar so creative
[1:10:17] How to lead an effective team
[1:13:13] The appeal of anthropomorphic characters in animation
[1:16:20] The impact of the pandemic on Pixar
[1:24:40] Ed’s opinion on cancel culture
[1:26:30] Ed’s thoughts on the future of animation
[1:33:00] Diversifying Pixar
[1:37:32] Ed’s complete inability to visualize (aphantasia)
[1:40:38] Ed’s thoughts on the field of education

One Response to “Ed Catmull || The Soul of Pixar”

  1. Alan Cook says:

    I thought Scott’s questions were interesting and well thought out, but Ed’s replies were a tad meandering and didn’t really address creativity, except in the broadest sense (such as applying what works for the company Pixar in terms of creativity to everyday individuals, which doesn’t make sense to me). For the most part, they were N of 1 examples and platitudes. In some cases he would not answer the question and tell some other story. This made the interview more boring than the majority of Psychology Podcast interviews, perhaps because Ed doesn’t have a similar research background and it was difficult to bounce questions off him.

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