Ed Catmull

Happy 20th Anniversary, Toy Story!

Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Pixar, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 20th, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Nia • November 22, 2015

In celebration of Toy Story‘s 20th anniversary, we asked our readers to tell us how important the film is to them. Here are some of the most touching responses that will make you want to re-watch the film and hold your childhood toys close. Please note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

toy story 20th

“My daughter has always been a true and dedicated fan of Toy Story, and has also gone through several bouts of chemo with Woody and Buzz comforting her.”

My daughter was 4 years old when Toy Story came to be. She had already gone through surgeries, chemo, and was starting on radiation when she was mesmerized by Woody and Buzz. My daughter has always been a true and dedicated fan of Toy Story, and has also gone through several bouts of chemo with Woody and Buzz comforting her. She turned 24 last year. In fact, when we booked a Disney Cruise in September, I asked DCL if there was anything they can do for her. Low and behold, she was treated with a private session with her two favorite characters! I’ve never seen her smile that big. – Susan and Kayla Gordon

“Toy Story has always been my favorite childhood movie, and it eventually became the film that convinced me to be an animator.”

I could write a book about how Toy Story has impacted my life. I like to joke that the day the film was released in theaters was the best day of my life. Toy Story has always been my favorite childhood movie, and it eventually became the film that convinced me to be an animator. I have very fond memories of my Toy Story toys, from playing with little Buzz and Woody figures with my older sister, to my dad dressing up one of my other Buzzes in Barbie clothes to act out the Mrs. Nesbitt scene. I’m now in my second year of art school, and the more I learn about the history of animation, the more I see how Toy Story rocked the industry. It was a groundbreaking marriage of technology and art, and the foundation of many of the films we cherish today. The production of Toy Story itself is a story of having a dream and not giving up on it, no matter how much others try to convince you that it’ll fail. This is what inspires me to pursue my own dream of making films someday.  – Allie

“Every time I watch the original Toy Story it’s like visiting an old friend, and the movie brings me back to my childhood.”

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t treat my toys as if they were real (I was three years old when the original came out). I probably owned some small toys from the movie, but the one I interacted with the most was the computer game. Generally speaking, I loved playing all the storybook computer games from the ’90s Disney movies, and Toy Story was one of my top favorites.


The films itself hold a special place in my heart, and though I don’t remember the first time I saw the original and its sequel, they both came out around pivotal moments of my life. The first one came out two months before my first sister was born (the first time I’d become a sibling), and the second one came out seven months before my second sister was born. And the third one came out at exactly the right time: I had just graduated from high school the day before its release, and Andy saying goodbye to his toys sadly reminded me that I’d have to do the same in the next two months as I was moving to another state, away from the friends I grew up with.


Every time I watch the original Toy Story it’s like visiting an old friend, and the movie brings me back to my childhood. I may have outgrown playing with the toys I used to love, but the fond memories are still there. – Keisha

“Sharing Toy Story with my Dad is one of my best memories I have with him as a child.”

I was 8. I have a lot of clear and random memories regarding the film. I went to see it in the theater with my dad and I loved it, which was surprising because as a child I was deathly afraid of toys coming to life to the point that I had vivid and chronic nightmares. Toy Story was the movie that spun it all around for me, it made me stop fearing the idea and my nightmares literally stopped.


I love Woody more, but for some reason I really wanted a Buzz Lightyear so badly that my dad went to three or four Burger Kings to find one of the promotional plush toys they had. We couldn’t afford the actual replica toys that came out in the stores. I’ll always remember the night he brought it to me as a surprise. Buzz and I were inseparable for months after that. Sharing Toy Story with my Dad is one of my best memories I have with him as a child. – Atta Lynne

Toy Story played a very large part in my childhood.”

It was the film I watched repeatedly when I was young. Once Toy Story 2 came out, it had become my favorite movie. Toy Story 3 was probably the biggest event of 2010 for me and I also had quite a few toys at that point. With the 4th film coming and all the shorts, Toy Story will continue to remain a big part of a life for a long time. – JKOP

“May the toys continue to embrace more kids and adults for generations to come.”

I was just a baby when the first Toy Story came out. But, I loved it when I first saw it on home video and I still love it today. I have all the movies (and the TV specials on Blu-Ray and DVD), I still have a lot of the toys (the main ones like Woody and Buzz I haven’t stored away yet), and I just love this trilogy! May the toys continue to embrace more kids and adults for generations to come! To infinity and beyond! – Josiah Mielke

“My parents decided to try and spark some interests by putting on movies for me. I’d only watch one the entire way through: Toy Story.”

It all started when I was around 11 months old. I allegedly didn’t do much, I crawled around a bit, I slept, not much else. My parents decided to try and spark some interests by putting on movies for me. I’d only watch one the entire way through: Toy Story.


And so, that started a very long cycle of re-watches for years and years. Because of that, Toy Story had such a big influence on me. It’s what made me want to become an animator, made me want to work for Pixar, sparked my hobby in filmmaking, heck, it’s one of the main reasons I started talking.


In fact, anytime I go to the Disney parks, I always try to meet the Buzz Lightyear character. Unfortunately, DLP don’t really “get” the Toy Story hype, but luckily, I have met him twice; once in 2006 and once this year, in 2015. Even this year, the ride I went on most was Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.


As I write this in bed, I have a giant TS3 poster looming above me, and the Toy Story characters from Disney Infinity close by. – Noah Carolan

“Toy Story and its characters are really my oldest and closest friends, and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

What does Toy Story mean to me? Well, where do I even begin? For starters, it was the first movie I ever fell in love with. My Toy Story experience began early, like a lot of people my age. I was 13 months going on 14 months. When my dad came home with the VHS for Toy Story, I was hooked. I don’t remember this, but my mom has told me every time she popped the film in the VCR, she knew she had about an hour and a half of free time because I was just mesmerized.


Just a few weeks ago, I decided to sit down and re-watch the trilogy. I’d really forgotten just how amazing all of those films are. I still laughed at the jokes, even though I know them all by heart. I still cried at the end of Toy Story 3, even though I knew what was coming. I referred to the movie marathon as “catching up with old friends” on an Instagram post I made. Toy Story and its characters are really my oldest and closest friends, and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. So, thank you to everyone who has ever worked on these films, for crafting something that people from 1 to 99 can watch and still laugh, cry, and connect with in a way not many other films can achieve. Thank you Toy Story. May you continue to inspire people for infinity and beyond. – Forster Keenoy

“20 years later, Buzz is still my favorite character and I’ve still got Disney magic in my heart.”

I’ve been a hardcore Pixar fangirl ever since I was little. I wasn’t like most Disney-loving girls my age (i.e. I favored Buzz Lightyear over Disney Princesses).


Every time I watched a Pixar movie I was enchanted. And all three times we went to Disney World, I went Pixar crazy. I loved riding Buzz’s Space Ranger Spin, playing Toy Story Mania, dancing in Block Party Bash, and meeting the Pixar Pals.


20 years later, Buzz is still my favorite character and I’ve still got Disney magic in my heart. All three Toy Story movies bring back lots of good memories. Thank you Disney and Pixar. To infinity and beyond! – Buzzfan120

Thank you to all of the storytellers at Pixar who have brought magic to our lives. Here’s to the future and the great stories to come.

With love,

Upcoming Pixar.

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Ed Catmull Details ‘Inside Out’ Story Meeting in ‘Creativity, Inc.’ Preview

Andrew Stanton, Behind The Scenes, Brad Bird, Ed Catmull, Inside Out, Pete Docter

Posted by Brkyo614 • March 12, 2014

Late last year, Pixar head Ed Catmull announced plans to publish Creativity, Inc., a business-oriented look at his leadership strategies at the studio. With its release soon approaching, Catmull has published an excerpt from the book at Fast Company with some surprising insight into the creative process behind the studio’s next film.

The full article is a must-read, but a key section examines a Brain Trust meeting during the early stages of Inside Out‘s development. Early reactions were enthusiastic, but the group was concerned with the execution of one key scene: "an argument between two characters about why certain memories fade while others burn bright forever." Brad Bird was the first to chime in:

"I understand that you want to keep this simple and relatable," he told [director Pete Docter], "but I think we need something that your audience can get a little more invested in."

Andrew Stanton followed, as Catmull explains:

"I think you need to spend more time settling on the rules of your imagined world," [Stanton] said. […] In Pete’s film, one of the rules—at least at this point—was that memories (depicted as glowing glass globes) were stored in the brain by traveling through a maze of chutes into a kind of archive. When retrieved or remembered, they’d roll back down another tangle of chutes, like bowling balls being returned to bowlers at the alley.

That construct was elegant and effective, but Andrew suggested that another rule needed to be clarified: how memories and emotions change over time, as the brain gets older. This was the moment in the film, Andrew said, to establish some key themes. Listening to this, I remembered how in Toy Story 2, the addition of Wheezy helped establish the idea that damaged toys could be discarded, left to sit, unloved, on the shelf. Andrew felt there was a similar opportunity here. "Pete, this movie is about the inevitability of change," he said. "And of growing up."

This set Brad off. "A lot of us in this room have not grown up—and I mean that in the best way," he said. "The conundrum is how to become mature and become reliable while at the same time preserving your childlike wonder. People have come up to me many times, as I’m sure has happened to many people in this room, and said, ‘Gee, I wish I could be creative like you. That would be something, to be able to draw.’ But I believe that everyone begins with the ability to draw. Kids are instinctively there. But a lot of them unlearn it. Or people tell them they can’t or it’s impractical. So yes, kids have to grow up, but maybe there’s a way to suggest that they could be better off if they held on to some of their childish ideas."

To see how the Brain Trust debate continues, be sure to read the full article at Fast Company. There’s no doubt that the full version of Creativity, Inc., out on April 8, will feature plenty more fascinating behind-the-scenes stories. You can preorder it now on Amazon.

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Woody’s News Round-Up! (11/15/13)

Awards, Behind The Scenes, Blu-Ray, Ed Catmull, Monsters University, Round-Ups, The Blue Umbrella

Posted by Brkyo614 • November 15, 2013

Now that Toy Story of Terror and the Monsters University DVD are out, it could be a while before we hear any major news on the Pixar front. Still, here are a few updates that have popped up over the last week:

Complete Pixar Blu-ray Collection: If you’ve yet to upgrade your Pixar DVD collection to Blu-ray, now is the perfect chance with this 22-disc collection that includes every Pixar feature and short to date (with the exception of Toy Story of Terror, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex). The one caveat: it’s only available in the UK on region B discs. If you’re still on board, order the collection now on Amazon.

Disney Releases Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella Screenplays: Each year, Disney showcases their films for award consideration on the Walt Disney Studios Awards website. Though not yet fully fleshed out, the site has been updated for 2013 with pages for Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella. Most notably, it also features screenplays for both films; check them out here and here. (The Blue Umbrella is a particularly interesting read.)

The Making of The Blue Umbrella: If that screenplay piqued your interest, Indiewire has a feature exploring the earliest steps in the creation of The Blue Umbrella, including some fascinating live-action test footage. Be sure to take a look! (via Pixar Post)

Ed Catmull Details His Experience with Pixar in Upcoming Book: There have been a handful of books detailing Pixar’s rich history over the years – The Pixar Touch and To Infinity and Beyond! come to mind – but we’ve yet to see a substantial firsthand account of the studio’s rise. Now, Pixar founder Ed Catmull is set to collaborate with Amy Wallace on a new book on his time at Pixar: Creativity, Inc. Releasing next April, the book will “provide an inside account of Pixar’s rise from a small, money-losing hardware company to a movie studio with 1,200 employees and a streak of fourteen No. 1 movies in a row that has garnered 30 Academy Awards and earned more than $7 billion worldwide.” Pre-orders are already available on Amazon.

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John Lasseter and Ed Catmull Remember Steve Jobs! [UPDATE]

Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Steve Jobs

Posted by Martin • October 5, 2011

On this day, the world lost a true visionary.

As the genius behind Apple, Steve Jobs will never be forgotten thanks to his abundant contributions to the world of electronics and digital media. In addition, we must remember his efforts to invigorate a once fledgling hardware company into the leading animation powerhouse that we know today as Pixar Animation Studios.

John Lasseter and Ed Catmull remind us of Jobs’ contributions to the Lamp in a newly released statement:

"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.’ He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time."

-John Lasseter & Ed Catmull

Update: The Pixar homepage has been updated to reflect Jobs’ passing.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

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Disney/Pixar Withdraws from ASIFA!

Annie Awards, Ed Catmull

Posted by Martin • August 25, 2010

After almost four decades as a loyal sponsor, The Walt Disney Company has withdrawn from the Annie Awards and ASIFA, its parent organization.

Today’s announcement comes from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull: "We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged, and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board."

Concerns arose due to ASIFA’s questionable policy; anyone can get a membership, and in turn, could skew the vote in what is meant to be a representation of the animation community’s views. In other words, the Annies are not truly an industry award because they can be easily bought out.

To avoid controversy, we won’t directly mention DreamWorks’ policies related to the Annies. This also means that we won’t be covering the 38th annual ceremony as it is unlikely that Toy Story 3 will be eligible to compete.

Should Disney/Pixar have withdrawn from the Annies?

(via Variety)

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Pixar Appearances: Ed Catmull + Cynthia Slavens!

Ed Catmull

Posted by Martin • May 1, 2010

The following Pixar appearances piqued my interest! Although I’m far away from Hawaii and New York, I thought I’d pass the information along:

If you live in the Aloha State, you may just get to meet the man behind Disney and Pixar. The studios have set up a screening of Toy Story 3 and Day & Night in Honolulu with a special introduction by Ed Catmull himself!

The highly anticipated sequel is set to preview on May 16th and benefit a great cause, The Children of Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia. Tickets go for $125, with an after party at Dave & Busters and Pixar goodie bags included. Best of all, your donations actually go straight to the charity because Ed Catmull helped cover the entire event. Details here. [via Pixar Talk]


Meet Cynthia Slavens, a post production manager at Pixar. She held a talk on Pixar’s innovation as part of the Syracuse International Film Festival today. I’m sincerely sorry that I missed informing you guys about this earlier because she’s got quite a cool job; Cynthia is in charge of Pixar film distribution, making sure that tranfers from theatres to TV, DVD, and even in- plane entertainment goes well!

But what makes Slavens extra special is that her story is similar to how many Pixar fans, including myself, wish their lives would turn out. She was actually a huge Pixar fan before applying, so "[i]n that respect, it makes [her] job easy." After seeing Monsters, Inc. (that movie inspired me too!) her dream job was established and she fulfilled her ambitions in 2005. Although you may not be able to hear her talk in person anymore, you can learn more about Cynthia here.

Did you attend Cynthia Slaven’s talk; will you be attending the Toy Story 3 screening in Honolulu? Let us know!

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Three VES Award Nominations for Up; Ed Catmull to be Honored!

Awards, Ed Catmull, UP

Posted by Martin • February 21, 2010

This year, Pixar will be especially well represented at the Visual Effects Society Awards, not necessarily for Up, but for the studio’s world-class leadership and innovation.

Regardless, Pete Docter’s latest is in the running for three categories at the upcoming ceremony! For Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature, Up is going head-to-head with 9, Coraline, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Ice Age 3. The film is also in the running for Visual Effects in an Animated Film alongside Coraline, ‘Cloudy’ and Monsters Vs. Aliens.

Carl Fredricksen and his real-life representatives are set to compete against Coraline, B.O.B. (Monsters Vs. Aliens) and Buck (Ice Age 3) in the Character category for ‘toons. Nominees range from the film’s director and producer to effects artists, animators, voice actors and more so unfortunately we won’t list them all here. You can check the full list at VES’s site.

Also of note, it was recently announced that Pixar’s President and co-founder (who’s finally tweeting) will be honored by the Visual Effects Society with their Georges Méliès Award for Pioneering. I honestly can’t think of anyone more deserving of this prize, after all, Ed Catmull is one of the fathers of computer graphics and the special effects it can achieve. In fact, much of the media we experience today probably wouldn’t exist without this incredible individual.

The 8th Annual VES Awards will be held on February 28th in Beverly Hills, California. The show can be seen March 5th on ReelzChannel.

Congratulations to Ed Catmull and good luck to the Up team!

(via Stitch Kingdom)

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Ed Catmull’s Stanford Lecture

Ed Catmull

Posted by Martin • January 3, 2010

Lately, Ed Catmull has been floating around the Twittersphere (will he update his account?) in the form of a very interesting video lecture titled "Keep Your Crises Small".

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business uploaded the 54-minute talk with Pixar’s President back in July of last year (originally recorded in ’07) but it hadn’t hit the news radar until now. I highly recommend you watch this chronicle of Pixar’s existence through Ed’s eyes in full, complete with excellent advice on how to avoid disaster and excel in the business world. Stick around for the Q&A secton in the final 20 minutes:

I hope you enjoyed the video and absorbed some wisdom from Pixar’s founder!

Related: Also of note, USC News reported on Ed Catmull’s very recent talk at the Ray Stark Center. Give it a read here.

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Celebrating A Week of Pixar at UC Santa Cruz!

Ed Catmull, Monsters, Inc., Pixar, Ratatouille, The Pixar Story, Toy Story

Posted by Martin • October 8, 2009

The University of California Santa Cruz is hosting a film retrospective on Pixar Animation Studios from October 20th to the 23rd!

The week of Pixar presentations will include everything from movie screenings to lectures from Pixarians. Some of the events are even free of charge! Check out what’s going on below:

October 20th: Tales of Labor and Value: What Works at Pixar consists a Monsters, Inc. screening and snippets from Ratatouille. The movies will be followed by a talk on what messages Pixar films are sending about productivity in the workplace. This event is free, more details below.

October 21st: The next day, you can experience The Making of Toy Story hosted by Pixar’s Mark Henne. Of course, it’s an inside story on the production of the world’s first computer animated feature film. Admission is $10, free with student ID.

October 22nd: Making Movies is Hard Fun: Building Tools for Telling Stories will be headlined by Michael B. Johnson (you may recognize him from Twitter.) He’ll be talking about the technical innovations and challenges that come with the making of a Pixar film. If you’re in the area, you really don’t want to miss this special screening of The Pixar Story followed by a Q&A session with filmmaker Leslie Iwerks! Tickets cost $5 dollars, get them here.
October 23rd: If those last presentations weren’t exciting enough, get ready for this one. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios will be giving a lecture entitled, Creativity ~ What I Don’t Know and What I Know! This rare opportunity to see Catmull in person is yours for free, but you must pre-order tickets from this page to attend.

Find times and locations for the first three events with this list. For more information on the latter two and the celebration in general, check out the official portal. If you’re planning on attending UCSC’s (almost) week long event, drop us a line!

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Woody’s News Round-Up (6/29/09) [UPDATE]

Awards, Ed Catmull, Round-Ups, Toy Story 3

Posted by Martin • June 29, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Woody’s News Round-Up, stories we want to pass along that didn’t quite make it to an individual post:

Ed Catmull to be Honored by VES: The Visual Effects Society announced today that they will be presenting the George Méliès Award to Pixar President and co-founder Ed Catmull! The prize’s description defines Catmull very well since he pretty much "pioneered… the art and/or science of the [CGI] visual effects industry." He will be accepting the honor during the VES Awards on February 28th, 2010.
[Source: THR | via: The Pixar Touch Blog]

Up in FoxTrot: The popular Sunday comic strip, FoxTrot by Bill Amend, featured a certain Pixar movie that’s been making waves at the box-office. When one of the kids watches Up in theatres, he’s inspired. But what exactly does he do with that inspiration? Click here to see a large version of the hilarious strip.
[Thanks, Hannahmation from the Pixar Planet Forums]

Toy Story 3 Grows Up: The word "mature" brings up different thoughts in different people; some think of it as inappropriate for younger audiences, others as smarter and wiser, and some think of it as a term for violent content. Whatever your perception of the word, this is what BURN•E director and acclaimed animator Angus MacLane had to say to Cinematical about Toy Story 3: "…each of the films represents where the filmmakers were at the time… we’re approaching [TS3] 10 years later… we’ve grown up with these toys, and we have a reverence for them, but we also have different things as a priority." Working off of those quotes, Total Film has also explored some odd possibilities for this "grown-up" plot, I’m sure it’s a joke, of course.

Notice Something?: Look at the title of this article, doesn’t that date look familiar? Well, it should because it’s the second anniversary of Ratatouille! Go make yourself something nice to eat in honor of Chef Remy! Notice something else, it’s the one month anniversary of Up. With reviews and revenue like that, Pixar must be celebrating BIG!

Update — Doug Sweetland Invited to the Academy: Acclaimed director of Presto, Doug Sweetland, was recently invited into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Sweetland will be part of the animation branch of the Academy and will be able to vote on the Oscars. Also of note Peter Gabriel, performer of WALL•E’s original song Down to Earth, has also been invited to join. Learn more about the other 134 inductees in the official press release.

Did anything in Woody’s News Round-Up catch your eye, tell us in the comments section!

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