The Steve Jobs Building
When you enter right after the reception area, thereʼs this ginormous atrium designed to force collisions of people. From that central space, we could see the plain regular, geometric clusters made of small private offices with “open” clusters for internship desks. Steve Jobs personally oversaw the design and construction of the Pixar studios, apparently he felt that the best meetings were those that happened spontaneously in the hallways. So, the main reason why they positioned the toilets, cafeteria, the giant mail-room and gaming area was to draw the attraction of the employees from their offices to the atrium.
I was gutted that we were not allowed to take pictures of the first floor (where the private offices are located). Well… it makes sense to restrict the information that goes out from the place where award-winning movies are created. Having said that, I hope my descriptions help you visualize the rest of my experience.
The Exposed Work
There was a lot of art up on the walls, especially Mexican themed decorations because when we visited the studios they were about to launch Coco. I still can’t believe I was able to see first hand all the character design, rough sketches of Miguel and his family, some other character busts and studies for the different aspects of the movie. Walking in the corridors almost made me feel like I was in an exclusive museum right in the middle of the private offices, which by the way… you could sneak peek inside and see the different decoration displays with lots of character from each employee. After all the Coco art, throughout the corridors we saw many other sketches, studies and animatics from other successful movies, but let’s be honest… which Pixar movie is not a success, right?
What I learned
I can’t thank Krispin enough for kindly taking some of his time to show us everything. It’s funny because it wasn’t that long ago that I had finished listening to the audiobook Creativity, Inc. and so I was prepared to shoot him loads of questions, which he kindly made an effort to answer. We’ve chatted about a lot of different things, so many that it’s almost impossible to sum up. I was super interested in learning the real expectations of working for Pixar, I wanted to know more about their work ethic, the production process, etc. In the end, I’ve ended up with mixed feelings.
There’s no doubt that the majority of people truly love their jobs. It’s all very exciting and they learn a lot from producing these movies, but for others, especially artists, I got the sense that it sometimes can be a little bit restrictive and you end up doing a lot of repetitive work. For example, some artists would work on just one scene for months and donʼt get me wrong, I think it’s still an honor to participate in such production. I wouldn’t mind illustrating a pair of boots for months (Wink, wink). Also, even though some of the traditional job titles are now taken cared by computers, from what I saw it seems that Pixar still tries to preserve the quality of traditional methods. Especially during the initial phase of the production, where a lot o sketching happens for the different character designs and to help animators achieving the best movements.