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Art challenging technology

In explaining the relationship at Pixar between art and technology, John Lasseter often describes it this way: The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.

Here’s an early example of art reaching out to technology at Pixar before it was Pixar. The predecessor to Pixar, Ed Catmull’s Computer Division at Lucasfilm, contracted with Lasseter in late 1983 to work on a short film directed by Alvy Ray Smith; the film eventually became The Adventures of André & Wally B. The group’s modeling software at the time offered only basic geometric shapes like cones and cylinders. Lasseter asked Catmull and Smith for a new shape, a flexible, teardrop-like form, that would let him create a more appealing character.

Below, Lasseter reaching out to the technologists. (Click to enlarge.)