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The Pixar Touch - The Making of a Company

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The Pixar Touch is a lively chronicle of Pixar Animation Studios' history and evolution, and the “fraternity of geeks” who shaped it. With the help of animating genius John Lasseter and visionary businessman Steve Jobs, Pixar has become the gold standard of animated filmmaking, beginning with a short special effects shot made at Lucasfilm in 1982 all the way up through the landmark films Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and others. David A. Price goes behind the scenes of the corporate feuds between Lasseter and his former champion, Jeffrey Katzenberg, as well as between Jobs and Michael Eisner. And finally he explores Pixar's complex relationship with the Walt Disney Company as it transformed itself into the $7.4 billion jewel in the Disney crown.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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David A. Price

5 books19 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 332 reviews
Profile Image for Amy.
2,541 reviews375 followers
August 24, 2018
I expected a book entitled The Pixar Touch to focus on what made/makes Pixar great. Instead, it reads more like a biography about the creation of Pixar, starting with the early careers of Pixar's founders and tracing their bumpy history with Disney.
In many ways, I enjoyed it. As a child, I took for granted movies like Toy Story and The Incredible. It is eye opening to see all the effort that went into developing the technology to make the movies possible. I never knew how close Toy Story 2 (the first movie I ever saw in theaters!) was to being a dud. I love any trivia about my favorite childhood stories.
At the same time, the 2008 publishing date on this book means that many of my questions remain unanswered. Why was Cars 2 soooooo bad? And how did they redeem Cars 3? What changes happened after they fully integrated with Disney? I want the sequel to the story.
Still, an interesting, engaging biography and I enjoyed listening to it.
Profile Image for Benjamin.
25 reviews44 followers
July 23, 2014
Honestly, this is probably a four star book but I have a bit of a soft spot if not just an immense amount of respect for Pixar as a company and (nearly all of) their movies (I'm looking at your, Cars...). The Pixar Touch is a very nice getting-to-know-you type of book, going through all of Pixar's history in less than three hundred pages. Of course the entire story can be summarized by mentions of Pixar software/hardware, Steve Jobs, and Disney drama.

Nevertheless, Price manages to expand on all things Pixar without overwhelming the reader with mundane details and irrelevant tangents. Most chapters are focused on a particular aspect of Pixar's history in chronological order, and no new character or product is introduced without sufficient background. But, the fact that Price never delved into a topic without at least a few paragraphs about where a prominent character came from or the origins of a particular story ends up disrupting the flow of narrative. For example, Price may be describing the strained relationship between Disney and Pixar (or rather Eisner and Jobs) only to suddenly jump to the introduction of Bob Iger by detailing his background and how he came to work at Disney. Understandably Iger was the next logical point in the story as the resolution to the Disney/Pixar conflict, but the immediate jump was surprising.

Minor issues aside, The Pixar Touch was a really great book to read - short but pretty much all-encompassing, covering not just Pixar and its head executives but also details and background about Pixar techniques (though thankfully only at a high level), Pixar movies, etc. If there was one sole reason for me to justify bringing it down to four stars, it would be that the timeline for this story only went from Toy Story to Ratatouille, and the content for Ratatouille was kept to a bare minimum. I would have loved to hear more about Up and even (what I consider to be) the highly underrated title Brave, but that's probably asking for too much. I got all I asked for and as a side effect I now have an unrelenting urge to watch Pixar movies for the rest of the day.

Also, The Incredibles needs a sequel. Just do it, Brad!
Profile Image for David.
193 reviews7 followers
March 28, 2009
This was a fascinating story. The company called Pixar made it big by being the pioneer in computer animation, replacing the "old-style" hand-drawn animation techniques of the Disney tradition. But it was a long, painful process to get to "fame and fortune." The book includes some early history of computer development, the gradual evolution of graphics hardware and rendering software, and the persistent and painstaking efforts that led to sophisticated computer animation. We meet the key personalities involved along the way, many unique and interesting people. There is also lots of description of the creative process that went into developing the blockbuster movies (characters, story lines and plots, music, choice of voice actors, etc.).

The book was "techie" enough to satisfy that part of my interest, but would not be overwhelming to someone not familiar with computers. A fascinating read - makes you eager to go back and watch some great animated movies again, but with a new appreciation for what is involved in making them!
Profile Image for Faz .
24 reviews7 followers
April 22, 2012
In Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, there's a picture of Jobs with John Lasseter. They were both laughing (as people normally do in pictures that are featured in biographies) & the caption reads "With John Lasseter, August 1997. His cherubic face & demeanor masked an artistic perfectionism that rivaled that of Jobs." Chapter 22 of that book talked about Pixar, from the point where Lasseter & his team had had the first half of Toy Story ready to screen by November 1993. The short chapter then concluded that Steve Jobs had created two of the best brands of his time: Apple & Pixar.

David A. Price's The Pixar Touch has the details.

I learned from this book that I almost didn't get to know Buzz, Woody & the rest of Andy's toys, how talented people gave their all to make a dream possible (carpal tunnel syndrome notwithstanding) & how expectations are managed (including Steve Jobs's.)

"Character animation isn't the fact that an object looks like a character or has a face & hands. Character animation is when an object moves like it is alive, when it moves like it is thinking & all of its movements are generated by its own thought process...It is the thinking that gives the illusion of life. As (Antoine de) Saint-Exupery wrote, "It's not the eyes, but the glance - not the lips, but the smile." - John Lasseter, 1994.

More than "how Pixar was born", this book is a behind-the-scenes account of behind-the-scenes documentaries of Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. & more.
Profile Image for Mr. Grr.
113 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2018
What a beautiful book about a company I hold dear to my heart. The writing was natural, and Price's knack for journalism has left me deeply satisfied and utterly inspired!
Profile Image for Gijs Grob.
Author 1 book35 followers
June 19, 2014
'The Pixar Touch' describes the development of the successful animation studio, from its humble beginnings as a dream of a bunch of visionary computer science students to its assimilation within the Disney Company in 2006, when somehow things became full circle for Pixar (this last chapter is titled 'homecoming' for obvious reasons).

Price goes at lengths to delve into the deep past, rendering the origins of Pixar's key players, Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith and John Lasseter. It takes a long time before the name Pixar drops by, and a large part of these chapters is more about computer development than about animation, but because of this it's all the more exciting. Price makes clear that the vision of a computer animated feature film originated very early, long before it was possible to realize. He clearly describes the erratic paths Catmull, Smith and Lasseter had to take to fulfill their dreams. He also manages to paint a vivid picture of the primitive yet exciting years of early computer development.

Surprisingly, the book becomes less exciting when describing the events after the release of 'Toy Story' (1995), when Pixar is on a more or less continuous winning streak. Price manages to present some interesting facts around 'A Bug's Life', 'Monsters, Inc.' and such, but he describes the subject of animation less well than company history. In all, 'The Pixar Touch' is more about its subtitle 'the making of a company' than about Pixar animation itself. But that's no problem at all, because the result is a very interesting read into the origin and development of the most innovative animation studio since Walt Disney.
Profile Image for Michael Scott.
724 reviews130 followers
August 9, 2009
The Pixar Touch tells the story of the establishment of Pixar as the leading 3D computer animation company. Sure enough, Price gives us a vivid account of the grinding and growth of what essentially is the success of a garage company (albeit an academic garage). We are told how Pixar started as an imaging branch of Lucasfilm, went on as a hardware company, awed at SIGGRAPH for years, and only later could focus on making feature animated movies. We get to learn about the process that led to the first commercial success of Pixar, Toy Story. We are spoon fed with details on the evolution of their movie scripts (up to Ratatouille, released 2007). We are gripped with accounts about legendary people--George Lucas, Steven Jobs, Joe Lasseter--and companies--Lucasfilm, Disney, Microsoft, Apple. But between the good technical and economic detail, and a well-crafted and entertaining story, we also find the book to revolve around a wonderful premise: that Pixar set to find and retain creative people on a creative journey. To conclude, this book is a wonderful read, and if you are a creative person it will make you glow.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
801 reviews2,504 followers
June 22, 2011
This is a fun book; it is of special interest to me, as my brother works for another major computer animation studio. I did not realize how large a role that Steve Jobs played in the development and financing of Pixar. The company is wildly successful, and has contributed enormously to the state-of-the-art in computer animation. Just as important as the animation technology, the creativity, story-lines and dialogues developed by Pixar are wonderful. This book does a good job of helping one to understand the motivations of the company executives and employees; it's not just about money, it's also about quality.
79 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2017
Awesome book explaining in detail how Pixar is able to churn our great movie after great movie. Also reaffirms that Steve Jobs is a douche
Profile Image for Deepika Ghodki.
57 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2022
The cadences of Pixar film: stretches of adventure narrative and comedy punctuated by moments of disarming earnestness - all capped by the inevitable happy ending.

I declared this book as awesome even before reading a single page, the title itself is a winner. Having been obsessed with Pixar and their story telling, I was so excited for this. Not because I was waiting to find something extraordinary or new, but because you can never get tired of reading about them. Throughout the book, I switched between the expressions - wow or aww.

This is a story weaved from interviews of a variety of people who had something to do in the making of one of the coolest animation studios. It all started with a group of computer graphics enthusiasts who wanted to do animation. From a research lab at NYIT, to doing light effects at Lucas Films, to finally becoming Pixar, this group did a whole lot of peripheral stuff before making movies. They made ads, they made computers and even software. What's heartwarming to me is they kept going not to make money, but because they wanted to be associated with something cool. They kept adding new people as they went - all sharing the same passion.

I enjoyed reading the making of movies especially the iconic Toy Story. The amount of research that goes behind every movie is just unimaginable. I loved how each character was introduced with a little bit of background - it added a lot of context.

Some lines that stood out to me-

At the age of 39, he was distressed to find himself simply marking time - doing what he perceived to be dull, routine work, yet unsure what direction to go.

when I look back on my career, it's the things that were made under these circumstances, under these conditions they were not the best, that i'm the most proud of - Steve Jobs

If you put on a mask to look more noble than you are you might just grow into the mask

where creative talent did exist, whatever be its source, it should be treated as precious. Without it comes decline.

In conclusion, I would just like to wish for a sequel of this book :)
Profile Image for Tomas Vyskocil.
11 reviews6 followers
August 29, 2020
Kniha, která popisuje historii Pixaru, ale na rozdíl od většiny knížek tohoto typu, je to hodně průměrný kousek.

Co je na ní nejzajímavější, je popis úplně samotného vzniku Pixaru a osob, které za ním stáli. Zatímco většině lidí se při vyslovení Pixar vybaví jména jako John Lasseter nebo Steve Jobs, tato kniha vám ukáže, že mnohem důležitější byly jména jako Ed Catmull nebo Alvy Ray Smith. Byli to oni, kdo začali v akademické prostředí poprvé s počítačovou animací a zkoušeli první animované filmy.

Vliv obou známějších jmen je ovšem nepopíratelný. Jobs byl ten, který po svém vyhazovu z Apple v polovině osmdesátých let koupil tehdy ještě neznámou technologickou část od George Lucase, který pro počítačové efekty tehdy neměl upotřebení (ironické, že?). A taky potřeboval po rozvodu s první manželkou peníze. Jobs financoval Pixar dlouhá léta, utopil v ní postupně několik desítek miliónů dolarů a zajišťoval pro ní obchodní vztahy.

John Lasseter byl zase člověk, který po svém vyhazovu od Disneyho (opět, ironie), přešel k Pixaru a ukázal, jak dělat opravdu skvělé příběhy, nejen skvělé animace. Dlouhou dobu byla ale část animovaných filmů v Pixaru v pozadí, firma chtěla původně více dělat hardware pro animátory a filmy měly být jen promo. S prvními úspěchy animovaných filmů a následně velkou zakázkou pro Disneyho se to na počátku devadesátých let konečně změnilo.

Kniha se ale těmto okamžikům věnuje spíše okrajově a většinou se to soustředí na popis toho, jak animace vznikaly a co za nový software k tomu musel být napsán. Je tak spíše zajímavá pro studenty počítačové grafiky než lidi, co se zajímají o Hollywood. O problematickém vztahu s Disneym a jakým peklem procházel vývoj prvního ToyStory se více dozvíte v jiným knížkách (DisneyWar).

Od úspěchu ToyStory už je to jen popis vítězných koleček s dalšími filmy s nikterak záživným dějem. Kniha končí převzetím ze strany Disney, ale ani předcházejícím bouřlivým rokům není věnováno moc prostoru. Škoda, tohle mohlo být mnohem vydatnější.
Profile Image for Diana Harvey.
19 reviews2 followers
August 8, 2017
The Pixar Touch read more like a novel than it did a non-fiction book! Reading non fiction can sometimes be very tedious no matter how much you might like the subject. I was happily surprised that it was not written as 300 pages of sheerly academic information but instead read more like a set of stories. The book included enough technical detail that I learned more than I ever thought I would about computer animation and movie production, but not to much to be overwhelming to a reader.
Hearing the stories of the people who put the company together was by far the most interesting part of the book. I never even knew how much of a hand Steve Jobs had in Pixar and it's creation. One member of the Pixar company I thought should have been given more time in the book is John Lasseter. Thought he was not as involved with the business portion of the company, without his creative ideas the company would have gone nowhere.
This book would be a good read for anyone who is interested in Pixar and their link to Disney, but also for those that might just be interested in animation and computer animation history.
After reading The Pixar Touch, I am definitely interested in reading more about Pixar, Disney, and especially John Lasseter.
Profile Image for Chaise Crosby.
Author 1 book5 followers
February 10, 2017
This was a fascinating read for me; all the more so because I've always been a huge fan of Pixar. Having read Steve Jobs last year, it was interesting to read some of the same stories from a different perspective. This book was very enlightening as far as the struggles that the Pixar team went through to get off the ground and for the immense work that has gone into computer animation at Pixar. I'm tempted to go through and watch each of their movies again with newfound appreciation!
Profile Image for Anya.
90 reviews14 followers
July 4, 2017
This is an engaging and fun look at the founding and history of Pixar. It gets a little dense when discussing the different technology Pixar pioneered but Price never veers too deeply into it to make it entirely inaccessible. As much as a Disney buff as I am, knowing all the details of Disney's history, it was fun to finally know Pixar's history too! now I just need a sequel since so much as happened with the company since this book was published.
Profile Image for Bethany Ungar.
4 reviews11 followers
December 31, 2020
I was inspired to read this after reading Creatvity, Inc. by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull. In comparison, The Pixar Touch started off pretty slow for me- it was a lot heavier on details about animation technology at the beginning, which I’m sure would be very interesting to people in the field but was a bit over my head. It picked up a bit in the second half once the story progressed to Pixar making feature films. I loved hearing behind-the-scenes stories about the scriptwriting process and inspiration for each film.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kazi.
147 reviews21 followers
July 1, 2020
As an animated movie fan, loved this book!

কয়েকজন মানুষের কম্পিউটার এনিমেশনের প্রতি ভালোবাসা থেকে কিভাবে আজকের এই পিক্সার ইনকর্পোরেটেড তৈরি হলো, সেই চমৎকার গল্পটা তুলে ধরা হয়েছে। শুরুর কষ্ট, লুকাস ফিল্ম থেকে স্টিভ জবসের মালিকানায় আসা, এরপর ডিজনির সাথে চুক্তিতে এসে সত্যিকারের পূর্ণদৈর্ঘ্যের ছবি বানানো- সবকিছুর বর্ণনা পড়ে মুগ্ধ হয়েছি। টয় স্টোরি, ফাইন্ডিং নিমোর মত প্রিয় ছবিগুলো বানানোর পেছনের পরিশ্রম, গবেষণার কাহিনীগুলো অসাধারণ লেগেছে।

সব মিলিয়ে, এনিমেটেড মুভি পছন্দ করে থাকলে এই বইটা must read.
435 reviews1 follower
August 26, 2017
Interesting read. Enjoyed learning about how Pixar got started. Also enjoyed learning about the inspiration for some of the movies and the revisions they went through.
Profile Image for Chris.
14 reviews
December 11, 2022
You know when a book is just everything you want it to be :)
Profile Image for Davis.
80 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2009
Interesting history of Pixar's turbulent beginnings. The Pixar founders just wanted to make computer animated entertainment. But to keep the financing going, they had to masquarade as a hardware/software company for Lucasfilm and then later for Steve Jobs, who purchased Pixar for a mere $5 million from Lucasfilm. It's amazing how none of the financial backers (George Lucas & Steven Jobs) or potential buyer (Disney/Eisner/Jeffery Katzenberg) never saw the creative potential of Pixar. It's safe to say that Jobs was extremely lucky. Pixar was treated like a black sheep in its early days but ended up being valued at $7.4 billion dollars when Disney finally bought it in 2006. Pixar's founders are to be commended for sticking to their vision and doing what it took to stay alive though they did make out like bandits in the end.

At times the book dragged a little, going into minute details about the animation process and some of the copyright infringment lawsuits filed against Pixar as well as digressing into the backgrounds of some of the key players. Most of it was interesting but could have been edited a little better.
Profile Image for Judy.
705 reviews10 followers
June 25, 2009
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and was especially intrigued by the role the University of Utah (my alma mater) played in the earliest developments in computer animation. However, I have to confess I got a bit bored during the descriptions of one technological development after another, and then by the in-depth description of all the politics and feuds in the Disney and Pixar worlds. That was followed by details of the plot development of eight or nine Pixar films. Yawn. Still, the main characters in this drama are interesting, driven people who did what they did (at least initially) because of their love for it. Additionally, Pixar's ups and downs are not what I would have guessed, and knowing about the roller coaster ride, it is amazing to me that Pixar has done as phenomenally well has it has. And then there is Steve Jobs. He is ALWAYS interesting. Who can figure him out? I think this would be a great book for someone with just a little more computer background than I have.
Profile Image for Christopher Litsinger.
724 reviews7 followers
June 24, 2012
If you are enough of a Pixar fan to watch the movies with the director's commentary, most of this will seem familiar.
One interesting omission comes early on in the book when discussing the failure of the first Toy Story script: Price does not mention Katzenberg's pushing for more "edge" which is well covered in the Jobs biography, and seems central to the story to me. This kept me from fully "trusting" the book.
Perhaps the most interesting bit for me was the description of The Incredibles characters (I think I've not seen the commentary for it):

The dad is always expected in the family to be strong, so I made him strong. The moms are always pulled in a million different directions, so I made her stretch like taffy. Teenagers, particularly teenage girls, are insecure and defensive, so I made her turn invisible and turn on shields. And ten-year-old boys are hyperactive energy balls. Babies are unrealized potential.
Profile Image for Beth Robinson.
203 reviews10 followers
January 22, 2016
This book was a solid company biography. It balanced well the stories of the decision-making individuals, the technology, and the movie-making. With some of the topics discussed, I expect there are other interpretations of the facts the story was based on. Especially since it delves into corporate politics. But that's okay.

I knew some of the pieces about how the individual movies were made, so I was especially intrigued by the early days when the very idea of computer animation was cutting edge and took ridiculous amounts of computing power in relation to what was available.

I know there's some books about Pixar's creative process. This isn't one of them. But it's still a story of how a few people, particularly John Lasseter, who championed an unorthodox idea managed to bring it to a success, with the participation of many other people and through unexpected manueverings.
Profile Image for Alice.
135 reviews24 followers
November 5, 2011
The Pixar Touch is a fascinating story of Pixar, from its humble beginnings in a garage to the animation powerhouse. The author deftly weaves together strands from business and corporate intrigue (Roy Disney vs. Michael Eisner! Disney vs. DreamWorks!), the history of computer animation and technology, and the personal stories of the major players in the history of Pixar. The book deepened my appreciation of the technical wizardry of the Pixar films and my admiration for the company. It's a quick, interesting read. For me, the highlight was the chapter about all of the litigation that Monsters, Inc. spawned. I had no idea that Mike Wazowski generated so much trouble.
5 reviews
October 30, 2015
I've already known a little about how Pixar came to be from the Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs book, this is a deep dive into the early years of Pixar, the John Lasseter story pretty much. For someone who loves the Pixar movies so much its great to know how some of them were made. its not the best book ever but for a Pixar enthusiast its definitely a must read.
Profile Image for Philip Palios.
Author 4 books19 followers
June 12, 2016
One of the best profiles of a company I've ever read. Price provides a fascinating history of Pixar from the very early days, documenting the rise of an entire new dimension to the film industry. He discusses the people involved just as much (or more) than the technology, but both accounts are interesting. Price's writing is elegant and engaging, making this book a page-turning joy to read.
Profile Image for Effatina.
3 reviews16 followers
February 1, 2019
This book was so good and so inspiring! I had no idea how much passion and grit it must have taken these artists and engineers to have persevered over the decades to achieve their ultimate goal, computer animated feature films. I continue to be in awe of the likes of these creatives who made it happen. Great read!!! 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼
Profile Image for Pancha.
1,179 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2012
A fun history or Pixar. Even though I knew how things were going to end, I cheered every time they had a victory. It ends after the release of Cars, and I hope one day the author can do an updated version.
Profile Image for Charles.
49 reviews27 followers
November 5, 2012

A truly comprehensive journey through the history of Pixar. I thoroughly enjoyed John Lasseter's involvement in Pixar for leading the creative process. It allowed me to appreciate the films, knowing the background information.
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