Creativity Inc (2014) by Ed Catmull is combination business book and book about Ed Catmull himself and the remarkable studio that is Pixar.
The book goes fairly quickly over Catmull’s upbringing and history and gets him into being part of the computer graphics (GC) part of George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic which was sold to Steve Jobs in 1986. Pixar first tried to sell computers and then produced commercials and then started making films, the first of which, Toy Story, was the first entirely CG feature film and a huge hit.
Catmull then writes about managing Pixar through various problems and running the place with a Toyota like attitude where everyone could contribute to improving the process. The book shows Pixar as a truly remarkable place where people care deeply about what they do and are some of the best in world at what they do. Catmull writes about how each Pixar film is worked over and over until it is good, with reviews done by a braintrust of high achieving senior people. It’s clearly a remarkable combination.
Catmull doesn’t cover any of his own incredible 3D graphics work. It’s a bit unfortunate. The book can feel a bit like Shakespeare writing about how to run a theatre or Leonardo Da Vinci writing a management book on the best way to run large number of tradesmen.
Still, the book reads well and does give a picture of just how incredible Pixar is. It’s a bit more of a business book than anything else but even so it’s a fun read.