Pixar President and Co-Founder Ed Catmull to Speak April 21

Pixar Animation Studios President and Co-founder Ed Catmull, whose technical innovations made monster fur look real and whose management skills built a culture that has kept the digital animation blockbusters coming, will speak at Haas on April 21.

Catmull will be interviewed by Haas Lecturer Randy Haykin in this Dean's Speaker Series event, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Room. The event is free and open to the Haas community, and lunch will be provided. Registration will be required; registration details will be posted here as the date approaches.

As an early believer in the potential of computer graphics in animation, Catmull developed software such as RenderMan that shaped the industry and is now standard in films and computer games. Catmull, who also serves as president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, has won five Academy Awards, including the Gordon E. Sawyer lifetime achievement award for his technical contributions and leadership in computer graphics.

In 1996, Catmull was vice president of the computer division at Lucasfilm when he convinced Steve Jobs to buy his group for $10 million and form Pixar. Since 1995's Toy Story, the first full-length computer animated feature, the studio has released uninterrupted hits and broken technical ground with each subsequent release. Toy Story 3 won Oscars this year for best animated feature and best original song.

Much of Pixar's enduring success is credited to its creative culture, which Catmull has cultivated. The non-hierarchical management structure gives equal value to the creative and technical sides, and directors are given broad control. Even Pixar's 22-acre campus in Emeryville is designed with collaboration in mind, built so that everyone must cross in the center instead of staying confined to a wing.

After Disney bought Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion, Catmull—along with Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter—were charged with reinvigorating the flagging animation pioneer.