Customer Reviews


41 Reviews
5 star:
 (33)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
A wonderful book for all people who work with other people - especially managers. Everyone needs to be creative, not just artists, and this book is perfect for explaining how to do your best to help people achieve this. I annotated it with important notes throughout and then found that Ed had rather marvellously picked up on all these in his rules section at the end...
Published 7 months ago by Jacksprat

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The tip of hypocrisy
Ed Catmull is the central figure in the wage-fixing scandal, which has rocked the CG industry, so this book is the tip of hipocrisy.
Published 1 month ago by IT enthusiast


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 11 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
A wonderful book for all people who work with other people - especially managers. Everyone needs to be creative, not just artists, and this book is perfect for explaining how to do your best to help people achieve this. I annotated it with important notes throughout and then found that Ed had rather marvellously picked up on all these in his rules section at the end. These should be stuck to every managers wall!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars The Pixar approach to work, life, and art., 4 Nov. 2014
Movie fans will no doubt be familiar with auteur theory. Filmmaking is clearly a collaborative process requiring the talents of many people, but the general concept is that it is best for one person - the director - to be able to create their unique vision with as little interference as possible. I subscribe to this theory myself. You can't have too many cooks in the kitchen, as the saying goes.

But Pixar does have quite a few cooks, each contributing their own unique ingredients to the films. As Pixar fans know, there is a small group of people (about a half-dozen or so) who have essentially worked on all the movies -- they alternate directing, writing, and other duties, but they all provide input into each of the films. Although there is typically only one person credited as director, at Pixar the films are very much a collective vision and thereare checks and balances going on throughout the filmmaking process.

This book is full of anecdotes from Pixar - examples of creative disagreements and problem solving techniques from inside one of the great movie production companies.

I recall John Lasseter once saying (and I'm paraphrasing) something like "every movie we make is at one point the worst movie ever made". So how does Pixar turn the worst movies ever made into near-perfect films such a high percentage of the time? Well, this is essentially what the book answers. It's because of a creative environment where risks are encouraged and the more ideas the better - after all, you can throw away the bad ideas and keep the good ones. According to the book, there is also a culture of complete honesty about what elements of the movie are working and which ones aren't - the collaborators are not afraid to call out a bad idea when they see it (I gather that this is somewhat of a rare thing in Hollywood).

Obviously, this book is most useful as it pertains to creating art. But these principles can also be transferred to any type of work/business environment, as well as in daily life. In particular, the book inspires me to strive to think outside the box. It also serves as a reminder that opposing points of view should be celebrated rather than berated. "Creativity, Inc" is a highly recommended read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at a revolutionary company, 6 Oct. 2014
Right from the start I have to say that I loved this book.

With companies like Apple and Google getting so much written about them today as being both the most innovative companies about as well as the places to be for anyone who is interested in future thinking, it is easy to overlook the importance and brilliance of other companies out there that are making big waves in their field.

Pixar is one such company (for me at least) and as a creative person I now find myself truly ashamed that I had not spent more time reading about this company before.

This book is a very in depth look by one of the Pixar's founders into one of the most revolutionary companies of the late 20th century and this century as well.

It is easy to overlook these people that have become famous for making computer animated cartoons but actually they are a company that has revolutionised the movie industry. They took a concept that was completely new and have not only run with it but have changed the cinematic world as we know it to the point where some of the highest grossing movies of all time are now Pixar movies.

On top of this it is also easy to overlook the management aspect in these creative companies. Everyone's heard of Steve Jobs and a lot of people who are aware of this industry know of John Lasseter, but Ed Catmull has always seemed like a tertiary character to their story but as this book has proved a number of times, I have been wrong to think that way.

Basically what I am saying is that this is a book that took me completely buy surprise and I loved every minute of it. The story is incredibly well told not to mention being one of the most inspiring books I have read about a business in a long time. Now not only do I love their movies but I am truly impressed with their company as well.

Because this book is filled with lots of great tips for managing your business, being more creative as well as some interesting anecdotes as well, this is truly a book for every reader. Therefore I will happily recommend this book not just to creatives but to anyone with an interest in business, film or just inspiring people and companies.

This was a truly good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pixar's Creativity Secrets, 9 April 2014
By 
Charles - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
This book is written by Ed Catmull (one of the founders of Pixar), it describes the creative process Pixar uses to develop their movies.

This book is broken down in to four sections

1) Getting Started
While Ed was at university he was involved with high tech research funded by the American government( as a response to the Russian Sputnik program). The government just let the scientists research whatever they wanted and trusted them to do the right thing, this was highly influential on the author's belief in non hierarchical groups and trusting people to get on with their work.

"The leaders of my department understood that to create a fertile laboratory, they had to assemble different kinds of thinkers and then encourage their autonomy. They had to offer feedback when needed but also had to be willing to stand back and give us room. I felt instinctively that this kind of environment was rare and worth reaching for. I knew that the most valuable thing I was taking away from the U of U was the model my teachers had provided for how to lead and inspire other creative thinkers. The question for me, then, was how to get myself into another environment like this-- or how to build one of my own."

After going in to the business world, Ed found problems with the non hierarchical structure when groups got large, so he had to start introducing managers (later in the book the author states that during the filming of Toy Story the managers became a problem getting in people's way ("sand in the gears" as the author put it) and their control had to be rained in)

When Pixar showed their animation Wally B at the SIGGRAPH conference the animation was not properly complete, but the audience loved it anyway because they liked the story. This taught Pixar a very important lesson, even with all their hi tech animation, story is the most important thing.

Ed describes the influence of quality control techniques used by Japanese manufacturing firms had on Pixar.
"Several phrases would later be coined to describe these revolutionary approaches-- phrases like "just-in-time manufacturing" or 'total quality control'-- but the essence was this: The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest person on the production line. If anyone at any level spotted a problem in the manufacturing process, Deming believed, they should be encouraged (and expected) to stop the assembly line. Japanese companies that implemented Deming's ideas made it easy for workers to do so: They installed a cord that anyone could pull in order to bring production to a halt. "

"Before long, Japanese companies were enjoying unheard-of levels of quality, productivity, and market share. Deming's approach-- and Toyota's, too-- gave ownership of and responsibility for a product's quality to the people who were most involved in its creation. Instead of merely repeating an action, workers could suggest changes, call out problems, and-- this next element seemed particularly important to me-- feel the pride that came when they helped fix what was broken. This resulted in continuous improvement, driving out flaws and improving quality. In other words, the Japanese assembly line became a place where workers' engagement strengthened the resulting product. And that would eventually transform manufacturing around the world." Influenced by this, all workers in Pixar can suggest improvements and talk to anybody else no matter what their place in the hierarchy.

Pixar believes people are more important than good ideas.
"If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better."

"Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas. In a sense, this was related to my thinking about W. Edward Deming's work in Japan. Though Pixar didn't rely on a traditional assembly line-- that is, with conveyor belts connecting each work station-- the making of a film happened in order, with each team passing the product, or idea, off to the next, who pushed it further down the line . "

"To ensure quality , I believed, any person on any team needed to be able to identify a problem and, in effect, pull the cord to stop the line. To create a culture in which this was possible, you needed more than a cord within easy reach. You needed to show your people that you meant it when you said that while efficiency was a goal, quality was the goal. More and more, I saw that by putting people first-- not just saying that we did, but proving that we did by the actions we took-- we were protecting that culture."

Toy Story 2 was as big problem for Pixar and had to be radically altered at very short notice, employees had to work very long hours exhausting them.
"On the most basic level, Toy Story 2 was a wakeup call. Going forward, the needs of a movie could never again outweigh the needs of our people. We needed to do more to keep them healthy. As soon as we wrapped the film, we set about addressing the needs of our injured, stressed-out employees and coming up with strategies to prevent future deadline pressures from hurting our workers again. These strategies went beyond ergonomically designed workstations, yoga classes, and physical therapy. Toy Story 2 was a case study in how something that is usually considered a plus-- a motivated, workaholic workforce pulling together to make a deadline-- could destroy itself if left unchecked. Though I was immensely proud of what we had accomplished, I vowed that we would never make a film that way again."

2) Protecting the New

The need for feedback from others is considered very important at Pixar, not taking personal offense when your ideas are criticised is vital. "There is no doubt that our decision-making is better if we are able to draw on the collective knowledge and unvarnished opinions of the group. But as valuable as the information is that comes from honesty and as loudly as we proclaim its importance, our own fears and instincts for self-preservation often cause us to hold back. To address this reality, we need to free ourselves of honesty's baggage. "

"One way to do that is to replace the word honesty with another word that has a similar meaning but fewer moral connotations: candor. Candor is forthrightness or frankness-- not so different from honesty, really. And yet, in common usage, the word communicates not just truth-telling but a lack of reserve. Everyone knows that sometimes, being reserved is healthy, even necessary for survival. Nobody thinks that being less than candid makes you a bad person (while no one wants to be called dishonest). People have an easier time talking about their level of candor because they don't think they will be punished for admitting that they sometimes hold their tongues. This is essential. You cannot address the obstacles to candor until people feel free to say that they exist (and using the word honesty only makes it harder to talk about those barriers)."

"Of course, there are sometimes legitimate reasons not to be candid. Politicians, for example, can pay a steep price for speaking too bluntly about contentious issues. CEOs can get dinged for being too open with the press or with shareholders, and they certainly don't want competitors to know their plans. I will be less than candid at work if it means not embarrassing or offending someone or in any number of situations where choosing my words carefully feels like the smart strategy. But that's not to say lack of candor should be celebrated. A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments."

The importance of not being afraid to makes mistakes is covered.
"Pete and his crew never believed that a failed approach meant that they had failed. Instead, they saw that each idea led them a bit closer to finding the better option. And that allowed them to come to work each day engaged and excited, even while in the midst of confusion. This is key: When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive , not as a frustrating waste of time, people will enjoy their work-- even when it is confounding them. "

"The principle I'm describing here-- iterative trial and error --has long-recognized value in science. When scientists have a question, they construct hypotheses, test them, analyze them, and draw conclusions-- and then they do it all over again. The reasoning behind this is simple: Experiments are fact-finding missions that, over time, inch scientists toward greater understanding. That means any outcome is a good outcome , because it yields new information. If your experiment proved your initial theory wrong, better to know it sooner rather than later. Armed with new facts, you can then reframe whatever question you're asking."

As a business grows its employs more people and those people need work to do, it becomes the hungry beast that needs work to feed it, it is easy to copy other peoples' ideas to create movies to feed the beast, but this creates mediocre films. The author states that all Pixar movies start out bad, they are ugly babies, they need time to grow, for the story to be rewritten and rewritten, slowing getting better and better over time until it's ready, while this happens the ugly baby needs to be protected from the hungry beast.

The fact that change and randomness are a part of life and need to be embraced in the creative process is covered.

"What stands in our way are these hidden barriers-- the misconceptions and assumptions that impede us without our knowing it. The issue of what is hidden , then, is not just an abstraction to be bandied about as an intellectual exercise. The Hidden-- and our acknowledgement of it-- is an absolutely essential part of rooting out what impedes our progress: clinging to what works, fearing change, and deluding ourselves about our roles in our own success. Candor, safety, research, self-assessment, and protecting the new are all mechanisms we can use to confront the unknown and to keep the chaos and fear to a minimum. These concepts don't necessarily make anything easier, but they can help us uncover hidden problems and, thus, enable us to address them."

3) Building and Sustaining

This section goes in to detail how Pixar challenge their preconceptions, for example going on field trips ( e.g learning to scuba dive as research for Finding Nemo), using short films are a form of experimentation or learning how to draw to improve observation skills.

"MANY OF US have a romantic idea about how creativity happens: A lone visionary conceives of a film or a product in a flash of insight. Then that visionary leads a team of people through hardship to finally deliver on that great promise. The truth is, this isn't my experience at all. I've known many people I consider to be creative geniuses, and not just at Pixar and Disney, yet I can't remember a single one who could articulate exactly what this vision was that they were striving for when they started. "

"In my experience, creative people discover and realize their visions over time and through dedicated, protracted struggle. In that way, creativity is more like a marathon than a sprint. You have to pace yourself. I'm often asked to predict what the future of computer animation will look like, and I try my best to come up with a thoughtful answer. But the fact is, just as our directors lack a clear picture of what their embryonic movies will grow up to be, I can't envision how our technical future will unfold because it doesn't exist yet. As we forge ahead, while we imagine what might be, we must rely on our guiding principles, our intentions, and our goals-- not on being able to see and react to what's coming before it happens."

The use of mental models as a coping mechanisms as used by Pixar and Disney Animation's directors, producers, and writers is covered. By visualising their problems as familiar pictures, they are able to keep their wits about them when the pressures of not knowing shake their confidence. "George Lucas liked to imagine his company as a wagon train headed west-- its passengers full of purpose, part of a team, unwavering in their pursuit of their destination"
Construct the mental mode that works for you, is to be thoughtful about the problems it is helping you to solve.

4) Testing What We Know

"The truth is, as challenges emerge, mistakes will always be made, and our work is never done. We will always have problems, many of which are hidden from our view; we must work to uncover them and assess our own role in them, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; when we then come across a problem, we must marshal all our energies to solve it. If those assertions sound familiar, that's because I used them to kick off this book. There's something else that bears repeating here : Unleashing creativity requires that we loosen the controls, accept risk, trust our colleagues, work to clear the path for them, and pay attention to anything that creates fear. Doing all these things won't necessarily make the job of managing a creative culture easier. But ease isn't the goal; excellence is."

There many interesting stories about the goings on at Pixar and its early days. Steve Jobs was a investor in Pixar and there are many anecdotes about Steve Jobs including how he would pull his socks up through a hole in his trouser legs!

This book is a must for Pixar fans and people looking to understand how to create a highly motivated, efficient, and creative working environment.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars read it and read it again, then read it again and then again, 3 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
As a creative director, coach and mentor to design business owners, I found myself highlighting the many powerful nuggets of wisdom I came across - ideas and strategies I could pass on to my clients. I got to about chapter 6 and realised I had highlighted nearly everything so now I just buy them a copy of their own. It's the best book on creating a positive psychological environment for creativity I've ever read and I wish I had it available to me when I was running my team of creatives all those years ago.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book with slightly misleading tittle, 15 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
The book shares experience in running creative business from managers point of view and describes common pitfalls and problems facing it. The knowledge is applicable to all fields and it is certainly a worthy read. I would consider it more of a business literature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The tip of hypocrisy, 14 Dec. 2014
Ed Catmull is the central figure in the wage-fixing scandal, which has rocked the CG industry, so this book is the tip of hipocrisy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A truly inspiring book, 12 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
For those of you who want to read about cultivating a creative work environment then this is the book for you. Ed breaks down from the high level / abstract into the actual steps which can be taken to encourage a culture of creativity and continuous learning. This book should be mandatory reading material for all managers and employees of companies seeking to improve their organisations.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars This excellent book from one of the kind pins of Pixar ..., 31 Aug. 2014
By 
John Joyce "Author - Masterpiece" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
This excellent book from one of the kind pins of Pixar reads as well as a 'biography' of the development of Pixar as it does as a practical management handbook on how to create and nurture teams of highly creative people for the best results. I would recommend this wholeheartedly to film buffs, artists, managers and entrepreneurs alike.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars happiness is where expectations meet reality - maybe I had ..., 18 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Kindle Edition)
He says at the beginning that it's not a memoir... it is. Interesting enough as he's had a very interesting life, but not particularly insightful on running creative teams... sorry. As he says in the book, happiness is where expectations meet reality - maybe I had overly high expectations on this one. Hats off to the guy though!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews