The Next Pixar Is Something We Can’t Even Imagine Yet

The idea for a completely digital movie originated almost 40 years ago. It wasn’t until more than 20 years later that this dream was realized with Toy Story. The creators and heads of Pixar knew that their dream was possible they just had to wait for technology to catch up to them. Using Moore’s law they knew that it was only a matter of time and fortunately they were right. They were able to predict when it would be feasible to make this movie 5 years in advance, which enabled them to make smart business decisions.

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Moore’s law, according to a cofounder of Pixar, Alvy Ray Smith, can be defined as, “Everything good about computers gets an order of magnitude better every five years”. In other words a computer’s processor complexity doubles every 18 months. So if we know how fast technology is going to progress why do we bother with the intervening steps? Why don’t we just create a processor that’s 4 times as complex in 3 years? The reason is that inventors can’t fathom what step 2 is before they get to step 1. Every progression of technology requires new thought processes that didn’t previously exist; “it’s not simply more, it’s different”(Smith). It’s similar to the idea of evolution of living things in that small alterations eventually lead to massive changes but we couldn’t have skipped a step.

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Innovators forge ahead in this manner, implementing each step, measuring its success, and than gaining the courage to move ahead to the next level. Moore’s Law told Smith and the other creators of Pixar that they needed to build up their hardware instead of making movies because financially it made more sense. Smith has come up with the explanation that an,” exponential improvement of a given technology — Moore’s Law in the case of computer chip technology — measures the ultimate speed at which a large group of creative humans can proceed to improve a technology, under competition, when there’s no physical barrier to its improvement and when the technology must pay its own way”. So what will the next big thing be? 40 years ago, when Smith came up with the idea for a completely digital movie, it seemed impossible. Whatever crazy idea anyone of us has could become reality in 20 years, we just have to wait and see. The next big thing is coming and it’s absolutely exhilarating to think that we can’t even fathom what it is yet.

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6 thoughts on “The Next Pixar Is Something We Can’t Even Imagine Yet

  1. Great post. I liked how you incorporated many different things including pictures, a poll, a graph, Moore’s law, and even a quote from Smith. You definitely did your research! The topic of this post is also great as most people in our generation can appreciate Toy Story as apart of our childhood. When I think about Pixar, I usually just think back to Finding Nemo and I forget that their success started long before with Toy Story. You definitely touch on some relevant points to. I feel like it’s hard enough to make a computer processor that is so much more powerful just 18 months after the previous one came out. As outsiders, it’s so easy for us to just say “well why can’t you make it better?” but the reality is that it is so difficult to create something that small and powerful. It’s exciting to think about what the future of movies and digital media can be considering not too long ago, TV shows were still in black and white on 6-inch screens.

  2. I really like the title of this post because it rings true. It is so hard to imagine what movies, phones, computers, and other technology will be like in the future and how much things will change. I like that you address the argument of why even bother making something now if it will be better and faster in a couple years. Sometimes it can be difficult to create a product that will most likely be overtaken in the future by something new, but these intervening steps are incredibly important to get to the future product. Technology can build off of other products and evolve through creations that might be forgotten about down the road. This was an interesting topic and I like that you included a picture, graph, and poll. It might be helpful if you gave a few more examples of things that people didn’t think possible in the past that actually exist today because it adds to your message that the future is unimaginable, but overall I really enjoyed this!

  3. This is a great post because it uses something that is known to everyone in our generation and applies it to a more complex technological concept. When I think of Pixar, I think of imagination and creativity rather than the technology and complexity of this technology that is necessary to create these types of movies. I especially appreciated the explanation that we cant just create a computer that is better in a matter of 3 years instead of 5 because what really needs to happen is a step by step procedure. We cannot even begin to imagine what can come 30 years from now unless we figure out what we will have 5 years from now. I really liked this post because I was drawn to it despite the technical language because of its connection with Pixar. It really gave a clear explanation of Moore’s law and posed an interesting question at the end. The graph, picture and poll were great additions! Great job!

  4. I enjoyed reading this post because you used a well known concept to help us understand what Moore’s Law means in reality. It makes me wonder what companies, like Pixar, have an idea that they are just waiting for technology to make possible. It seems to me that those ideas will come quickly and be implemented and prepared for properly. Technological advances, however, also make possible ideas that were not contemplated until the advance is made. There are endless possibilities for what technology will make possible in the coming years. I am just as excited as anyone to see what these advances will be and how they will change our lives, for better or for worse (double-edged sword).

  5. “Everything good about computers gets an order of magnitude better every five years”. I like this optimistic definition from Alvy Ray Smith. It certainly comes from someone like him who was enough of a dreamer/kid who believed in 100% digital movies before the technology was possible. Sounds like James Cameron waiting for technology to advance before directing his film AVATAR. It’s especially relevant to your point on the fact that the future of technology is unknown because we can’t skip steps. If we could skip steps, innovation would be even more exponential, which is indeed a scary thought, because despite Smith’s optimistic view of computers and technology, there are always negative effects that must be considered.

  6. Great post. I really liked the quote about Moore’s Law being limited to how fast a group of unhindered creative people can push technology. Often the technology is considered innovative, when it is the people behind it.

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