Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and one of the early pioneers of computer animation has announced today that he will retire from the Studio at the end of 2018 (and continue in an advisory role through July 2019).
Of course, this news shouldn’t come as a total surprise as Mr. Catmull (73 years old) has had a 40-plus year career within the computer graphics industry and has certainly worked hard to step into the next phase of his life. The impact of his departure was announced by himself and included a statement from Bob Iger (via Associated Press) discussing the impact Ed has had in the industry.
Catmull was a pioneer in computer animation and technology in film. George Lucas hired him in 1979 to head Lucasfilm’s computer division. Catmull in 1986 co-founded Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. He’s overseen films at Disney from “Frozen” to “Up” and has been recognized multiple times by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for advances in technology and computer graphics.
Since Jim Morris has been acting as Pixar’s president since November 2014, he will continue within his role, as an immediate successor for Ed’s role was not announced. (Ed was the acting president of Pixar and Disney Animation while each respective studio also had an individual president.) This also mirrors the dual Chief Creative Office roles of Pete Docter (Pixar) and Jennifer Lee (Disney), rather than John Lasseter holding that role across studios.
Catmull also noted in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter) that the path and the people were extraordinary throughout his career.
“Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years — the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world.
From the request of George Lucas to bring technology to the film industry, to the vision of Steve Jobs, and the extraordinary freedom provided by [Disney executives] Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman, we continue to dream of stories and ways of making those stories that always surprise. I have the mixed emotions that come with stepping away from a group of people I love, but also with the utmost pride and pleasure that we now have at both Pixar and Disney Animation the most dedicated and imaginative leaders I have worked with.”
Congratulations are in order to Ed for his extremely impactful career and future retirement. Check out the related links below for additional information regarding Ed’s book on managing a creative company as well as his impactful commencement address to John Hopkins University.
What are your thoughts on today’s news? Leave a comment below or chat about it with other fans in the Pixar Post forum thread regarding Ed’s retirement.
Pixar Post — T.J.