Last week, Disney laid off 75 employees at animation studio Pixar, including some longtime executives. This includes Angus MacLane, director of light year (who was there for 26 years) and producer Galyn Susman, famous for being the person who “saved”. toy story 2.
As it has been told countless times over the decades – perhaps down to the smallest detail in this 2012 TNW
Do not worry about it! They had backup tapes – yes, ribbons
At least, that’s what they thought. The more the team started working with the data stored in the backups, the more problems started to appear. It turned out that the backup tapes had problems of their own – they had quietly filled up months ago and were wiping out old data with new backups with every backup – and therefore the restored animation didn’t work either.
Oren Jacob, former Chief Technical Officer of Pixar, tells of this dreaded moment:
“This work is definitely wasted because it’s on top of an unreliable restoration,” Jacob recalls. “Unfortunately what has happened now is that there is no confidence in any solution at all because the restore is bad, the work on it is bad, the erasing was terrible and the backup tapes are broken.”
“All possible directions of movement are broken and maybe even worse. We don’t quite understand why they are broken. If only 10 percent of the show is off tape, what 10 percent? I don’t know.”
“That was the big meeting in the conference room in Bugville (Pixar’s corporate complex). All the big heads in the studio are like, “Uh, I don’t know. Oh dear God!”
In the midst of trouble, someone had an idea. Senior Technical Director Gayle Susman, who had recently had a child, had been working from home a lot and had her own backups.
“She and I just got up and walked out, back to her Volvo, drove across the bridge, got the machine, got some blankets, I strapped them on and crossed the back seat. Drove at about 35 degrees with blinkers on hoping to get a police escort. No cops saw us so it didn’t help us.”
By then, the Volvo had become a $100 million machine as all of the team’s previous project work was focused on its powertrains.
They made it safely back to Richmond. “Eight people greeted us with a sheet of plywood in the parking lot and carried it like a limousine with the pharaoh into the engine room.”
And it worked! It took a lot of work to get the data back into the whole team, but eventually they got updated and the film was saved. At least for a while; While Susman, her backup men, and her Volvo have long been the stars of the story, what’s less widely reported is that not long after, Pixar executives hated the film so much that large chunks of it were scrapped and remade in hellish months anyway had to. long crisis that may have resulted in a pretty great movie, but also a tremendous physical and emotional toll on Pixar employees This resulted in “a full third of the staff” suffering from RSI, and it led to incidents such as when an animator “forgot to drop off his child at daycare one morning and, in mental confusion, left the baby in the backseat of his.” Cars forgot.” Parking lot”.
Fast forward to 2023 and as part of broader layoffs at Disney – not only downsizing, but also TV shows– Susman is now gone next to me light year Director MacLane and Michael Agulnek, Vice President of Global Advertising at Pixar. The Reuters Story announcing the layoffs They’re certainly painting a picture that their layoffs aren’t just because of that light years poor (by the standards of major Pixar films) box office, but Disney was upset that “Lightyear couldn’t be shown in 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia because of its depiction of a same-sex relationship,” which “impacted on…” its performance at the box office.”