Pixar University

icon_luxo.jpgI read an article a few weeks ago in the NY Times on Pixar’s employee training program.

According to Randy S. Nelson, who joined the company in 1997 and is dean of Pixar University… “We’ve made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We’re trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It’s no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it’s a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people.”

Pixar University … has more than 110 courses: a complete filmmaking curriculum, classes on painting, drawing, sculpting and creative writing. ”We offer the equivalent of an undergraduate education in fine arts and the art of filmmaking,” he said. Every employee — whether an animator, technician, production assistant, accountant, marketer or security guard — is encouraged to devote up to four hours a week, every week, to his or her education.

At one class, the sixth session of a nine-week course called ”Lighting and Motion Picture Capture,” the students represented an intriguing cross-section of Pixar employees: a post-production software engineer, a set dresser, a marketer, even a company chef, Luigi Passalacqua. ”I speak the language of food,” he said. ”Now I’m learning to speak the language of film.”

‘The skills we develop are skills we need everywhere in the organization,” Mr. Nelson said. ”Why teach drawing to accountants? Because drawing class doesn’t just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There’s no company on earth that wouldn’t benefit from having people become more observant.”

OK, not every company out there works in such a cool field like Pixar. An internal university program for a paper products company doesn’t sound like it would be too compelling. But encouraging employees to always be making themselves better through continued education is a great idea. It could be as simple as providing time and budget for self study.


10 Comments on “Pixar University”

  1. Kilian Sevilla says:

    Hi, I’m so interesting about the Pixar’s University and I want to know where’sthat University to study there.
    I’m from Spain.

  2. Andrej Gregov says:

    Hi Kilian. Unfortunately, the Pixar University is an internal educational program just for Pixar employees. You could get hired by Pixar and then you’re off to the races. 🙂

  3. nirmal says:

    i am interested in doing course of animation 2d as well as 3d. i want to know whether pixar university provides such courses.i am a indian resident. also if pixar university does not provides such course then where should i join to learn the art of animation so that it becomes easy for me to join pixar inc.

  4. Andrej Gregov says:

    Hi nirmal,
    Pixar U is not a program open to non Pixar employees. It’s an internal employee training program. If you’re interested in computer animation, I’d check your favorite University.

  5. David says:

    Hello Andrej, I’m extremely interested in one day working for Pixar. I’m wondering if you could email with any kind of advice, just giving me general (or detailed) advice in the direction to go. I have an art background, but didn’t finish college. I’m not sure if I should join the Academy of Art in SF or what; I’m stumped really. My email is deekdiggler8@comcast.net. Thanks so much!

  6. Andrej Gregov says:

    Hi David. Unfortunately, I’m far from an expert in computer graphics. I posted on Pixar because I found their internal employee training program unique. From a software engineering perspective, you’d certainly need a CS degree to get in that line of business. Even then, it’s increadibly competitive from what I understand. Amazon sells a book you might try: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Job-CG-Advice-People/dp/0782142575/. Good luck!

  7. I was just hired as a technical director intern at Pixar. If making films is your passion and you are willing to devote about two years of your life to research and personal study, whilst letting most other life processes halt – like social life, other hobbies ect. then I would say you have a chance. Study Renderman if you want to be a rendering artist, learn programming languages like c and python if you want to be writing the tools for the artists, and learn how to animate if that’s your thing. Get some professional experience so you know how to present yourself. Package everything you learned into a nice 2-3 minute demo reel and apply when they have a job opening. It worked for me 🙂 the secret is to learn their style and way of thinking~Pixar is much more than a company name!

  8. Ken Paul Rosenthal says:

    Dear Andrej,
    I just read the NY Times artical on the Pixar University with great interest, as I am a film artist who has been teaching an ‘Experimental Motion Pictures’ class in the Bay Area for over 10 years now.
    I feel my course would compliment Randy S. Nelson’s values, and would love to pitch it to him. If you have any contact info for him, or know of an avenue with which I can send him my course syllabus, I’d be very grateful.
    Please contact me off-list: kenpaulrosenthal@hotmail.com
    Thank you very much…Ken

  9. Andrej Gregov says:

    Hi Ken,
    Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone referenced in the NYT article. My post was simply focused on pointing out Pixar’s program as a great example for corporate training. I’d try contacting Pixar. Good luck!

  10. Patrick Zaia says:

    Hi my name is Patrick Zaia, I am 13 years old I am very interested in going to the Pixar University when i become of age.
    Could you please advise me of what I need to do to get into your University as an employee and tips to work my way up the carree ladder.
    Patrick Zaia

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