View Full Version : A Conversation with Ed Catmull

11 November 2010, 06:25 PM
"When computer graphics became practical, it reintroduced technical change into this field and invigorated it. I believe that technical change is an important part of keeping this industry vital and healthy."

"Yet the tendency of most people is to try to get to a stable place. They just want the right process, which I think is the wrong goal. You actually want to be in a place where you are continually changing things."

Interview (

11 November 2010, 11:29 PM
I suppose because he's Ed Catmull no one wants to be the first to disagree with him on that point. I am glad he has that attitude as he's a pioneer in the field. That said, I do want to find that stable place he cautions against. I don't feel limited by technology or techniques, but rather by time. I spend more time learning tools and processes than I do applying them because everything keeps moving forward so quickly. A certain amount of CG, especially with regard to photo realism, is technology driven and by necessity has to keep moving forward. What many people want though is for it to be art driven. If you learn to draw when you are young, you can spend the rest of your life drawing. You might get better over time but you won't be needing to relearn the drawing process every couple of years. CG is a moving target. No matter how creative you are you must also constantly be learning new tools and processes or you will be passed by.

11 November 2010, 04:32 PM
@moogaloonie, I guess what Ed Catmull is trying to say that innovation needs this unstable environment. And I guess he is not referring to a regular artist, who just wants to draw. He is talking about that guy who is making pens. So in some ways its people at research and development departments that has to come up with new things, not artists. Also I guess if everyone would be thinking of "trying to get to a stable place" before CG, there would be no CG at all. And who are we to say, OK, thats enough, this field is mature enough, nothing new to invent here... Even mathematics still find new algorithms and theories, and they started some years before Christ, right? :) On other hand, I do understand your worry too. One has to relearn the tool every couple of years. I guess one thing is to learn the basics of CG, programs and how they work, then each two years u just learn new keyboard shortcuts. OK i am making things too simple here, what I mean u have to learn the principles, then each 2 years, you will find same principles in different implementations. i hope one can get the point here.

11 November 2010, 06:17 PM
I think you understand exactly where I'm coming from. Most of us aren't researching new ways to approach the "problems" of CG, we are simply trying to tell stories, design/sell products etc. I don't think *he* should be content with the status quo, but I also don't see how this constant learning of new techniques is good for the average artist at all. It may be good for the field in the long term, but it's hardly ideal for the individual artist in the short term.

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11 November 2010, 06:17 PM
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