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Daniel Scrivner

Steve Jobs' SIGGRAPH Keynote Speech on Pixar and Toy Story in 1995

Steve Jobs was honored as the Keynote Speaker at SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques) in 1995. In his keynote speech, he sets Pixar's accomplishments with Toy Story in the broadest historical context — framing it as the latest in a string of technical breakthroughs since the first film was shown 100 years previously. He breaks down Pixar's ambitions, what makes Pixar unique, and the incredibly complexity they have to grapple with as part of making "fully digitally synthetic" films. It's an incredible look at the early years of Pixar.

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Speech Transcript

Introduction to Steve Jobs:

It's with great pleasure that we're able to introduce to you the SIGGRAPH '95 keynote speaker, SteveJobs. As many of you know, Steve co-founded and was chairman of Apple Computer. He led Apple to become a $2 billion company during which time he co-designed the Apple II, and led the development, marketing and manufacturing for the Macintosh and LaserWriter printer. Steve, also co-founded and currently serves as chairman and CEO of NeXT Computer.

Steve attended Reed College in my hometown, Portland, Oregon. He went on to receive the NationalTechnology Medal from President Reagan in 1985 in recognition of his pioneering work in technology, and in 1989, was named Entrepreneur of the Decade by Inc. Magazine.

About 10 years ago, Steve purchased the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Research Group from GeorgeLucas and spun it off into an independent company we know today as Pixar. Steve serves as chairman and CEO of Pixar today as well. In 1988, Pixar won the Best Animated Short Academy Award for Tin Toy, the first time a computer animated film was awarded with an Oscar.

Pixar, together with Walt Disney Company is currently in production on the first ever completely computer generated feature length film in history, which is called Toy Story, and it will come to life thisThanksgiving. Please give a warm welcome to Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs:

Okay, great. I'm really privileged to be here this morning. My colleagues and I feel really special to be able to talk to you today about some really exciting stuff. I want to talk about three things today. The first one is the centenary, the second one is scale and complexity, and the third is a place in history.

Let's start with the first one. As I was doing some research for today, I discovered a really startling fact that is all the more relevant since computer graphics is making major contributions to the motion picture industry, and seems quite appropriate since we are in Los Angeles, which is the world-wide center for motion pictures.

And that fact was that this year is the 100th anniversary, the centenary year of the first motion picture.The first motion picture was shown in 1895. It was created by two brothers, Antoine and Louis Lumiere, and it was projected below the Grand Cafe in Paris, France, 100 years ago, December 28th, 1895. So we are at the centenary of this incredible invention.

Now, what I'd like to do is examine how technology has influenced the motion picture since that time.How has the incorporation of technology progressed and how has it changed the way we view motion pictures? Well, the invention of the motion picture was an amazing feat of technology. The Lumiere Brothers invented their own cameras, their own projectors.

We went along for almost 40 years before we saw the next major technological innovation, which was sound. In 1927, The Jazz Singer premiered starring Al Jolson. It was mostly a silent picture with a few songs, but in it, Al Jolson spoke several lines and with those lines, ended the era of silent pictures forever.

As a measure of how revolutionary this was, US movie attendance went from 60 million persons in 1927when The Jazz Singer premiered to 110 million persons in 1929. Incidentally, The Jazz Singer was immensely popular and saved the studio that produced it, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. And that studio was Warner Brothers. If Warner Brothers had not taken a major gamble on new technology, there would be no Time Warner today.

The next major incorporation of technology was in 1932. In 1932, Technicolor had perfected their three-strip color film process after having had many problems with some earlier technology. Unfortunately, they could not interest any major studio at that time in making a color film. Can you believe that?

The studios treated it as a outrageously risky expense and refused to pony up the money to make color films. There was only one studio at the time that decided to go for it, and that was Walt Disney. And Walt Disney trained their animators in color theory and produced the first color films, the SillySymphony cartoons, which won several Academy Awards and ushered in the age of color.

The next major breakthrough was in 1937 with Snow White, the world's first animated feature film produced by Walt Disney. It incorporated many innovations including the multi-plane camera, and really was the first new form of motion picture entertainment since the invention of the motion picture itself, some 42 years earlier. Animation would never be the same again, and Disney's led the way since then.

The next innovation was two years later. While there were a half a dozen live action films which incorporated Technicolor before The Wizard of Oz, none of them were either commercially successful, nor did they ignite the public's demand for color. The Wizard of Oz changed all that and became the icon of bringing color into live action films.

We then progress almost 40 years before the next major incorporation of new technology, which wasStar Wars in 1977. Star Wars not only totally redefined the science fiction motion picture film genre, but it also elevated special effects to become an equal partner to live action in storytelling and motion pictures. Now, although Star Wars' effects were produced pre-computer graphics, they really opened the door for everything that followed, and we are still living in their shadow today.

We then progress a little over a decade to Terminator 2. Although Terminator 2 was the first film to bring computer graphic special effects into the mainstream, although there were a few films to incorporate computer graphic special effects like Alien and The Abyss before Terminator 2, Terminator 2was what captured the public and elevated computer graphic special effects to the mainstream. This was followed two years later by Jurassic Park, which carried the art a little further and created the most commercially successful film of all time because of the computer graphic special effects.

And that brings us to 1995. In 1995, the centenary year of the invention of the motion picture itself, we have another major milestone, something I think will go down as a landmark in motion picture history.And that is the first completely computer generated feature length motion picture, completely computer synthetic on the 100th anniversary of the motion picture itself. And that of course is Toy Story.

Toy Story represents the computer graphics community contributing not just special effects to a motion picture, but the entire motion picture itself. It's a breakthrough on the scale of Technicolor, Snow White, and Star Wars. It is way beyond what we've seen in computer graphic special effects.

Without diminishing Jurassic Park in any way, let me illustrate. If you take Jurassic Park and stack all of the frames that contain any computer synthetic element back to back, you get about five and a half minutes. Of course, these frames do not include background sets or anything, usually just one computer synthetic element.

Toy Story is 79 minutes in length and every frame is totally synthetic, major, minor characters, backgrounds, sets, etcetera, an order of magnitude leap. And again, most importantly, we seecomputer graphics not just playing a supporting role to live action, but actually providing the entire vision for the motion picture.

Now, I know a lot of you have seen Toy Story, a clip in the film show. I have that clip here today on film if you'd like to see it again. Would you like to see it or would you like to skip it? Okay, great. Well, I'd love to show it. So can we get the lights down and show the first clip?

First Clip from Toy Story:

Sergeant, establish a recon post downstairs. Code Red. You know what to do.

Yes, sir. All right, men. You heard him. Code Red. Repeat, we are at Code Red. Recon plan Charlie.

Execute. Let's move, move, move, move, move.

Okay. Come on, kids. Everyone in the living room. It's almost time for the presents.

Hey, everybody, in here.

And this is how we find out what is in those presents.

Ow. What in the world? Oh, I thought I told him to pick these up.

Shouldn't they be there by now? What's taking them so long?

Hey, these guys are professionals. They're the best. Come on, they're not lying down on the job.

Go on without me. Just go.

A good soldier never leaves a man behind.

Okay, Mom.

There they are. Come in, Mother Bird. This is Alpha Bravo.

This is it. This is it.

Come in, Mother Bird.

Quiet, quiet, quiet.

All right, Andy's opening the first present now.

Mrs. Potato Head. Mrs. Potato Head. Mrs. Potato Head. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

The bow's coming off. He's ripping the wrapping paper. It's a ... it's ... it's a lunch box. We've got a lunchbox here.

A lunch box?

A lunch box? For lunch.

Okay, second present. It appears to be ... Okay, it's bedsheets.Who invited that kid?

Oh, only one left.

Okay, we're on the last present now.

Last present.

It's a big one. It's a ... it's a board game. Repeat, Battleship. Battleship, the board game.Yay.

Yeah, all right.

Hey, watch it.

Sorry there, old Spudhead.

Mission accomplished. Well done, men. Pack it up. We're goin' home.

So did I tell you? Huh? Nothing to worry about.

I knew you were right all along, Woody. Never doubted you for a second.

Wait a minute. Oh, what do we have here?

Wait. Turn that thing back on. Come in, Mother Bird. Come in, Mother Bird. Mom has pulled a surprise present from the closet. Andy's opening it. He's really excited about this one.

Mom, what is it?

It's a huge package. Oh, get out of the ... One of the kids is in the way. I can't see. It's ... it's a ...

It's a what? What is it?

Oh, no.

Oh, you big lizard. Now we'll never know what it is.

Way to go, Rex.

No, no, turn them around. Turn them around.

Oh, he's putting them in backwards. Here, you're putting them in backwards.

Plus is positive, minus is negative. Oh, let me.

Let's go to my room, guys.

Red alert. Red alert. Andy is coming upstairs.


Juvenile intrusion. Repeat, resume your positions now.

Andy's coming, everybody. Back to your places. Hurry.

Where's my ear? Who's seen my ear? Did you see my ear?

Out of my way. Here I come. Here I come.



Cool. Look at those…

Look, the lasers light up.

Take that, Zurg.

Quick, make a space. This is where the spaceship lands.

And you press his back, he does a karate-chop action.

Andy. Come on downstairs, guys. It's time for games. We've got prizes.

Oh, yeah.

What is it?

What the heck is up there?

Woody, who's up there with you?

Woody, what are you doing under the bed? Oh, nothing. Nothing. I'm sure Andy was just a little excited, that's all. Too much cake and ice cream, I suppose. It's just a mistake.

Well, that mistake is sitting in your spot, Woody.Have you been replaced?

Hey, what did I tell you earlier? No one is getting replaced. Now, let's all be polite and give whatever it is up there a nice, big Andy's room welcome.

Steve Jobs continues:

As you know, Woody's played by Tom Hanks and Buzz, the spaceman, is played by Tim Allen. Toy Story has been written, directed, and produced by Pixar in a partnership with the Walt Disney Company, and we can see how it turns out at Thanksgiving.

Next, we've come a long way in 100 years, I want to talk about scale complexity to highlight a little bit of what we've seen here. The first is, as I mentioned, 79 minutes long, every frame completely computer synthetic. It's 114,000 frames, about 1,600 different shots. So it's a very complex movie in terms of the number of shots. 400 plus models.

As you know, our process for making this film, we call it computer animated, but it's not really computer animated. It's computer drawn. We make mathematical computer models of everything from the characters to the sets. We have a whole digital back lot, if you will. And those models are then turned over to the animators and the animators act the characters by manipulating the models. These models are not just external surface appearances. We insert musculature and skeletal structures inside the model so that we can move them in natural ways.

After the animators animate the characters, the scenes are then lighted, everything is shaded. And then they are given to a giant rendering farm of computers which draws them. And as you know, a computer these days can draw a lot in a second. These computers draw for several hours yielding the 3D effect that could really not be done by hand.

So the models are incredibly critical. There are well over 10 person years in the modeling of these characters. 160 billion pixels in this film, and 600 billion bytes. That's over 1,000 CD-ROMs to hold thedata in this film. So it is not only an exercise in artistic creativity and in computer science technology, it is also an exercise in managing scale and complexity that we have not seen the likes of in computer graphics very often.

34 terabytes of RenderMan files have been rendered to make this film, we warn you not to try this at home, and 800,000 machine hours to render the film. By the way, we use Sun's fastest product, SPARC station 20 quad processors to do this on. So that's a feeling for some of the scale. Let's take a look at some of the complexity.

This is Woody, a character throughout the film. Just as an example, Woody has 723 animation control points, all of them available to the animators or actors to animate Woody. 212 of them are on the face, 58 of them on the mouth alone.

This is Buzz. Buzz has approximately the same number of animation controls and texture maps, has 189 texture maps at the beginning of the film when he's nice and clean. He gets dirtier throughout the film, and at his most dirty point, he has 639 different texture maps.

This is a scene of a neighborhood. You can see the motion blur of the car on the right, but I wanted to call your attention in particular to the trees. Each of these trees has approximately 10,000 leaves. On this scene here, there's over 1 million leaves being rendered.

This is a scene with cars in it. We have 36 automobiles in Toy Story, 13 different chassis and power plants arranged with different bodies.

And this is a scene from a gas station as you can see. Woody and Buzz are not getting along too well.They arrive at a gas station and they meet this truck there after they get lost out of a minivan. This truck has 36 different lights on it if you count the headlights and the taillights and the running lights. It has 200 feet of tubing on it. It has 346 bolts in it, 18 wheels. It has over 2,000 surfaces and over 20,000 animation controls on it.

Now what I'd like to do now, again to show you a flavor of the complexity, is I brought along another 90second clip from this gas station scene, and if we could go ahead and roll that now.

Second Clip from Toy Story:

Andy doesn't he realize that I'm not there? I'm lost. Oh, I'm a lost toy.

Buzz Lightyear mission log. The local sheriff and I seem to be at a huge refueling station of some sort.


According to my nava-computer, the-

Shut up. Just shut up, you idiot.

Sheriff, this is no time to panic.

This is the perfect time to panic. I'm lost. Andy is gone. They're going to move from their house in two days, and it's all your fault.

My fault? If you hadn't pushed me out of the window in the first place.

Oh, yeah? Well, if you hadn't shown up in your stupid little cardboard spaceship and taken away everything that was important to me.

Don't talk to me about importance. Because of you, the security of this entire universe is in jeopardy.What? What are you talking about?

Right now, poised at the edge of the galaxy, Emperor Zurg has been secretly building a weapon with the destructive capacity to annihilate an entire planet. I alone have information that reveals this weapon's only weakness. And you, my friend, are responsible for delaying my rendezvous with Star Command.

You are a toy. You aren't the real Buzz Light year. You're an action figure. You are a child's plaything.You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity. Farewell.
Oh, yeah? Well, good riddance, you loony.

Steve Jobs continues:

As you can see, this is the classic buddy picture with two characters and don't like each other at all, find themselves in a situation of mutual adversity, and have to learn to work together and respect each other through the rest of the film.

I want to talk for a minute about a place in history. The computer graphics community has been climbing the wall of the castle for 20 years, standing on each other's shoulders and made immense progress as we've seen today. And finally, we have now scaled the castle wall and we're in the castle now with ToyStory. And I think that that is an achievement that many people in this room should take proud ownership in.

And we should take a few minutes today on the 100th anniversary of the invention of the motion picture to contemplate the contributions that we're making. We have now pioneered, I think, really the next major offshoot of the motion picture. It's going to be a medium in its own right. It's going to have unique talents in itself that we will find boundaries for as we explore it over the next many years. And this is an achievement that I hope everybody this year and possibly today takes a few minutes to just contemplate and feel pride in.

There will be a second centenary of the invention of the motion picture 100 years from now. None of us will be here at that event, but hopefully there will be a lot of people here talking about how it's been 200 years since the invention of the motion picture. I think they will also be talking about how it has been 100 years at that time since the first computer animated synthetic feature film premiered.

And I would like to suggest that we all have a lot to be proud of as a community, and we feel very honored to be producing this picture representing the works of all of us over the last 20 years. Thankyou very much.

Browse more of history's greatest speeches →

Notes & Takeaways

Watch the video version of this speech below.

See Also

Find more from Steve Jobs and others related to this lecture:

About the author

Daniel Scrivner is an award-winner designer and angel investor. He's led design work at Apple, Square, and now ClassDojo. He's an early investor in Notion,, and Anduril. He founded Ligature: The Design VC and Outlier Academy. Daniel has interviewed the world’s leading founders and investors including Scott Belsky, Luke Gromen, Kevin Kelly, Gokul Rajaram, and Brian Scudamore.

Last updated
Dec 16, 2023

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