Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Remember When Pixar Accidentally DELETED Toy Story 2?

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This is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, he's the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios.

They're the folks who brought you Coco, Inside-Out, Toy Story, Wall-E. Yeah, you've heard of them.

It's a great book that takes you into the very heart of one of the most successful animation studios ever,

and if you are strapped for inspiration, this is sure to give you a creative jumpstart.

One of my favorite stories in the book takes place in the winter of 1998,

when the folks at Pixar were hard at work putting together their very first sequel Toy Story 2,

which was due out the next year.

The thing about animated movies is that they take a long time to make,

and especially back then required a huge team of writers, voice actors,

storyboard artists, character designers, modelers, animators,

editors, sound designers, a bunch of moving parts and, unlike a live-action film,

which essentially involves just cutting together whatever images the camera captured on set,

3D computer-generated animation is created on a digital network, where various artists and animators hop in and out of

interconnected digital files to mold and shape each and every frame of the movie to perfection.

Every object you see in the movie exists as a digital 3D model.

All of these models and files are dependent upon each other.

So when an animator opens a scene in his or her animation program, every object in that scene,

from the characters to their costumes to the surrounding environment is loaded up for the animator to work with.

This means that while in production, all of the movies assets

are kept on a big computer drive which the animators work out of.

Nowadays these drives exist in the cloud, but back then technical limitations meant

Pixar had to employ large Linux and UNIX machines to house the files in studio.

Well, one fine day, for reasons Ed chooses not to dwell on in this book,

somebody attempting to do a bit of routine storage clean up typed a delete command into this master machine.

Linux and UNIX were command-line operating systems. So instead of just... you know,

highlighting what files you want to delete on a graphical user interface,

you need to manually type in a delete command and then manually type in which specific folder you want to target.

Forget to do this or don't do it properly and the system will just start erasing every single file on the machine.

So just as soon as this unnamed Pixar employee could type in /bin/ rm - r - f asterisk... or whatever,

all the files present on the Toy Story 2 master machine began disappearing.

Imagine being an animator on the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Pixar's classic

and as you're entering into your fifth hour of the day working on a scene from the movie,

suddenly Woody's hat vanishes from the scene.

Then his badge...

then him...

then Buzz!

Then all kinds of error messages start appearing and you look up from your computer and you say:

Oren Jacob, a technical director on the film was one such worker

and realizing the master drive was being erased quickly dashed to a nearby phone

to call the systems department where it was being housed.

*phone ringing*

"Operator." Jacob: "I need the Systems Department right now!"

Operator: "Hold on, what's your name?"

"Oren Jacob, please connect me to Systems immediately."

Operator: "Who in Systems?"

Jacob: "It doesn't matter! It's an emergency, get me anybody!"

Operator: "Please hold."

Jacob: "Urgh!"

*phone ringing*

"Systems Department."

Jacob: "Pull out the plug on the Toy Story 2 master machine!"

Systems: "What?"

"This is an emergency! I'm Oren Jacob, the Technical Director."

"I need you to pull the plug on the Toy Story 2 master machine right now!"

Systems: "Ah, well, we can't uh... we can't pull the machine that'll stop the animation department from being able to access the file-"

Jacob: "I don't have time to explain! Please pull the plug right now!"

Systems: "Hang on. Let me call the animation department, see if it's okay for me to do it first-"

Jacob: "We don't have time! PULL THE PLUG!"

Systems: "Alright buddy, your funeral."

By the time the plug was pulled and the delete command was stopped,

90% of the movie's files were gone. Less than a year from the film's release date.


Galyn Susman, Toy Story 2's supervising technical director, was quickly informed.

And keeping a level head, called over to the I.T. department

and requested that the movies backup drive be fired up.

I mean, good on Pixar right? Always back up your files.

Who in the right mind wouldn't regularly backup the files on a 500 million dollar motion picture?

*phone ringing*

"I.T." Susman: "Hi, we had a hard drive issue today on the Toy Story 2 project."

"Could you just send the backup drive over so we could restore our files?"

I.T.: "Oh well, backups, they haven't been working for the past month."

"We've been trying to get it fixed... but, you know..."

"You didn't get the memo?"



(Accurate depiction of the panic Pixar was in at that moment.)

Less than 12 months from the film's opening and the entire animation team would have to start from scratch.

An emergency meeting was called between the Pixar higher-ups to decide the fate of the entire project.

There was talk of delaying the film and even scrapping the movie altogether,

but then a light bulb went off in Galyn Susman's head.

Earlier that year, Galyn had given birth to her son Eli and being the multitasking action mom that she is,

occasionally worked on the movie from home,

and in order to do so, she had created a personal backup of all the film's assets herself

and kept it on her home computer.

So Galyn and Oren drove on over to her home, wrapped her computer in blankets and pillows and

carefully placed it in the back seat of her car.

Driving what I assume was about 10 miles per hour back to the studio,

the computer, Toy Story 2 and by extension, the entire studio's last hope,

was unloaded by a team and carried into Pixar like an Egyptian pharaoh.

The computer was carefully set up, carefully plugged in, carefully turned on and...

and the movie's assets were restored.

So let this be a lesson kids. Always backup your files and never use Linux.

I can't wait to read the fanboy comments on this one. Enjoy unsubscribing, 0.4% of my audience.

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What was the worst data loss you ever endured? Let me know in the comments.

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