Ten reasons why the video of Pixar almost deleting Toy Story 2 resonates with all of us
A video of “How Pixar almost deleted Toy Story 2" due to an ill use of rm -r -f * has been making the tech blogs rounds this week. The (over?) dramatisation of the episode resonates with us all because we all use computers, we’re all familiar with the Toy Story trilogy and we’ve all made mistakes we never thought we’d overcome. Like Toy Story talking to our nostalgia and childhood memories, this video is universal because:
1 - It takes you behind the scenes of one of the most successful animation trilogy in history. Where you learn that they used Linux, had a single back-up they never checked and that “the master copies of characters, sets, animation, etc” were saved in databases “the frames were computed from”.
2 - It’s a big company owning up to its mistake. We’re Pixar, and we make great movies, but sometimes we f**k up like everyone else, because no matter how technologically advanced we are, there still is a human element to our work. And humans make mistakes, but they also solve them.
3- It’s a tale of a new mum saving the day because she worked from home. Mike Masnick at Techdirt.com questions the legality of Galyn Susman’s home back-up, arguing that ” you would have to imagine that at a place like Pixar, there were significant concerns about things “getting out,” and so the policy likely wouldn’t have looked all that kindly on copies being used on home computers.” Or you can see it as a positive story, showing that companies really have nothing to lose in accommodating new mums’ wishes for flexible schedules.
4 - It reminds us why back-ups, especially the most unusual ones, matter. The single, never checked back-up seems farfetched for something as big as Toy Story 2, though not impossible. Buy that second external hard-drive/cloud space now.
5 - It’s a story anyone who works in IT can identify with, and which resonates with anyone who’s lost, or nearly lost, important work. Whether it was your master’s dissertation, the kid’s birthday pictures or Toy Story 2, we’ve all been screwed by over-reliance on technology at one point or another.
6 - It makes us feel smug. You and I losing documents due to a computer fiasco is one thing. A multi-billion dollar company doing the same is another entirely.
7 - It shows you can rebound from your mistakes, no matter how big, if you can solve them and learn from them. The film did come out in 1999 and has so far made nearly 246 million dollars (2.7 times its budget), Jacob became CTO of Pixar before founding Toy Talk and Susman is now producer for Pixar. Craig L. Good, camera artist at Pixar, answered on Quora that “many changes have been made, obviously including a killer backup system”.
8 - It doesn’t involve any finger pointing. No matter how tempting it might have been, especially at the time, the video doesn’t name the person whose rm * use started it all, nor does it specify what happened to that “clown”. Did he come out with his mistake himself? Did the logs identify him? Did he get fired?
9 - It shows everything gets better and more epic with the gloss of time and reminds us all of the importance of storytelling: they don’t focus on the disaster or linger on the stress and anxiety, they focus on how they solved the problem. “99% true… As far as we recall!” it says at the end of the video.
10 - It makes Toy Story 2, not the best episode of the Toy Story trilogy, more iconic: it’s the movie which could have not happened, or which could have been delivered really late. It was saved in an epic manner not unlike Woody’s own adventures. This video is Toy Story 1.5.