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"Fail Fast": Prototyping at Pixar

Michael B. Johnson of Pixar, interviewed by Peter Merholz:

The important take-home point, though, is that Pixar loves their films so much, we make them twice :-).

[...] We’d much rather fail with a bunch of sketches that we did (relatively) quickly and cheaply, than once we’ve modeled, rigged, shaded, animated, and lit the film. “Fail fast,” that’s the mantra. With a team of 10-20 people (director, story artists, editorial staff, production designer and artists, and skeleton production management) you can make, remake, and remake again a movie that once it hits 3D will take an order of magnitude more people to execute. The complexity of the task does not ramp up linearly.

Building things and then taking them apart isn't an error; it's a design strategy. "Measure twice, cut once" is fine when you're sawing a sheet of plywood, but it's a limiting strategy with virtual tools. Find an environment that lets you fail fast.

[via Daring Fireball]