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Ed Catmull has definitely taken movie animation to infinity and beyond.

The president of Pixar Animation, who helped pioneer computer graphics while at the University of Utah College of Engineering and later ushered in a new era of movie animation with hits like “Toy Story” and “Monsters Inc.,” knows a thing or two about what sparks our collective imaginations.

On Friday, Sept. 5, Catmull held a private book signing in the Catmull Gallery of the John E. and Marva M. Warnock Engineering Building for his new bestseller, Creativity Inc. During the event, he shared tidbits of what ignites creativity in his workplace, first explaining what happens in a meeting when Pixar’s “brain trust” — the collection of its smartest people — gather to bounce off ideas.

“This group usually works together. [But] It doesn’t always work well. Sometimes, it’s a mess and it falls apart and we have to reassemble, even with a different group of people,” he said. “But on the other hand, every once in a while, we have magic. There is something about the way the group gets together and the ego drops away and they solve a problem, which is a phenomenon to watch.”

An example of when that creative synergy flipped a project around, he said, was a meeting that helped turn the animated blockbuster “Frozen” into the modern-day classic it has become.

“I was thinking, ‘holy cow, can I capture this? This is amazing!’” he remembered.

There must have been a lot of team meetings like that. Pixar is famous for having one of the best track records of any production house in Hollywood. The studio first exploded on the Hollywood scene in 1995 with the Academy Award-winning “Toy Story” and has since produced an unprecedented number of box office and critical hits including “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” WALL-E,” “Up,” and more. In all, Pixar has won 12 Academy Awards and six Golden Globes.

Pixar later merged with Disney, and Catmull also became president of Disney’s Animation Studios, which created the hits “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” His book, Creativity Inc., gives insight into how Catmull runs his companies and how he best elicits creative thinking from its employees.

“I have found the lessons in the book to be profound, whether you’re running a creative company the way he is or trying to run a creative university the way I have. There are many similarities,” said University of Utah President David Pershing, who spoke at the event.

Catmull first attended the U in 1963 as a physics student but later took computer science classes as graphics were emerging as a technology. It was during this “Camelot” period in the U’s computer science department that Catmull was paving new ground in computers along with other noted U innovators including Nolan Busnell of Atari, interface designer Alan Kay, and John Warnock, who founded Adobe.

“When I was here as a graduate student, I knew at that time that there was something special going on,” Catmull reminisced. “And all of the students felt that — we were privileged to be part of something that was magnificent.”