When I was in film school, animation legend Chuck Jones spoke at one of my classes. At the time, 3D computer animation was still relatively new, and a student asked Mr. Jones what he thought of it. Sitting in a chair in front of the chalkboard where moments before he had sketched Bugs Bunny, Chuck Jones leaned on his cane and told us that as an animator, his tool had been a pencil. Computers, he said, are just another tool — a new pencil.
Last week we lost Steve Jobs. When he introduced the world to personal computers, he gave filmmakers like us at NFL Films a new tool to make movies. We still shoot film, but now we digitize all of the footage into a server, write our scripts on laptops, and edit the stories on Avids and Macs running Final Cut Pro. Storytelling remains the same, but the technology has changed. Steve Jobs gave us a new pencil.
Fittingly, I learned of Jobs’ death last week on my iPad. As he told Wired magazine in 1996, “Creativity is just connecting things.” I am grateful that his creative mind generated so many tools of creativity, without which we at NFL Films would be working quite differently. Thank you, Steve Jobs.