Jobs and Catmull decided that, in order to show off their hardware and software,
Lasseter should produce another short animated film in 1986 for SIGGRAPH, the
annual computer graphics conference. At the time, Lasseter was using the Luxo
lamp on his desk as a model for graphic rendering, and he decided to turn Luxo
into a lifelike character. A friend’s young child inspired him to add Luxo Jr., and he
showed a few test frames to another animator, who urged him to make sure he
told a story. Lasseter said he was making only a short, but the animator reminded
him that a story can be told even in a few seconds. Lasseter took the lesson to
heart. Luxo Jr. ended up being just over two minutes; it told the tale of a parent
lamp and a child lamp pushing a ball back and forth until
the ball bursts, to the child’s dismay.
Jobs was so excited that he took time off from the pressures at NeXT to fly down
with Lasseter to SIGGRAPH, which was being held in Dallas that August. “It was so
hot and muggy that when we’d walk outside the air hit us like a tennis racket,”
Lasseter recalled. There were ten thousand people at the trade show, and Jobs loved it.
Artistic creativity energized him, especially when it was connected to technology.
There was a long line to get into the auditorium where the films were being screened, so
Jobs, not one to wait his turn, fast-talked their way in first. Luxo Jr. got a prolonged standing
ovation and was named the best film. “Oh, wow!” Jobs exclaimed at the end. “I really get this,
I get what it’s all about.” As he later explained, “Our film was the only one that had art to it, not just