Michael B. Johnson, on Pixar’s practice of creating a complete prototype of every film before starting work on the actual movie:
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.
Johnson leads one of Pixar’s internal software tools team — his annual lunchtime talks at WWDC fill to standing-room only.