Imagine you’re a technical director at Pixar working on Toy Story 2, and after hundreds of hours’ work by an acclaimed team of animators, almost the entire movie vanishes before your eyes within 20 seconds.
According to Oren Jacobs, former Pixar technical director, that’s what happened. The technical team was viewing computer files associated with cowboy Woody. One file represented his hat, another, his boots. There were 40 files in all, but when they hit “refresh” on the computer, suddenly there were only four files. Then when they refreshed again, the number dropped to zero.
In a panic, they pulled up the files for Hamm and Potato Head and Rex. They, too, were disappearing. Jacobs made a frantic call to the computer server room and ordered the technician to disconnect the main power cord.
When they re-booted and reassessed, they discovered that 90% of the files for the movie were gone. They tried restoring the film from backup tapes but found that the backups were corrupt.
The Pixar team flew into crisis mode. For days, they slept at the office and worked round the clock. In the end, they were able to cobble together more than three-quarters of the movie using files from three different sources – some that supervising technical director Galyn Susman happened to have on a home computer, some from the corrupt backups, and the few files Jacobs had managed to rescue from the original server.
Ironically, almost the whole thing was later scrapped and rebuilt.