Animators try their hand at telling the Steve Jobs story

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YouTube is a repository for animated features on the life of Steve Jobs.
YouTube is a repository for animated features on the life of Steve Jobs.
Photo: Adam Holownia,

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugWith all there is to marvel about Steve Jobs and the story of Apple, it’s easy to forget what Jobs meant to animation.

So it’s not surprising that several animators have sought to capture the near-mythological character of Jobs in animated shorts that can be found all over YouTube.


Tributes in animation

Search his name on YouTube and you will find more than 4.4 million posts related to Steve Jobs. Refine the search to “Jobs” and “animation” and you are not likely to find anything on par with Toy Story or Finding Nemo, two CGI-animated classics created by another company Jobs helped start, Pixar Animation Studios.

But what is there are more than a dozen short animated features, ranging from comical satire to heartfelt tributes to the man who helped create a personal computing revolution. If fans were bothered by the fiction of Aaron Sorkin’s biopic on Jobs, they may find a telling of his story to their liking in cartoon form. Some won’t have the all the facts correct and some will leave you chuckling.

A good subject

Jobs, who co-founded Apple out of his garage, has been mythologized and memorialized across every art medium manageable, from paint and bronze to tattoos and opera. So why not animation? Next month marks the five-year anniversary of Jobs’ passing and below are some of the drawn-out biographies found on YouTube.

“Steve Jobs has always interested me as I don’t think I’ve read about anyone as passionate as he was when it came to building Apple,” Adam Holownia, who works for an education charity in Manchester, England, told Cult of Mac. “I’ve found the animated format is an incredibly effective way of explaining stories, theories, and principals.”

Holownia based his 21-minute piece on the Walter Isaacson biography on Jobs. Holownia challenged himself to read 50 books this year and also decided to teach himself animation. He started a YouTube channel, Obtain Eudaimonia, as a place to post animated book reports for each title he reads.

Each animation, which shows him hand sketching and writing out parts of the story, takes about two weeks and is created in the program, VideoScribe.

Because he changed the world

Dmitriy Nesterov was inspired to create an animated biography of Jobs by Nesterov’s disappointment in the movie about Apple where Ashton Kutcher played Jobs.

Nesterov, and his co-workers at a web-design company in the Ukraine, spent three months on a black-and-white animation he says at its essence is a story of how one person can change the world.

“Many creative persons feel obliged to those who took part in building the global technological infrastructure that made it easier for anybody to express (themselves),” Nesterov told Cult of Mac. “Jobs’ team seems to be one of the most creative tech teams ever. This (success) attracts and inspires many aspiring animators and artists.”

MondoMedia has created few different animations, all satire that send up Apple’s influence in the world.

The one below from 2012 imagines Jobs returning from the dead.

If you want the short version of Jobs’ story, this one from Webly is told in about 75 seconds and even includes a bizarre cemetery scene to illustrate his passing.

Another short story focuses on Jobs’ “Follow Your Heart” speech and includes an audio from that address.

What was it like when Jobs got to the Pearly Gate? John Kelley uploaded this not long after Jobs’ passing. It’s bizarre.

Here is a crudely sketched six-minute feature from x Chin that is a little mixed up on facts. For example, he starts the story with the Lisa computer, showing a drawn computer that most would recognize as the Apple 1. It is difficult to understand the narrator’s English, but it’s still fun to watch.

This one is in Thai and the audio at times sounds like it was recorded outside. For just under five minutes, it feels like it hits the key highlights of Jobs’ professional evolution. You don’t have to understand Thai to recognize a historic scene.