"Randy was a guy who had this incredible energy and intensity," Catmull recalls of Pausch.
While Pausch was working to set up Carnegie Mellon's ETC program, Catmull said the two spoke at length about what it means to have a creative environment.
"It wasn't about technology or virtual reality or any of the other stuff that was going on; they were buzz words at the time," explained Catmull. "It was how do people work together — how do you get artists, technical people, all different kinds working together as peers solving problems?"
He added, "And those discussions were great, not only because Randy was eager to learn from us but he was very astute — and a student of culture and the forces that take place within any organization."
Catmull believes that when it comes to creativity, techies and artists are very much the same, both being involved in creative activities.
"The fact that it's art or technology doesn't matter. When you put them together, there's a multiplication effect that takes place. The whole is really much greater than the sum of the parts," he said.
According to Catmull, the art inspires the technology and the technology inspires the art. And, when they work in close collaboration, both of them grow as a result of it. "And they grow in surprising, unpredictable ways," he said.
Catmull noted Carnegie Mellon's unique combination of the best in computer science, the best in computer graphics, the best in entertainment technology and the best in robotics.
"That's part of what makes it a great environment. Unpredictable events and activities are happening and, when they come out at the end, it's, like, wow, I didn't see that coming!" he said. "I mean, there isn't any other place where they've got that combination together and the students interacting with each other."
Recipients of the Pausch Prize, which includes a $2,500 cash award, present a lecture at Carnegie Mellon. Catmull accepted his prize and presented the Pausch lecture in September in McConomy Auditorium, the site of Pausch's famous "Last Lecture."