Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pixarian Start and Birth Dates, October 2012 Edition

Wow, this is a busy month for people to both start at Pixar and have their birthdays! First, some Pixarians who started at Pixar during October:
  • Dylan Brown (1995) - Dylan Brown is the creative director for Pixar Canada, where the animation is done for shorts like Partysaurus Rex and Air Mater. Brown has worked on films beginning with A Bug's Life and including Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Brown has lead Pixar Canada since its inception in 2010.
  • Matt Jones (2010) - Matt Jones is a story artist for Pixar. According to his website, he saw John Lasseter on TV talking about Knick Knack, and decided then that was what he wanted to do.
  • Shawn Krause (1994) - Shawn started his Pixar career working on the studio's first feature film, Toy Story, as an animator and layout artist. He has worked as an animator on a number of other films such as Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo. He was the Directing Animator on Up and Supervising Animator on Cars 2. Krause has also been involved in theme park attractions, working on The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot in Florida. You can see Shawn visiting Disney's Art of Animation Resort in this YouTube video. Krause graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a degree in Art and a Minor in Art History and Archaeology. He studied character animation for a year at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) before starting at Pixar.
  • John Lasseter (1984) - John Lasseter was hired by Ed Catmull while Catmull was working in the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Catmull knew he wouldn't be able to hire Lasseter as an animator, so John was given the title of Interface Designer. While at Lucasfilm, Lasseter animated the short film, The Adventures of André and Wally B. He directed a number of Pixar's early short films like Luxo Jr., Tin Toy and Knick Knack. He also directed the first 3 feature length films (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2), plus Cars and Cars 2. Lasseter is now the chief creative officer at both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. Prior to working at Lucasfilm, Lasseter was in the inaugural class of the Character Animation program at CalArts, along with Brad Bird and John Musker. While at CalArts, he received 2 Student Academy Awards for Animation for his films Lady and the Lamp and Nitemare (both which will be on the upcoming Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 2). He received his BFA in film in 1979, and went to work at Disney.
  • Mark Nielsen (1996) - Mark joined Pixar as a modeling and shading coordinator on A Bug's Life. He has worked on many of Pixar's feature films, such as a lighting manager on Monsters, Inc., story and crowds manager on Cars, Production Manager on Up and the Associate Producer on Cars 2. Nielsen has been interested in the behind-the-scenes activities for films since watching Star Wars at age 7. Nielsen graduated from Chico State University with a degree in English and Journalism, and did production work on a number of films prior to coming to Pixar, including The Joy Luck Club and James and the Giant Peach.
  • Denise Ream (2006) - Ream started her Pixar career as an Associate Producer on Up. She also produced Cars 2, and has a character named after her (Denise Beam). Prior to Pixar, Ream spent 13 years at ILM, working on films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

    Apurva Shah (left)
  • Apurva Shah (2001) - Apurva Shah is an effects wizard, lending his talented hand to films such as Finding Nemo and Ratatouille, the latter which won him an award from the Visual Effects Society. He was Supervising Technical Director on the short films Your Friend the Rat and Tokyo Mater. You can see some of the papers he has authored in Pixar's online library. Shah has taught at the Art Institute, Academy of Art University in San Francisco and Ringling School of Art and Design. Prior to coming to Pixar, Shah worked at Dreamworks on Shrek and Antz, and did visual effects for the live action film Batman Forever.
Finally, the late Joe Ranft started at Pixar in 1992. One of the early, key artists at Pixar (along with Lasseter, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton), Ranft was Pixar's first Head of Story and made large contributions to a number of early Pixar films from Toy Story through Cars, where he received Director credit alongside Lasseter. He also voiced a number of memorable characters such as Lenny the binocular from Toy Story, Heimlich the caterpillar in A Bug's Life, Wheezy in Toy Story 2 and Jacques in Finding Nemo. Prior to Pixar, Ranft worked on many animated films for The Walt Disney Company, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Sadly, Joe died in a car accident on August 16, 2005, near the end of production on Cars. Joe was a comedic genius and loyal friend to many people inside and out of Pixar. From the number of tributes and comments across the web and on sites like YouTube and his Facebook page, it is easy to see the impact he has had. One of the most poignant tributes was done by John Musker for what would have been Ranft's 50th birthday.

Now for birthdays:
  • Enrico Casarosa, October 19, 1970 - Casarosa joined Pixar in 2002 as a story artist. He has worked on films such as Cars, Ratatouille and Up. He directed the short film La Luna, and received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Animated Short Film. Casarosa is now working as Head of Story on Bob Peterson's The Good Dinosaur. Prior to coming to Pixar, Casarosa worked at Blue sky Studios on films like Ice Age.

  • Pete Docter, October 9, 1968 - Pete Docter was born and grew up in my home state of Minnesota! He was the third animator hired at Pixar, after John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. His early Pixar work was directing and animating commercials. He was one of the primary writers and animators of Pixar's first feature film Toy Story. He also worked on A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, before being asked by John Lasseter to direct Monsters, Inc. Docter also directed Up, and is now working on the untitled Inside the Human Mind project. Docter is very musical, and comes from a musical family; if you watch the special features on the Up Blu-ray/DVD you may see him playing with the orchestra as they record the score.
  • Ralph Eggleston, October 18, 1965 - Eggleston is a long-time Pixar employee, starting in 1992 to work as Art Director on Toy Story. Since then he has done visual development on Monsters, Inc., production design on Finding Nemo and WALL•E, and was the Art Director on The Incredibles. He was one of the writers on Monsters, Inc., and wrote and directed one of my favorite short films, For the Birds. Eggleston's name was used as inspiration for the moving company in Toy Story (Eggman Movers). 
  • While not a Pixar employee, I must give a special shout-out to composer Michael Giacchino, born on October 10, 1967. Giacchino has done a number of scores for Pixar feature and short films such as The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Cars 2 and One Man Band. When not composing music for Pixar, he's doing it for other films such as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, John Carter, Super 8, Star Trek and television shows like Lost and Alias. You can check out clips of his work on his website. I've never met Michael but was at his session at Pixar Weekend at Epcot a couple years ago. He seems like a genuinely nice person, and someone who would be a blast to just hang out with!
  • Another shout-out to the late Ollie Johnston, who was born on Halloween in 1912. Johnston was one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, the main animators at The Walt Disney Company responsible for many classic animated films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Bambi. Many Pixarians, including Lasseter and Brad Bird, have found inspiration from Johnston and the other Nine Old Men. Bird even gave cameo roles to Johnston in two of his films, The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Johnston passed away on April 14, 2008. While working on this post I stumbled across the official site for Johnston and Frank Thomas, another of the Nine Old Men and a close personal friend of Johnston. I strongly recommend this site if you want to learn more about these 2 friends and animation giants.

In sad news, Steve Jobs passed away last year on October 5. William at A113Animation wrote a wonderful piece on the one year anniversary of Steve's passing that is more eloquent than anything I could ever come up with, so I won't try. But I can say that two of the companies Steve led (Pixar and Apple) probably have had more impact on my life and of my family than any other company.

Also, Pixar animator Glenn McQueen passed away on October 29, 2002 at the age of 41. He started at Pixar in 1994 as an animator on Toy Story, and was Supervising Animator on their next 3 films, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. He passed away during the production of Finding Nemo. McQueen was described as "the heart and soul of the animation department" by John Lasseter. Finding Nemo was dedicated to McQueen, and there is a very nice tribute to him on the Finding Nemo DVD.


  1. I read this article at the time, Jeff, but only just noticed now that you linked to my Steve Jobs piece, haha! Thank you for your kind words :)

    And this was a great read - kudos!

    1. Hey William, you're welcome. Hopefully you didn't mind me doing that? It was a great post, from the heart and spot on. Take it easy!

    2. Oh definitely not! Free publicity is ace, haha! And thanks, as you say, it was from the heart.