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John Lasseter

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John Alan Lasseter is an American animator, film director and the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also currently the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Lasseter's first job was with The Walt Disney Company, where he became an animator. Next, he joined Lucasfilm, where he worked on the then-groundbreaking use of CGI animation. After the Graphics Group of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm was sold to Steve Jobs and became Pixar in 1986, Lasseter oversaw all of Pixar's films and associated projects as executive producer and he directed Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2. He is currently directing Toy Story 4.

He has won two Academy Awards, for Animated Short Film (for Tin Toy), as well as a Special Achievement Award (for Toy Story).

Biography

Early years

Lasseter was born in Hollywood, California. His mother, Jewell Mae (née Risley), was an art teacher at Bell Gardens High School, and his father, Paul Eual Lasseter, was a parts manager at a Chevrolet dealership. Lasseter grew up in Whittier, California. His mother's profession contributed to his growing preoccupation with animation. He often drew cartoons during church services at the Church of Christ his family attended. As a child, Lasseter would race home from school to watch Chuck Jones cartoons on television. While in high school, he read The Art of Animation by Bob Thomas. The book covered the history of Disney animation and the making of a book about Sleeping Beauty, which made Lasseter realize he wanted to do animation himself. When he saw Disney's 1963 film The Sword in the Stone, he finally made the decision that he should become an animator.

His education began at Pepperdine University. It was the alma mater of both his parents and his siblings. However, he heard of a new program at California Institute of the Arts and decided to leave Pepperdine to follow his dream of becoming an animator. His mother further encouraged him to take up a career in animation, and in 1975 he enrolled as the second student in a new animation course at the California Institute of the Arts. Lasseter was taught by three members of Disney's "Nine Old Men" team of veteran animators – Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – his classmates included Brad Bird, John Musker, Henry Selick and Tim Burton. During his time there, he produced two animated shorts; Lady and the Lamp (1979) and Nitemare (1980), which both won the student Academy Award for Animation.

First years at Disney

On graduation, Lasseter joined The Walt Disney Company, and was promoted quickly up the ranks to a Jungle Cruise skipper at Disneyland in Anaheim. Lasseter later obtained a job as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1979, but felt something was missing; after 101 Dalmatians, which in his opinion was the film where Disney had reached its highest plateau, the studio had lost momentum and was criticized for often repeating itself without adding any new ideas or innovations.

In 1980 or 1981, he coincidentally came across some video tapes from one of the then new computer-graphics conferences, who showed some of the very beginnings of computer animation, primarily floating spheres and such, which he experienced as a revelation. But it wasn't until shortly after, when he was invited by his friends Jerry Rees and Bill Kroyer, while working on Mickey's Christmas Carol, to come and see the first lightcycle sequences for an upcoming film entitled Tron, featuring (then) state-of-the-art computer generated imagery, that he really saw the huge potential of this new technology in animation. Up to that time, the studio had used a multiplane camera to add depth to its animation. Lasseter realized that computers could be used to make films with three dimensional backgrounds where traditionally animated characters could interact to add a new, visually stunning depth that had not been conceived before.

Later, he and Glen Keane talked about how great it would be to make an animated feature where the background was computer animated, and then showed Keane the book The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas Disch, which he thought would be a good candidate for the film. Keane agreed, but first they decided to do a short test film to see how it worked out, and chose Where the Wild Things Are, a decision based on the fact that Disney had considered producing a feature based on the works of Maurice Sendak. Satisfied with the result, Lasseter, Keane and Thomas L. Wilhite went on with the project, especially Lasseter who dedicated himself to it, while Keane eventually went on to work with The Great Mouse Detective.

Lasseter and his colleagues unknowingly stepped on some of their direct superiors' toes by circumventing them in their enthusiasm to get the project into motion. During a pitch meeting for the film to two of them, animation administrator Ed Hansen, and head of Disney studios, Ron W. Miller, the project was cancelled, due to lack of perceived cost benefits for the mix of traditional and computer animation.A few minutes after the meeting, Lasseter was summoned by Hansen to his office, where John was told that his employment in the Walt Disney Studios had been terminated. The Brave Little Toaster would later become a 2D animated feature film directed by one of John's friends, Jerry Rees, and some of the staff of Pixar would be involved in the film alongside Lasseter.

Lucasfilm/Pixar

While putting together a crew for the planned feature, he had made some contacts in the computer industry, among them Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull at Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group. After being fired, Lasseter visited a computer graphics conference at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, where he met and talked to Catmull again. Before the day was over, Lasseter had made a deal to work with Catmull and his colleagues on a project that resulted in their first computer animated short: The Adventures of André and Wally B. Because Catmull was not allowed to hire animators, he was given the title "Interface Designer"; "Nobody knew what that was but they didn't question it in budget meetings". The short turned out to be more revolutionary than Lasseter first had visualized before he joined Lucasfilm. His original idea had been to create only the backgrounds on computers, but in the final short everything was computer animated, including the characters. After this short CGI film, things would continue to grow until it became Toy Story, the first ever computer-animated feature film.

Due to George Lucas's financially crippling divorce, he was forced to sell off Lucasfilm Computer Graphics. It was acquired by Steve Jobs in 1986, and became Pixar. Lasseter oversaw all of Pixar's films and associated projects as executive producer. He also personally directed Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2.

He has won two Academy Awards, for Animated Short Film (Tin Toy), as well as a Special Achievement Award (Toy Story). Lasseter has been nominated on four other occasions – in the category of Animated Feature, for both Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Cars (2006), in the Original Screenplay category for Toy Story (1995) and in the Animated Short category for Luxo, Jr. (1986), while the short Knick Knack (1989) was selected by Terry Gilliam as one of the ten best animated films of all time.

Lasseter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California on November 1, 2011. It is located at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard.

Lasseter was also the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's 2011 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award.

Back at Disney

Disney purchased Pixar in April 2006, and Lasseter was named chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He was also named principal creative advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he helps design attractions for Disney's theme parks. He reports directly to Disney President and CEO Robert Iger, bypassing Disney's studio and theme park executives. He also received green-light power on films with Roy E. Disney's consent.

In December 2006, he announced that Disney will start producing animated shorts that will be released theatrically once more. Lasseter said he sees this medium as an excellent way to train and discover new talent in the company as well as a testing ground for new techniques and ideas. The shorts will be animated through traditional animation, computer animation or a combination of both.

Lasseter is a close friend and admirer of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and has been executive producer on several of Miyazaki's films for their release in the United States, also overseeing the dubbing of the films for their English language soundtrack. The gentle forest spirit Totoro from Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro makes an appearance as a plush toy in Toy Story 3.

Other work

Lasseter drew the most widely known versions of the BSD Daemon, a cartoon mascot for the BSD Unix operating system. He owns the "Marie E." steam locomotive, which is an H.K. Porter engine. The "Marie E." was once owned by Ollie Johnston, who was one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men". In May 2007 and again in June 2010, the locomotive visited, and was run by Lasseter at the Pacific Coast Railroad in Santa Margarita, CA alongside the original Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad "Retlaw 1" coaches.

Personal life

Lasseter lives in Glen Ellen, California with his wife Nancy, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, whom he met at a computer graphics conference. He has five sons, their ages ranging from 14 to 33. The family has a Dachshund named Frank and a cat named Moocher.

The Lasseters own Lasseter Family Winery, located in Glen Ellen, CA.

On May 2, 2009, Lasseter received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University. He gave a commencement address where he encouraged the graduating class of more than 500 students never to let anyone tarnish their dreams.

Feature Film Filmography

Year Film Position Subsidiary
1981 The Fox and the Hound Animator Walt Disney Animation Studios
1984 Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1985 The Black Cauldron Animator Walt Disney Animation Studios
1986 Castle in the Sky Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1987 The Brave Little Toaster Character Designer Walt Disney Pictures
1988 My Neighbor Totoro Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1989 Kiki's Delivery Service Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1992 Porco Rosso Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1994 Pom Poko Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1995 Whisper of the Heart Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1995 Toy Story Director/Story/Screenplay/Animation Pixar Animation Studios
1997 Princess Mononoke Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
1998 A Bug's Life Director/Story/Screenplay/Animation/Voice Actor (Harry the Mosquito) Pixar Animation Studios
1999 Toy Story 2 Director/Story/Screenplay/Animation/Voice Actor (Blue Rock’Em Sock’Em Robot) Pixar Animation Studios
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2001 Spirited Away Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2001 Monsters, Inc. Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2002 The Cat Returns Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2003 Finding Nemo Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2004 The Incredibles Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2004 Howl's Moving Castle Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2006 Cars Executive Producer/Director/Story/Screenplay Pixar Animation Studios
2006 Tales from Earthsea Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2007 Meet the Robinsons Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2007 Ratatouille Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2008 WALL-E Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2008 Ponyo Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2008 Tinker Bell Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2008 Bolt Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2009 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2009 The Princess and the Frog Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2009 Up Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2010 The Secret World of Arrietty Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2010 Tangled Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2010 Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2010 Toy Story 3 Executive Producer/Story Pixar Animation Studios
2011 The Lion King 3D Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2011 Cars 2 Executive Producer/Director/Story/Screenplay Pixar Animation Studios
2011 Winnie the Pooh Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2011 The Muppets Creative Consultant Walt Disney Pictures
2012 Beauty and the Beast 3D Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Brave Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2013 The Wind Rises Executive Producer/Director (English Dub) Studio Ghibli
2013 Frozen Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2013 Monsters University Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2013 Planes Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2013 Planes: Fire & Rescue Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2014 The Pirate Fairy Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2014 Big Hero 6 Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2014 Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast Executive Producer DisneyToon Studios
2015 Inside Out Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2015 The Good Dinosaur Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2016 Zootopia Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2016 Finding Dory Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2016 Moana Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2017 Cars 3 Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2017 Coco Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2018 Gigantic Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2018 The Incredibles 2 Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2019 Toy Story 4 Executive Producer/Director/Story/Screenplay Pixar Animation Studios
TBC Frozen 2 Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios

Animated Shorts Filmography

Year Film Position Subsidiary
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol Creative Consultant Walt Disney Pictures
1984 The Adventures of André and Wally B. Director/Writer/Animator/Character Models/Character Designer: André/Wally B. Pixar Animation Studios
1986 Luxo Jr. Director/Writer/Animator/Character Models/Character Designer: Luxo Jr/Luxo Sr. Pixar Animation Studios
1987 Red's Dream Director/Writer/Animator/Character Models Pixar Animation Studios
1988 Tin Toy Director/Writer/Animator/Character Models Pixar Animation Studios
1989 Knick Knack Director/Writer/Animator/Character Models Pixar Animation Studios
1997 Geri's Game Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2000 For the Birds Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2002 Mike's New Car Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2003 Boundin' Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2005 Jack-Jack Attack Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2006 One Man Band Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2006 Mater and the Ghostlight Executive Producer/Director/Screenplay Pixar Animation Studios
2006 Lifted Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2007 How to Hook Up Your Home Theater Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2007 Your Friend the Rat Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2008 Presto Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2008 BURN-E Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2008 Cars Toons Executive Producer/Director Pixar Animation Studios
2009 Super Rhino Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2009 Partly Cloudy Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2009 Glago's Guest Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2009 Dug's Special Mission Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2009 Prep & Landing Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2010 Day & Night Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2010 Tick Tock Tale Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2010 Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2011 The Ballad of Nessie Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2011 La Luna Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2011 Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2011 Toy Story Toons: Small Fry Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2011 Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Tangled Ever After Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Paperman Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2012 Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2013 The Blue Umbrella Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2013 Toy Story of Terror Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2013 Get a Horse! Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2014 Feast Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2014 Toy Story That Time Forgot Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2015 Frozen Fever Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios
2015 Lava Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2015 Sanjay's Super Team Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2016 Piper Executive Producer Pixar Animation Studios
2016 Inner Workings Executive Producer Walt Disney Animation Studios

Gallery


v - e - d
Walt Disney Animation Studios - Transparent Logo
In the Past

Disney's Nine Old Men: Milt Kahl | Frank Thomas | Ollie Johnston | Les Clark | John Lounsbery | Marc Davis | Ward Kimball | Eric Larson | Wolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill Tytla | Art Babbitt | Preston Blair | Ed Love | Fred Moore | Shamus Culhane | Cy Young | Don Lusk | Norman Ferguson | Hal King | Jack Hannah | Jack Kinney | Cliff Nordberg | Bob Carlson | Hal Ambro | Ken O'Brien | Judge Whitaker | Eric Cleworth | Harvey Toombs | Marvin Woodward | Bill Justice | Jerry Hathcock | Hugh Fraser | Clair Weeks | Don Bluth | Gary Goldman | Berny Wolf | Don Towsley | Norman Tate | John Bradbury | Lynn Karp | Charles A. Nichols | Art Palmer | Joshua Meador | Don Tobin | Robert Martsch | George Rowley | John McManus | Don Patterson | John Elliotte | Phil Duncan | George Kreisel | John Freeman | Jack Campbell | Ed Aardal | Blaine Gibson | Ken Hultgren | Fred Kopietz | George Nicholas | Bob Youngquist | John Kennedy | Henry Tanous | Dick Lucas | John Sibley | John Ewing | Walt Stanchfield | Fred Hellmich | Blaine Gibson | Julius Svendsen | Bill Keil | Andy Paliwoda
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf Tenggren | Mary Blair | David Hall | Joe Grant | Campbell Grant | Mel Shaw | Claude Coats | Don DaGradi | John Hench | Art Riley | Eyvind Earle | Thelma Witmer | Al Dempster | Dick Anthony | Don Griffith | Ralph Hulett | Ray Huffine | Art Landy | Brice Mack | Al Zinnen | Ken O'Connor | Charles Philippi | McLaren Stewart | Tom Codrick | Hugh Hennesy | Lance Nolley | Thor Putnam | Albert Hurter | John Miller | Martin Provensen | John Walbridge | Dick Kelsey | Kay Nielsen | Terrell Stapp | John Hubley | Merle Cox | Ray Huffine | Mac Stewart | Jimi Trout | Basil Davidovich | Jack Hubler | Erni Nordli | Victor Haboush | Homer Jonas | Ray Aragon | Frank Artimage | Walt Peregoy | Bill Layne | Fil Mottola | Richard H. Thomas | Dale Barnhart | Anthony Rizzo | Sylvia Roemer
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Ted Sears | Bill Peet | Ralph Wright | Erdman Penner | Winston Hibler | Joe Rinaldi | Milt Banta | Bill Cottrell | Webb Smith | Aurelius Battaglia | Otto Englander | Joseph Sabo | Dick Huemer | Tom Oreb | Del Connell | Floyd Norman
Directors: Clyde Geronimi | Hamilton Luske | Wilfred Jackson | Bill Roberts | Jack Kinney | Ben Sharpsteen | Art Stevens | Ted Berman | Richard Rich
Producers: Walt Disney | Winston Hibler | Ron Miller | Joe Hale | Ken Anderson

In the Renaissance, the Present and the Revival

Renaissance Directors: Rob Minkoff | Roger Allers | Gary Trousdale | Kirk Wise | Chris Sanders | Mark Dindal
Story Trust Directors: Ron Clements | John Musker | Chris Buck | Byron Howard | Don Hall | Chris Williams | Rich Moore | Stephen J. Anderson | Nathan Greno | Jennifer Lee
Producers: Peter Del Vecho | Clark Spencer | Roy Conli | Dorothy McKim | Don Hahn
Executive Producers: John Lasseter
Associated Figures: Bob Iger | Roy Edward Disney | Michael Eisner | Ed Catmull | Jeffrey Katzenberg
Signature Voice Actors: Jim Cummings | Alan Tudyk | Katie Lowes | Maurice LaMarche | David Ogden Stiers | Jesse Corti | Paul Briggs | Raymond S. Persi | Phil Johnston | Frank Welker | Bill Farmer
Signature Musicians: Sherman Brothers | Robert B. Sherman | Richard Sherman | Alan Menken | Kristen Anderson-Lopez | Robert Lopez | Lin-Manuel Miranda | Howard Ashman | Tim Rice
Supervising Animators: Glen Keane | Andreas Deja | Randy Haycock | Alex Kupershmidt | Anthony DeRosa | Eric Goldberg | Mark Henn | John Pomeroy | T. Daniel Hofstedt | Tony Bancroft | Tom Bancroft | Tony Fucile | Russ Edmonds | Duncan Marjoribanks | Ruben Aquino | Nik Ranieri | Ron Husband | Rick Farmiloe
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Paul Felix | Andy Gaskill | Dean DeBlois | Lorna Cook | Bill Schwab | Lisa Keene | Claire Keane | Chen Yi-Chang | Vance Gerry | Brittney Lee | Jin Kim | Shiyoon Kim | Cory Loftis | Leo Matsuda


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