I’m a HUGE fan of John Lasseter and today I’m going to tell you a little about this creative man that had a BIG dream, and turned a small technology company into the most successful and influential film studio in this century. Of course, I’m talking about Pixar Animation Studios.
Just 15 years after Walt Disney’s death, John Lasseter, a junior animator at Walt Disney Studios, saw computer generated images for the first time. He could visualise how this new technology could help animators to build 3D characters and spaces. He said to himself: “This is what Walt was waiting for.” So he and another animator, Glen Keane, created a 30-second film to show the studio how computer animation could work. But Disney Studios wasn’t happy with his experiment, so they fired him.
After being fired from his dream job, he joined Lucasfilm’s Computer Division, in 1983. Six months later, George Lucas sold the department to the biggest entrepreneur of all times, Steve Jobs. He renamed the company Pixar, and gave John Lasseter the freedom to produce and direct several short commercials. In 1986, Lasseter wrote and directed “Luxo Jr.” a 2-minute computer-animated film. It was the first computer-animated film to receive an Academy Award Nomination for Best Short Film-Animated.
John Lasseter always dreamed of creating a full length computer animated film. So he developed a story that was going to mark his career. He was one of the four writers that developed the original story of “Toy Story,” and he was its director. The film was released in 1995, received three Oscar’ nominations, and earned $190 million in the U.S. After that, he worked on several Pixar’s huge successes, like A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille and Wall-E.
Thanks to his creativity and leadership, Pixar has received fifteen Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards. The studio had produced 16 animated films, from Toy Story, the first full-length computer animated film, to the recent release of The Good Dinosaur.
There’s no doubt that, without Lasseter’s creative storytelling and leadership skills, we wouldn’t have our favourite childhood characters in animated films.