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John Lasseter: Telling A Grea T Animated Story

1133 words - 5 pages

JOHN LASSETER {telling a great story}

Midterm Paper
Spring 2014
Elizabeth Lowe

“People pay money to see a movie that’s entertaining” – JOHN LASSETER
On Saturdays, as a child, Lasseter was up watching cartoons up until high school age. John Lasseter’s mother was an art teacher and he was surrounded by the arts. It had never occurred to him, before high school that people actually get paid for making cartoons. He started writing letters to Disney Studios saying he wanted to become an animator. Disney Studios replied, “Get a great art education.”
After high school he enrolled in in the Character Animation Program at the California Institute of Arts film school where he was taught by retired former artists who had worked during the inception of Disney Studios. Not only did these artists teach the skills necessary to become a successful animator, they also passed along their wisdom and experience from working in the Disney Studios with Walt Disney. A key feature Lasseter had taken from Walt Disney was his ability to create animated films that appealed to everybody, not only children.
After graduation he found himself a position as an inbetweener with Disney Studios before playing an active role in the story process. Equipped with a strong passion to create, Lasseter quickly found himself at odds with the current producers and directors.

“We were so on fire and constantly giving suggestions. It was all constructive, but the people running animation seemed to resent us.” – JOHN LASSETER VIA CNN MONEY INTERVIEW
Lasseter’s first real exposure to the potential of computers used in special effects was with the project TRON, a live action movie created by Disney Studios. He saw the next generation of animation, adding a new dimension to storytelling. Unfortunately no one at the studio supported his vision at that time. After experimentation with a friend he knew he could apply the technique of combining two-dimensional, hand drawn animation with three-dimensional computer-generated backgrounds. The excitement fueled a pitch based off the novella The Brave Little Toaster by Thomas Disch to their direct superiors. Immediately after the pitch, he was terminated. His dreams of implementing computer-generated animation was truly ahead of its time. The fear of computers taking artists’ jobs was also a shared fear among the animators currently working at Disney Studios.
In his search to further explore computer animation, he was led to Lucas film where they had some of the world’s best computer scientists at that time. What was at first an inquiry to combine forces with experimenting with using three-dimensional backgrounds, quickly evolved into including characters. The technology and software were created as needed to fit the needs of the story, which became the core of Lasseter’s vision. At first, his art didn’t translate directly into the new medium,...

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