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John Lasseter

John Lasseter

John Lasseter returns to the realm of toys for his third feature film credit as director. He made motion picture history in 1995 as the director of the first feature-length computer animated film, Toy Story (for which he received a special achievement Academy Award¨) and followed it up three years later with the equally imaginative and delightful A Bug's Life.

An award-winning director and animator, Lasseter continues to serve as executive vice president of creative for Pixar. He has written and directed a number of short films and television commercials at Pixar, including Luxo Jr. (a 1986 Oscar¨ nominee), Red's Dream (1987), Tin Toy, which won the 1989 Academy Award¨ for Best Animated Short Film, and Knickknack (1989). Among his other big screen credits, Lasseter also designed and animated the stained glass knight in the 1985 Steven Spielberg production, Young Sherlock Holmes.

Lasseter was born in Hollywood and grew up in Whittier, California. His mother was an art teacher and as early as his freshman year in high school he fell in love with cartoons and the art of animation. While still in high school, he wrote to The Walt Disney Studios about his passion and he began studying art and learning how to draw human and animal figures. At that time, Disney was setting up an animation program at CalArts, an innovative center for studying art, design and photography, and Lasseter became the second student to be accepted into their start-up program. He spent four years at CalArts and both of the animated films he made during that time (Lady and the Lamp and Nitemare) won Student Academy Awards¨.

During his summer breaks, Lasseter apprenticed at Disney, which led to a full-time position at the Studio's feature animation department upon his graduation in 1979. During his five-year stint at Disney, he contributed to such films as The Fox and the Hound and Mickey's Christmas Carol. Inspired by Disney's ambitious and innovative film, Tron, which used computer animation to create its special effects, Lasseter teamed up with fellow animator Glen Keane to create their own experiment. A 30-second test, based on Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are, showed how traditional hand-drawn animation could be successfully combined with computerized camera movements and environments.

In 1983, at the invitation of Pixar founder Ed Catmull, Lasseter visited the computer graphics unit of Lucasfilm and was instantly intrigued. Seeing the enormous potential that computer graphics technology had for transforming the craft of animation, he left Disney in 1984 and came to Lucasfilm for what was to be only a one-month stay. One month turned into six and Lasseter soon became an integral and catalytic force at Pixar. Working closely with Pixar's Bill Reeves, Lasseter came up with the idea of bringing believable characterizations to a pair of desk lamps and the genesis for Luxo Jr. was born.

Lasseter and his wife, Nancy, have five boys ranging in age from 2 to 18. They live in Northern California.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

John Lasseter Facts

BirthdayJanuary 12, 1957 (66)
BirthplaceHollywood, California, USA

Selected Filmography

Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Cars 2
A Bug's Life
Knick Knack
Tin Toy
Mater and the Ghostlight
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