On March 13, 1960 an individual by the name of Joseph Henry Ranft was born. He went on to become one of the greatest storyboard artists ever, working on such films as The Brave Little Toaster and The Nightmare Before Christmas before landing at Pixar Animation Studios. At the studio, his level of talent was unparalleled, as he was a comedic genius while he simultaneously possessed the ability to make audiences care for the characters he helped bring to the screen. Whether it was his skill with his pen or his voice acting, everything he touched carried something special. March 13 is the day that brought us the great Joe Ranft, making it a day that should be celebrated.
Joe Ranft is referred to as “the heart of Pixar” for a number of reasons. His work was phenomenal, as he gave films such as Toy Story unforgettable sequences with fantastic character work. The scene in the film where the toy soldiers are sent on a mission to report on Andy’s birthday party was boarded by Ranft and it made it into the film almost exactly as he had set it up. That rarely happens in animation, especially at Pixar, with the studio’s now-famous determination to constantly improve ideas. The sequence is easily one of the most creative and inventive in the entire film, and to think about how it remained largely unchanged from its inception in the mind of Ranft is mind-blowing.
The only thing better than his level of skill in the world of animation was his character. John Lasseter and Joe Ranft shared a very close friendship and could be seen goofing off together on DVD extras for films on which they worked. Additionally, Ranft maintained close friendships with many others at the studio. He had a truly joyous personality and everybody that he worked with had nothing but great things to say about him.
He was also a man who was extremely giving, as he worked with charities to help the less fortunate. Actually, on that fateful day where the world lost him, he was on his way to work with children for a charitable cause.
Joe Ranft would have been 51 today. While he may no longer be with us, in the short time he was here, he gave us so much. He has left an indelible mark in animation and at Pixar and he continues to live on in his fantastic work and in our hearts. March 13 is the day that brought us Joe Ranft, which makes today a great day – a day which we will continue to celebrate forever.
We will be celebrating Joe Ranft all day today. Check back throughout the day for more stories, videos, and artwork celebrating the great man.