April 23, 2014

Cafe Where Pixar Came Up With ‘A Bug’s Life,’ ‘Monsters, Inc.,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ and ‘WALL-E’ Shuts Down

Hidden City Cafe

Hidden City Cafe is well-known in Pixar lore, as it is the location of a very special lunch that studio employees had – a lunch where they came up with the ideas for four of its films. Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft (RIP) gathered for a memorable meal at the cafe, as they outlined ideas that went on to become A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and WALL-E. The cafe has often been visited by Pixar fans, to get a taste of the birthplace of so many of the studio’s films. However, when one fan recently dropped by, he discovered that the place had been shut down. [Read more...]

Joe Ranft Celebration Wrap-Up

Joe Ranft as Heimlich by Jerrod Maruyama

Joe Ranft was (and still is) an inspiration for everyone at Pixar Animation Studios. Similarly, he is an inspiration for all of us – not only in filmmaking, but also in life. He was incredibly gracious, always willing to help fellow employees and friends and offer them kind words. Additionally, he was extremely giving, often working with charities to assist others. Yes, he was a tour-de-force in animation, but it was his personality that people loved most.

As part of his birthday celebration (he would have been 51 years old today), we set out to share stories about what made him such a great individual. Below you will find a link to all our stories, videos, and artwork from today. [Read more...]

Video: Joe Ranft Tribute

For Joe Ranft’s memorial, director John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) created a tribute in the only way that was truly fitting – he used storyboards. Ranft was a great storyboarder and became known as one of the best in his generation.

The tribute is a heartfelt retelling of Joe’s life, from his difficult childhood to his storied time at Pixar. It is not challenging to see through these images how much he was loved. Last year, Musker shared the extremely touching video with the world, and you can view it here:

A Look at the Voice of Joe Ranft

©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Joe Ranft far outpaced many in his storytelling ability, but his vocal abilities also held a special quality. His characters could steal a scene after only a few seconds. Two of the most notable voices he provided were for Wheezy in Toy Story 2 and Heimlich in A Bug’s Life. The characters made audiences laugh but they also made people feel. Ranft injected the voices with life and filmgoers had nothing left to do but fall in love with the animated characters. After a short period of time, the animated characters did not feel so animated anymore – actually, they jumped off the screen with a lifelike quality and Ranft’s vocal talent played a huge role in that. [Read more...]

Video: “Celebrating Our Friend Joe Ranft”

Joe Ranft Drawn

We can talk about the greatness of Joe Ranft for a long time, but it is best seen through the lives of those he touched. Ranft worked at Pixar for about 10 years, collaborating with directors John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter, among many others. He was clearly loved for his talent and the warmth that he constantly displayed to his fellow employees and friends.

A video tribute to Joe Ranft was included on the Toy Story 2 Blu-ray set and I have embedded it here so we can see just how big of a mark he left at the animation studio. It covers his film career, focusing on his master storytelling skill and his unreal ability to bring others joy and make them laugh. He brought joy to those around him and he continues to bring us all joy to this very day.

PixArt: Special Feature – Joe Ranft’s Heimlich

Celebrating Joe Ranft by Andy Wilhite

Celebrating Joe Ranft by Andy Wilhite

Joe Ranft was talented enough when it came to storyboarding, but his skill did not stop there. He also crafted voices for some of Pixar’s most memorable characters – Wheezy in Toy Story 2, Jacques in Finding Nemo, and of course Heimlich in A Bug’s Life. As Heimlich, Ranft raised character humor to a whole new level of hilarity. [Read more...]

Celebrating Joe Ranft

Joe Ranft

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. [Read more...]

Book Review: “Two Guys Named Joe”

Two Guys Named Joe
Two Guys Named Joe

"Two Guys Named Joe" is available in bookstores now

Many people wonder about the success story of Pixar Animation Studios. The studio’s rise from near-extinction to critical and financial success is a fairy tale that is fascinating to learn about. Then there is the larger Walt Disney Studios that is known for its animated classics such as Snow White and Dumbo. In theatres, we get to see the final products, but there are the unsung heroes (unkown to many in the audience) who work laboriously to bring us the memorable characters and emotional storylines. Two of those individuals, Joe Ranft of Pixar and Joe Grant of Disney, helped to change the way the animation industry is viewed. Tragically, in 2005, the world lost both of these artists. In his book, Two Guys Named Joe, renowned animation historian John Canemaker recounts the lives of the “two Joes” assisted by the narrations of those who loved them. After reading the book, you may not only grow fond of Ranft and Grant, but you will be moved by the realization of how much we owe both of them. [Read more...]