First off let me say that I was trying to sort my links into categories and I messed up my template. So I figured I would try a different one for a while. Did anyone else think the black one was kind of hard to read? Also the black one is kinda overused. Anyway if anyone hates this one or misses black for the nostalgia let me know.
Today at work (Disney, that is) they renamed one of our story rooms "The Joe Ranft Story Room" to replace the previously unimaginatively named Story Room 2. I wish I could have taken a picture with my camera phone of the new name but it's full and won't let me delete photos. So if anyone else at work can take a photo of the sign and post it, tell me and I will link to it and I'll take the heat (we are not supposed to use cameras at work).
I went to CalArts with Jenny Lerew (and many other talented people) and so I was lucky enough to have Joe Ranft for a story teacher. Joe was everything everybody says he was - a totally amazing human being.
He died a year ago and Jenny recently wrote a great bit about him on her blog. Skribbl over at Story Boredom posted some great video of Joe from long ago. I've been wanting to write something about Joe but I haven't for the same reason I couldn't go to his memorial; it's just way too painful to think about the fact that he's gone. He was always amazingly nice to me and everybody else for that matter.
Most of the time, Joe finished teaching his class early and I realized at some point that if you hung around he would ask you if you wanted to go down to the Tatum Lounge and have a hot dog (Tatum Lounge is a little place where they served drinks and food down the hall from Character Animation. Is it still there?). So a group of us would go down there with him and talk to him and listen to his stories about work and stuff. I learned a lot from just listening to him. I can't say I learned any great story secrets from him (if you read this blog regularly you will remember that I was too young and stupid back then to absorb anything) but the most important thing I gleaned from him was his attitude. He had a very positive outlook towards his work and he was always striving to get better. He knew that if you just keep working on a story and doing your best it cannot help but get better.
There's an interview with him on the web - I think the one on the Pixar home page - that has this quote from him: "just keep walking through the maze" (or something like that). Many times when you're working in story you have lost the enthusiasm you had at the beginning of the process and the end isn't in sight yet. You feel lost and confused and you start to think the film will never be any good. But if you keep going you will always find the light at the end of the tunnel.
In the end sometimes that is all a good story person needs: the ability to keep going when everyone else has given up on something.
Just like Jenny, I fondly remember him doing magic tricks for us students. I also remember that he did a great impression of one of the pirates on the "pirates of the Carribean" ride. He would squint his eyes and flap his mouth and move in a jerky way and he looked exactly like a certain pirate on the ride! Only Joe would have thought to do that.
Joe also introduced us to Improv. He had been in the Groudlings troupe here in L.A. and he had gotten a lot out of the improv sessions he had done there. He had us do some of these in class.
Joe was that rare thing: someone who seemed happy doing what he was doing. Most people in the film business have one goal: to direct. Some people in our business are just waiting and biding their time doing "lesser" jobs until they can direct. They don't enjoy their jobs and don't put everything they have into their work.
Joe was the shining opposite of that attitude!
Joe brought a lot of dignity and respect to storyboarding. He brought a lot of recognition to the job as well. Everyone knew who he was even though he wasn't a director or directing animator. How many other story artists can you name? Pixar is a classy place and they really respected Joe and gave him the credit he deserved. A rare thing. He certainly deserved it.
Thanks to Amid over at Cartoon Brew for mentioning my site. I apologize to new readers for not having anything new and brilliant to say but I will soon (as soon as I figure out how to become brilliant). I will get back to writing about design and drawing soon. It is a lot of hard work to write about that stuff and suffice to say I have a lot going on right now. More to come.
Okay enough rambling. How about some work from the other story Joe? No, not the great Joe Grant. Joe Rinaldi!
Joe Rinaldi was an amazing Disney story artist who has been largely forgotten. I think if Bill Peet hadn't left the studio to write his own books his name would have been lost to history just like Joe. Someday hopefully he will get his due. Sometimes they show exhibits of his work at Disney and it's dynamite stuff.
This is from the "Art of Animation" by Bob Thomas (the original edition). These panels are the whole reason I bought the book. They are super cool, huh? Click to get a good look.
All three Joes left an indelible mark on the world and left it a better place than it was when they got here. Thanks for that guys, rest in peace.