Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Remembering Joe, More Odds and Ends...

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.


Cholki said...

This blog gets better and better.
Bout' time the Brew mentioned you
theres always something interesting in the temple that keeps me coming for more.
Thanks for the bit about Joe Ranft.
Its a tribute to the kind of human being we can aspire to be.
I was going to ask to see if you
had anything on Joe Rinaldi when you first started this blog. I wonder why his work isn't mention anymore? You need to revive him like Freddy Moore.If you or Jenny have any more history or work from him it'd be great. I think his work is stellar.

barry johnson said...

Great write up Mark. I would love to see the Joe Ranft Storyroom sign!

floyd norman said...

Joe Rinaldi was still working at the mouse house when I began there in the fifties. I would sneak up to the third floor to study his boards.

No wonder it was tough to get into story in those days. These guys were animation screenwriters. Something that Eisner and his goons never got.

Since that time, the stature of the story artist diminished greatly. I hope we see a change in that perception in the coming years.

Marmax said...

Great post!

I would love to see more storyboard work from Joe Rinaldi!

Jo Bling said...

Very sweet eulogy Mark. Nice site by the way, mate.



Randeep Katari said...

Mr. Kennedy,
Brilliant post. please keep it up.

OV! said...

nice post. thanks for sharing. i like this color for the blog better. black is better for displaying art, but this is better for reading. easier on the eyes.


Temp_name said...

There is a wonderful bit of Rinaldi's stuff in the book Paper Dreams: The Art And Artists Of Disney Storyboards. There's a huge 2 page layout and it's worth having the book for just those 2 pages.

Anonymous said...

I think the new look template is better than the old one -- this one if much easier to read.

Your new entries are the same as your old entries, though -- which is to say, they're great!

DanO said...

i'd actually like to see some sequences from Joe Ranft storyboard. they are kinda hard to come by..

Jenny said...

Gee, Mark. I haven't been by for a couple of days...I'm so glad you wrote this. It's quite beautiful. There's just nothing to add to your writing.

mark kennedy said...

Gee, thanks for the kind words everyone, thanks so much. I'm glad everyone likes the new template (even though it looks like baby poo).

Cholki, I wish I could post more Rinaldi stuff but I can't becasue the studio technically owns the xeroxes I have.

dano-I will keep my eyes open, I might have some somewhere...

again, thanks to everyone else for being so kind.

mark kennedy said...

And Jenny that means a ton coming from you!

amelia said...

I found your site just a few days ago and I really like what you write. Great post on Joe Ranft as well. I went to CSSSA this past summer for animation and yes, that lounge is still there :) Keep up the great posts.

Rochelle Smith said...

Thanks, Mark, for the post on Joe Ranft.
I'm a big fan of a lot of the artists mentioned on your site (Bill Peet and Milt Kahl, especially) but Mr. Ranft was something special because I was fortunate enough to have met him. He came and spoke at the Florida Studio and he is indeed one of the nicest, most passionate fellows I've ever met.
Although I wasn't close friends with him, the news of his death stunned me terribly. Thanks for letting everyone know about the story room.


Julie Oakley said...

just found your blog through 'Drawn'. Great stuff here I'll be back again and again. Re black templates, I hate them I find them so hard to read - this one is really easy on the eye

Drazen said...

killer posts