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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Joe Ranft (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Joe Ranft
IE # 30
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from the animation union Aug 17th 2005:

Joe Ranft, who worked as a story artist, writer and voice actor for Disney,
Skellington and Pixar since 1980, died on August 16 in an automobile

We do not have any further details at this time. We will send out word when
we know of services.

" Your Scenes are there forever." - Ollie Johnston

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Steve G
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Sad news indeed.


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IE # 148
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Icon 1 posted      Profile for Methuselah   Email Methuselah         Edit/Delete Post 
A horrible shock. I hope his wife and kids are all unhurt, physically. If anyone knows, please inform us.

Joe is...was, the most generous, warm-hearted, all-around great guy you'd ever want to know, and work with. I mean, exceptional. In all things.

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I met Joe in Richard Williams' animation masterclass, and again when he did a presentation for ASIFA-SF. On both occasions he was gracious, funny, and very knowledgeable. A fun guy to talk to, and completely without pretense when he had every right to at least a little. In short, a great dude.
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My Fault
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Horrible news!

My Fault
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!

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IE # 237
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Mr. Fun
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Terrible, terrible news.

Joe was the finest of the new generation of animation story tellers. I was lucky enough to work with Joe at both Disney and Pixar, and he always amazed me with his ability to tell a story. What a terrible loss for all of us who love animation. Boy, I'm going to miss him.

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IE # 297
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Pixar didn't just lose a great artist, we all did. [Frown]
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I was already working for diney features when this new guy showed up one day from CALARTS. He was big, funny nad had the most joy and life in him that I have seen in anybody before or since, We all knew a giant was among us. A giant heart, a giant talent, a giant smile-maker. Darrell Van Citters was the first to spot his storytelling and entertainment talent and put him on Roger Rabbit as a story artist. He and Tim Burton hit it off immediately too. We used to play volleyball at break and Tim would act like he had a remote control in his mad scientist hand and shout orders to TOR---the Plan Nine actor. Joe was a lovable zombie. Tim cast Joe in his live action short called "Luau" as I.Q--the big doof in the gang. Joe got laughs and had real screen sincerity. No wonder he made a fantastic voice actor later. Joe was always sought after by every top director at the studio--including John Lasseter. Nobody appreciated or loved Joe more than John. My heart goes out to him today and for nothing to do with animation. That is a seperate loss. This is the loss of the best friend a guy could ever have. A gentle soul with a heart of gold who magically knew how to make us interested in any stories he wanted to tell us. And after the story was told---we had met new animated friends that would be with us for our entire lives. And so will Joe.
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IE # 157
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This is incredibly sad news...

I was lucky enough to meet him when I first came to Disney (Kingdom of the Sun days)

Joe was trying to make sense of the KOS story and I distinctly remember being amazed at how warm, funny and talented he was....

Very sad - a tremendous loss to our community.

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IE # 151
Member # 2986

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I am practially speachless! Joe was one of the rare people among humans much less animation artists and storytellers. This is a great loss to not only the animation industry but to the world. I'm greatful I got to know Joe.


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i'm heart broken. I met him at a lecture once and he was an incredibly humble and funny guy.

Pixar has lost too many talented young artists prematurely. My heart-felt condolences go out to his friends, family and the studio. The world will never be the same without him.

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Dan P.
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Incredibly sad news. My deepest sympathies to anyone who knew him. As I can see he seems to have touched many people and was very much appreciated. I know I appreciated the work he did.
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man, one of the great ones. my condolences to the studio and family.
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ovi nedelcu
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my prayers to the Ranft family & friends.

very sad.




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IE # 168
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Truly tragic news. I never knew him but from what I'm reading here he was more than a great talent.
There's an interview with him from 2002 on Pixar's website.


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IE # 148
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From the Hollywood Reporter website:

Joe Ranft, Pixar Animation's head of story, 45

By Sheigh Crabtree and Cynthia Littleton
Joe Ranft, Pixar Animation Studios' head of story and a founding member of the animation company's creative team, died Tuesday afternoon in a car accident in Mendocino County, Calif. He was 45.

"Joe was an important and beloved member of the Pixar family, and his loss is of great sorrow to all of us and to the animation industry as a whole," Pixar said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner's Office confirmed Ranft was one of two people who died when their car veered off the road while traveling northbound on Highway 1.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at about 3 p.m. Tuesday as the driver of the 2004 Honda Element tried to regain control of the car after swerving when he headed into a tight left curve. The car plunged 130 feet over the side into the ocean, the CHP said.

The driver, identified by the coroner's office as Elegba Earl, 32, of Los Angeles, was also killed in the crash. The third person in the car, identified by the CHP as Eric Frierson, 39, of Los Angeles, survived by climbing through the car's sun roof. He was hospitalized with moderate injuries at Mendocino Coast Hospital, according to Officer Robert Simas of the CHP office in Ukiah, Calif.

Ranft worked in both story development and as a storyboard artist at Pixar for the past decade. He was a co-writer on 1995's "Toy Story," for which he earned an Oscar nomination, and 1998's "A Bug's Life." Before Pixar, Ranft was a leading member of the story department at Walt Disney Feature Animation, where he was a writer on 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" and 1994's "The Lion King."

Ranft also voiced key Pixar characters such as Heimlich in "Bug's" and Wheezy the Penguin in "Toy Story 2."

Born in Southern California in 1960, Ranft was a classmate of director John Lasseter's at the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. After two years at CalArts, he joined Disney in 1980. He joined Pixar in 1992.

"Joe was a big part of Pixar's soul," a Pixar spokesperson said.

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The one thing worse than losing an old-school artist is losing a new-school artist.

[Gary] [bawling] [frown]

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Brian Mitchell
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I haven't posted here in a long time.
This news has really brought much sadness to me so my comments will be brief.
Like many, I was shocked to hear of his passing.
I never met Joe Ranft, but knew of the great things that he worked on and of his importance to those projects. Ranft was a genius of story; look back at any of the best animated films over the last twenty years and Ranft's name appears prominently.
I've heard from friends over the years that Joe was one of the nicest guys in the business; a man who possessed that 'animation magic'. There's just not enough people like that in the animation business and that's why his passing is even more tragic. It's terrible to think that I will never have the opportunity to know or work with him.

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IE # 195
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This is very sad news indeed.

My prayers go out to the friends and family in this difficult time.


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IE # 52
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Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for making me shed a tear. Thanks for teaching us how to be the best story tellers we can be. Your wisdom and humor will be loved by generations to come.
My heart goes out to your family and friends.
Thank you for being such an inspiration to myself and my collegues in the animation industry. I only hope we can come remotely close to the high standards you brought to the medium.

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Unbelievably shocking and sad beyond words.
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IE # 240
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It hits hard. Joe was one of the most inventive, infectious, whimsical storytellers there was - - and one of the brightest shining, most generous souls anywhere.

He was always full of great ideas. I've always felt his taste, gentleness and imagination contributed more to Pixar's overall tone and success than he ever sought credit for.

No matter how successful he became, or how many years went by, he would always greet me with a big bear hug and a huge grin. He cared for people. He was sincere - totally open - the real thing.

I'll miss him more than words can say. Aloha, Joe! You were one of the good guys.

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IE # 258
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for hours i have sat, stunned at this news. joe was everything that everyone here has said about him and more. he was never too big for his britches and remained the same guy throughout the years - a special quality indeed. joe, for those that didn't know it, was also a fine magician and had been a junior member of the magic castle as a young man. You'll find that many animation folk have been involved in magic, puppetry or related hobbies because they are an expression of creativity and bringing a sense of wonder, which is what we do in animation - and joe did this better than most. Another interesting fact I just learned was that it was joe who gave the idea of corpses bride to tim burton and was listed as an exec. producer on the project - wow! we have been honored to experience his fine work on all of the great pixar and disney films that he worked on, and will surely miss his influence on future productions. I send my heartfelt condolensces out to his family and extended family. joes memory and work will live on forever. goodbye my friend.
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IE # 93
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I just sent this in an email to my pal( and Joe's dear, longtime friend and colleague) Ralph at Pixar..I know he won't mind my sharing..

This news is the very saddest imaginable..It's just tooo sickening to lose an angel like Joe whose very purpose on Earth,it seemed, was to make people happy.Whether they were family and friends who delighted in his humor and generosity of spirit,or the world at large-so magically entertained by his boundless talent,I imagine there were very few in the modern movie-going civilized world who did not, at some point, experience great joy because he was here.
Though I did not know Joe extremely well,I first met him in the winter of '88 at Disney-- then at Spaff's parties.I was always so glad to see him at the Kroyers every year-- He just had that knack for making one feel welcome and special.
I'll miss him... as we all will.. and I'm just heartbroken for his dear wife,whom I'd met on several occasions, and for the kids and family..
Last but not least,my sincere condolences to all at Pixar, too.

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Michael W Howe
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This is just...I can't even begin to describe it.

I was not close to Mr Ranft, but I just know his face from every single PIXAR making-of I haveon DVD, and in my mind, he was the heart and soul of the storyboard department.

This is just terribly painful to read about. (also, at this moment, I'm watching 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,'and this information comes harder because Mr Ranft did storysketches for 'Roger.' That and the fact that Heimlich's voice is no more. I can still hear Mr Ranft in that making-of going 'I play heimlich the caterpillar!'

(It's partially the White zinfandel talking, but also the part of me that one of the hearts of PIXAR has stopped beating...) [bawling]

P.S. Is there any place that donations can be sent to yet? I feel drawn to do so.

"He's got three Piston Cups!"
"He did WHAT in his cup!??"

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IE # 160
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Way too young! This is horrible, horrible, tragic news. My thoughts go out to his family, and that they may find the strength to cope with this terrible loss.


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So very sad for everyone - his friends, family, co-workers, and the stories to be untold. [Frown]


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IE # 157
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Woke up this morning and I still can't believe it...
My heart goes out to his family and friends - I just couldn't imagine what they must be going through right now.


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It is interesting to see that he was involved in some very altruistic, selfless work when he passed away:

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Michael Howe, nothing along the lines of commemorative donations has been talked of yet(AFAIK), but I'd be very surprised, given the sort of person Joe was, if there wasn't a scholarship extablished in his name at CalArts, as there is for Marc Davis and others in that pantheon. [bow]

If not that, then I'm almost certain there'd be some nonprofit Joe would want people to help. It's so like him. Hopefully whoever knows something first for sure will post about it.

By the way, apparently his family members are reading these and other posts on the various blogs of his friends and colleagues, and it does mean a lot to them.

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Squash Banana
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As a student, I never knew Joe personally, but this news hit me really hard. It's always been obvious what a huge part of the Pixar family he is, and what a wonderful person. I know that I have wanted to work in animation ever since I was 5 years old, and every movie that has ever inspired me since then has had Joe's name on it. My prayers are with his family and friends.

I would like to repost something that someone said on one of the blogs out there, because it made me chuckle through my tears:

"Perhaps Joe has his wings and we all look like little ants from up where he is. -Shelby"

Aufwiedersehen, Joe.

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Floyd Bishop
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How tragic! We were just watching him on some of the extras on the "Bug's Life" DVD at work last Friday. Animation lost a great artist, and a great person.

Floyd Bishop

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Norn Iron Man
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Mr.Ranft's family have lost someone they loved so dearly at far too young an age - to his wife, children and family, our sincerest condolences at this very sad time.

The animation world has lost a unique and special talent - a man whose evident lust for life and working legacy will serve as a lasting testament to him - and continue to bring joy and happiness into peoples lives for decades to come.

May he rest in peace.

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IE # 38
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Like most people I only knew him through the behind the scenes stuff on the Pixar DVDs, but his talent and skill are very eveident in those. What a tragic loss. My heart goes out to his family, and to the families of the other victims involved.

I know I'll be thinking of this whenever I'm driving those kinds of roads in the future.

Bryon E. Carson, Proprietor

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Eric Hedman
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20's-30's music

Come see my Second Life Stuff

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IE # 191
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woah, i am shocked and saddend by this news.

Best wishes go out to the Ranft family during these hard times.

We have lost a great talent.

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IE # 259
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Joe was one of my teachers at Cal Arts. He was always generous with his time, and never played favorites. I will miss him terribly. I had no idea he was so young.
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I didn't know the man personally, but like all of us, I've seen the results of the work he's done. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Amid over on Cartoon Brew just posted the following:
I'm sure there's a lot of people wondering what causes they can donate to in honor of Ranft's passing. Now there's an answer. Allison Bell at Wild Brain writes, "We have heard that in lieu of flowers and fruit baskets, etc. the Ranft family is asking that donations be sent to the Mosaic organization, which is the men's group Joe was with when they had the accident."

Here is the website for Mosaic Voices. They have an on-line donation form, which can be found by clicking on the "Contact" section.

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