August 17, 2005

Joe Ranft

I heard some very sad news today. Joe Ranft died on August 16th in a car accident. Joe Ranft was a story artist at Disney, Skellington and Pixar. He did some incredible story work and was one of the best story guys around. He was also the voice for a lot of animated characters, my personal favorite was Heimlich, the caterpillar in "A Bugs Life." He will be missed. I don't know the details of the accident, but everyone please, buckle up and drive safely.


melanie said...

From Hollywood Reporter:

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

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.

Anonymous said...

Joe touched our hearts before he was employed by Pixar, telling stories to us all around campfires and group gatherings.
He truly had a wonderful gift of being able to connect with people using his humor, warmth, and light heartness. Even though we did not see him on a regular basis, he was in our he is now. Our deepest sympathy to all who knew him and loved him.
With deepest regrets,
Mike Pettinari and Candace Troy