You may not know his name, nor the immense impact he had in what was his home for three decades. On the other hand, you may know the short film which won him an Oscar in 2001, one of Pixar’s most cult films, Strange Birds on a Power Line. The father of these birds, essential artist of the box with the big ears responding to the name of Ralph Eggleston, died of pancreatic cancer. He was 56 years old, and leaves behind him a substantial legacy. Although he started his career alongside Bill Kroyer, a former Disney employee, he only joined the company in the early 1990s. Aladdin, the Lion King and Pocahontas, before joining Pixar in 1993. The company, which manufactured software and advertised, was then working on its first real feature film: Toy Story. Interviewed by Cartoon Brew, the director of said feature film, Andrew Stanton, recalls the arrival of the guy on the project, and how much it changed everything: “When we finally had the green light for ‘Toy Story’ and it became clear that we were going to make the movie, I started calling everyone I knew, saying, ‘You know we always said there should be a better way to do animation? Well we’re going to do it, come on!’ But, for many of these people, it was too big a step to take, the technology was too new. […]. The only person who said yes right away was Ralph Eggleston, who arrived to become our ‘production designer’. And, thank goodness, because he became a cornerstone of the movie’s allure. You can check, he’s one of the first names that come up in the end credits of the movie. Although he had never worked on computer imagery, he allowed the consistency of the appearances of nearly 400 characters, accessories and sets, bringing a rigor and a method that will be taken up later. He will then be present on the most Pixar projects. He helped Pete Docter write Monsters Inc. while he was directing his animated short. He will be a production designer on Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Inside Out, and The Incredibles 2, and has contributed to the Incredibles art team, light direction on Up and Soul, and more. Again. A man in the shadows, who is partly responsible for what Pixar is today.
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