John Lasseter needs no introduction. As one of the founding fathers of Pixar Animation Studios and director of Toy Story, Cars…, he is a creative-minded person who goes from one success to another. Let us take a look at one of his days spent at work in March 2011, at the time Cars was being made.
7.48am: a gentle start to the day.
The director of Cars 2 leaves his home (a house in Sonoma County) after kissing his wife Nancy goodbye, and does a one-hour commute to the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California.
8.13am: already busy at work.
John Lasseter takes the opportunity of this journey to view the latest scenes from Cars 2 on his iPad. Supervising Technical Director Apurva Shah has designed a special application for the director to be able to give his recommendations verbally so that they may then be sent to the relevant departments.
8.52am: a spectacular entry.
Lasseter arrives at the Pixar Animation Studios and is deep in conversation with another Pixarian, A.J. Riebli, also one of his neighbours in Sonoma County.
He arrives at his office. His assistant Heaster Feng goes over the agenda for the day.
Director of Creative Artists Jim Murphy discusses the film with Producer Denise Ream, Assistant Heather Fang and Director John Lasseter over breakfast at Pixar’s Luxo Café.
10.27am: in uniform.
Producer Denise Ream and John Lasseter make their way to their daily meeting. As per usual, John Lasseter is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, this time with a Cars pattern. He has over 350 shirts of this kind.
10.47am: becoming a toy.
The director discusses the details of a new toy, the John Lassetire truck, with Art Director and Character Designer Jay Shuster, the Art Director at Disney Consumer Products, and Producer Denise Ream. This truck is Jeff Gorvette’s crew chief in Cars 2.
11.14am: the importance of details.
John Lasseter is in the screening room with the animation and visual effects teams to improve the latest shots.
He carefully watches one of the shots between two consecutive meetings. He gives the production coordinator his impressions.
12.50pm: lunch break
Denise Ream, Production Manager Jake Martin, Heather Feng and John Lasseter have lunch together, all four of them, as they do every lunchtime at Pixar’s Luxo Café. This time they discuss the Pixar exhibition that is currently touring the world.
1.22pm: let’s do the rounds.
Lasseter begins his usual walk by popping into Animator Jean-Claude Tran’s office, where he gives him advice on the animation to do for a scene in the film. Around him are Max Sachar, Animation Coordinator, and Shawn Krause, Animation Supervisor.
He makes his way through Animator Tim Hittle’s office, along with Supervising Animators Dave Mullins and Shawn Krause.
2.43pm: time to celebrate!
Lasseter takes a break in the studios’ reception hall to celebrate Art Director and Character Designer Jay Shuster and a few other team members’ last day of work. Jay Shuster is being assigned to another film production.
3.13pm: the right effect.
John Lasseter is in the screening room with Gary Bruins to see how the film is coming on. Him and his team have designed the various explosion scenes in the film.
4.40pm: details yet again.
Sitting at the cutting table, Lasseter works on the film with Editor Stephen Schaeffer.
5.03pm: the editorial review is still underway.
Lasseter, Steve Schaeffer and Animator Michal Makarewicz stay in the cutting room until late in the afternoon.
5.26pm: beyond the film.
As Director and Chief Creative Officer of the combined Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter’s task is to green-light the various consumer products. His assistant Michelle Moretta shows him the daily material.
5.57pm: a light in the darkness.
It is the end of the day and John Lasseter leaves the animation studios to get back to his car. He walks past the desk lamp and rubber ball from the short film Luxo Jr., which earned them an Academy Award nomination in 1986, and which have since been iconic Pixar figures.
6.04pm: time is of the essence.
Lasseter leaves around 6.00pm every evening. He does stay idle nonetheless, as he continues to watch the latest shots on his journey home and to phone his teams to give his feedback.
These pictures are said to have been taken as part of a forthcoming documentary film on John Lasseter. It is said to be directed by Leslie Iwerks. She previously did the documentary film The Pixar Story in 2007, which you can find on the DVD WALL-E.
The photos are by Deborah Coleman for ©Disney/Pixar.