Ralph Eggleston

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Ralph Eggleston was born October 18, 1965 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a huge movie lover and thought a career working on films would be a great. When he was 10, he saw Walt Disney’s Cinderella and knew that he wanted to work in the animation field. After completing his degree in character animation from CalArts in 1986, he worked primarily as an animator on various television and movie projects for Warner Bros, Amblin/Universal and Fox. He had a prominent role on 1992’s Ferngully: The Last Rainforest including art direction, character designer and animator.

In late 1992, Ralph received a phone call from friend, Andrew Stanton, asking to meet about a project they were pitching to Disney. Ralph met up with Andrew, John Lasseter and Joe Ranft and they looked over his portfolio. He was hired on the spot to handle art direction for Pixar’s first feature film Toy Story.

Eggleston helped develop the treatment and screenplay for Monster’s, Inc. and went on to write, design and direct For the Birds. His idea for the short went back to nearly 15 years to his days at CalArts. He pitched the short to Lasseter and he was off and running. His team watched lots of reference videos of flamingos and swans for the big bird, Leo. They also watched National Geographic video to learn the attitude and shivers for the little birds. Eggleston even videotaped his own green bird for several hours and the animators learned bird behavior from watching the bird preen itself, shake its feathers and puff them out. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight. The hard work paid off and For the Birds won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. It also received an ANNIE award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject.

Next, Ralph helped envision the undersea world of Finding Nemo (and won an ANNIE for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production) as that film’s production designer and was Brad Bird’s choice for Art Director on his Academy Award®-winning animated film The Incredibles.

Eggleston continues to be an integral part of Pixar’s success. Much of the look and design of the environments for WALL-E can be contributed to years of work that Ralph poured into the film. In 2009, he served as art director on Pete Docter’s second feature film, Up.

Filmography

  • The Pound Puppies (1985) (character designer)
  • Hollywood Harry (1986) (title designer)
  • Amazing Stories (Family Dog) (1987) (principal animator)
  • Garfield: His 9 Lives (1988) (animator)
  • Garfield’s Thanksgiving (1989) (animator)
  • The Making of Me (1989) (animator)
  • Computer Warriors (1990) (key animator)
  • The Simpsons (Krusty Gets Busted) (1990) (storyboard artist)
  • Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) (art director, storyboard artist, additional character designer, animator)
  • Toy Story (1995) (art director)
  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) (original story, visual development)
  • For the Birds (2001) (writer, director)
  • Finding Nemo (2003) (production designer)
  • The Incredibles (2004) (art director)
  • WALL-E (2008) (production designer)
  • Up (2009) (art director)
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009) (additional source material)
  • John Carter (2012) (color consultant)

Tidbits

  • Ralph was an uncredited character designer on Beverly Hills Cop III and an uncredited title designer on Christmas Vacation.
  • Influences include directors Billy Wilder, William Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola, Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro, and Martin Scorsese. Production designers such as Anton Grot, William Cameron Menzies, Thomas Codrick, Mary Blair, Richard Sylbert and Dean Tavoularis.
  • Ralph grew up loving films, especially animated and fantasy films.  He was a big fan of Ray Harryhausen, Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw, Terry Gilliam, Warner Brothers cartoons, old horror movies and Disney features.

Interviews

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