Jeff Pratt

Jeff Pratt has had a fas­ci­nat­ing (slightly mean­der­ing) career. After many years work­ing as a space shut­tle engi­neer for NASA, Jeff swapped the ‘infi­nite and beyond’ for a graphic design and com­puter ani­ma­tion path, which he kicked off with none other than Pixar, join­ing the teams behind ‘Toy Story’ 1 and 2, ‘A Bug’s Life’, ‘Mon­sters Inc’. and (as modeller/rigger) ‘Find­ing Nemo’. Then, after gath­er­ing bun­dles of expe­ri­ence as an ani­ma­tion monk he moved on, log­i­cally, to become a mas­ter and pass on his wis­dom. First at Expres­sion Col­lege just out­side of San Fran­cisco and finally at Escape Stu­dios in the United King­dom, where he cur­rently works.

What made you leave sunny Cal­i­for­nia and come to England?

My part­ner at the time was trans­ferred to Lon­don. I had lived in San Fran­cisco for 14 years so when a chance to try liv­ing in Lon­don came up it sounded like a some­thing worth try­ing out.

Have you ever attempted any tra­di­tional 2D animation?

No, I went straight into 3D in Art School.

What would you say to those who believe that 3D ani­ma­tion is like rocket science?

Ha ha ha… Well, I should know what Rocket Sci­ence is like hav­ing worked at NASA for 8 years. The User inter­faces in 3D pack­ages are get­ting more and more user friendly, so some aspects of 3D ani­ma­tion are actu­ally not very tech­ni­cal at all. Now if you are talk­ing FX then that’s a dif­fer­ent story.

Is it pos­si­ble to be a good 3D char­ac­ter ani­ma­tor with­out the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge of rigging?

Yes, if you are able to be work­ing in a larger stu­dio where ani­ma­tors are only doing ani­ma­tion and there are whole mod­el­ing and rig­ging depart­ments to sup­port production.

What has given you the high­est sense of accom­plish­ment as an animator?

Sit­ting in a the­atre and watch­ing a film I ani­mated and observ­ing the audi­ence reac­tion to my work. Hav­ing an audi­ence laugh at your shot is a great thrill.

And as a teacher?

Hav­ing a stu­dent who came into my class not inter­ested in the class leave the class excited about the sub­ject and want to learn more.

How are you find­ing being a teacher after all those hec­tic years at Pixar?

It’s a lot of fun work­ing with stu­dents who are all excited and have lots of energy and ideas and it is allot less stress­ful than pro­duc­tion and much bet­ter hours.

Is there a golden era of ani­ma­tion? Do you think this is it?

There have been a num­ber or Golden Eras in ani­ma­tion. The Dis­ney Clas­sic ani­ma­tion Bambi, Fan­ta­sia, etc. Then the sec­ond golden age, Lit­tle Mer­maid through Lion King. And yes I think this is kind of a third Golden time in Animation.

Do you cur­rently have any per­sonal ani­mated projects in progress?

No, I’ve been too busy devel­op­ing my ani­ma­tion course here at Escape to have time for a per­sonal project these days.

If you were a famous ani­mated char­ac­ter who would you be?

Arthur from The Sword in the Stone. For one it’s my favourite Dis­ney clas­sic ani­ma­tion and sec­ond I’m always chang­ing and try­ing new things.

  1. Escape Stu­dio Jeff’s pro­file page.
  2. British Air­ways Inter­view Inter­est­ing video inter­view with Jeff Pratt.

Cre­ator of one­huge­eye. Founder and direc­tor at Lon­don based Stu­dio Tinto. Dad. Cof­fee addict.