My official biography:
Lee Lanier has worked as a professional computer animator since 1994. While at Buena Vista Visual Effects at Walt Disney Studios, he created VFX for numerous feature films. While at PDI/DreamWorks, he served as a senior animator on Antz and Shrek. Along the way, he directed a series of independent, animated short films that went on to play 200+ film festivals, museums, and art galleries worldwide. His work has been featured at such venues as Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Smithsonian Institution. As a world-renowned expert in the VFX field, Lee has written high-end software books that have sold 25,000 copies, has authored VFX training videos for Lynda.com, has taught at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, is a member of VES (Visual Effects Society), and is the executive director of the Dam Short Film Festival.
A biography written by my niece, Carissa Seth:
E.L.A./ Period 1
5 November, 2012
Lights, camera, action! “Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me, l ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.” Stop!!! Many people in America don’t realize the amount of effort
that is put into the making of a ﬁlm. In the movie Shrek, for instance, the big ogre may present himself as a horrible monster, whose not very smart, but really, is just millions of computer pixels, which are all calculated and carefully placed to make what we know as an animated ﬁlm. My uncle, Lee Lanier, just happens to be a computer animator who has worked on full-length films such as Antz, and Shrek, and many short ﬁlms.
My uncle was born in Bowling Green, Ohio and grew up in Dayton, Ohio until he moved to Decatur, Alabama. Although my uncle Lee didn’t participate in clubs, he was on the track and cross country team. When he was a kid, he often made plastic models, put together Legos, drew pictures, and made super-8 movies. He’s always loved painting and drawing, which is something we both have in common. Also, we both knew we wanted to be artists when we were very young. According to my Uncle Lee, he couldn’t remember any time when he didn’t want to be an artist. In fact, he started wanting to be a ﬁlmmaker when he was eleven! He has brown hair with brown eyes, and a small beard, which instantly gives him a look of an artist. Most of his Facebook photos show him working behind a camera or with other technology. He is about ﬁve foot six and has a slight build. He’s forty-ﬁve but moves and dresses in a youthful manner. He usually wears khaki cargo shorts with a simple button down short sleeved shirt and sometimes wears baseball style caps.
My Uncle Lee majored in motion picture production at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His ﬁrst professional job was in Hollywood, as an assistant at Chanticleer Films. His most\ popular short ﬁlm is Day Off The Dead. He’s written ﬁve books which are about high-end animation and visual effects software. The different software programs are called After Effects, Maya, and Nuke, which are available on www.amazon.com and at a few book stores. Also, on page 49 of his book Professional Digital Compositing: Essential Tools and Techniques, there’s a
small picture of me.
The picture was from the time we built a gingerbread house together on Christmas Day when I was about eight or nine years old. My mom bought the gingerbread house kit intending for the whole family to participate in making it, but I was the only one who wanted to do it. Being the youngest in the family by eight years wasn’t easy. It took a lot of persuasion and nagging to get people to do what I would like to do. Many times I’ve had to listen to my family talking about movies or books that I was too young to understand, resulting in me doing nothing and staring into space. At that moment, my mind was set on trying to make the sides of the house stick together, all alone without any help whatsoever. Meanwhile, my family was socializing and eating cheese and crackers. I wasn’t going to let them ruin my only chance to create an edible Christmas decoration that was both delicious and arty. Before I knew it, my uncle sat next to me. “How are you doing?” he asked. “Oh, good, I’m just trying to get these walls to stick together.” “Here, let me help you,” he said. He pressed the walls together and helped stick candies on it. Before I knew it, we’d completed the gingerbread house. We decorated the roof with gumdrops, and cheerful, candy-coated sweet tarts, along with peppermint candies, and several
candy canes running up and down the side of each wall. The whole thing had took us four hours to make. I was very grateful Lee had helped me; it would’ve taken me at least six hours to make an okay gingerbread house, let alone one attractive enough to display. Besides, my mom would’ve made me ﬁnish it tomorrow if it had cut into my bedtime- but what was the point of . making a Christmas decoration if Christmastime would be over by then? By the end of the day, my gingerbread house was served to everybody for dessert- even though none of them had helped make it.
My uncle has not only worked in ﬁlmmaking, but he actually co-founded a ﬁlm festival with my Aunt Anita called the Dam Short Film Festival, where hundreds of their short ﬁlms - are played around the world. Presently, my uncle is directing and producing a horror/comedy ﬁlm called BedBugs. The reason he chose the BedBugs script as opposed to the other hundreds he looked at, was because this particular one was the most well- written sci~ﬁ/ horror/ comedy with his particular\ style and sense of humor. The BedBugs are actually oversized, silicone puppets, which are later going to be made into 3D computer animations. Right now he has a three minute movie trailer, and has just started with the feature length ﬁlm. My uncle ﬁts BedBugs between all his other work and usually works on the movie very late at night.
Surprisingly, the most difﬁcult thing my uncle has worked on are his short ﬁlms because they take hundreds of thousands of hours to ﬁnish. Although he doesn’t have much spare time, he enjoys creating clip- cast pottery, painting, and restoring audio ﬁlms. Also, his favorite movies he didn’t make are Casino, Mulholland Drive, and Gattaca. Some more places my uncle worked at are Walt Disney Studios, and DreamWorks.
Although I don’t see my aunt and uncle very often, I’m looking forward to seeing them at Christmastime and in February to attend their ﬁlm festival for the ﬁrst time. l‘ll get to. see many films – his and others’ – come to life to represent what we know as the Dam Short Film Festival.
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