Design PF

From Pixar Animation Studios to Pforzheim


Tanja Krampfert is new professor for animation

Tanja Krampfert has worked as a digital artist for Pixar Animation Studios in California for over a decade. Many characters from films such as "Alles steht Kopf", "Coco", "Cars 2", "Toy Story 4" or "Luca" originate from her pen, for the character "Joy" from the film "Alles steht Kopf" she received, together with colleagues from other departments, the "Visual Effects Society Award", the equivalent Oscar of the industry. Since last fall, she has been a professor of animation at the Faculty of Design at Pforzheim University.

From Pixar to Pforzheim? That makes sense: Tanja Krampfert was born in Rastatt and studied in Mannheim and Ludwigsburg. She had the dream of one day standing in the credits of a Disney film while she was studying communication design in Mannheim. A visit to the Ars Electronica in Linz was the initial spark - and studying animation at the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg was the logical consequence. She graduated in 2006 and showed her film "Moppel" at the FMX film festival in Stuttgart, an international industry gathering. Scouts from Dreamworks, Disney and Pixar took notice of her. First she went to Bristol and worked for Aardman Animations, the makers of "Wallace & Gromit", half a year later came the call from Pixar and in 2009 she moved to California.

For Tanja Krampfert, animation artists are like "actors who prefer to be behind the camera." And that becomes understandable when she explains how the characters are created. Just as an actor researches for his role, animators want to understand their character. Because a character is a character, he becomes a person. "We ask ourselves questions like: Who is he? What is he afraid of? What does he want for Christmas?" Your inspiration? "I like to look at reality and get out there." For the character Coco in the film of the same name, she celebrated the Mexican Day of the Dead in San Francisco; for "Cars 2," she attended the Le Mans race and sat in race cars. The entire team watched the film premieres together in Pixar's own movie theater. Working on a film takes three to four years, each developing a single character. "The overall work is then completely different; only the rendered film is a finished work of art."

In the States, she has coached high school students as a mentor. She now incorporates this and her experience at the most successful animation studio of all time into her classes in the Visual Communications program. With all the creativity, animation is also strict time management. "The story board is the be-all and end-all. I always compare it to fashion: I can't just cut the fabric and make a dress, I need a pattern beforehand." Tanja Krampfert is an avid storyteller, and stories can be created by any means. "My subject is animation, but what I really want to convey is: believe in your idea!"