Tim Johnson

Birth: August 27, 1961

Director/Miscellaneous Crew/Producer/Animator

Bio Summary:
Born in Chicago 1961, Tim attended North Western University and studies both Astrophysics and English Literature. He had a passion for art and became a freelance animator when he graduated and then later went on to become part of the staff at PDI, Pacific Data Images. Tim continued his work at DreamWorks animation, which now owns PDI. He became a director and has directed many animated films such as *Antz *and *Over the Hedge*. Tim continues to work at DreamWorks today and is still directing animated films.

Early Life/Family:
Tim was born in Chicago on August 27, 1961. His father worked with scientists and for a while Tim thought he would be a scientist. His father, though, would draw little doodles and so Tim would as well. Tim eventually became interested in the art of animation and pursued that path.

Tim Johnson was self-taught in animation; Chicago did not contain a very large animation community. He went to North Western University and studied Astrophysics and English Literature, but would find himself always doodling in his textbooks and drawing. North Western did not have an animation department. He would use the corners of the pages of his textbooks as a sort of flip book, and would create small animations. The other students would always want his to use his books in order to see the animations. Tim then got into creating comic strips and created a comic for the Daily North Western. He also created several short films during college and was always willing to help others on their films. He said that majoring in English Literature actually helps him a lot in directing. Being a director he has to be able to understand and create stories, studying English Literature allows him to better understand what makes up a story and to analyze them on a deeper level.

Career Outline:
Tim began as a freelance animator in Chicago. There were not very many animation opportunities in Chicago. He remembers when *Who Framed Rodger Rabbit *was released; at the showing all of the animators in the city were there in line to see it, they all really wanted more animation. Later, a small company then bought Allies, which eventually became Maya, Allies was the first high in 3D animation system. Tim then started working for this small company, called PDI, and was the first animator to use Allies. Then in 1988-1989 he helped form a character animation group in the company. PDI is now in California and is owned by DreamWorks. They started to some little animations with the new Allies program, mostly commercials. They did some of the 1990 Pillsbury Dough Boy commercials. Eventually Tim convinced DreamWorks to try creating a featured film, using 3D animation, but just like with *Snow White* *and the Seven Dwarves *companies were skeptical about it. They did not believe that it would capture the attention of the audience long enough. When *Toy Story *was released by Pixar and was a huge hit DreamWorks agreed to create the movie. Tim then went on to make his, as well as DreamWorks’, first 3D animated featured film *Antz*.

Comments on Style:
His style of storytelling I personally have greatly enjoyed. In all of his films his stories are very solid. The characters help build the story up as well as the story helping to build the characters. The two element support one another at the same time, which in my opinion is very good storytelling.

The greatest influences in his life were two people, his father and Chuck Jones. His father also drew and liked to doodle as well. Tim grew up with his father drawing around him and so Tim started drawing. Chuck Jones’ Warner Brothers cartoons influenced his interest in animation. When VHS was introduced, Tim would often watch Chuck’s cartoons and would stop the film and watch the scenes frame by frame. He then would take tracing paper and would put in on the screen and trace the characters, in order to better understand exactly what Chuck Jones was thinking when drawing the frames.

Tim is very nice man, and it is apparent just from speaking with him that he truly loves his job. He told me that “Being a story teller is a great way to make a living” and that it truly is the oldest art form. He likes being a story teller for families, making films that the whole family will enjoy and teaching children life lessons through his stories.



· 1998 “Secret World of ‘Antz’” (Himself)
· 1998 “Antz” (Director)
· 2000 “CyberWorld” (Segment Director)
· 2001 “Shrek” (Special Thanks)
· 2003 “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” (Director)
· 2003 “The Making of ‘Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’” (Himself)
· 2006 “HBO First Look : ‘Over the Hedge’” (Himself)
· 2006 “The Apprentice” (Himself)
· 2006 “Over the Hedge” (Director)
· 2006 “Meet the Cast of ‘Over the Hedge’” (Himself)
· 2006 “Hammy’s Boomerang Adventure” (Creative Consultant)
· 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon” (Executive Producer)
· 2010 “Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special” (Director)
· Current “Happy Smekday!” (Director)
Honors: · 1996 “The Simpsons” (Ottawa International Animation Festival/Won)
· 1999 “Antz” (Annie Awards/Nominated)
· 2006 “Over the Hedge” (Indianapolis International Film Festival/Won)
· 2007 “Over the Hedge” (Annie Awards/Won)
· 2011 “Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special” (Annie Awards/Won)

Related Links:

Bibliographic References:

Contributors to This Listing:
Megan Adams

Animators Hall of Fame