Born in Heilbronn, Germany. July 4th, 1963
Ulrich “Uli” grew up in a small village, Ubstadt, near Heidelberg. He moved
to London, England in 1986 to work on *Who Framed Roger Rabbit* and shortly
after, *An American Tail: Fievel Goes West* and opened the doors to his own
studio ‘Uli Meyer Animation’ in 1991.
*Early Life/Family**: *
Born as the younger twin to his brother Hans, Uli’s family frequently moved
around Southern Germany, following his father’s career path as a police
officer. Uli also has an older sister. His mother was a homemaker looking
after the children. None of the family had any background or interest in
art. When Uli was 10 years old, the family settled in a small village near
Heidelberg. Uli has been drawing since he was able to hold a pencil and
started experimenting with animation at the age of 10, using his dad’s
Super 8mm camera.
Uli didn’t quite finish sixth form school and never had any formal art
training. He has taught himself drawing and painting from a very young age.
Everything Uli needed for a career in animation, he acquired through
experimentation with Super 8mm film. At the age of 14 Uli got a summer
holiday job at a German animation studio, ‘Linda Film’ Munich, where he
worked on a feature film and TV shorts. At the age of sixteen Uli produced
his first commercial for a local dance school, working after school hours
for many months.
After leaving school six weeks before the final exams, Uli took on a pro
forma apprenticeship at a local advertising paper to escape Germany’s then
mandatory military service. Shortly after, in 1982, he moved to Munich,
Germany, to work on a Twentieth Century Fox production entitled *Enemy Mine*,
directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Uli designed monsters and storyboarded
several live action sequences of the film. The following year Uli met Hans
Bacher, Harald Siepermann and Jens Wiemer and set up the artist community
‘The MadTParty’ in Duesseldorf, Germany. All four worked as freelance
artists, mostly for advertising.
In 1986 Richard Williams visited and asked Uli to move to London, England
and join the crew for *Who Framed Roger Rabbit*. In preparation for the
film, Williams sent Uli to Los Angeles to spend three months with Disney
legend Art Babbitt.
Uli loved London and decided to stay in England. He worked as a character
designer and supervising animator on *An American Tail: Fievel Goes
West*for Amblimation (later to become Dreamworks) but left the company
to pursue a career as a director for various London studios. In 1991 he
set up his own studio ‘Uli Meyer Animation’, where he directed over 700
commercials and many other film projects, animation and Live Action.
The studio got involved in many high profile projects for most of the major
studios. Uli worked on *Lion King, Circle of Life* and *Runaway Brain* for
Disney. In 1996 the studio animated large sections of *Space Jam* for
Warner Bros., employing 110 artists. Computer animation started to take off
in the late nineties and the studio adapted. Over the next decade the
studio produced many more commercials, short films and Television series.
In 2013 Uli decided to return to his roots as a classical animator. He
closed the digital commercial studio and is now dedicating his time to
developing hand-drawn projects in animation and illustration.
*Comments On Style:*
Uli seems to adapt well to what type of style he has to draw in, but there
are still subtle hints at what he has animated. I really like that he is
able to adapt to other styles because I relate to that.
From a very young age Uli was fascinated by movies. When he saw his first
Mickey Mouse short at the age of six, Uli was hooked on animation. He loved
all the classic Disney movies, especially *Pinocchio* and *101 Dalmatians*.
Growing up in Germany at that time it was impossible to find any literature
about animation. When *The Illusion of Life* was first published, Uli
managed to get his hands on a copy and it became his bible. Milt Kahl was a
great influence, Uli always admired his draftsmanship.
In his later teens Uli started to appreciate many artists outside
animation. George Grosz, Eduard Thöny and Rudolf Wilke are still so his
favorites today. But his biggest influence is without doubt Ronald Searle.
Uli was lucky to meet Ronald and visited him often in his later years.
He has a very down-to-earth and relaxed personality, and I was able to
distinguish this through just a few emails. Once I found the best way to
contact him, he responded immediately and with much enthusiasm. He was
surprised that he was on a research list and was delighted to help me. I
enjoyed talking with him.
“I have hundreds of anecdotes, too many to list here. But here is one story
I am very fond of. It was published on Cartoon Brew many years ago:”
*In 1986 Dick Williams sent me to LA to work with Art Babbitt in
preparation for ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ I was 23 years old then and felt
like the luckiest guy in the world. When I first met Art at the little
studio he was working in at that time, the reception was a bit frosty to
say the least. A few days went past and I decided to approach the grumpy
great man to ask him what the problem was. Art was very frank with me and
said that he just didn’t like the fact that I was German. He continued to
tell me about his ex-wife, who survived Auschwitz only because Mengele used
her artistic skills to document his sick experiments. I don’t know how to
describe the way this made me feel. I was born way after the Nazi regime
disappeared, but still, the history of the country I was born in kept (and
still keeps) haunting me. I tried to explain to Art that the Germans of my
generation are fully aware of the atrocities committed by the Nazis and
that we are all trying to live a normal life in love and peace, just like
*Art told me that one of his daughters was at that time an opera singer in
Vienna, Austria. He had a real problem with that too, Austria being the
birth-place of that Chaplin-moustached mad-man. He was fearing for her
well-being, and when I told him there was no need for that, he didn’t
really buy it. A few more weeks went past and Art and me became good
friends in a mentor-student kind of way. When the 3 months learning from
the great, old man were over, I bought him a little good-bye present, which
he was visibly moved by. He asked me to stay in touch and the same time
said that I should not be surprised if he didn’t answer. The last time I
saw him was when he was driving off in this big old, white car and all that
was visible was the top of his head and those bony hands on the steering
*I will never forget that precious time with Art and I owe him forever for
teaching me and giving me a firsthand inside look of an era long gone.*
2009: The Boy and the Tree (TV Movie) (character designer)
1996: Space Jam (supervising animator)
1996: Pinocchio (Video Game) (supervising animator)
1996: Pocahontas (Video Game) (supervising animator)
1995: Runaway Brain (Short) (animator)
1992: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (animator - as Ulrich W. Meyer) / (layout artist - as Ulrich W. Meyer)
1992: The Magic Voyage (key animator)
1991: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (character designer)
1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (animator - uncredited)
1988: Stowaways on the Ark (animator - as Ulrich Meyer)
1996: Space Jam (sequence director)
1992: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (studio manager: Ulimation - as Ulrich W. Meyer)
1998: Lost in Space (animation supervisor: Uli Meyer Studios)
1998: Quest for Camelot (visual development)
2013: Moshi Monsters: The Movie (the producers wish to thank)
2012: The Pirates! Band of Misfits (thanks)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988): Won 3 Oscars, won 18 others and nominated for 21 others.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991): Nominated for a Golden Globe
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992): Nominated for an Annie Award, won 3 other awards.
Runaway Brain (1995): Nominated for an Oscar.
Space Jam (1996): Won Annie, ASCAP, Grammy, and WAC Awards. Nominated for 4 others.
Lost in Space (1998): Won an ASCAP Awards, nominated for 11 others.
Quest for Camelot (1998): Won a Golden Globe, nominated for 4 others.
Uli’s studio has also won a few advertising awards.
*Contributors To This Listing: *
Animators Hall of Fame