Luca Prasso started playing on computers back in 1984, on a Commodore Vic20 and a Spectrum 48k. At that time he realized that he wanted to create images with a computer. After 4 years spent around the world demoing for Softimage, he arrived in California on a rainy day in January 1995 to work for PDI that later merged with DreamWorks Animation.
He is a Global Character Technical Director. A long title that describes someone that designs and develops the technical solutions used to animate and deform the digital characters in a feature film.
It seems you have found America in America.
What did you lose by leaving Italy?
I lost the respect for a country that was (and still is) not able to fully take advantage of the skilled artists and technical people that are forced to migrate elsewhere.
Do you think traditional 2D animation has been definitively overwhelmed by CG animation?
CG is definitively the trendy look nowadays. Traditional animation will always have a role and will be able to explore new directions. Most of our animators are trained in traditional 2D animation and this is part of how they approach a shot. CG has definitely allowed directors to explore and push some boundaries in storytelling but traditional animation can still touch our hearts with powerful simple drawings.
If you had to invent two new burgers or sandwiches and name them ‘Dreamworks SKG’ and ‘Pixar’, which ingredients and sausages would you fill them with?
The DreamWorks burger is the Chef Special. You never know what is inside until you eat it. Sometimes you are delighted with amazing exotic ingredients, sometimes is the classic meatloaf. The Chef spends a lot of money in the dish presentation.
The Pixar burger is the House Special. Consistently good, always satisfying. Made with classic well combined ingredients.
Today few Italian companies are producing CG animation and maybe none of them have any hope to reach Dreamworks SKG quality level. Do you agree with that? If yes, what would you suggest them to do or to change in order to direct their efforts to a more useful and effective direction?
From far away my personal impression is that (apart from few recent examples) the Italian companies never tried to compete with the international markets. They always produced for the tiny Italian market and with one feature film in mind. We, on the other hand, work on 4-9 movies at the same time and release 2-3 movies a year and the international market is a big part of the final revenues. There are few examples of successful results from productions made in France (Despicable Me) and Spain (Planet 51) and London.
There may be a market for a company that offer services (FX, animation, lighting or rendering) to big American productions. We have such relation with our partner in India.
Which is the most embarassing question someone could ask you? And how would you answer to it?
The classic question about coming back to Italy. I said many times that I’m not a business person. I’m not coming back to start a company. If I come back is to do the technical job I know well in a company that offers an environment, a management and an understanding of the market similar to the one I’m currently working for.
Plans for the future?
I love what Steve Jobs said in the Stanford commencement speech in 2005: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.
I stay hungry by constantly looking around me for inspirations often in strange places. I love photography, multimedia, storytelling and lately writing iPhone apps for my child (and hopefully other children).
I keep being foolish pretending that every person around me can teach me something and receive a little from me.
As long as I feel hungry and foolish, nothing will stop me from dreaming about my future.
About Luca Prasso (LinkedIn Profile)