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As Pixar creative topper and now chief creative officer of Walt Disney Feature Animation, John Lasseter has come full circle.

The 48-year-old Lasseter got his animation education at Disney-backed Calif. Institute of the Arts and soon after started work at the Mouse House. Lasseter says he felt like Disney had plateaued after “101 Dalmations,” but he adds everything changed when he saw the first scenes from “Tron.”

“It was like a little door in my head opened up, not by what I was seeing, but by the future in what I saw,” he told the Visual Effects Society when he was honored last month.

Disney wasn’t interested in exploring computer animation much further at the time, and Lasseter left the company to join Lucasfilm and then Pixar, where he could devote his talents to the art of computer animation.

“I took it upon myself to become an evangelist. I never forgot the single fact we were in the business of inspiring audiences,” he says.

According to ShoWest co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser, “John Lasseter and ShoWest and Pixar have really developed a wonderful relationship over the past few years.” In 2003, ShoWest previewed “Finding Nemo,” which went on to win the animation Oscar.

“With what Pixar has done in the animated field, in elevating it to heights and levels we’ve never seen before — this is ShoWest’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to John,” says Neuhauser.

Lasseter, who directed Pixar’s first three features (“Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2”), has returned to directing with the upcoming “Cars” due June 9.

But he promises he’ll never make toons just for the sake of their gee-whiz effects. “How often have you put together an amazing effect and seen the film and it sucks?” Lasseter asked the Effects Society. “I swear, that will never happen at Pixar.”