Lena Gieseke is a German painter, academic, and special effects technician. She is mostly known for being the first and only wife of American filmmaker, artist, author, and animator Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton. A native of the city of Bremen, Gieseke’s interest in art developed early. She reportedly attended the German School of Athens before enrolling at California Institute of Arts (CalArts), pursuing a degree in fine arts and photography. She met Burton at a party in London, and they exchanged wedding vows in February 1987 .The marriage lasted for about four years and did not produce any children. Between 2000 and 2004, she attended Universität Koblenz for a Bachelor of Science degree. She subsequently earned an MFA degree in dramatic media from the University of Georgia in 2007. In 2012, she joined the Universität Stuttgart’s digital media doctoral program as a scholarship student to obtain a PhD degree. Gieseke has been part of the visual effects teams of several films, including ‘2012’ and ‘Immortals’. At present, she is a professor of visual media technologies at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF.
Childhood & Early Life
Gieseke was born on September 12, 1965, in Bremen, a city by the Weser River in northwest Germany. She developed a deep passion for art when she was a child. Her parents reportedly enrolled her at the German School of Athens, so she could explore her aesthetic sensibilities.
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Education & Career
After leaving high school, Gieseke earned a degree in fine arts and photography from California Institute of Arts (CalArts). She then moved to London, England to apparently attend Lena Wimbledon College and Goldsmith College.
From 2000 to 2004, she studied at Universität Koblenz, earning her Computervisualistik (Bachelor of Science) degree from there. In 2007, she obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic media from the University of Georgia, USA.
Between March and May 2005, she served as an intern 3D generalist at Perpetual Motion in Athens, Georgia. In June 2006, her job was made permanent. She was with Perpetual Motion until September 2006. In 2007, she worked as a freelance 3D generalist for Method in Motion in Los Angeles, California. Gieseke subsequently moved back to Germany and started working for Scanline VFX in Munich as a scripting and pipeline TD and R&D in July 2008.
She left Scanline VFX in July 2011. A month later, she joined 3DXcite (previously known as RTT) as an application developer. After working there for five months, predominantly in production tools and pipeline development, she made her departure in January 2012.
In 2012, Lena Gieseke started her pursuit of a PhD degree as a scholarship student in the digital media doctoral program at Universität Stuttgart (University of Stuttgart), obtaining it in 2018. The title of her thesis was ‘Control Mechanisms for the Procedural Generation of Visual Pattern Designs’. She was also associated with the Visualization Research Center at Stuttgart as a doctoral researcher from February 2012 to July 2016.
From October 2012 to June 2015, Lena Gieseke was a guest lecturer at Furtwangen University, Germany. In 2015, she was in San Jose, California for three months as a visiting researcher at Adobe Research. Since August 2016, she has been affiliated with the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF as a professor of visual media technologies.
Some of the publications to which Gieseke has contributed over the years are ‘Towards a Practical Gamut of Appearance Acquisition’ (2013), ‘Interactive Parameter Retrieval For Two-Tone Procedural Textures’ (2014), and ‘Shake it up – Image Decomposition and Rearrangements of Its Constituents.’ (2015). In April 2007, she received the special recognition award for "Outstanding Contribution to the History Channel Documentaries" from the University of Georgia.
As an employee at Scanline VFX, Lena Gieseke worked on her first film, the German comedy ‘1½ Knights - In Search of the Ravishing Princess Herzelinde’, in 2008. In the ensuing years, she has been associated with telefilm ‘Die Jahrhundertlawine’ (2008), live-action comedy adventure ‘Vicky the Viking’ (2009) and its sequel ‘Vicky and the Treasure of the Gods’ (2011), drama ‘Berlin '36’ (2009), American epic disaster science fiction ‘2012’ (2009), telefilm ‘Westflug - Entführung aus Liebe’ (2010), comedy ‘Otto's Eleven’ (2010), period drama ‘Hotel Lux’ (2011), and American epic fantasy ‘Immortals’ (2011). Her most recent cinematic project is the 2011 family fantasy ‘Als der Weihnachtsmann vom Himmel fiel’ (When Santa Fell to Earth), which was based on a 2004 novel of the same name by German author Cornelia Funke.
Relationship with Tim Burton
Lena Gieseke and Tim Burton met at a party in London. At the time, she was an aspiring painter, and he was a talented filmmaker who had gained much recognition for directing ‘Pee-wee's Big Adventure’ (1985) and ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988). The couple got married on February 24, 1987 and four years later, on December 31, 1991, they parted ways. She is Burton’s first and only spouse. After the divorce, Burton had a nine-year-long relationship with model and actress Lisa Marie from 1992 to 2001. However, some sources claim that Gieseke and Burton’s marriage dissolved because he had an affair with Lisa Marie.