Friday, January 18, 2019

Aladdin Flashback

When I look back at my career at Disney, I remember that once in a while everything came together just about perfectly for an animated film I was a part of.
Aladdin is one of those films. It remains arguably the most beautiful looking film of my era.
I think everybody was in the right spot as far as casting. Directors, writers, animators, voice talents,
composer etc, everybody's work jelled and made for an amazing film.
Eric Goldberg took us to a new direction with his animation of the Genie. Fluid, simple and uncluttered. Stylized while still being commercial and accessible. His influence on the movie can't be overstated.
That being said, we did have our bumps in the road. After the first story screening, Jeffrey Katzenberg walked off remarking:"You can keep the title (of the film)."
The story got reworked, Aladdin's mother got the boot and certain songs were cut, because they didn't promote story or character.
As for myself, Jafar was a joy to design based on several artists' work. When it came to his color scheme I did argue though with our production designer's choices.
Still, it all came together in the end.

Above Ron and John behind Kent Melton's beautiful character maquettes.

Next up John Musker with Jafar's voice Jonathan Freeman and Aladdin's singing voice Brad Kane.

Jonathan with lyricist Tim Rice and composer Alan Menken.

A few scenes that represent my earliest animation on the film.
Iago by Will Finn, the Thief by Dan Hofstedt.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Quiet, Wart!"

Milt Kahl sure had some fun animating dialogue scenes with Sir Kay from the Sword in the Stone.
In this scene from an early sequence Kay turns toward Wart who is observing Kay's hunting "skills" from a tree branch above.
Milt drew facial expressions and mouth configurations that let you know right away, this guy is not very bright. The puckered lips for QUIET and WART, then the wide open mouth for QUIET, and later for WART. There is comedy in the way the mouth moves during the dialogue.

When I was animating Jafar way back, I tried to aim for humor in some of his dialogue scenes.
Weird mouth shapes that would hopefully express character while still being in sync with the words spoken.

The thing with Milt is that the flat graphic character design still turns absolutely three-dimensionally in space. He could draw any mouth configuration from any angle.

Come to think of it, I would have added some teeth to the last mouth shape in order to pronounce the T in Wart. But what do I know?

Here's more on Kay:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Milt Kahl Moves

A great self caricature of Milt Kahl announcing his change of address. Not sure exactly when this occurred, but I have a way of finding out. I googled the address and these images came up.

PS This image was offered on eBay a while ago. I believe it is a tracing of Milt's original ink drawing.
Here is a low res version of what I believe to be the original.

Friday, January 4, 2019


We are at it full time! More and more final color is pouring in. I am so excited!
Honestly, I didn't expect the final footage to turn out this beautiful.
Above Sarah is encountering a tiger cub during a winter sequence in Siberia.
The cub's mother isn't happy about this, so she attacks.
What is the outcome? You'll have to wait and find out.

© Andreas Deja

Here is an earlier post regarding this scene:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Marc Davis Touch

I love the French!
I am lucky to have worked in Paris for almost one year (Runaway Brain). So fortunate to have many French friends. My command of the language is not very good, but after a glass of wine I seem to be able to get by with French party talk. My favorite language in the world.
I don't need to point out that the French have class and taste.
When Disney published a book on animator/imagineer Marc Davis in 2014, the cover became an issue of discussion. How do you present Marc's remarkable talents?
Disney/US chose a variety of images that cover a few of Marc's achievements. An obvious choice, since he was Disney's renaissance man.
But look at the cover of the French version! WOW! One drawing that says it all. This partial development drawing of Maleficent shows strength in composition, powerful use of color and of course personality. This image is worthy of a poster!

The book does go into detail about Marc's many talents. (I wrote a chapter on his animal life drawings.) In animation he became known as the master of leading ladies, heroines as well as villainess personalities.

The cover of the US book. It does give you more information about Marc's work, but somehow the French version knocks it out of the park.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas

... Happy Holidays to all of you!
This is a vintage photo to promote Disney's 1967 release of The Jungle Book.
Thumper is a trifle oversized in the back, but who cares...
Growing up in Germany meant that any Disney animated release (or re-release) was around Christmas time. That's why it is impossible for me to separate Christmas from Disney.
Best time of the year by far!!

During this holiday season we are working hard to push our 1/2 hour film MUSHKA to the finish line. I think we need one more year. There is plenty to do, but also plenty has been finished.
Recently a lot of new color scenes have been added to the reel, and I am beyond ecstatic.
We are using TV Paint, so the characters drawings need to be opaqued in white first, before getting the color treatment. We then add minimal highlights and shadows as well as some color pencil texture and film grain.
Beate, Ambrose and Ihabo, thank you so much for your hard work to get the characters to color.
And Natalie, your background paintings are always breathtaking. The look of the film is so beyond what I had imagined.
Matthieu, your staging and continuity work is stunning.
Courtney and Andreas WT, thanks so much for your outstanding animation.
Daniel, your effects animation is FANTASIA like.
And Richard Sherman, you are THE inspiration for our film. Your musical contributions are miraculous. I pinch myself every single day, realizing that you and your brother Robert wrote the soundtrack to my childhood. And to have you write music for MUSHKA is beyond words.
Fabrizio, thank you for arranging Richard's music, and for scoring our film, you are the greatest!
And of course a special thanks to my partner Roger, who wears so many hats on this production.
Editing, prepping BG work and X-sheeets, sound etc.

Here is a frame from MUSHKA, just taken off my TV screen.

© Andreas Deja

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Song of the South Art

Some more art from Disney's Song of the South. As I mentioned before, Bill Peet's story sketches provided so much information for the animators. Staging, mood and terrific character poses.
And of course they all (Milt, M.Davis, Ollie, E.Larson and Lounsbery) loved taking visual cues from Peet's storyboards. So much energy in his drawings as well as in the final animation. 

More on Peet's Song of the South work here:

A couple of incredible background paintings from the film. With apologies regarding the tar baby image.