Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Nine Old Men in China

I am thrilled to announce that my book on Disney's Nine OId Men is now available in China.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Song of the South

What a beautiful color sketch, perhaps by Mary Blair.
I know that many of you are frustrated over the Song of the South controversy. All that beautiful animation lost in the film's dispute.
As for myself, I do agree with Bob Iger in that the movie cannot be screened today (unless it is for a lesson in American history).
I do believe that Walt and his crew had the best intentions when making it, but unfortunately the thought of being hurtful to many people had not entered their minds. Luckily attitudes and opinions change over time, and I bet you that if asked today, the film makers would agree with Bob.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tytla's Chernabog

The Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia is probably the most extravagant piece of animated film making in regards to character animation and effects ever produced.
Fire, smoke, highlights and shadows, floating ghosts and experimental use of light, every single scene is loaded with awe inspiring richness. The result is definitely not family entertainment. This footage falls into the horror film genre. (I've said this before, terrifying enough to scare the popcorn out of kids). Disney in perhaps his darkest yet astonishingly beautiful animated moment.

The perfect challenge for young animator Bill Tytla, who had already established himself as an artistic powerhouse with gorgeous animation on several short films like Mickey's Fire Brigade and Cock o'the Walk. And the of course Stromboli in Pinocchio.
I don't know who drew Tytla's clean ups, but this work is exceptional. A devil in Art Deco line work.

What fascinates me even more are Tytla's rough drawings, even exploratory sketches. They give you insight into his extraordinary mind. The way he puts down lines to get a hold of this bigger than life character, his torso, arms, hands.
Many of the poses originate from the sequence director Wilfred Jackson own performance in front of the camera. Michael Barrier posted a few stills a while ago. Skinny as Jackson might have been, but you immediately recognize them as the inspiration for Tytla's masterful animation.


Here is the link to my first post on Bill Tytla:

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Dr. Facilier

This might come as a surprise to you, but I was involved in a bunch of scenes featuring Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog.
I remember that at the time story material and layouts for Mama Odie were still being worked on.
So I was asked to help out in the Facilier unit, which was lead by Bruce Smith, an amazing animator.
These are some of the scenes I animated. I drew the reacting characters as well.
I recall that two or three of my scenes were cut in order to improve story continuity. And Bruce re-animated a couple of my scenes because my timing wasn't up to Facilier.

But I really enjoyed animating him in this terrific, spooky Voodoo sequence .

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Studies of Alice

I don't know who drew these Alice poses, but the original artist is Marc Davis. Either a clean-up artist or a rough in-betweener traced off a few of Marc's key animation drawings. 
This kind practice gave follow up artists the opportunity to get to know the character in terms of shapes, lines and volumes. 
Quite a few studies like this one survived from Disney's golden and silver age. It was very common to study the lead animators' art, before adding assistant work. They are mere tracings, but I detect a pretty good understanding of the delicate realism involved in a character like Alice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Early Medusa Set-Up

This is a pre-production cel set-up from The Rescuers. Actually one element in it is production, and that's Medusa. Milt Kahl had already animated her as she gets off the sofa and moves toward the door  in the back, with hilarious dance steps.
The alligators Nero and Brutus aren't developed yet as final designs. Milt just scribbled these poses so a color model artist had something to work from for an experimental color scene test.
The layout's line work (which doesn't line up here with the painted shapes) is brown, it was later changed to grey to match the character's xerox outlines.
Some of the film's night scenes are presented in old fashioned black xerox.

Milt himself wasn't a fan of the movie's art direction. "You never knew what time of day most sequences were played, whether it was night or day", he criticized later.

Here is a link to an earlier post about Nero and Brutus. I love Milt's animation on these heavy reptiles:

Friday, February 15, 2019


I was asked recently if I had anything to do with the character of Vanessa (Ursula in human form) for The Little Mermaid.
The answer is yes. I think at the time I was done with King Triton's animation and was asked to help out with this character who had limited footage in the film. I came up with these two model sheets, and animated a few scenes when we see her first.
The wedding scenes were animated by someone else, I believe Kathy Zielinski did some of that footage.
What I recall from this assignment is that I had fun with the overlapping action in Vanessa's hair and dress.
All this seems like two lifetimes ago.