Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bill Peet's Song of the South

Bill Peet was a very interesting artist. He had the most fun when working on projects he was in charge of as far as story develpment. During his long career at Disney there were three such projects. Song of the South (the animated sequences), 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone.  Peet storyboarded these films single handedly. 
Whenever he worked with a sizable story crew on movies like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan, he felt that in the end there were "too many cooks in the kitchen", which led to painful compromises.
The animal characters in Song of the South are incredibly well developed with their contrasting personalities. The story sketches gave the layout department wonderful sets, and the animators were able to use just about every pose Peet came up with.
Look at the vitality in these sketches, appeal, acting and storytelling, it's all there.
I understand that Bill Peet never watched the final versions of the films he worked on in fear of being disappointed. I hope that's not true.

Go to Michael Sporn's blog for scans of complete Peet storyboards:

In this early sheet Milt Kahl explores proportions and expressions for Brer Rabbit, based on Peet's sketches. Have you ever seen anything more appealing?