Friday, May 15, 2020


For a while during WWII Frank Thomas joined the US Armed Forces as a member of the First Motion Picture Unit, which produced training films at the Hal Roach Studio.
Frank directed this 20 min. live action/animated short film called Camouflage from 1944. He also animated the "host" character, a chameleon. How appropriate!
I remember Frank briefly talking about this project, but hadn't seen it until a few years ago when it became available online.
The character animation is incredible! But what would you expect from a young Frank Thomas who had just animated on Pinocchio and Bambi ? In films such as this one you needed to get many technical aspect of warfare across. To help hold the audience's attention the chameleon character was added for entertainment. 
This is fantastic vintage Thomas animation from the medium's golden age.

You can view the film here:

Below are are a couple of cels from the film. The chameleon and an eagle who would like him for lunch. These cels were offered by Howard Lowery a while back.


  1. Some of Frank's animation in "Camouflage" looks a bit like Ward Kimball's Jiminy Cricket, but it also predates some animation Frank would do later in "Wind in the Willows" and "Sword in the Stone", if you know what I mean.

  2. Wow! I had never seen this before! The animation is outstanding, high level. I felt like animating again and trying to do this level that Frank achieved here. Thanks for posting this treasure, Andreas!

  3. it looked like the drawing style of ward kimball.

  4. The animation is very well done. There's a marginally better copy posted on YouTube :

    I hope a higher-resolution copy shows up someday. Because the film was produced by the U.S. gov't I believe it is in public domain, so someone just has to locate a 35mm print (preferably a well-preserved negative) and make a digital video copy. It's interesting that the cel of Yehudi the Chameleon is on Disney pegs. I would have expected Signal Corps pegs.