Thursday, May 19, 2022

1990 at Disney Animation


We had just screened a work in progress version of The Prince and the Pauper for two Disney icons, Marc Davis and Joe Grant. Here they are commenting on story, animation and general entertainment. This is 32 YEARS AGO!!! That might be the reason why I don't remember one thing these two legends said. At that time I had been at Disney for 10 years. And I was so lucky to have gotten to know Marc and Joe, but also Frank and Ollie, Kimball, Milt and of course Eric Larson. 

That's Dan Rounds on the left, the producer of the film. He not only imitates my pose, but also my sense of fashion... ;) 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Medusa Cel


What a great cel of Madame Medusa from The Rescuers. Milt Kahl was very concerned about how the final cels with his animation would turn out. In the end he was very happy with certain visuals that mattered to him. During a conversation with Penny Medusa has taken off all of her eyelashes. At this point Milt wanted to show no eyelashes at all, not even her natural ones. The xerox line defining the edges of her eyes was eliminated, and a flesh colored ink line was added. This is all about contrast. Big eyelashes at first, then none at all. That's a clear graphical statement. 

Earlier on Medusa removed half of her lipstick, and again, that side of her mouth doesn't show any lip definition at all! Contrast, contrast!

To some viewers this might be gross looking, and it is, but sooo in character. I just love this sequence.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Another Look at Sleeping Beauty

Marc Davis draws Maleficent. This is not a scene from the film Sleeping Beauty, the sketch was made for publicity purposes. As I pointed out before, Marc worked on this film longer than any other animator. He actually skipped the production of Lady & the Tramp, so he could focus on and animate the movie's heroine as well as its villain. Aurora and Maleficent. This was a first, and it hasn't been done since. 

A live action photostat of Jane Fowler (later Boyd) as Maleficent. Voice actress Eleanor Audley also acted out important scenes for the animators.

A Frank Thomas sketch of the Three Fairies, pretty much as they appear in the film. But it took many exploratory versions to get to this point.

This is early live action footage for Aurora and Prince Phillip. Believe it or not, but that's Kathryn Beaumont (of Alice and Wendy fame). I don't know who her acting partner is, with his full hairdo.  

King Hubert, King Stefan and his Queen represented by actors Don Barcley, Hans Conried, and again Jane Fowler. 

 Camera moves planning and a clean up layout. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022



A photo from quite a few years ago, taken at the home of Marc Davis. Alice Davis is giving a tour of Marc's art on display in their home. A visit to the Davis home is like walking through a museum, filled with extraordinary art from one of animation's grand masters. It makes your head spin, so much to look at, so much to appreciate and be inspired by.

That is Jake Friedman on the right. His new book on the infamous Disney strike is about to be released. Jake has a new book and I have a new animated film about to come out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Mark Adlington


Mark Adlington is a terrific contemporary animal artist from the UK. I came across his beautiful work by accident online. He draws his subjects in their natural environments, before refining the sketches in his studio. 
Adlington has a great sense for observation, he can paint any kind of animal very well. 
I found two publications featuring his work on Amazon. One focusing on African lions, the other one on polar bears. 

Here are a couple of great videos with him talking about his work:

All images copyright Mark Adlington.

Friday, April 29, 2022

A Visit from Clint Howard


Actor Clint Howard stopped by a few weeks ago for an interview about his role in Disney's classic film The Jungle Book. Clint voiced the baby elephant, also known as Hathi jr.

The interview will be a part of the upcoming exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum Walt Disney's The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece. It was wonderful getting to know Clint, whose 1967 TV show Gentle Ben was a favorite of mine as a kid. Of course Clint has been in many movies, including Apollo 13, a film directed by his brother Ron. A true classic!

Here is the link to the the Disney Museum's Jungle Book announcement:

This exhibition will be spectacular.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Visual Development

Imagine as a Disney animator looking at these terrific development visuals for an upcoming feature! How can you not get super excited, you just want to get to work! The Dance of the Hours from Fantasia is one of the best things ever animated. If you worked on this short, you can practically retire because this piece represents a high for the medium that would not be repeated. 

An extraordinary layout for the 1958 short film Paul Bunyan. I never cared for the animation much, but the look, the graphic world the artists created is stunning.  

This piece from 101 Dalmatians makes me laugh, because it represents an artistic hangover. The crew had just finished Sleeping Beauty and was gearing up for a new film set in a contemporary style. What they couldn't shake yet were square and round tree shapes. If you take the park bench out of the picture, you'd expect Aurora walking through the scenery talking to birds. 

A pretty development sketch for The Jungle Book. Walt Disney asked for light, fun settings, instead of a dark mysterious jungle. This color sketch looks pretty light to me. 

A back alley setting for The Aristocats. My educated guess: this is the work of the great Vance Gerry.

This one is close to home. The Snow Queen was going to be our next animated feature after the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh. Paul Felix had developed extraordinary settings for the project, we could not wait to get started. Bette Middler had been asked to voice the title character... then the shoe dropped. The CG shoe. The film ended up with a one word title...and the rest is history.

 Would I have lobbied for the Bette Midler character...of course!!