Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

That's my friend Pierre Landy in the photo, dressed as the Mad Hatter.
About three years ago, when I had some time on my hands, I brainstormed with Pierre the idea of animating the invitation for his upcoming birthday party in Paris. Pierre is a huge fan of Disney animation, and he especially loves the female villains. After a few discussions I agreed to animate him disguised as three different wicked ladies. He sent me his voice recording and after three weeks of work the invite video was finished.
It was a crazy idea, but a lot of fun to do. Later I took all of the animation drawings to Paris and handed them out as party favors. 

Incidently, way back when I met Pierre, he worked in the legal department of Disneyland Paris for a number of years before moving on, and today he is one of Yahoo's top lawyers.

To be honest with you, this little homemade project went through without a glitch, it gave me the confidence to produce "Mushka".     

This is a piece of affectionate satire, no more, no less.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hug, Animal Drawings from the Zoo

That's the title of a limited edition portfolio by Swiss animal artist Fritz Hug. 
The publishing date is unknown. 
Hug visited the zoo in Zurich so many times that he knew a lot of the animals by name. 
I enjoy his loose quick sketches, but also the drawings that took a little longer, when he took the time to define textures like fur, feathers and skin. But most impressive is his observation and his knowledge of what pose brings out the animal's characteristics.

If you missed my first post on Hug's work, here is the link:

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Genius of Frank Thomas

Frank examines storyboard sketches of a sequence from Robin Hood. He would later animate those very scenes. Not very thrilled with the way the film's story was coming together, Frank still did the best he could with the material given to him.
Following are just a few examples of animated moments in Frank's long career. To my eye there are zero formulas to detect in his work. Every one of his characters moves and acts in a unique way. 
That way of working takes not only great analysis but a ton of passion.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prince Phillip

I know I posted about this character before, but there are many fascinating aspect to his development for the film Sleeping Beauty. As I mentioned before animator Milt Kahl didn't like the assignment of animating him from the beginning, not the kind of animation you could get your teeth into. Being the professional Milt was, he did the best he could with the story material given to him. Just imagine how much more interesting this prince could have been if he had a more important role in the film. It's a mystery to me why the studio in those days always underplayed the part of a prince, from Snow White and Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty. It seems they saw no potential or entertainment value in the male hero at all.
So it is amazing to see that Prince Phillip comes off as well as he does, but I do believe that this is mostly due to Milt's hard work.
Here are a few images that show Phillip's visual development.

Beautiful early costume research, possibly by Mary Blair, but I'm not sure.

Marc Davis was the first animator/designer to work on Sleeping Beauty. This is his version of the prince. Milt thought he didn't look masculine enough.

Live action reference was provided by actor Ed Kemmer, who was known for his role in the 1950s science fiction TV series Space Control.

Milt's original version of Prince Phillip. Walt didn't care for his sharp facial features   and asked Milt to alter the design.

Phillip argues with his father King Hubert. Milt animated both characters in this scene, but for some reason he only tied down the prince with pencil, the king was finalized by somebody else.

Milt didn't animate any action scenes, but he helped other animators to keep the prince on model.

A photo stat and the corresponding animation drawing. They reveal how Milt was able to look at live action reference and find the essence for his animation. Looking at this drawing, Frank Thomas told me once that only Milt Kahl could simplify the human body this way.

His part might have been small in the movie, but Prince Phillip made the cover of a few beautifully illustrated story books as well as promotional material.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Disney Trains

Most of you know that Walt Disney was a train enthusiast. 
Trains show up in some of his feature length as well as short films. Often a train would become a personality like Casey Jones Jr., or they just functioned as the real thing, like the train that almost ran over The Aristocats.
Walt put a train into Disneyland, and named it after his wife, the Lilly Belle.
He also installed train tracks around his home in Holmby Hills, Ca. This was a 1/8 scale miniature train, called the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which ran for 1/2 a mile.

Here are a few images of Disney trains from various films.
The drawings of Dumbo's Casey Jones Jr. are incredible, the artists developed such a fantastic motion range for something that is basically made out of solid iron. Just wonderful!

A magazine article from October of 1965.