Monday, January 30, 2017

The 2009 Academy Tribute to Milt Kahl's been almost eight years since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences paid tribute to Milt Kahl. Allow me too brag a little, but way back Milt's 100th birthday was coming up, and so as an Academy member I suggested a celebration of his genius, which I would host.
The event was incredible, a packed house. We showed film clips, vintage interview outtakes, pencil tests and much more.
My buddy Charles Solomon moderated a panel of folks who knew Milt. Here are some of the panelists (Milt's daughter Sybil is missing from the photo, she was momentarily busy elsewhere.)
Next to me is Alice Davis, then Kathryn Beaumont, Brad Bird, John Musker, Charles, Floyd Norman, John Pomeroy and Ron Clements.

Here are pages from the event's program (courtesy of Hans Perk). Marc Davis' remembrance of his friend Milt Kahl is particularly touching.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Walt Stanchfield analyzes Milt Kahl

I found this photo of Walt Stanchfield among a pile of Disney memorabilia. I don't know where or exactly when it was taken. As Walt is holding a t-shirt, he probably just changed from his tennis outfit into his working clothes. He was sporty, loved life and was interested in just about anything. He always looked debonair, and I can tell you that quite a few young ladies at the studio thought, well...that Walt was hot. He was one of those people who happened to age well and gracefully.
As some of you know, Walt was an excellent teacher. One of his greatest points to get across was the relationship between life drawing and animation. He knew that many young artists somehow separate the two. Life drawing in front of the model being serous, academic stuff, and cartooning being something fun, yet completely different.
Walt made sure that his pupils understood that there is a strong connection.  Once you strengthen and simplify the human (or animal) model for action or acting, the whole thing starts to communicate so much stronger. And your animation will benefit greatly.
Here he points out Milt Kahl's knack for clear silhouette and positive change of shapes.

Get Walt Stanchfield's lectures in this two volume edition:

An earlier post on Walt Stanchfield:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

By Grim Natwick

I have kept xeroxes of a few magazine articles written by the one and only Grim Natwick, such as this one, for a long time. I just can't remember exactly which magazine they are from, but I do believe it was a UK publication from the late 1970s.
In this edition Grim talks about Disney animators Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis (who assisted Grim on the character of Snow White) and Milt Kahl. He discusses some of their work as well as their individual hobbies.
I will post his other articles soon.
Terrific caricature of Milt Kahl by Richard Williams.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pre-Production Art


Wonderful range of techniques and styles in these visual development pieces from Disney classics.
By artists like Mary Blair, Tyrus Wong and Kay Nielsen among others.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Milt's Archimedes

This scene with the owl Archimedes from The Sword in the Stone exemplifies Milt Kahl's modern approach to animation. Starting with Sleeping Beauty his drawings show a 2-dimensional graphic quality that becomes 3-dimensional when viewed in motion. It's a juxtaposition. It says:
I am a flat drawing, but I can fool you into believing that I am a real animal with flesh, blood and feathers.
This concept actually started in Disney's brilliant 1953 short Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. The animation of Professor Owl is full, not limited like UPA films from that time. Yet the completely dimensional treatment of this style didn't happen until Milt stepped in a few years later. Marc Davis was right behind in understanding this modernism applied to Disney animation. Other animators struggled, but succeeded nevertheless by working extra hard or by having Milt go over their key drawings. This often led to frustration though, because Milt would alter their work to a point where his improved drawing deviated from what they were trying to express with the character.
The main problem was that animators focused so hard to match this new sophisticated drawing style while sometimes neglecting basic animation principles such as squash and stretch.

In this scene Milt demonstrates that you can be graphic without loosing fluidity that comes with squash and stretch.

This is scene 34 from sequence 12, Archimedes brings the sword to Wart's attention:
"Well look, boy, look! There in the (churchyard)!"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Idea

A few years ago I was fooling around with designs for an animated film that involved a story about the friendship between a boy and a circus elephant.
But things happened, and I chose a friendship between a girl and a tiger instead as subjects for my animated film.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Behind the Scenes of Peter Pan

Kathryn Beaumont visits John Hench in this publicity still. Hench was a color stylist on the movie Peter Pan. Here he is looking at a layout for the the scene below, a gigantic camera move during the flight to Neverland sequence.

Image/Hans Bacher blog:

Co director Ham Luske helps out during the filming of a live action scene. He is holding his young son Tommy Luske, who plays Michael as he flies into Wendy's arms. The final frame shows a different camera angle.

Actor Roland Dupree holds Kathryn Beaumont for a scene in which Peter Pan protects Wendy from Captain Hook. The final frame is one of my favorite images from the film.
Staging and lighting are phenomenal, magic!

There are many posts about Peter Pan in this blog, here is one that I like in particular: