Friday, June 30, 2017


Good Lord.., I forgot who posted this pic originally, but here it is again on my blog.
It is 1984, and a few selected junior Disney animators were invited to join Marc and Alice Davis at the Olympic Arts Festival (which was then organized by Peter Schneider).
We showed an absolutely beautiful 70mm film print of Sleeping Beauty, I have not seen this movie in a better version since. It was a thrill to watch the film with Marc Davis and ask him questions about  it. Actually this was the beginning of my friendship with Alice and Marc.
I do not want any comments about our not so hot pants.
From left to right:
Mark Henn, Ron Husband, Ruben Procopio, Joe Lanzisero, and me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Busch, The Gourmet Paradise 1976

These are Wilhelm M. Busch illustrations for a book written by Hans W. Fischer. It is basically a guide on how to enjoy and live the good life (until the grim reaper shows up.)

Again, phenomenal compositions and characters. So much to learn...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Witch Hunt

Look how cinematically Disney's story artists thought when working out continuity for a dramatic sequence for their first feature Snow White
At the end of the movie the Witch realizes she is being pursuit by the dwarfs, and it is time to run.
These terrific story sketches show how the artist not only worked out the continuity of this section, but also gave thought to staging, background mood and effects. The final film footage comes  very close to these early gutsy concepts.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Disney Legends


Cartoon Brew published this great photo a couple of years ago, it was taken on May 1, 1989, in Orlando. On that day the Disney/MGM studio park opened. I believe this backdrop is the entrance to the then new Feature Animation Building, which later would became my home during the production of Lilo and Stitch.
Here Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball, Ken O'Connor and Marc Davis personalize cement blocks before leaving their handprints on them.

The West Coast Burbank versions of these prints are pictured below. Naturally Kimball wouldn't do things according to protocol. Hilarious.

As some of you might know the Orlando Animation Building closed early in 2004.  It was a beautiful place to work in with a great floor plan, spacious offices and of course a terrific team of artists.

But times change... and then you find yourself working on a plan B as far as your animated future. Part of my own plan B involves a 1/2 hour hand drawn film, which is coming along very nicely. It is a passion project, and I can't wait to share it with audiences.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lilo and Stitch

Fifteen years ago the film Lilo and Stitch had its US premiere.
Thinking about this movie now makes me realize that it turned out to be one of my favorite projects I ever worked on. The story and the characters are highly unconventional yet very memorable and emotional. I remember that everybody who worked on the film felt so lucky to be a part of something extra special. (Just look at this breathtaking background.)

Lilo and Stich touched many people. People who identified with situations that had never before been portrayed in a Disney animated film.
It touched me, too, as an animator. I remember tearing up a little while working on certain scenes, like the hammock sequence. How crazy is that?

Read this just published article by Damian Alexander for Teen Vogue. It shows you what an impact an animated movie can have.

I haven't watched Lilo and Stitch in many years, I think its time to take a break and revisit what we were doing at Disney over fifteen years ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Milt helps Ollie

These are design sketches by Milt Kahl, showing construction and anatomy of Smee, a character that was animated and supervised by Ollie Johnston.
These all come from Ollie's estate, they are drawings he kept after production on Peter Pan wrapped up. The power of teamwork! Milt's solid and inventive draughtsmanship and Ollie's superb acting.
You will find a few of Milt's draw overs for Ollie's shaving scene, which I featured in my last post.
I have animator friends who's favorite Disney character is Smee. I can see why, his animation is influences by Fred Moore, Ollie's mentor. But Ollie goes further in his acting, he hits a high note as far as his animated career. There is a Moore fluidity in the animation, but the acting is all Ollie.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

An Ollie Johnston Masterpiece

One of the greatest acting/comedy scenes in Disney Animation.
That's actor Don Barclay as Mr. Smee pretending to give Captain Hook a shave. Of course Smee doesn't realize that he is actually shaving the rear of a seagull.
Ollie took great advantage of the comic possibilities. The staging is hilarious, I have no idea how he came up with Smee's exaggerated poses during this dialogue scene. And his face shows amazing flexibility and range. I love the nervous acting as he adjusts his glasses and pulls on his hat when realizing that Hook's head is missing. This is definitely a scene worth studying frame by frame, the timing is ingenious as well.

Ollie had Milt Kahl go over some of these expressions. I do have a few of those sketches and will show them on my next post.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friar Tuck

I love publicity photos like this one, where you see the voice actor and the animated character in one picture.
Andy Devine voiced the character of Friar Tuck in Disney's Robin Hood, and you can see how Milt Kahl caricatured the actor for the final design. When drawing a portly character there often is a choice to be made as to where to draw the belt line. Below the belly or above. Of course Milt made the right choice to have the belt up high, unlike his early design doodles below. 
I mentioned before that even though Friar Tuck is supposed to be a badger, he doesn't come across as
one. But the overall design as well as the acting work very well for an animated character who happens to be a clergyman. 

Rough animation drawings from one of Milt's scenes of Friar Tuck. Here he is interacting with the church mice.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Miscellaneous Bambi

Some of you might have watched the Bambi Milt Kahl pencil test I posted a while ago. It was his rough animation of a scene which does not appear in the movie. A few days ago I came across these photos taken at Disney's Animation research Library. Those drawings above show that Milt's experimental scene made it all the way through clean up. And who knows, perhaps through color.
Cutting polished animation or even color scenes is very costly, yet it happens on almost any animated production. Something I try to avoid on Mushka.

Here is the link to Milt's rough animation of the scene:

A couple of different models made for the animators to study. One shows the motion range of a fawn, the other one is a realistic depiction