Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ollie Johnston on Jungle Book Characters

This is historical. Ollie Johnston talks about the character relationships between Mowgli,  Bagheera and Baloo. Ollie compares them to people we all know. 
I have used this clip as part of my presentation about my Nine Old Men book.
You can tell that Ollie and his fellow animators thought of their characters as being real with human personalities.

Words of wisdom!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Early Black Cauldron Background

I remember a variety of visual BG development for The Black Cauldron. This beautiful Bg is by Ron Dias. It represent a throwback to old classic Disney, very romantic, and also well executed.
Gosh, you wonder what this movie could have been.
To me the film's problems lie within the insufficient story telling as well as often lackluster character animation
Fortunately better movies would follow, and eventually we were on a roll with animated films that resonated with modern audiences.

Yet, I do love this Dias BG.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Versions of Alice

I love Mary Blair's color sketches of Alice. Her chubby arms and legs feel very doll like. I wonder how likable and identifiable this stylized Alice might have been in animation.

David Hall's earlier development work on the character show a skinny and more realistic looking girl.
These stick like legs create a graphic contrast to the bulky blue dress.

Add Kathryn Beaumont's performance and Milt Kahl's draughtsmanship and you get the final, approved look for the title character in Alice in Wonderland

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Another beautiful animation drawing by the amazing Marc Davis. This is Princess Aurora, as she tells the Three Fairies about someone she met in the forest. Marc's knowledge of anatomy as well as graphic design floors me. This level of draughtsmanship is rare, even at Disney.
I love where Marc accents certain lines by drawing them darker and thicker. Like the underside of the hair resting on her left shoulder, or the line defining her left lower arm.
Frank Thomas said that Marc's animation always looked best in pencil test form. Final inked cels would eliminate these lovely inconsistencies.
What a great drawing to study for inspiration at the beginning of the week.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Snow White Screening

Tomorrow, Saturday Oct. 21, I will be hosting a screening of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The screening will begin at 1:30pm, at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre, which is on 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. This event is part of this weekend's Animation Is Film Festival.

Having known quite a few animators who worked on the film I will talk about their contributions and remembrances of this groundbreaking 80 year old animated movie.

Click here for tickets:

See you tomorrow!

Image Heritage Auctions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Jungle Book at 50

Director Woolie Reitherman called The Jungle Book "that little movie". Its 1967 budget was a modest $4 Mill., ( just under $ 30 Mill. in today's dollars).
I saw the film way back in Germany during its first theatrical release, and all I can say is that it became a HUUUGE movie. Lines around the block for movie tickets, almost always sold out.
Over the years The Jungle Book was re-released several times, and as of today it is the most watched film (live action or animated) in movie theaters of all time in Germany.

If this film had failed at the box office, Walt Disney Productions would have most likely shut down its legendary animation department (This according to Frank and Ollie).
Luckily it was a huge hit worldwide, grossing over $ 205 Mill. ($ 1.5 Bill. in today's dollars).

And yet a lot could have gone wrong with this production. Walt Disney died before the film was finished. Top story artist Bill Peet left Disney over creative differences. The film's plot deviated greatly from Rudyard Kipling's original book. Mowgli's much simplified story was told with musical Jazz numbers in the Indian Jungle, a concept that sounds absurd.
But in the end everything fell into place. The very simple story line allowed the animators to fully develop their personalities through breakthrough animated acting. The main characters' relationships are extremely well worked out, and you really get to know them.

So here's to The Jungle Book at 50! A film that changed many people's lives including my own.

A look back at some of the artists involved in the film.
Walt Disney showing a Ken Anderson sketch of King Louie to singer and musician Louis Prima, who  voiced the character in the movie.

Sterling Holloway (the voice of Kaa, the snake) and Walt.

Director Woolie Reitherman working with his son Bruce on dialogue for Mowgli.

From left to right: Writer Larry Clemmons, Sterling Holloway, Woolie and Sebastian Cabot (Bagheera).

Background artists Al Dempster, Bill Layne and Art Riley

An experimental background, most likely painted by Walt Peregoy.

Songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman with Louis Prima.

Louis Prima (on the far left) and his band performing "I wanna be like you".

The world Premiere in Hollywood.

Sonny and Cher at the premiere.

The original first release movie poster. To be honest I was never crazy about this depiction of the characters in this composition.

Over the years I have posted endless times about this film. Here are links to some earlier posts:

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Final Color Footage

© Andreas Deja

We now have a complete sequence in final color. I call it the "Montage Sequence" where we watch Sarah bonding and growing up with Mushka, the Siberian tiger. The character poses in this frame actually don't match, because by the time the tiger cub jumps forward, Sarah is already running off screen right. But this makes for a better looking film still.
In the previous scene Sarah's father asks her: "What are you going to call him?"
She looks at the cub's birthmark on its forehead, which reads like an "M". In this scene she calls him from behind: " Muuushka!"
Animation by me, background by the wonderful Natalie Franscioni-Karp and effects by Daniel Ernesto, who pluses every scene he works on. 
And...oh yeah, music by Richard M. Sherman, arranged by the incredibly talented Fabrizio Mancinelli.
This will be a 30 min. hand-drawn animated film.
We are getting there!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sword in the Stone Vis Dev

A mix of Bill Peet and Vance Gerry sketches that show personality and environment exploration for The Sword in the Stone. I love Peet's sketch above of Merlin as he takes a nap in a Kem Weber studio chair...wearing tennis shoes. An early indication that Peet's approach and interpretation of T. H. White's book would be irreverent.
It's interesting to note that Peet stated he based his designs of Merlin on Walt Disney. Milt Kahl, who came up with Merlin's final design, denies referencing his boss in his work.

A great Peet sketch of Wart, which served as inspiration for Milt's more stylized design.

The liberties you can take in animation! Archimedes, the owl, could never sit on Merlin's hat like this because of his weight, but who cares? It looks believable in the film.

The following four sketches are the work of Vance Gerry, who could draw and develop just about anything for a Disney film.

Bill Peet gave Merlin a unique set of eyebrows. They point upward no matter what the character's mood is. Milt Kahl didn't adapt this idea exactly, but instead created  his own version of eyebrows for a very old man:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Busch 1962

These marvelous illustrations were published in 1962 in a book that included collected stories about riders and horses. Finding a vintage book with Busch drawings is always such a pleasure. His work is powerful an inventive when it comes to composition. So inspirational!!