Walt Disney's animation studio didn't invent character animation, but it elevated it to unimaginable artistic heights.
Here are a few random thoughts that help illustrate just WHY this studio was the industry's leader:
You can't take your eyes off classic Disney characters. There is a visual magnetism in this Timothy drawing. You want to look at him, you want to get to know him.
They realized that by studying local folklore on site gave the films great authenticity.
THE STUDY OF REAL ANIMALS
This added believability to the characters which no other studio came close to.
PHENOMINAL STORY SKETCHES
They reveal not only story continuity, but also staging, camera angles and personality.
THE WILLINGNESS TO START OVER
When something didn't feel right it had to be revisited and redone.
Frank Thomas' early Pinocchio animation moved nicely, but the footage was tossed because the character design lacked appeal.
THE GUTS TO GO DARK
Even though animation was full of likable cute characters, Disney did not hesitate to put them into highly dramatic situations. These guys were risk takers!
Mickey is looking up at a giant's castle. Camera angles like the one take highly skilled artists to draw such an up shot convincingly.
SMART USE OF LIVE ACTION REFERENCE
By hiring outstanding character actors for animation reference the scenes were practically half done by the time the animator got started. (Not all animators approved of this working method though.)
LET FUNNY ANIMATORS DO THEIR THING
The balance of realistic characters combined with comedic ones added a great dynamic. Particularly in the feature films.
All of Disney's animated films have stunning color models for their characters. From Technicolor extravaganzas like "Alice in Wonderland" to more subtle color palettes like "101 Dalmatians", they all work beautifully.
LET THE STYLE EVOLVE
What started as rounded sculptural drawings evolved into sophisticated artistic graphics.
This challenged some artists, but audiences embraced the change eventually.
ECONOMIZE BUT DON'T COMPROMISE
Evan after Xerox was introduced to save money, the studio was still capable of producing masterful animation. The overall look changed again, but character animation maintained its very high standard.
A GROUP EFFORT
When all disciplines like animation, effects and background painting come together on the highest level possible, visuals like this one were achieved. This is animation for the ages.