Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A Milt Kahl Ballerina

That's Brad Bird admiring a Milt Kahl wire sculpture during the 2018 exhibition "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men: Masters of Animation" at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I recall seeing this and other ballet sculptures at Milt's condo in Marine County, just north of San Francisco. 

Milt asked me if I knew Brad. I said I didn't, we're talking early 1980s. He called Brad "a cute, talented guy". Milt referred to people he liked as "cute" including Walt Disney.

A few of these masterful sculptures did not survive, the moist San Francisco air made them rusty.

Brad kew Milt personally more than any of the other geeks, myself included. He sought his advice as a teenager. The wonderful thing about Milt was that once he found out that you were a serious student of character animation, he gave you all the time in the world. 

There are people who claim that the old Disney guys wanted to take the secrets of greatness into their graves. Milt was not one of them. 

Here is an earlier post regarding Milt's ballerinas with some filmed footage:


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Tom Oreb Designs

Here are a few sheets with character design studies by Tom Oreb dating back to the 1950s. Looking at the Aurora drawings I have to say that Marc Davis and Iwao Takamoto had it fairly easy when it came to finalizing the character for animation. Everything is already there in Oreb's sketches. Overall styling, line and shape language, hair and costume, all of it.

He also drew rough concepts for many characters in 101 Dalmatians. These were based on story sketches by Bill Peet, who single handedly storyboarded the entire movie. 

Milt Kahl and other animators referred to these drawings while adjusting the designs slightly for final animation. 

Go to Howard Lowery Auctions, where you'll find Oreb's work for sale once in a while.


Much more on Nanny's design in this previous post:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Robin Hood for Sale

Heritage Auctions is currently offering this terrific sketch of Robin Hood by Milt Kahl. He gave it to Don Duckwall, who was production manager on the film. (It was Don who would later help me with necessary paperwork in order to join Walt Disney Productions in 1980.)

This is a beautiful drawing, and if it looks a bit familiar to you, that's for a reason. A while ago I posted a rougher version of this pose, a sketch Milt gave to a gentleman called Leonard. While I like the looseness of that sketch, I have to say that Milt made significant improvements when he re-drew the image for Don.

It really is fun to compare the two versions and find out what parts of the drawing Milt changed.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Creative Shortcuts


Images © Mushka Productions

Here is an example of a scene from the upcoming film MUSHKA that shows how we were able to cut corners, and still end up with superior results. The first image is basically a story sketch. Matthieu Saghezchi drew the scenery, I added the character poses.  Courtney DiPaola animated this emotional scene beautifully. We have NO rough layout and NO clean up layout on this production. We are going from story sketch straight to final background (which is crazy.). That background was pained by Craig Elliott. Craig added beams of moonlight, which create a multiplane effect during the camera move. 
You can do this sort of thing with top talents only. Everybody is trying to plus what's been given to them.
My team on this movie is tiny...but extraordinarily talented.

Did I mention that we are almost done?

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sullivant Original III


This one dates back to October 9, 1924 in LIFE magazine. It shows a little bit of water damage, but the piece has been treated to stop any further discoloring and deterioration.  It measures 20 X 14".

I don't know of any other illustrator/cartoonist who depicts a bear this way, weighty on top and thin around the bottom. It is usually the other way around (Yogi Bear, Baloo etc.) Beautifully designed human characters, and the hounds are priceless. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Milt Keys a Bagheera Scene

Another example that shows how Milt Kahl helped his fellow animators with improved draughtsmanship in their scenes. Here Bagheera is trying to communicate with Baloo about a plan how to get Mowgli away from King Louie. Of course Baloo does not pay attention, he is about to join the "jungle party".

This is a short dialogue scene, animated by Ollie Johnston. In an earlier scene Bagheera said: "Now, while you create a disturbance, I'll rescue Mowgli.", followed here by: "Got that?" 
Actor Sebastian Cabot read the line in a hushed tone, not to be heard by the monkeys. I love how Bagheera speaks through one corner of his mouth, in the direction where he thinks Baloo still is.

I am not sure if Ollie had this in mind in his rough animation, or if this is a Milt Kahl addition. 
After the panther hears Baloo proclaiming: "I'm gone man, solid gone!" he quickly turns the other way to see what crazy stuff the bear is up to.