7
April
2011

Have A Happy Ever After!2

Sadly, this is the end of “Disney Animation Through the Years…Dreams Really Do Come True!” After this short, (but hopefully very informational!), trek through Disney animation I hope that you have learned something new!

First, excuse me while I go on a momentary rant about how difficult it was to get used to blogging! My very first post was an absolute disaster, and I had to re-type the post three different times! Now, I know most of you are probably thinking that this happened due to user error, and you are absolutely CORRECT! I’m not quite sure what went wrong, and I will admit that I am not the most tech-savvy person, but I still don’t understand how such a simple task became  so difficult! Now, after my drama with the first post, I found this blog to be very enjoyable!

I know that for me, this blog was really an eye-opener. I found out all the stuff that goes on behind closed doors.  It was surprising to me how much time, effort and work go into an animated film. Before I started this blog I thought animated films happened with a few clicks of a mouse, and ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, you had yourself an animated movie!

Little did I know that I was SORELY mistaken. I can’t believe that Woody, from Toy Story, took pages and pages of commands to control just his mouth! I also finally understand why the animators and Disney-Pixar can create such life-like scenarios. They spend soooooo much time researching for just the background information on a film.

the perfect cliché

the perfect cliché (Google Images)

Hand-drawn animation blows me away as well. ESPECIALLY for “The Princess and the Frog.” The company had to go through so much work, just to get the tools they needed to start creating the film. I am still amazed by how much talent the artists at Disney have.

My master plan of this blog series was to start with the first Disney movie and select classics in between, working my way all the way up to the most recent Disney movie. Unfortunately that plan did not work out, because on the very first post I could not find an article to use that was written about Snow White.

Throughout the blog this situation became a problem, so I decided to abandon my time line idea, and just stick to posts that involved interesting movies or facts. But, I soon found out that picking a good Disney movie to write about is so hard! So many Disney films are so touching, and like most people, I have seen  Disney classics over and over again, and have grown fond of so many of them.

I kind of thought that by the end of this blog, after reading all of the “How We Do It” kinds of things at Disney, I would see that Disney was not as great as it is made out to be. But, gladly I was proven wrong and I still think Disney animation is just as magical as before. Plus, I learned that each film is treated with great care and Disney works extremely hard to create quality animated films.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and thanks for reading! Hope you all live “happily ever after!”

5
April
2011

The Magic Behind the Animation4

Pixar Animation Logo (Google Images)

Pixar Animation Logo (Google Images)

What exactly is the process behind the animation? Well, I’m not sure but hopefully this post will allow us to see the magic behind the animation. In this post we will be looking closely at the Pixar animation process, because Pixar works so closely with Disney.

The animation process is broken down into four steps:

1. development and creating a story line

2. pre-production and addressing technical challenges

3. production and making the film

4. post- production and “polishing” the final product

In depth:

First a Pixar employee pitches an idea for a story. This task is similar to a sales pitch because the employee must make others at Pixar believe in his idea. Once other Pixar employees see the potential, they then write a text treatment, or a short summary of their idea.

Next artists at Pixar create a storyboard, hand drawing each frame of the movie. This allows the director to see a complete layout of the movie, sort of like a blue print. Once the storyboard is complete, “scratch” voices are recorded to follow along with the storyboard.

Later, once the story and dialouge become more fully developed, professional actors are brought in to record. The actors usually record the same  scene more than once, to be sure they get the perfect match up. Sometimes though, the “scratch” voice is kept because it is so good.

Next, the editorials begin making reels to validate that the story is in order and that the timing is perfect. Then the film is handed to the art department who begin to create the look and feel for the film.

The artwork is then made 3-D on the computer and each element in the film is given “avars”, which act like hinges and allow the character to move. Each character contains millions of “avars” all over.

Then, the sets are made three dimensional and are “dressed”, which is kind of like the interior design portion. After the sets are dressed each scene is laid out. Many scenes are created so editors have many options to choose from. Once the editors pick a scene they like best the scene is animated.

Next, shading and lighting complete the look and create a more realistic world. These steps give everything reflection, and shadows and texture. Then the entire film is rendered. This means to bring each element of each shot together into one frame.

Lastly, the director adds the musical score and the sound effects. They also add any last touches to perfect the film.

Voila! Now we know how to make an animated film, sounds totally easy right? HA!

4
April
2011

Computers V. Artists3

Princess Tiana warily lookin at the Prince Naveen the Frog (Google Images)

Princess Tiana warily looking at Prince Naveen as a frog (Google Images)

Dory and Marlin trying to escape the jaws of Bruce (Google Images)

Dory and Marlin trying to escape the jaws of Bruce (Google Images)

Technology today is rapidly growing and cartoons today are trying to keep up. However, some argue that the traditional style of animation is still better, and more appealing. The two articles below compare the Disney films “Finding Nemo” and “The Princess and the Frog”. Nemo, using the current computer animation, and “The Princess and the Frog” using the classic Disney animation technique.

“Finding Nemo” is a Disney film that captures the audience with its breath-taking animation. Set in an ocean, the film truly looks like a real ocean. The lighting, the movement, the color, and even things floating in the water make the audience feel as if they could reach out and touch it.

Supervising animator Dylan Brown comments on the animation saying, “The technical crew worked on it and eventually came back and showed us their work. We couldn’t tell the difference between the re-created footage and the original. It blew us all away.”

For the more recent Disney movie, “The Princess and the Frog”, the Disney team decided to go back to the classic hand-drawn animation. The main character in the film, Tiana, was destined to become part of the Disney Princess group, and animators felt that it would be best if she looked like the other princesses.

Many thought that creating this traditional kind of movie would be risky, as audiences were constantly surrounded by the sleek 3-D animation. But co-founder of Pixar, and one of the leaders in creating the film, thought differently. He stated in an interview that, “the real problem wasn’t Disney’s animation techniques—it was more fundamental elements like characters and plot”.

So, which animation technique is truly better? Is it the sleek, 3-D animation that dominates the theaters today? Or, is it the simple, hand-drawn, movies that remind us of our childhood? I believe that neither is better than the other,and it is ultimately the story-line that decides which film is better.

http://www.awn.com/articles/technology/finding-right-cg-water-and-fish-inemoi

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704746304574508552919095862.html

30
March
2011

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!3

Main Characters Flynn and Rapunzel "Tangled" in a Mess of Hair (Google Images)

Main Characters Flynn and Rapunzel "Tangled" in a Mess of Hair (Google Images)

When viewers watch Disney animated films, the characters and action sequences seem natural, realistic, and seamless.  The reality is that when dealing with the mechanics of creating and then animating 110,000 strands of hair to look and act naturally, as is done in “Tangled,” it’s a bit more complicated. This interview with the co-directors, a senior software engineer, and the supervising animator goes behind the scenes of the creation of the new Disney movie, “Tangled.” It focuses on the major steps – and the major hurdles to overcome – to create and animate Rapunzel’s hair. Enjoy!

The Technology Behind the Hair

28
March
2011

100 Years of Magic2

In 2000,  Disney conducted a “Millennium Survey” listing the top 25 Disney movies since then. I am only going to give movie review on the top 5  movies, however if you would like to see the full list please click here.

100 Years of Magic Sign in Disney World (from:http://www.pbol.com/pechter/disney100/gallery.htm)

100 Years of Magic Sign in Disney World (from:http://www.pbol.com/pechter/disney100/gallery.htm)

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

This classic movie tells the tale of a beautiful princess named Snow White, who is loved by everyone – except her evil stepmother. When her evil stepmother learns that Snow White is the fairest in all the land, she orders to have Snow White killed. Fortunately, Snow White does not die, but flees into the forest where she befriends the seven dwarfs. The evil stepmother finds that Snow White is not dead, so she disguises herself as an old woman and gives Snow White a poisoned apple. Snow White is put in a deep slumber that can only be broken by true loves’ kiss!

2. The Little Mermaid (1989)

“The Little Mermaid” take us under the sea and into the life of a 16 year old mermaid, faced with the struggle of falling in love with a human prince. Ariel, the young mermaid, wants so desperately to be with the human, Prince Eric, that she visits Ursula, the sea witch. She strikes a deal with the sea witch to become human for 3 days, and on the third day at sunset if she has not kissed Prince Eric she will be turned back into a mermaid. The story takes the audience on an adventure with Ariel’s two best friends Sebastian and Flounder as Ariel finds her true love, and avoids Ursula’s  sneaky tricks!

3. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

This adorable tale begins with two grown-up Dalmatians Pongo and Perdita who have a litter of 15 Dalmatians. The fur-hungry villian Cruella De Ville is out to get the puppies fur and will not stop until she has them. She abducts all Dalmatians in London, 101 to be exact, for their fur. When Pongo and Perdita’s puppies are abducted, the adventure begins to find their puppies and bring them home!

4. Mary Poppins (1964)

The film begins with Mary Poppins sitting high above in a cloud and the screen soon changes to the Banks household where, the Bank’s former nanny is quitting because she can no longer deal with the Bank children, Jane and Michael. Mr. Banks puts an ad in the paper for a nanny, but the children make their own ad looking for a fun, loving and caring nanny. Mr. Banks rips up the children’s ad and throws it into the fireplace, to where the remains float up the chimney right to Mary Poppins in the sky. The next day a strong wind blows away the other nanny’s and Mary Poppins floats down by way of umbrella. Mary lands the job for a day and take the children into an animated countryside where they meet Bert, among other characters. The fun sing-along allows everyone to have fun again!

5. Toy Story (1995)

This unique story is focused around the lives of toys, and what they do when their owners are not around. Andy, the boy who owns all the toys has a favorite toy cowboy named Woody, who is the leader of the toy gang. All is well until at Andy’s birthday party he is given the space ranger Buzz Lightyear.  Afraid of losing his place Woody tries to get rid of Buzz Lightyear. But, when both toys are taken from the comfort of Andy’s room, they must put their differences aside and team-up to find their way back home.

28
March
2011

Up, Up, and Away!2

Grumpy Carl from http://adisney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/up/main.html#/epk/gallery/

Grumpy Carl from http://adisney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/up/main.html#/epk/gallery/

As many of you I’m sure already know, “Up” is a Disney-Pixar film that breaks away from the others. “Up” has all the classic Disney elements: an adventure, a romance, and a budding friendship. But, “Up” is set apart from other films by how Disney-Pixar creates and involves  each element.

The adventure aspect of “Up” begins with a house flying to South Africa, by way of millions of balloons. The scene when the house actually takes off is so enticing and colorful. The very basic idea itself opens everyone’s imagination to think back to their childhood, when ideas like such were not so impossible.

Romance in “Up” begins with a young girl, Essie and a young boy, Carl who were childhood friends. Both with dreams of one day going to South America, just like their childhood  idol Charles Muntz. The two end up together for the rest of their lives, and in a short five-minute scene the audience can see the relationship that grows between Essie and Carl, and the strong bond that they build. This time Disney-Pixar did not focus on the usual “young-lovers torn apart in a tragic way, but somehow end up living happily ever after.” At the time,  focusing on an older romance may have seemed risky, but it definitely proved to be a good move! (Old people can be so cute!)
Lastly, the friendship that grows during the film  between Carl, now a 78 year old man, and Russel, a 9 year old boy is one that truly touches the audience’s heart. The unusual friendship gives kids a chance to see that life is not all about the places you go, and the things you do, but the relationships you build. I think, whether kids realize it or not, they all understand this underlying theme.

In an article written after the film’s release Jason Landry from ezinearticles.com says:

“Up” is not really about a flying house, or an adventure in a South American jungle with talking dogs and a homicidal     explorer. No, it is layered story about the relationship between a hopeless old man and a friendless young boy. Will    kids catch on to the theme that real adventure is found in relationships, no matter what package those relationships come? Maybe only subconsciously. But I’m not sure a person can walk away from this film without admiring the elderly a little bit more than before. Here’s hoping for more films like this. Children need the wisdom of their grandparents, and the elderly need the warmth and laughter that children bring. Because life is all about relationships.

The author goes further to say that he wishes that he could have seen this film as a child, and that he probably would have respected his grandparents more. So, just remember that in life relationships are everything, but don’t forget to get out and explore too!

As Charles Muntz the Great Explorer would say, “Adventure is out there!”

22
March
2011

Toy Takeover0

Yes, I know that I am starting my blog with one of Disney’s most recent animated films, but I’ve decided that I am going to work backwards!

As most of you Toy Story fanatics have probably heard, Toy Story 3 won “Best Animated Feature Film.”  Not surprising, as the Toy Story series of films has captured the hearts of both young and old since the first Toy Story release back in 1995.

Once Disney bought Pixar, the animation studio, the two old rivals became a dynamic duo. With the ever-changing technology of Pixar and the incredible imagination of Disney, the collaboration was undoubtedly going to be successful.

With the films first release, animation took a giant leap toward the now widely used computer animation. The Disney-Pixar partnership now dominates the big screen for animated films.

But why did Toy Story 3 take four years to create? Don’t animators just press buttons to make a movie?

At the Pixar studios, Melena Ryzik, a journalist for the New York Times, found that “the filmmakers behind [Toy Story 3], and animators at large, often complain that the rest of the movie industry doesn’t understand or appreciate what they do.”

Toy Story 3 movie poster

Toy Story 3 movie poster retrieved from http://disney.go.com/toystory/

But, contrary to the popular belief that movie animation is less work than real movies, animators must jump through different and sometimes harder hoops to create an equally audience-thrilling movie.

Animation studios not only must come up with a story idea, create a short main idea of the film, draw story boards and hire actors, but they also must have a recording studio create a completely virtual set and create characters. Every character is created and everything from the character’s walking to a simple lip quiver must be created and controlled.

Supervising animator Bobby Podesta said that every character is like a puppet and controlling simply the mouth may take four pages of commands.

The process of computer animation is very tedious and takes great patience. Most people do not give full credit to the hard work of the animators, but hopefully this post has changed your mind!

And as Buzz Lightyear himself would say: To Infinity and Beyond!

9
March
2011

Be Our Guest!5

Welcome! I am so excited you will be joining me on my journey: Disney Animations Through the Years…Dreams Really Do Come True! I have wanted to know about the magic behind the artwork and now I will find out!

How does the animation process even begin? I mean I know that the writers think of a story line, then the artists create a story board and then they draw each frame, but how does the actual piece of artwork get transferred onto the big screen?

The whole process has always baffled me.

First off- how the heck does any human draw that well? Disney can make a princess look beautiful and have hundreds of little girls begging to be her for Halloween – and every other day of the year! Animators can draw the absolute perfect Prince Charming and have those same little girls living with the mindset that eventually they too will have their own happily ever after. All I know is that if I had to draw a cartoon, it wouldn’t be nothin’ but a whole lotta ugly.

Second- how do they perfectly match-up the cartoons with what the actors are saying? That seems so hard! I guess when animation was in its early stage, they just made sure the mouth was open at the same time. Now the animations look, and use the same expressions as if a real actor was speaking!

Lastly- why has Disney animation changed from the flat cartoons of the 1950’s to the 3-D depth we see today? Yeah, they seem so realistic and life-like, but is there anything wrong with being old-fashioned? I am curious to find out why and exactly when Disney made this transition.

I have grown up with Disney from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Tangled and through this blog, you and I will find out how and why the animation techniques and artwork have so dramatically changed over the years.

And as Peter Pan would say: Never Grow Up!

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey