Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of animation - Hearing Voices

 The next panel was Hearing Voices: a Salute to Disney Voice Artists.  What a collection of talent!
Bill Farmer talked about landing the role of Goofy.  He treated the audience to a little Romeo and Juliet - Goofy style.  The first time he preformed the voice was in 1987 for a D-TV Dogone Valentine show.

Up next was Lisa Davis the voice of Anita in One Hundred and One Dalmation.  Lisa's early career included a role in Zsa Zsa Gabor's 1958 Queen of Other Space.  She was always in the back because she was also a blond and Zsa Zsa was not to fond of her.  This allowed her to perfect the distinctive voice of Zsa Zsa's.  Lisa got called to read for Cruella (she pulled out her Zsa Zsa's voice).  However, halfway through reading she realized that she was more Anita and asked Walt if they could switch roles.
David Frankham provided the voice for Sgt. Tibbs in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  He was called into to meet with Woolie Reitherman.  Fankham auditioned for Winnie the Pooh, Sword and the Stone and Robin Hood, but alas wasn't right for the parts.

Kathryn Beaumont provided the voice for Alice and Wendy.  Early in her career she was in Esther William's On a Island With You.  She talked about the differences working at MGM and then coming to Disney.  At Disney the head of the studio was part of the team, not at all like MGM.

Dickie Jones was not able to make the presentation.

Stich's voice was provided by Chris Sanders.  at the base he is a villain but he becomes a hero.  Sanders mused that Stich wouldn't be invited to the heroes party, nor to the villain's party.
The last panelist was Bruce Reitherman who played Mowgli and Christopher Robin.  The last name should look familiar - his father was animator Woolie.  As a boy, Bruce payed a Paige boy in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and was an original Little Rascal.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Tinker Bell

The next panel was Tinker Bell - The Evolution of a Disney Character and was hosted by Mindy Johnson author of the upcoming Tinker Bell book (2013).  She explained that Tinker Bell orginally started in the play with a nickname picked after a brother's trait of clapping his feet.  It was decided that the character would be voiced by a bell, so stage hands would call: cue the tinker bell, and that name stuck.  There is a tradition that when the show is played the playbill names Jane Wren or Jenny Wren as the actress who plays Tinker Bell.  The Britsh Tax Board mailed letters to collect taxes from the actors, including Wren.
The play was very successful and it wasn't long before it was brought to film.  In 1924 Mary Pickford wanted to play Peter, but didn't get the role in the film version of Peter Pan.  So when Disney started the working on the ideas for Peter Pan, they looked back at a variety of different fairies in the Disney family including Fantasia and the Blue Fairy (modeled by Marge Champion).  If you have a very quick eye you can see Tinker Bell as a red head in the model shop scene of The Reluctant Dragon.
The next guest to join the session was an ink and paint girl Ginni Mack.  She was often called upon to pose in pictures of celebrities with famous people touring the studios including Bing Crosby (to help promote Ichabod).  When called upon to do a photo shoot with Walt, she was nervous and was told, just look at my ears and pretend I'm Clark Gable.  That lightened the mood.  Mack was one of the first they called to model for the pixie's face.  The most amazing part is they had pictures of her with Roy Williams but they only identified Ginni Mack as the woman this June.   She talked about how important it was for the artists to learn to float paint, no brush strokes could show.  They worked on 10 to 12 cells at a time.  The paint to add the shimmer to the wings was so specialized, it had to be kept refrigerated. Kathernie Beaumount also did some modeling for the pixie.
The next guest was Margaret Kerry - also known as the best legs in the world.  Then Peggy Holmes (in charge of the latest spin off movie) and Mae Whitman (voice of Tink in the newest movie).
Tinker Bell has a life well beyond Peter Pan and (in my humble opinion) all the crazy spin-offs.  She was introduced to the world in the 1951 Christmas Show (with the magic mirror hosting).  She opened Disneyland, the Wonderful World of Color, and the Wonderful World of Disney.  There were Tinker Bell souvenirs all over Disneyland, and in 1958 she flew into the Hollywood Bowl (a 70 year old woman no less!).  She did marking for NBC bread, American Dairy Association, and Peter Pan Peanut Butter.  She also appeared in the Black Cauldron and Roger Rabbit.  In 2008 she became a wax figure in Madame Tussauds and has a Hollywood star.
Sorry for the lack of pictures - none allowed this session.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lucky Disneyland Snow White

Back in 2009, one former employee of the Happiest Place on Earth turned into the luckiest girl around!  Natalie Marston was a cast member at Disneyland Resort and was very well acquainted with Snow White while working there.  In 2009 she won the lottery.  Dreams really do come true!  For more on her story check out: lottery Post

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Drawing with Personality

The morning continued with Disney animator Andreas Dejas taking the stage.  He brought art from Les Clark, Freddie Moore, Bill Tyla, Woolie Reitherman, Ollie Johnson, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, and Milt Kahl.  Dejas treated the D23 audience with some insight into the creative process by drawing some of the charaters he worked on: Mickey Mouse (worked on the Mickey that appeared in Roger Rabbit), Crazy Mickey in Runaway Brain, Scar, and Jafar.  He even brought some drawings that Eric Larson drew for him after they met to help Dejas understand some of the important principals of animation.  After the lunch lesson, some of the lucky audience members found themselves the proud new owners of a drawing from Dejas.

Mickey draw by Dejas


Mickey draw by Dejas.  He told a funny story of wearing a production shirt from Runaway Brain before it was released while he was overseas - possibly Disneyland Paris- and the cast member was so offended by the shirt she demanded he get rid of it.  He couldn't get across to her it was a new project and politely moved on.

Hands drawn by Milt Kahl

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Wacky and Wild Disney Animation

 Eric Goldberg (Disney animator and director) and Jerry Beck (historian) gathered clips of some of the wild and wacky Disney Animation.
The first clip we saw was from Steamboat Willie.  The scene is not seen very often by the public as it is not in the general release short.  It shows Mickey playing the animals around him as musical instruments.  For example he plays some baby pigs who are nursing by pulling their tails.  It's not quite the nice Mickey we are used to.

Barn Dance was next, showing Mickey before he learned how to dance. Mickey stepped on Minnie's feet so much, they stretched and she had to tie them and cut off the extra!

This short is great - Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.  Wouldn't be fun if they did another caricature style short with modern celebrities?

Katherine Hepburn as Little Bo Peep

Marx brothers

Thru the Mirror is a classic example of wacky Disney animation.

Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom as features some more unusual animation.

Fantasia's Dance of the Hours was a project of Joe Grant's.

Eric Goldberg talked about another Joe Grant project for Fantasia 2000: from Carivnal of the Animals. Originally, it was planned to use the Ostriches from Fantasia and to give the a yo-yo.  It was changed to Flamingos after Esnier suggested it.  Eric's wife worked on the background and it changes from green to yellow.  Green when our hero is in charge of the scene, yellow when the herd is winning.

You can't have a panel on wacky animation without Pink Elephants on Parade.

Make Mine Music.  At a presentation during the 70's Art Babbit was asked if the animators were 'on' something. Babbit replied Pepto Bismol.

After you're Gone from Melody Time.

As we know, Robin Williams provided the voice for the genie in Aladdin. D23 was treated to some rare animation.  In order to sign Williams on, the animators took recordings from William's comedy album and animated the genie to them.  Eric Goldberg related that making Robin Williams laugh was a highlight. (And it worked - he signed on).

My favorite part: the deleted soup scene.  Personally, I wasn't sure why this is considered wild and wacky. The panel said it was a good example of Ward Kimball's ability to use squash and stretch.

The dream sequence that Donald has in Three Caballeros includes some Mary Blair inspired flowers, that oddly enough included a singing head of a beautiful woman.

The last two were from Alice and Wonderland.  The animators had Ed Wynn act out the tea party scene and filmed it for reference.  Well, when they got Ed into the recording studio, it just couldn't match the amazing film performance.  So, in the final movie, the audio comes from the live performance and you can hear a slight difference in the audio quality.  The final clip of the segment was Tweedle Dee and Tweelde Dum saying hello.  They slowed the animation down so we could see individual frames.  It was really cool to see each drawing!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix

The last even of Destination D's Saturday line up was the amazing Dick Van Dye and the Vantastix.  The D23 members were so excited and the group did not let down.  They preformed all the major hits from Dick Van Dyke's career and more!  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Put on a Happy Face, Rosie, Jolly Holiday with Mary, A British Bank (with Dick Van Dyke treating us to a look into his character work), You've Got a Friend in Me, Bare Necessitates, Baby Mine, Accentuate the Positive, Me Ol' Bam-Boo, Fly Right, Dick Van Dyke Theme Show Song, Chim Chim Cheree, Step in Time, Supercalifradglisticexpialdocuis, Spoonful of Sugar (as a rap!), and Let's Go Fly a Kite.

Singing as the head of the Bank from Mary Poppins
  They were asked to preform at an event honoring the Sherman brothers.  The group decided to sing a song from Jungle Book for their performance.  When the performance was over, the brothers thank them and informed the group they choose the one song they didn't write.

The group became a group after Mike Mendyke bumped into Dick Van Dyke in a Starbucks where the conversation went something like this:
"You're Dick Van Dyke!"
"I Know!"
They got to talking and the result was Dick asking him to bring some friends and come on over and sing.  So, he called Bryan Chadima and Erick Bradley, and they went over to Dick's house, had pizza, and sang.  A group was born.

For part of the performance Dick's wife come on stage to sing Go to Sleep Little Baby, Those were the Days, Cheers theme song, a Cigarette commercial, and the Jefferson's theme song.

It was a fabulous performance that we all really enjoyed.  Such a treat!  Of course, you could by the groups album in the D23 store.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Animating the Disney Parks

Destination D continued with Animating the Disney Parks hosted by Becky Cline (director of the Walt Disney Archives) and Tim O'Day (Disney historian).  The panel discussed the careers of key animators who worked on Disney theme parks.  Tony Baxter (Walt Disney Imagineering senior vice president), Tom Morris (Imagineering vice president of creative development), and Eddie Sotto (former Disey Imagineer) joined the panel.
Tony Baxer mentioned that there is approval to improve the Fantasyland Alice in Wonderland attraction, which after Peter Pan, Baxer feels is the best dark ride.  Personally, I'm hopeful that Imagineering can improve the attraction after the quick safety improvements.

Coat's background work on Pinocchio

Big Rock Candy Mountain

 The first animator the panel discussed was Claude Coats.  They discussed his role on Haunted Mansion, Storybook land, Adventures thru inner space, primeval worlds, and rainbow caverns.  Coats was able to successfully get color water to stay separate, keeping the beautiful color.  Baxer also related that he wanted to do the color water from rainbow caverns for Big Thunder Mountain, but it wasn't approved.  The panel also discussed that Coats understood that the dark rides have to happen at night.  You can't paint the sky and see the lines of walls meeting, it won't work.  However, make the sky black, and you can't see lines and the audience believes it's night.
What Claude Coats did for the envirment on attractions, Marc Davis did for character on attractions.  The D23 audience was treated to a video of Marc Davis that had only been shown once at an event after his passing away.

Herb Ryman understood the importance of details.  When working on Disney World, a bridge was needed to connect Liberty Square to the hub.  Ryman's idea was to use the Concord bridge rather than just a bridge because the cost would come out the same, but using the Concord bridge as a model would provide a historical context.  They also discussed Ryman's role in New Orleans square.  It was designed to be specifically vague.
The panel was running long so they quickly touched on John Hench's annual Mickey Mouse portraits.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - The Greatest Animation You Never Saw

This panel was hosted by Dave Bossert and Don Hahn.  Hahn began the presentation by telling the D23 members that were a frightening group to have to put this panel on for, because we were probably the group of people who had seen it all.  And he wasn't far off on that assessment.  Most of the things they did show are things that most Disney Animation buffs have seen, but maybe not for a long time.  The first thing they brought out was the Robin Williams Back to Neverland that was made for then MGM studios tour.  We then were shown a 1952 "I Like Ike" commercial that was produced by Roy O. Disney.  Tummy Trouble, one of the three Roger Rabbit shorts that were meant to keep the characters alive for a sequel, and, as we know, that didn't happen.  Another commercial break to see a 1950's American Motors commercial.  After that came Cranium Command pre-show from the EPCOT life and health pavilion.  Then on to another commercial break, a 1950's Peter Pan Peanut Butter commercial.  They also managed to match up footage of Walt recording Mickey's voice to the animation footage from Mickey Steps out, so you could see the side by side comparison.  The next commercial break was Alice in Wonderland promoting Jello!  It was a pretty crazy commercial but a good example of reusing animation.  We then were able to see a cut out scene of Roger Rabbit where we was the Toon Town tunnel (in Griffith Park) where Eddie is given a toon head by the weasels.  It's pretty creepy looking so I can understand why it was taken out.  In order to make it look like Eddie was realistically washing the toon pig head off in the shower, special effects made a head out of cotton candy that did literally melt away in the shower.  Another commercial break of Roger Rabbit promoting Coca-Cola.  By the way, Disney characters are no longer allowed to hold products to promote them.
The strangest and best part, in may opinion, was so storyboard concepts for Pomp and Circumstance from Fantasia 2000.  Apparently Michael Esiner was at a graduation and got to thinking that Pomp an Circumstance would be a good song to include in the movie.  So story boards were started.  One of the stranger ideas was to have the princess and their princes 'graduate' into adulthood by becoming parents.  So you see all the princess and princes leaving their castles in the storybook and beginning a procession past all of the Disney family (all the characters from the films), including the dwarfs playing the organ.  The happy couples are then handed a baby - yup, that's right, a baby.  Now, as the hosts pointed out, this idea was dropped as it brought up all kinds of questions, that frankly, you just couldn't answer, so we'll leave it at that.  As this is a Snow White centric blog, I'll just add that Dumbo delivers a little bundle of joy to Snow White and her prince.  actually, it was two bundles of joy.
The panel wrapped up with a 1990's Mickey cereal commercial, a segment on Hiawatha Erick Goldberg put together for the upcoming release of Pocahontas on Blu-ray, and finally Song of the South's Zip-a-de-doo-dah.  And no, they don't have any information as to when, if ever, it will be released.

Destination D - 75 years of Disney Animation - Inside the Walt Disney Animation Studios Today

The next segment of Destination D was Inside the Walt Disney Animation Studios today.  Darrin Butlers (Disney Animation) introduced several people with sneak peeks into current projects.  They started the presentation by showing us Tangled Ever After.  We then got to hear from the Frozen director about this tale of two sisters (voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel).  We had the opportunity to meet Olaf - a goofy snowman that was a first attempt for the young snow queen.  A first pancake if you will - you know, you always mess that one up and it ends up looking a little different from the classic pancake shape.  We were then treated to a song from the film - it was beautiful! Plus, they showed art from the upcoming film.  No cameras allowed of course. Next up in the program was Paperman.  The team discussed the process used on this short and then they screened the film for us. It was wonderful!  Finally, we were given some insight and previews for Wreck it Ralph.  The voice actors actually were able to record together - a process that is usually done separate in animation, but lead John C. Reilly (Ralph) really wanted to be able to play against the other actors.  I can't wait to see this film!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Roy E Disney

Roy E. Disney and the second golden age of Disney animation featured Tim O'Day, Roy Patrick Disney, Don Hahn, John Musker, Ron Clements, and Dave Bossert.
They began the panel by showing a five minute film made for Disney-MGM Studios featuring Mickey Mouse remembering how he got his start in Hollywood called Mickey's Audition.  It was full of cameos: Angela Landsbury, Mel Brooks, Dom Delouise, Ed Begley Jr., Michael Eisner, and Roy E. Disney as Walt.  Much of short we were seeing from the perspective of Mickey Mouse.  It was really fun to see this gem from 1992.
Roy E Dsiney started on the Disney lot working for NBC on Dragnet.  When that ended he had to seek out antoher position.  He went to work on the True Life Adventures.  One particularly funny moment involved Roy E explaining himself about the footage on Vanishing Priarie.  The camera man captured a scene where a duck landed unexpecedly on ice and went skidding.  Unfortunatly the camera man hit the wrong button and did not capture the scene's ending: the duck crashing into the others.  When Walt saw the footage, he imediatly asked where the end was.  After searching, Roy had to explain it didn't exsist.  Walt didn't accept that answer. So the film makers ended up going back out to a location, finding a duck, and well, went bowling!  Walt wanted that ending, and by golly, they got the footage.
Roy P Disney shared a lot of personal pictures during this session, and no photographs were allowed, but one photo showed him and his siblings standing where the castle was going to be built, when Florida was still a swamp.
Roy E Disney contributed so much to the company, and really brought about the second golden age of animation.  The decision to release classic films to home video was a difficult one, but it was finally agreed upon, with two notable exceptions.  Snow White and Fantasia were not to be released on home video per Roy's wishes.  Eventually he agreed to have these released in order to make the project Fantasia 2000.
Look for Dave Bossert's future book about Roy E. Disney.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Destination D - 75 years of Animation - Golden Age of Animation

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend D23's Destination D celebrating 75 years of Disney animated features at the Disneyland Hotel.  The weekend was wonderful.  This year they had an area where guests could queue up before the presentation hall opened inside the airconditioning, which was needed, it was hot!  I have so much to share from this event, this will be the first in a series of posts recapping the events of the weekend.  Enjoy!

The first panel was Walt and the first golden age of Disney animation featuring panelsits Becky Cline, Burny Mattinson, Joe Hale, and Ted Thomas.  Mattinson will celebrate his 60th year with Walt Disney animaton next year.  When he first started he worked delivering mail around the studio.  Every Friday, Walt's secretary would call him to Walt's office.  There he would pick up a check Walt had written for $300 made to cash.  Mattinson would take it down to payroll and take the cash back up to Walt - his week's spending money.  Later, Mattinson was assistnat to Marc Davis on Sleepying Beauty.  The panelists exaplained that at first the animators that Walt refered to Walt's nine old men resented the nickname - they were old!  But the name stuck.  And eventually they grew into the name.  Another interesting fact about the nine old men was that there is only one feature that all nine worked on - Peter Pan.  Joe Hale's first film was Lady and the Tramp.  Frank Thomas' son related that the hardest part for his dad was animating Tramp pushing the meatball across the plate.  It is not anotomically possible for a dog to move in that way.  Cinescope also provided an anditional challenge for animators: in fact, some of them hated it.  It would take an extra week of animation just to get a chararter off a screen!

Studio Map and menu for studio restaurant

Snow White's special seen on the upper left hand corner

Flow chart of the studio's organization with Walt at the top

Three of the nine old men

Three more of the nine old men

John Lounsberry's Hag

Final Three of the nine old men
 Below are the screen shots from some of the classic films discussed