Please note: if an earlier link doesn't work, it may have changed following an update! Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-six shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rounding off Sleeping Beauty

Going out on a limb, I would think the perceived flaws in Sleeping Beauty's storytelling can be traced back to the film being quickly pushed into full production. Walt saw the costs rising and just wanted the film over with, especially since he had divested in so much else, including Disneyland. The story has been told somewhere that, in Bob Thomas' The Art of Animation (1958), the final photo of Walt in the corridor with Eric Larson was the moment he said that the film was growing way too expensive and something needed to be done, putting quotas in place and effectively relieving Larson of further supervising directorial duties and pushing the film out with the seemingly quite disliked Geronimi and "GI-Joe" Reitherman.

[Comment by Mike Barrier: "Actually, Hans, what Eric Larson told me and Milt Gray back in 1976 (in an interview I made available to John Canemaker) was that Walt was saying, when that photo at the back of The Art of Animation was taken, was this: "I don't think we can continue, it's too expensive." See p. 559 of Hollywood Cartoons." Thanks, Mike!]

Read John Canemaker's book Walt Disney's Nine Old Men on Eric Larson again for more on this. It seems he was not only a great animator, but also a very nice person, a stickler for details. I often found personally that the best directors weren't necessarily the best draftsmen, because they would not see the bigger picture.

The main critique of the film says it is cold, it lacks heart. This can well be by people who do not like Eyvind Earle's design style. But those who give it half a chance (and those who have studied the Duke of Berry's Tres Riche Heures) find it an appealing look back to the late middle ages and early renaissance, where they can find warmth in the love of the fairies and the humor of the kings, as heart-warming as any other film, save maybe Dumbo. As I said yesterday in a comment, Sleeping Beauty is a bit of an acquired taste. Let's hope, with the new Blu-Ray discs, a new audience will be found that acquires this taste. Sleeping Beauty deserves a loving audience!

Today seeing the first public performance of the newly restored Sleeping Beauty, and having finished the posting of the draft, I thought it nice to end this string of postings with a document that was stuck in the back of my draft. It is the film's "Character & Effx Sequence Preference Schedule" of 2/5/57. It shows the order and dates that the sequences were expected to be OK for Inking.
A05<< Click Here!

This is the time I urge everybody who uses this material to step up and comment. What did you learn you didn't know? Were there surprises? Did you expect someone to have animated something, and found it was correct - or not? Let's hear from you. To be honest, that is what makes it all worthwhile for me! You know, I COULD just sit in a corner and leaf through these by myself! It is my opinion that we ALL can learn from each other. So bring it on!

By the way, have you visited our homepage lately? You can find our showreels and clips from films in production. If you look around carefully, you can find a nice list of the 39 (THIRTY-NINE) theatrical feature films we have worked on since we started our studio in 1988, ten of which are completely our own productions! Yet we are largely ignored by the world around us, as "only" a Danish studio.

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Anonymous Michael Sporn says...

My original viewing of this film back in 1959, I didn't like it. However, it took only a second time in the theater for me to change my mind. I think SB is the "Opera" of Disney animation. Everything is so stately and epic.

Reading these drafts in detail always prompts me to go back to the original films. With Pinocchio & 101 Dalmatians, Mark Mayerson's mosaics helped guide me through. But I find that only going through these films (on dvd) by myself frames at a time, comparing the notes with the drafts, and really watching the film does the experience truly build for me.

Preparing frame grabs for a post and then attaching names (some of them unknown) to scenes certainly enlightened my experiece. (This after countless screenings of a 16mm print I've owned for years.) I still would like to see the film again in a theater.

Friday, July 18, 2008 at 5:22:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Michael J. Ruocco says...

I've learned this not just from this draft, but from the Pinocchio, Alice & Dalmatian drafts too:

Not too long ago, I always believed that the Nine Old Men were the ones that seemed to do "everything" in each film. All the juicy, memorable & captivating scenes in each picture were all their doing. After reading these drafts & studying up, I've realized what their roles really were & that there were so many other, equally talented animators (actors) working along side them doing sometimes a greater share of the workload. & some of the things I expected to be animated by one of the Nine (Thomas, Johnston, etc.) were actually animated by these 'lesser-knowns', like Lusk, Cleworth or Gibson.

For example, I always thought that Woolie 'animated' the dragon fight himself. After reading about it & watching documentaries & specials like the Disney Family Album or on some of the SE DVD's, it makes it look as if thats so, since he was the go-to guy for action scenes. I now learn that he was just the director of the fight sequence & that other animators (some I've never even heard of before) actually animated the scene. It's a lot like the Kimball/Lounsbery Cheshire Cat debacle from the Alice drafts, you think it's one thing, but in fact it's the exact opposite of what you thought you knew or expected.

I have been gradually learning new things because of sources like other animation blogs & these drafts.

Friday, July 18, 2008 at 9:33:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Michael R, I am glad you learned these things. I feel the need to insert my standard disclaimer, though:

As always, drafts were not meant as historical documents, they were made during production to be able to trace the person responsible for the actual drawings in case there was anything that needed to be cleared up. They were also used for footage counts, to establish credits, and to see if there were any "slackers." In many cases, a Supervising Animator would pose out a whole sequence, but only animate a few scenes, if any at all. Therefor, the draft MAY not always give a clear view of who was the main responsible person. But it is right now all we have...

Friday, July 18, 2008 at 10:08:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Michael Barrier says...

Actually, Hans, what Eric Larson told me and Milt Gray back in 1976 (in an interview I made available to John Canemaker) was that Walt was saying, when that photo at the back of The Art of Animation was taken, was this: "I don't think we can continue, it's too expensive." See p. 559 of Hollywood Cartoons.

Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 8:57:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

I am embarrassed that I could not find the quote! It was only in my favorite book!

Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 9:10:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous David says...

These take a huge amount of your time to scan and then post. I appreciate your commitment. I enjoy seeing which artists were responsible for what scenes. Thanks Hans!

Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 11:11:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Kevin Koch says...

Hans, I just want to echo what Michale Sporn and Michael Ruocco wrote. I tend to ignore these drafts until I have time to really go through the film scene by scene (as you know from my recent dopey email!). I've spent the last few days watching and scrubbing through Alice in Wonderland with your drafts from last year in my lap. What an eye-opener!

It simultaneously confirms some of my instincts and preconceptions, and blows my mind. I now have a (growing) list of Disney animators I really want to know more about.

I have a question about your clarification on the accuracy of the drafts. I assume you mean that if a supervisor posed out a scene that was animated by another animator, then the draft would only list that other animator. Is that correct?

By the way, that doesn't surprise me, or I'm sure anyone who has worked in traditional animation. We've all seen supervisors who rarely touch their animators' scenes, and other supervisors who are much more involved, and who sometimes contribute the lion's share of the creativity to their animators' scenes.

Anyway, a million thanks for taking the time and trouble to publish this priceless material. I know well how much effort it takes, and you do a great job. Keep it up, please!

Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 10:46:00 AM PDT  

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