Gustaf Tenggren Pinocchio

artist Kay Nielsen— "Night on Bald Mountain." Fantasia.

artist John Hench—Cinderella.

Kay Nielsen PrintsEyvind Earle Color Script

«r/sT Eyvind Earle—Sleeping Beauty. 190

Mary Blair and Ken Anderson discuss drawings they have done in relation to the needs of the film.

artist Gustaf Tenggren—Pinocchio.

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Gustaf Tenggren Pinocchio

artist Mary t ''Johnny Appi Melody Time

Disney Melody TimeNew Books Disney AnimationSleeping Beauty Animation Sketches

artist: Mel S The Black C

Each story seemed to call for something new in the way of style and design to match the mood of the material; so. before any actual story work was begun. Walt would look for an artist of unique ability to make some drawings or paintings that would excite everybody. From outside the studio he brought in top illustrators of children's books, such as Kay Nielsen and Gustaf Tenggren, to explore the visual possibilities of a subject. Within our own staff were highly talented stylists like Albert Hurter, Mary Blair, Don DaGradi, and Ken Anderson, who knew the production problems and could suggest specific layouts or character sketches as well—to help get their ideas into the working elements of the picture. But more often, these stylists were not supposed to concern themselves with the details of making the picture. They were trying to create a way of visualizing the whole concept so that it would be attractive and fresh and establish an integrity of design for both characters and locales.

These "inspirational sketches" started the whole staff thinking. As one animator said, "There is something exciting about animating on a sequence that has an imaginative locale—a make-believe place that would be exciting to be in. Like the Snow White setting—a fanciful world. The settings in Pinocchio—Geppetto's shop full of all those dolls—the inside of the whale, or artist. Ken Anderson— The Rescuers.

artist: Vance Gerry— The Sword in the Stone.

The stylists influenced the whole appearance ture, yet their work was never seen by the publ part of a large group of artists who inspired. cre< and suggested but did not make the actual t paintings for the films. The design, color, m characters, and fantasy worlds all started in the sketches of this select group.

Tenggren Pinoccio

several dif-y were as-ante picture to find the style for a For Bambi, ried to cap-n of the deer d the poetry-en's book, yughtarnag-I tradition to

Pleasure Island—the locales inspire ideas for layouts and exciting scenes that you can't feel in the ordinary situations. It stimulates your imagination so that you think of more unusual ideas."' No one had a chance to get bored or stale or feel he was just doing the same thing over and over. Everyone got a lift from having fresh talent continually suggest new concepts.

There were times when the dramatic or charming styles suggested could not be maintained in the actual animation—to everyone's disappointment. Possibly we were just not good enough to convert the strong designs to our type of animation, but we felt that as long as we were achieving our audience identification through sincere. believable characters in real settings (no matter how fanciful), we had to keep certain fundamentals of animation. We experimented with other types of movement that might fit the suggestions of the stylist, but they always seemed to lack life. No matter what we tried, we were never able to adapt our techniques to the restrictions of an incompatible design.

We all loved the crisp, fresh drawings of Mary Blair; and. since she always worked in flat colors with interesting shapes, it seemed that her work could be animated with wonderful results. Although we kept the colors, the relative shapes, and the proportions, once Mary's drawings began to move by the principles of animation that Walt had decreed they often lost the spirit of her design. It was no problem to move the drawings artistically, keeping exactly her suggestions —and some very interesting innovations came from those efforts—but as soon as it was necessary to tell a story with warmth and personality it all broke down. We had proved in Fantasia that any shape could move in almost any manner to match the verve and excitement of a strong musical track—as in the stirring dances in "Nutcracker Suite" or the abstract designs of "Toccata and Fugue"—but this movement could only illustrate a story concept; it could not sustain it. There is possibly a way to do both. We just never found it.

Ken Anderson felt the problem went deeper. "Mary's style . . . doesn't adapt that well. . . . When you made any adjustment at all, they were not Mary Blair's But if you had movement and color against that background, it's a good question as to whether it would have been as wonderful a thing to look at." It may be that certain designs simply should be left in their static form, suggesting their own dynamics through their relationships. Animation has its own language, and it is preferable to develop its own elements rather than try to force it to duplicate or augment another art form. After all, animation is as much a separate medium as ceramics, carvings, tapestries, frescoes, or prints.

Disney Animation Background Drawings

artist: Art Riley—Bambi.

Maurice Noble

Maurice Noble—Bambi.

artist: Art Riley—Bambi.

Scene from the picture shows influence of the stylists.

How The Storyman Works

In The Fox and the Hound, the fox was raised on the farm but now has been turned loose in the woods. Seeing a beautiful vixen. he wants to getacquain At this point, he is more like a teenager than a real fox. The vixen is fishing by a stream. and he rushes over to help. without knowing anything al catching a fish.

Disney Bambi Production Art

ierry explores the possibilities of the situation, trying many set ups, t ways of staging possible business, and alternate views. He wants to girl attractive and the hero likeable, with both very interested in each

Don Dagradi Disney

Vance tries to find a continuity without dialogue that is entertainin for both characters. He keeps his drawings simple, looking for bo and ways to enhance the charm of the situation and the charade

Disney Woolie Reitherman Bambi

Vance presents his board to the Production Unit. Behind Vance is son. then Woolie Reitherman. Larry Clemmons, and. in front, A It was always difficult to pin the sketches up in a straight line went up at the end, it was said that the storyman was an optimisi down, he was a pessimist.

Tenggren Pinoccio

that do not quite fit the storyman s current continuity are called the ''goody board.'' They will stimulate ideas meeting and may be used to pin up an alternate continuity. little of what Vance draws will be in the final film, but his early will have influenced everyone who works on the sequence.


Writers of proven skill had been brought into the studio, but they were seldom given a chance to write. A script could be used in the beginning to show suggestions of what might be done with the material, but more often the ideas were talked over, tossed around, beaten to death, changed, discarded, revamped, built upon, and "milked" without a single word being put down on paper. Since animation is a visual medium, it is important that the story ideas, the characters, the business, the continuity, and the relationships be presented in visual form rather than in words. So the storyboard was invented.

The first sketches to be pinned up were not the continuity of proposed action but general illustrations of the idea: groupings of characters, situations, locations. the first attempts to visualize this story. Gradually, as choices were made, more of a continuity was seen. and. eventually, sketches emerged that defined actual sccnes that might be on the screen. Through all these changes, as ideas grew into something better or failed to hold up, or were found to be too elusive to capture in still drawings, sketches were pinned up and taken down, day after day. It is a very flexible way to work.

The assignment sounds deceptively simple. Find the entertainment values in the story situations, then present them visually through the feelings of the personalities involved. Until the spectator can see an incident through a character's eyes, there is no life and very little warmth. So the discussions were not so much about "What happens next?" as about character relationships and the funny things that people do.

A truly entertaining idea does not come easily, and humor had to be considered a very serious business. A gag was never accepted just because it was funny; it had to work just right for that spot in the story and for that particular character. One new man was stunned at his first story meeting. "Everyone was so grim." he said. "Noone was laughing. I thought. 'Funeral directors have more fun than this!'"2

Walt seldom had a single storyman working alone, because he felt that two or three men working together would generate more ideas and give greater scope to their subject. Often it was a combination of a storyman and a story sketch man who sparked each other, either through stimulation or sheer irritation. When anyone was trying to prove that his idea was the very best possible, he would work harder to make it as interesting and definite and clear as he could. The storyman did the talking in the meetings, which gave him a definite advantage in presenting his own ideas; but the sketch man could control the appearance of the boards by staging rival suggestions less dazzlingly than his own. Usually some agreement could be reached before Walt came to see the boards, but often a certain testiness could be discerned as the storyman started his presentation with the offhand remark, "The sketches aren't very good, but. ..."

When the men in the story unit felt that they had something to show, they would call for a meeting. More often. Walt would barge in unannounced to see how things were going. Since he had a habit of prowling through the rooms at night to see what ideas were being generated, this type of visit usually meant that he had seen the storyboards and wanted something different—though this was never mentioned. He would feign innocence with. "Whatcha got here, guys?" and the "guys" would be caught so unprepared that they could respond with neither a hard sell nor an alibi. So they listened, and learned. As Dick Huemer said, "Walt was his own best storyman."

If Walt felt that some solid ideas were beginning to show up. or that some fresh ideas were needed, he would call in other storymcn to get reactions. For quite a period he had what he called his "shaping crew," who followed him from room to room giving their thoughts and suggestions. One disgruntled storyman who preferred to work completely alone com- 5 plained about this "convention" method of building a / story, and top storyman Ted Sears summed up the situation best with this pungent remark, "There's nothing worse than someone who comes in with a fresh ) eye!" But out of this system came wonderful stories, filled with rich ideas that gave the animators the greatest help in the world. One of them commented in later years when he viewed an old film, "You get the feeling that every last frame of that thing has been worked over until it's perfect!"

Albert Hurter Sale

Walt w anted the whole staff to participate in the build-ing of each picture, and he encouraged everyone to submit gags on the current story. Here are some of the suggestions turned in for the dwarfs in Snow White.

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