Ollie Johnston

Like most of the group, Ollie was at his best when leading off on a character, particularly if the story and the characters were at a stage where they were still flexible. He was often the first to perceive that a character or a story point was not developing the right way

Disney Animators Work

and would work tirelessly to correct it. He had a vision of what it ought to be and was dedicated to seeing it come out that way. Through early experimental animation, he was able to show the potential for entertainment in the characters that would then be developed in future story situations. In doing this type of development he combined the appeal he had learned from Fred Moore with the sensitivity he had for the emotions of how the characters felt.

Colleagues agreed that Ollie carried acting and the feeling of the characters to the highest point. He had a sensitivity for good picture, imaginative layout, what the character should be doing, and how to arrange the scenes for the best effect. His knowledge of what was needed in a voice made him valuable in dealing with difficult decisions of whether the vocal talent was giving the animator the performance he must have to make the character think and act.

In an interview Ollie said, "I talk a lot about any scene I'm gonna animate and get the best ideas I can; and when I'm convinced I have the best way, then I put everything I have into executing it. But just because I have a good plan doesn't make it easy. Animation is inherently open to mistakes, and I could know exactly what I want to do and still have trouble. And I'd say to myself, 'Whatever made me think this scene would be easy?' or, 'I thought I promised myself last week I'd never make that same damn mistake again."'

In spite of the usual problems, his footage output was always the highest on the picture, and the fact that he never looked upon animation as being easy helped him to emphathize with the young animators and assistants working with him. He knew that their problems required guidance and patience, and this he willingly provided.

His drawings of Mr. Smee from Peter Pan turned out to be a near self-portrait. Of course, this is not uncommon when the animator is really feeling the expressions. A young art student visiting during the production of The Rescuers glanced at the cat on Ollie's board—then at Ollie—and said, "You look just like Rufus. Why you even wear glasses just like he does!"

Wear Glasses AnimationJungle Book Characters

The Jungle Book

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