Not all nine of the supervising animators were interested in personality animation and character relationships. To Ward Kimball fell the mantle of true iconoclast of the group. He had tried and done successful personality animation on Jiminy Cricket, but soon found this style too limiting for his particular talents. He felt the proper use of animation for him lay further away from live action.
His conception and execution of the long song sequence in The Three Caballeros is a classic in the unrestricted use of the medium. The song was four minutes long with little or no business, and, after listening to it for a week. Ward says, "I decided to be optically literal. What you hear is what you see. When they say they have serapes—the serapes appear. And when the characters went out on the right—they'd come in on the left; they'd go out on the left, and they'd come in from the top. It was optically abstract."
Ward's approach to this was a new type of entertainment really too unique to pass on.
He was an excellent draftsman, with the rare ability to make funny drawings equally as well as serious ones. He had a better design sense than most and thought of imaginative ways of doing things. He never did what was expected, and to the consternation of at least one director never did the assignment the way it was handed out. His staging was tops, his timing unique, and he could show what was funny about a situation. He had a knack for picking out the special.
little-noticed traits in almost everyone around him, and from then on that person would have a label on him. He was an excellent mime and could either act out these traits or incorporate them into one of his sharp caricatures.
Typical of Ward, he was also creative in his approach to teaching life drawing. He used the innovative idea of the "model in movement" to make his class more aware of the principles of animation, which encouraged the young students to think in terms of rhythm and action in their drawings.
Milt's great strength lay in his drawing ability and his conviction that animation drawings were really two-dimensional and should work in that plane—clear, simple, easy to read and understand. As one of four animators to work on the character of Pinocchio, he was given the assignment of animating Pinocchio as a real boy because of his careful drawing.
Milt's control enabled him to do the most subtle moves, leading to repeated casting on human characters. His Sir Ector and Kay in The Sword in the Stone were the best human figures ever done at the studio, and they were done without benefit of live action or the support of reference material. Though Milt actually preferred broad characters, he took great pride in doing assignments that were tough to draw. His unique sense of character design dominated the features for over thirty years, but it was so personal that it was often difficult for others to follow. He would deny this, saying, "Anyone who can draw, can follow it." What he really meant was, "Anyone who can draw like me can do this. . . ."He had remarkable powers to visualize, and as someone said, "Once he gets clear in his mind what he's going to do, it's as good as on the paper."
He was honest to the point of bluntness. Unlike many irascible temperaments who have filled the halls of history. Milt had a very sweet helpful side, when he chose. He gave unstintingly of his time and talent when it was to help the picture and almost as often to help a fellow artist who had a problem. However, he expected anyone coming for help to have worked hard and tried everything—to have done his best before coming.
Milt's farewell animation was his brilliantly done Medusa in The Rescuers. This time Milt had a character all to himself, and his rewards were great, as shown by this tribute: "The younger generation studies the scene in which Mme. Medusa takes off her makeup while plotting child abuse. The way that Milt Kahl accents Geraldine Page's fruity, cruel voice by making her tug extra hard at her false eyelash until her eyelid snaps back like a rubber band is like a drawing from Daumier's 'Sketches of Expression' series . . . but in movement!"12
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