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17 October 2009

Disney Templates FAIL "Looks like the Disney Vault has a purpose after all - to keep us from realizing how similar our favorite classic Disney movies truly are. According to this video, Disney only ever made one movie, and they've been tracing it ever since."
I saw this on a blog once and find it totally fascinating.
posted by pinky.p 17 October | 23:32
I guess tracing really isn't out of the question. It looked as though most of the clips came from pre-digital times, and I know that animating frame by frame was an insanely laborious process. Could Disney's artists really have just used one film as a template for the next, drawing new characters over the old frames?

I'd also like to see whether any clips from more recent Disney films fit into the mold(s). It always strikes me that the jokes in Disney films, and kids' films in general, are really formulaic (and yet reliably engaging). It seems like there might be less need for direct aping since rendering animation now is a lot easier, but that a lot of the tropes survive anyway, perhaps achieving even more power through their very repetition - they've become part of the form.
posted by Miko 17 October | 23:43
A collegemate of mine is a former Disney (paper) animator and current Imagineer. She says the Xerox machine is at the root of these repurposed sequences: Disney studios first used photocopiers to speed up animating 101 Dalmations and then discovered it was an effective tool to cut costs when the studio was churning out movies under Woolie Reitherman. It's not just Disney either, look at Chuck Jones' stuff, reuse galore.

For computer animation, stuff is reused all the time, it takes a lot of effort to build a good model, texture it and animate it so it makes sense to reuse everything you can. One old example that always jumps out at me: in the second and third Jurassic Park movies, watch how all the dinos of various species shake their heads/necks in an identical wet dog move. Another thing you might notice are the algorithms used to model certain behaviors, such as the way every characters' fur/hair in Monsters Inc moved in the same way.

Also related: Hallmark Cards reuses artwork too. They recruit at my old art school, when I was a junior they flew me out for interviews where among other things I learned of the remake department. It was the department no one really wants to work for: the artists take old Hallmark card artwork and freshen them up for reuse. Back then, they were doing it by painting over the old artwork, the one that stuck in my head was the poor bastard who was painstakingly painting over poinsettas and turning them into sunflowers for a Mother's Day card.
posted by jamaro 18 October | 02:22
I was surprised when I first saw this but I can't share any OMG. It feels to me more in the vein of homage or tradition. If a director repeats a motif, say James Cameron and feet moving into the frame, or John Landis and "See you next Wednesday", we nudge each other and consider it a trademark or in-joke. If a set gets reused or an actor repeats a stereotype, it isn't viewed as something to rant on the internets about. Animation is a lot of work, and I don't think it makes that much difference in the grander scheme of things if they had a couple of characters dancing in a completely original way.
posted by dhartung 18 October | 03:21
How interesting. dhartung, it's not that I feel cheated (I can't stand Disney movies to begin with), I just find this an interesting window into a process I knew nothing about.
posted by Miko 18 October | 11:01
What I want: a complete film with adorable animated characters, but all the vignettes are recreations of non-Disney sequences.

Can't you just see this as a Pixar project? A film in which the ragtag band of cartoon buddies play out their story only through a pastiche of classic film sequences recreated in a manner suitable for an audience of children: The Odessa steps, the shower sequence, the Kubrick gaze, the Michael Myers foreground, the Caligari sets.

They already include so much intertextuality and so many allusions in their films, it doesn't seem like a big stretch.
posted by Elsa 18 October | 15:09
Man, I see where they're coming from, but all I could think was "Disney had some amazing rotoscoping." I don't know if I've been watching a dearth of crappy animated television shows or what, but it's at least beautiful to watch.
posted by gc 19 October | 01:26
Rule number one of Animation Club is: You do not talk about--

wait, no, screw that. The one and only rule of Animation Club is: Cheat like hell if it makes things work better or go faster.

Seriously, animation is all about cheating. If there's something you can copy rather than doing all of that same work over again, you do it. If you can employ "real" artists in the U.S. to draw only keyframes, and farm out the inbetweens to Koreans for cheap, you do it (*cough-cough-Simpsons-and-every-other-animated-show-on-TV*). When I first started learning hand-drawn animation, we learned that we were working with 24 frames per second video, but that we would only be drawing 12 fps, because the human eye just wasn't fast enough to really notice the difference. (There is a difference, and it is visible, but it's just not -necessary- to draw all 24 frames to get your motion across.)

That said, this is pretty cool. I had actually noticed many of these, especially the similarities between The Jungle Book and Robin Hood - but those are glaringly obvious. It's really neat to see them run together like this, though.

Also, Elsa, that would be awesome.
posted by po 19 October | 02:38
AskMeCha: || I'll be in NYC one week from today!