Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Animation Timeline - Walt Disney

Fig. 1 Walter Disney Portrait


Walter Disney (1901 – 1966) was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, and animator, he is also the co-founder of Walt Disney Productions. He was an innovator and a perfectionist who was forever attempting to improve his product and explore the medium to its fullest potential, making him one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. Walt Disney is the creator of some of the world's most loved cartoon characters.

Walt Disney’s empire grew because of one mouse with big ear, which would go on to bring him his biggest success. "Mickey Mouse" was created in 1928, and at the beginning he was going to be used in a silent cartoon, but before its release, sound appeared on another motion picture when was released. So Mickey made his debut in "Steamboat Willie," the world's first fully-synchronized sound cartoon. "The most difficult aspect of making Steamboat Willie was the synchronization of picture and sound. For this reason, dialogue was kept to a bare minimum (with Walt Disney himself supplying the voices of his characters). The music for the cartoon was planned, although not scored, before any of the animation was begun." (Obalil, 2010) Mickey Mouse has gone on to become a symbol of Disney and become a cultural icon. Mickey has appeared in many cartoons, full feature films, books, toys, and was made into every piece of merchandise you could imagine. The invention of other cartoon characters as Donald Duck, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto combined with the use of music, sound, and folk material, made the Disney shorts of the 1930s successful all over the world.


Fig. 2 Steamboat Willie Film Still


In 1934, Disney decided to create his and the worlds first feature length animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Everyone thought he was heading down the wrong path, as Mickey Mouse was still going strong as an animation. After all, a feature-length cartoon would cost a lot to make and people believed, that if Disney didn’t not come up with a story line that would hold people's attention for over an hour of animation, it would fail. Of course, Disney did not listened to any of his critics. What's more, Disney's competitors were coming on strong with cartoons and he knew if he wanted to get anywhere he would have to go beyond the short animations. "As animator Ward Kimball recalled, "The highlight was at the climax of the film, when Snow White is presumed to be dead and she's laid out on the slab ... Here was a cartoon, and here was the audience crying. The biggest stars, you name them, were all wiping their eyes." As John Culhane, an animation authority and author of the soon-to-be released "Fantasia 2000: Visions of Hope," has written, "In Disney's 'Snow White,' for the first time, moving drawings became moving drawings."" (disneydreamer, 2007)

Fig. 3 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Film Still

After Disney’s triumph of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", the groundbreaking animation that proved once and for all that the audiences were ready for feature-length cartoon films. Disney next tackled an even more ambitious project Fantasia (1940) which is several short films and is one of Disney’s most stylized films. Were inanimate objects come alive with music of composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and others playing throughout. "Thematically, the imagery in Fantasia is drawn from a far-ranging array of conceptual fields: nature and the four seasons (Nutcracker); legend and mythology (Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Pastoral Symphony, respectively); prehistoric times (Rite of Spring); even Christian concepts of sacred and profane, heaven and hell (the climactic Bald Mountain / Ave Maria sequence)." (Greydanus, 2000).

Fig. 4 Fantasia Film Still

From the 1930s onwards, Disney, instigated large merchandising campaigns to reap additional profits via T-shirts, toys, and watches. Today, Disneyland and Disneyworld are living monuments to his memory. And it is not surprising that Disney eventually stretched his talents beyond pure animation, first combining cartoons with actors and, finally, producing live-action features and In 1950, he produced Treasure Island, his first non-animated feature. But when Disney died in 1966, his "ultimate legacy remains his animated stories, and the narrative elements which lifted them above his competition. His characters are not just caricatures that insult each other, bash each other with baseball bats, or push each other off cliffs. They are lifelike, three-dimensional creatures with personalities all their own: they are simple, but never simplistic, and rarely, if ever, fail to thoroughly involve the viewer." (Edelman, unknown)



List Of Illustrations

Figure. 1 Disney, Walt (1901 – 1966) Walt Disney Protrait. http://www.notablebiographies.com/De-Du/Disney-Walt.html (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Figure. 2 Disney, Walt (1928) Steamboat Willie Film Still. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SteamboatWillie (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Figure. 3 Disney, Walt (1937) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Film Still. http://www.coloringweb.com/disney-snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs/ (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Figure. 4 Disney, Walt (1940) Fantasia Film Still. http://nighthawknews.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/the-best-of-the-nighthawk-awards-the-1940s/ (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
 
Bibliography

Obalil, Linda J. ( 2010) STEAMBOAT WILLIE. http://www.filmreference.com/Films-So-St/Steamboat-Willie.html (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Disneydreamer (2007) Walt Disney History- Part 7 http://www.disneydreamer.com/Waltbio7.htm (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Greydanus, Steven D. (2000) Fantasia (1940) http://www.decentfilms.com/reviews/fantasia.html (Accessed on 28/03/2011)
Edelman, Rob (unknown) Walt Disney. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Walt_Disney.aspx (Accessed on 28/03/2011)

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