Last month, Virginia Davis passed away at 90 years of age. She was the real life (warning: lousy formatting) little girl (warning: teh kyoot) whom Walt Disney sent into the land of cartoons, responding to the popularity of Max Fleisher's Out of the Inkwell series, which used his "rotoscope" and brought cartoon figures into filmed space. Walt reversed the formula, and found his first star.
1923: Alice's Wonderland [more inside]
1923: Alice's Wonderland [more inside]
Religious Studies 101: A Handful of Thorns - A Radio Play Crossover Event (Intro, Act 1, Act 2, Act 3). Producer and scriptwriter Greg Weisman unites the characters of the critically acclaimed animated series Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man in a script originally performed at the 2009 Gathering of the Gargoyles fan convention. Please be warned that the script contains spoilers for the aforementioned shows. [more inside]
Iron Mouse? Disney to buy Marvel for 4 Billion dollars. This is good news for Marvel Shareholders but is it good news for Marvel fans?
Seven gay friends who summer on Fire Island Pines [note: autoload music] decided on a whim to make a lip-sync video (in Speedos) of tween favorite Miley Cyrus' song "Party in the USA". She loves it. And it turns out that the family-oriented, intellectual property "überprotective" company that represents Miley also loves and endorses the fan video. [more inside]
Mickey Mouse's early road to fame (yt playlist with ~160 videos) has some odd twists and turns. One of Walt Disney's early cartoon creations was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the star of Trolley Troubles (5:45, 1927) and other early shorts. Disney had big plans for the popular little rabbit, and wanted to increase his budget from Universal Pictures. Unfortunately, Charles B. Mintz wanted to scale back the budget, and in the end Universal kept control of Oswald Rabbit. Without Oswald, Disney needed something new. Jack Dunham, one of Disney's Nine Old Men recalled animating Oswald and "the one without the ears." Initially, this one was called Mortimer, but Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's wife, believed the name "Mortimer" sounded too pompous and suggested the name Mickey, though Mickey Rooney claims he was the inspiration. Either way, the mouse was renamed Mickey in short order, and he starred in Plane Crazy (video, 6:00, 1928, previously). By 1929, he was wearing his iconic gloves (and talking), in The Karnival Kid (video, 7:41). But Mortimer returned, as Mickey's Rival (8:16, 1936), eventually getting his own themesong (1:56, modern recording off of TV; better quality song with a still image, 1:35) and again in a modern short (1:30, 2000), amongst other appearances. Then there's Uncle Mortimer, who first traveled with Mickey Mouse in Death Valley, though it's not always clear whose uncle he is. And in the alternate universe that is Bloom County, Mickey's fraternal twin is Mortimer (technically, he resides in Outland).
Disney's Man and the Moon (1 of 6). One-horned unigoats versus SCIENCE! featuring Werner von Braun who, to the nose adds a small atomic reactor in preparation for [cue dramatic music] a trip around the moon. [via]
Epic Mickey: a dystopian, steampunk version of the Disney world and characters we all know and love (we love them, right?) from Junction Point Studios. [more inside]
In 1946 legendary surrealist Salvador Dali formed an unlikely friendship with Walt Disney, and they spent some time collaborating on a short film called Destino. Dali and Disney artist John Hench worked on a lot of storyboards, but only 18 seconds of test footage were shot before the project was abandoned. [more inside]
Early this morning, Two monorail trains collided at Walt Disney World, causing the death of one of the drivers. The Walt Disney World Monorail System first opened in 1971 with two routes servicing The Magic Kingdom, and then expanded to a third line servicing Epcot in 1982. This is the first incident resulting in a fatality in 38 years of operation. The most serious incident previously was a fire in 1985 caused by tire failure in which two cars were burned badly, but there were no injuries. The monorail trains have numerous safety features, including a "Moving-blocklight anti-collision system", referred to as MAPO (the term was coined by Walt Disney himself, who formed a new company to deal with Disneyland's transportation system directly from the profits made by Mary Poppins). As of this morning, the monorail system at Walt Disney World is out of service pending investigation.
And now presenting the 10 Best Uses Of Classical Music In Classic Cartoons!
Mike Jittlov worked in special effects back before computers took over. His legendary film short, The Wizard Of Speed And Time, was actually a self-created remake of an earlier short. [more inside]
Video excerpts of the panel discussions from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' recent Milt Kahl tribute. [more inside]
Fallen Princesses : Dina Goldstein explores what life might have been like for Rapunzel, Snow White, and others after happily-ever-after. (via)
You've probably seen (and heard) his version of Alice in Wonderland, but have you seen The King and I, Harry Potter, The Sword in the Stone, or Mary Poppins?
Bill Peet (born Bill Peed) 1915-2002, was a Disney animator and children's book author. His work defined the Disney style, served as an inspiration for the movie Cars, and has amazed readers with the depth and expression of its characters. An exhibit of his work is running at the Art Institute of Chicago through May 24, 2009 (this Sunday). [more inside]
If you've ever heard the song Aquarela do Brasil (often called simply "Brazil" -- here's my favourite cover), then you'll probably enjoy this classic 1942 animation which first made it famous. The clip is the finale from the feature Saludos Amigos (hello friends), created during a US government-funded goodwill tour of South America aimed at strengthening Pan-American relations, which some argue may have helped bring South America onto the side of the Allies in World War II. [more inside]
People have been trying to make the appearance of three-dimensional movement almost as far back as the first movie cameras. The very first efforts used stereoscopy (more pre-vious-ly), which wasn't functional for theater-settings. In 1915, the first public test of 3D film was deemed unsuccessful, as images presented with green/red lenses detracted from the plot, but that didn't stop people from trying to make 3D films. Polarized glasses are another inexpensive method of simulated 3D, while shutterglasses are a more costly method. Up to 1998 or so, there were approximately 187 3D movies made, not counting porn, cartoons and shorts (which bring the 1998 total to 263). 2009 is supposedly the year that 3D movies really take off, as it has been reported that 3D films are expected to gross over $1bn (£700m) at the box office next year, a five-fold increase on their $200m haul in 2008. There are some really big titles coming, including the "3D drug trip" that is Avatar, and all of the announced future Pixar releases will get the Digital Disney 3-D treatment. But 3D isn't limited to the big screen and big companies. The next format war could be over 3D TV. And now the independent production company MeniThings has released the feature-length movie, Battle for Terra. [via mefi projects, and a bit more on the movie after the jump] [more inside]
Disney made one movie, and they've been tracing it ever since.
This month marks both the birth and the death of Bobby Driscoll, child star, Peter Pan, "Walt Disney's golden boy." He was penniless, drug-addled and buried in an unmarked grave by the age of 31. [more inside]
A Jonas Brothers Guide for Adults . "If you're expecting them to fade away...think again." Tweens unite! "It's full scream ahead!" Ohhhh, myyyyy! [more inside]
Little Big Star (free software, currently in beta - video) it's the first guitar rythm game with support for real instruments. In the next months two more products of the same kind should be released, Disney Star Guitar and Guitar Rising. [more inside]
This isn't exactly the scarlet letter, but it might be a sign of something we've seen before (or maybe not, depending who you ask.) Still, you should probably get yourself one of these [see also] if you're planning to cry wolf! (You can also make your own.) [more inside]
Behind Pixar’s string of hit movies, says the studio’s president, is a peer-driven process for solving problems. How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity (alternate print link for those having trouble with the first link), by the co-founder of Pixar and the president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios Ed Catmull. [more inside]
His is the most vigorously defended copyright in history, the reason behind the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. But Mickey Mouse may already be in the public domain. (Via)
In January of 2004, Disney shut down their Florida animation studio, part of their decision to move away from 2D, or cell-shaded, animation for good. Two years later, as part of the new deal with Pixar, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull were brought in as heads of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and promptly declared that 2-D Animation would thrive again on their watch. For their first new project, the team wanted to show support for the still-struggling New Orleans, and simultaneously introduce Disney's first Black Princess in "The Frog Princess" (Or The Princess and the Frog, as it is now known), a fairy tale set in 1920's Jazz-era Louisiana, with Randy Newman providing a period-specific score. Much response to the project has been quite positive, but as with all things, the devil is in the details.
While the latest Pixar/Disney animated film, Wall-E (teasers, trailers and clips) debuted as the No. 1 movie this past weekend and has been met with critical acclaim, including a 97% "Fresh Rating" at RottenTomatoes and a 93% ranking by critics and 90% by viewers at MetaCritic, the film has outraged the radical right. "[M]y kids were bombarded with leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind..." "...I will do my part to avoid future environmental armageddon by boycotting any and all WALL-E merchandise and I hope others join my crusade." "I agree that the Malthusian fear mongering was annoying."* [more inside]
Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience - “massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.” Here's a quick roundup of some commentary. (last link with concept design sketches)
The last of Disney's Nine Old Men, Ollie Johnston, has passed away at the age of 95. His work at Disney on several classic features and his books with Frank Thomas (The Illusion of Life in particular), have long been inspiring to animators like myself. He was one of the great ones, and will be missed.
Snow White and the Seven Stormtroopers. Inspired by the Disney attraction Star Tours, and its related merchandise, DeviantArt user Thumper-001 is working on an evolving series of creative mashups. (Via) [more inside]
Can't afford to get to Disney this year? Worry not: ride the rides on YouTube. There's The Haunted Mansion, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, The Tower of Terror, Peter Pan and plenty more. The best, though, are the ride-throughs for rides that are no longer there: EPCOT's Horizons, World of Motion and original Imagination are ones I remember vividly from my childhood. Maybe you will too.
Peace on Earth - 1939 Disney animation directed by Hugh Harman. And Goodwill to Men, a 1955 remake by Hanna-Barbera.
Magic Highway U.S.A. Disney's May 1958 view of the future of transportation. Some recaps at 2719 Hyperion and Paleo-Future. [IMDB; via]
In the early 1950's, Monsanto Chemical Company, MIT and Disneyland collaborated their resources and creative brainpower to build "the house of 1986." Using 30,000 pounds of plastic (The building's structure, carpet, chairs, sinks, appliances and floors were all plastic. About $7,500 to $15,000 worth.), the Monsanto House of the Future* was opened to an excited public in June of 1957. It was closed in 1967 as ideas of the future were beginning to change. Let's take a quick tour, shall we?
*(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.) [more inside]
*(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.) [more inside]
4 Artists Paint 1 Tree, a segment from Disneyland included on the recent DVD release of Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, features the artistic process of one of my favorite painters and cartoon modernists, Eyvind Earle. If you've seen Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, Paul Bunyan or Peter Pan, you're familiar with the fantastical and brilliant landscapes he produces. His paintings show a particular fondness for Big Sur and Central California.
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue was an animated drug prevention television special starring many popular cartoon characters from American Saturday morning television. Airing in 1990 and financed by McDonald's, it was simulcast on all three major American television networks. The VHS home video edition of the special also opened with an introduction from then-President George Bush Snr and Barbara Bush. And thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, you can watch the whole thing here. And you really should. After all, where else are you going to get to hear cartoon characters like Garfield and Winnie the Pooh talking about smoking crack and shooting juice? [more inside]
For whatever reason, this girl has uploaded over a hundred and fifty videos of Disney songs dubbed in Icelandic (as well as a few other languages). I just can't wait to be king, Strange Things, the Siamese cat song.
Covering The Mouse. An MP3 blog dedicated to cover versions of Disney songs. My favorite so far is Gene Simmons' cover of "When You Wish Upon A Star."
It's a Big World After All. The Disneyland Small World ride is going to be closed for 10 months in 2008 due to refurbishing. The main reason for the refurbishing: the ride isn't built to accommodate today's average passengers' body weights.
Eldon Dedini NSFW is one of several 1960's Playboy cartoonists featured over at the Animation Archive. [more inside]
Remember the Town Disney Built? -- 50% of the homes in Celebration, Florida are up for sale. A failure of corporate-owned and -planned Community™? or just a fallout of the bursting of the housing bubble? And whither New Urbanism? [more inside]
The Donald Duck animated short film anthology. Donald Duck's family tree. More Donald Duck family trees. Donald, Donald, Donald. Quack, Quack, Quack.
Salvador Dali and Walt Disney collaborated in 1946 on the short animation Destino. Disney had concerns about some of the graphics and it was never released. Lost for 56 years, it was restored in 2003 and has not yet been released for wholesale distribution. Tommorrow is your last chance to see it at the Dali and Film exhibit at the Tate Gallery. Previously.
The author of this site takes screen-shots from long-pan scenes of classic animation and puts them together to re-create the original larger background images. Much cooler than it sounds, honest. [via MeFi's own kokogiak, sort of]
"Why (For) Pat Carroll wasn't actually Disney's first choice to voice Ursula in 'The Little Mermaid'? The casting story of one of Disney's most delightful demons.
Mars and Beyond - 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
A Fair(y) Use Tale Single link YouTube