Reuse, Recycle, Redance
May 15, 2015 3:35 PM   Subscribe

The Walt Disney Animation Studios have a history of recycling hand drawn cells to save money. YouTube channel Movie Munchies has just posted an expertly cut montage showing a selection of what cells were borrowed and from where.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (36 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
When you see them laid end-to-end like that, you can totally see why these ones were re-used -- multi-character dance scenes, passing characters in front of other characters, lots of secondary anims to add flavor, squashing and stretching characters, etc. These are most difficult ones to do. The first guys to do them? Good lord, that must've been tough.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:43 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


More than anything, this underlines that Disney really didn't want to spend a lot of money on Robin Hood.
posted by IAmUnaware at 3:47 PM on May 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


To be accurate, they aren't recycling cels. They're recycling the drawn animation sequences and poses, or using them as the basis for new sequences.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, and all of them except the first is from Robin Hood. The Beauty and the Beast one feels like an Easter Egg callback to the golden days, but Robin Hood was done on the cheap.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:52 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


And yet it's still fun to watch, due to the great voice work and especially Don Williams' music.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:01 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, that was great. Thank you.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:08 PM on May 15, 2015


When I was a kid I remember being conscious that Little John was the same guy as Baloo, like they were characters played by the same actor or something. It's clear to see why, watching these.
posted by corvine at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


More than anything, this underlines that Disney really didn't want to spend a lot of money on Robin Hood.

Wow, I saw that movie for the first time (well, that I remember anyway) last week with my 4 year old daughter. I couldn't believe how much of the animation was "ripped off" from Jungle Book (like the entire "I wanna be like you" dance scene), but it looks like it was a whole bunch of movies.

I was telling this to my sister last week and she pulled up this exact same video about it.
posted by sideshow at 4:32 PM on May 15, 2015


Still, though. Oo-de-lally!
posted by Wolfdog at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


And yet it's still fun to watch, due to the great voice work and especially Don Williams' music.

I think you mean Roger Miller, no?
posted by Doug at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah this is a bit of a misleading thing. Cels were regularly wiped clean, completely discarded, or used as sleds in the underground tunnels at the Disney studio lot. My friends who work there tell me it's a rare treat to find originals from that period in a way.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Previously
posted by anazgnos at 4:38 PM on May 15, 2015


Reuse, ruse, ackk. Vote Bill
posted by Mblue at 5:00 PM on May 15, 2015


Hallmark Cards used to do this with their cards as well. Many years ago—pre-Photoshop—I was given a tour of their repaint department as part of a job interview where I caught a glimpse of someone painstakingly layering on gouache to turn a card of Easter lilies into poinsettias while the person in the cube next to her was repainting poinsettias into Easter lilies. I, uh, declined the job offer.
posted by jamaro at 5:37 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ha. This is like the first time I realized laugh tracks are fake - obvious in hindsight but still somehow innocence-wrecking.
posted by mediareport at 5:39 PM on May 15, 2015


corvine: "When I was a kid I remember being conscious that Little John was the same guy as Baloo, like they were characters played by the same actor or something."

Although also they were literally the same actor.

(The voice actor that freaks me out is that the Cheshire Cat is also the voice of Winnie the Pooh. And Kaa.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:39 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


A while back I saw The Little Mermaid on TV, and I was kind of amazed how cheap a lot of it looked. Like, some Saturday morning-level stuff, elevated by an occasional showcase scene the animators obviously worked harder on. That made me wonder if the Disney "renaissance" animation looked a lot cruddier than I recalled, and if it fell far short of the studio's golden age. Then a few months ago I saw The Sword in the Stone, and I was kind of amazed how cruddy that looked, including a couple of shots re-used in the same movie. That made me wonder if maybe classic Disney animation, or cell animation in general, looked worse than I remembered.

But then I saw some older Disney animation and it reminded me how lively and great it was. Animation-wise, I think they started phoning it in a little bit before Walt Disney died, and then after he died it all fell apart. I'm guessing The Little Mermaid was made when the studio was still suffering, so it still had some of that cheap-ass 1980s look, but once that was a hit the studio got serious about animation again and everybody worked harder on the later films. (Although I haven't gone back and looked at Aladdin et al to see if they still look good or if I'm remembering them looking better than they did.)

You see a movie like Fantasia or Pinocchio, one where the animation is really superb and you can actually watch an animator perform, bringing a character to life with a damn pencil, and it makes the modern dominance of CGI really depressing. Terrific stuff can be done with CGI, but really great cell animation is like watching a great actor at work, in a way that CGI doesn't quite capture. With cell animation you can sense the human at work there, doing this truly amazing thing.

To close on a crass note: I can never look at a movie like Robin Hood now without seeing furry erotica. Deviantart has kind of ruined Disney-style anthropomorphic animals for me. I see Robin and Maid Marian with their fox heads and everything, and I cringe because it seems like they are gonna start bonin' any second. (Not hating on the furries! It's just that that Disney animal drawing style has become so associated with furry kink stuff in my head, I can't disconnect them anymore.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


To close on a crass note: I can never look at a movie like Robin Hood now without seeing furry erotica.

Fucking Internet...
posted by mikelieman at 6:07 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ursula Hitler: "Then a few months ago I saw The Sword in the Stone, and I was kind of amazed how cruddy that looked, including a couple of shots re-used in the same movie. "

And three different child voice actors playing Wart, MIXED AT ALMOST TOTAL RANDOM. And one of them seems to have gone through puberty while the other two haven't.

I love Sword in the Stone (as do my kids), but man is it shitty as Disney goes. Part of the greatness of Little Mermaid were a) the composer and lyricist, who were much better than the 70s and 80s Disney hacks and b) the return to 24 frames per second -- totally necessary for the fluidity of an undersea movie -- where a lot of Disney animation had gone to 12 or 16 frames per second. I was pretty little, but I remember one of my uncles waxing rhapsodic over the 24 fps animation, he just could not believe how great it looked.

BTW, if you're a fan of classic Disney, you need to watch "Enchanted" if you haven't, as it intentionally references lots and lots of classic scenes and tropes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:28 PM on May 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


We can thank shitty Disney movies in the early 80s for launching the career of Tim Burton after he threw down his pencil in disgust.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:39 PM on May 15, 2015


A while back I saw The Little Mermaid on TV, and I was kind of amazed how cheap a lot of it looked. Like, some Saturday morning-level stuff, elevated by an occasional showcase scene the animators obviously worked harder on.

I had pretty much the same reaction when I took my daughter to a birthday party recently and actually watched it for the first time. I've come to the conclusion that the songs are what really started the Disney renaissance and that the higher quality animation (two years later with Beauty and the Beast) eventually followed.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:26 PM on May 15, 2015


IIRC, The Little Mermaid was Disney's last movie to use cel animation.
posted by jamaro at 7:37 PM on May 15, 2015


Previously

This story is recycled too.
posted by Foosnark at 8:14 PM on May 15, 2015


Can I say egregious?

Although, that makes you wonder if a "roll your own Disney movie" program would work out nicely...
posted by Samizdata at 10:24 PM on May 15, 2015


If you grew up on Hanna-Barbera in the 70s/80s, though, you were really really used to shitty reused animation. Hell, He-Man characters had maybe a dozen movement cycles that got re-used over and over in each episode. And that was the standard for animation that most kids were watching.

So Little Mermaid looked amazing in comparison.

It's funny, in that the art in older Disney like Snow White and Fantasia and Pinocchio is so impressively done and fluid, but the over-cutesy character design (except for a few bad guys) is harder to like, especially the twittery babyish Snow White and dwarves, all long eyelashes and slapstick. The backgrounds are amazing. The character designs/personalities...well, they're dated. Sleeping Beauty still suffered from leads with not much personality, but better side characters, and the art design was more modern and the dragon-fight sequence was gorgeous and suspensful (also the witch said "hell" in a cartoon, which blew me away then). Fantasia escaped the cutesy (parts of it) but suffered from being a patchwork, which hurt the pacing.

Little Mermaid isn't as polished, but it's funnier and more interesting. Aladdin even more so. Beauty and the Beast took the Interesting Princess formula and ran with it, and now that's the standard, as well as gorgeous, if CGI, animation that tries very hard to capture the warmth of hand-drawn (and sometimes fails) while still getting to use all the fun CGI tricks.

I was not a CGI fan when it came in and I still dislike the doll-smooth, vinyl-looking skin it gives characters. But, if it frees us from having to reuse animation cycles, maybe that's a tradeoff.
posted by emjaybee at 10:31 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you mean Roger Miller, no?

Yup. You are correct.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:39 PM on May 15, 2015


I was not a CGI fan when it came in and I still dislike the doll-smooth, vinyl-looking skin it gives characters. But, if it frees us from having to reuse animation cycles, maybe that's a tradeoff.

Have you seen the new Thunderbirds Are Go! (2015) They're blending miniature sets and models with CGI, and they're dialling back the CGI to sorta-emulate puppets. I love it. They really should easter-egg some strings in occasionally, but you know, that's a personal preference.
posted by mikelieman at 1:52 AM on May 16, 2015


And three different child voice actors playing Wart, MIXED AT ALMOST TOTAL RANDOM.

I forgot about that! Yeah, there were a lot of sloppy aspects to that movie. Kind of hard to believe Walt was still alive when they released it in that state. He was a maniac for quality control, back in the old days.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:05 AM on May 16, 2015


IIRC, The Little Mermaid was Disney's last movie to use cel animation.

'Beauty and the Beast' made use of CGI for the ballroom scene, but it was primarily cel animation.

Some years back, I found a laserdisc at the local library which presented a work in progress cut of 'Beauty and the Beast' which had been shown at the Cannes Film Festival. I had access to a laserdisc player at the time, so I took it out.

The sound track was finished, and individual scenes were a) painted cel animation, b) animated pencil drawings, and c) storyboard frames.

Being a library copy, regrettably it had taken some abuse and the playback glitched in spots, but still it was interesting to see.
posted by rochrobbb at 4:05 AM on May 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


rochrobb, there are man dvd copies that include the nyc (not cannes) film festival cut. I own such a copy myself.
posted by smoke at 4:19 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


BTW, if you're a fan of classic Disney, you need to watch "Enchanted" if you haven't, as it intentionally references lots and lots of classic scenes and tropes.

It's so full of references and call backs that is testers on the doge of indulgent but it grows on me every time I see it -- mostly cause I am still CONVINCED Amy Adams is actually a cartoon princess. It explains so much.

Lilo And Stich was the last Disney movie to do hand painted backgrounds I believe. Totally gorgeous tropical water colors.
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2015


The reuse that surprised me was the Aristocats bits being used again in Robin Hood three years later. I know the kids wouldn't notice (I saw both of those movies when I was little and I sure didn't) but I bet the parents did.
posted by immlass at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2015


Disney would probably like that, Whelk, but I think you've forgotten about Home on The Range, which I also believe was handpainted. I'm not sure about Winnie the Pooh, but Frog Princess was all photoshop backgrounds.
posted by smoke at 4:59 PM on May 16, 2015


A while back I saw The Little Mermaid on TV, and I was kind of amazed how cheap a lot of it looked. Like, some Saturday morning-level stuff, elevated by an occasional showcase scene the animators obviously worked harder on. That made me wonder if the Disney "renaissance" animation looked a lot cruddier than I recalled, and if it fell far short of the studio's golden age. Then a few months ago I saw The Sword in the Stone, and I was kind of amazed how cruddy that looked, including a couple of shots re-used in the same movie. That made me wonder if maybe classic Disney animation, or cell animation in general, looked worse than I remembered.

But then I saw some older Disney animation yt and it reminded me how lively and great it was. Animation-wise, I think they started phoning it in a little bit before Walt Disney died, and then after he died it all fell apart. I'm guessing The Little Mermaid was made when the studio was still suffering, so it still had some of that cheap-ass 1980s look, but once that was a hit the studio got serious about animation again and everybody worked harder on the later films. (Although I haven't gone back and looked at Aladdin et al to see if they still look good or if I'm remembering them looking better than they did.)

posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:02 PM on May 15 [11 favorites +] [!]

A couple months ago some friends and I watched Little Mermaid and Aladdin back to back. Noticeable difference in the animation styles. Now, in both the animation does look choppier and clumsier than what we're used to now, but that's because it's almost impossible to make it as smooth when drawn by hand as one can make it with computers doing all the filling in. Little Mermaid was the last Disney movie done with actual animation cells, everything after that was at least partially done digitally. I think by Aladdin they were still doing the sketches by hand but all the final inking and painting was done on computers. In Little Mermaid it's still black outlines on everything, by Aladdin they could color the outlines to match the other tones in the area.

Movies like Robin Hood were done extra cheap with a process where you'd just photocopy the sketches, eliminating the need to go in and ink them -- but which makes everything look more rough and jagged.
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 6:46 PM on May 16, 2015


Little Mermaid was the first feature Disney did after Who Framed Roger Rabbit, right? I vaguely remember reading about how the animators basically had to level up significantly to make Roger Rabbit work at all as a film, and brought their new skills to their next project.

Also, there are only two Disney movie that use watercolor backgrounds-- Lilo and Sititch, and Dumbo. I believe it was a design choice on Lilo, but for Dumbo it was done for budgetary reasons-- traditional hand-painted backgrounds were more expensive.
posted by nonasuch at 8:29 PM on May 16, 2015


Some insights into the development of Robin Hood from two of my favorite Disney history blogs,Passport to Dreams Old and New and Deja View
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:06 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Context Collapse: A Literature Review   |   The Mandela Effect and The Berenstein Bears... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments