Friday, February 26, 2010
While an Imagineer, Hall shared office space with Disney Legend Yale Gracey and Jim asked Rock about his memories of the "Merlin of WED" and here is that section as a preview of the upcoming full interview:
Rock Hall responded:
"Yale was a sweet mild mannered guy, polite and respectful at all times. He worked at a very meticulous pace, setting up his illusions with everything done to a precise level. He got a real kick out of illusions that were done with the unique use of optics. Parabolic mirrors, Pepper’s Ghost type effects, sculpture and lighting tricks, you name it. Delicate effects such as Blue Bayou fire flies were a specialty of his. He constantly complained that the replacements were never done according to the original design and every time someone tried to improve on them they fouled their performance in one way or another. Yale could show you the right way to build a fire fly like no one else could. He always said that the best effects were simple effects. Like finding out that a sculpted face when vacuum formed and viewed from the back seems to follow you. This was an accidental development that Yale discovered and ending up using in the hallway at the Haunted Mansion.
"He talked a lot about Walt and the way it used to be. Walt gave the people he trusted carte blanche to create and design using their own unique ideas to help his visions come true, it was great back in those days, every day became fun and rewarding. He also talked a lot about a book the Walt gave him in which many of his co-workers had signed and decorated. As you might imagine every animator left his mark in Yale’s book. He showed everyone this book and was so proud of it. I believe this was one of his favorite things. Unfortunately I seem to remember that this was stolen from him and never recovered. This would be a very valuable book and absolutely crushed him.
"One other story that I just recalled a few days ago the Yale told me about Walt. This was another one of Yale’s stories; he was telling me a very funny story about how Walt was trying to learn how to properly sign his signature. Of course this was designed for him by a team of Disney artists. I guess he was complaining about how difficult it was to follow their designs. Yale said he never quite mastered the signature. The one thing that was a carry over from his real signature was the dot on top of the “i”. Now mind you this was after Yale had two martinis at lunch. Yale always had his martini lunches, it was his tradition.
"The last thing I remember him working on was a parabolic reflection of a humming bird sipping from a flower. This created a virtual image out in space, he was great with these types of effects."
- Disney and Tolkien by Michael Barrier
- CAPTAIN NEMO REMEMBERS DISNEY...And Indirectly, Walt Too by Paul F. Anderson
Thursday, February 25, 2010
[The original concept drawing of the opening for the Disney Channel series Disney Family Album by John Lasseter in 1984. It is framed and hanging in the office of Mike Bonifer who was the co-producer of the series. Lasseter became involved with the projects because he was friends with the co-producers Cardon Walker (son of Card Walker) and Mike Bonifer. They had a shoestring budget and had to call in favors from friends, like John Debney who composed the music for the show.
This was of the last projects Lasseter did before moving to Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic (for a month that became six months and then later a career when the department was purchased by Steven Jobs and renamed Pixar) was the title sequence for Disney Family Album.
“Lasseter wanted to make the titles in CG,” remembered Bonifer. “That’s one of the reasons he got involved in the project. Everything was CG with him. He had just done the Where the Wild Things Are test with Glen Keane where he told me that using the computer was the only way to get the cross-hatching of Sendak’s original drawings and was on the prowl for anything that he could do in computer animation. He was a friend of ours. We used an outside post production facility. I think it was Pacific Post. We just didn’t have access there to vector graphics. It was just analog. When the album graphic opened, we could not get the spine to stay together. It would float apart. John did the original art but then he left to go up North for his dream job. Brian McEntee (who would become a layout artist and art director on several animated films). came to the rescue and finished it up for us. John and I were so frustrated working on those opening titles that we were literally about to cry. I think he learned from the experience to never go near analog tools ever again. I don’t blame him for leaving. He was following his passion.”]
- Getty, Disney partner on study of animation cel artwork (Thanks to Matt Crandall for the link)
- Disney Historian Jim Korkis gives an audio tour to author Lou Mongello of Mickey's Toontown Fair area at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World that is soon to be torn down because of the expansion of Fantasyland.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Greg Ehrbar, James D. Marks and I have been working on and off for the past 2 years on the autobiography of the late Jimmy Johnson (head for several decades of the Walt Disney Music Company), our goal being to see it released in book format at some point in 2011.
Since Johnson had the opportunity to work with most of Disney's offices overseas, reading his autobiography introduced us to several Disney "characters" based abroad and who were instrumental in building the company outside of the US.
Some of those executives (like Cyril James, for example) have been named Disney Legends in 1997, others are still mostly unknown.
I had the pleasure of being in touch with the family of Eddie Davis, who sent me various photographs of Eddie with Walt, Roy and a few others that I will be posting on the blog this week (in the above photo, Eddie is at the far right).
Here is what Jimmy had to say in his book about Eddie when he described his 1947 trip to Europe:
[The Disney London office was run in those days by two men: Eddie Davis, who was in charge of merchandising and publishing, and Cyril James, who headed up everything else. Cyril was Roy’s eyes and ears in England and Europe.
Eddie Davis was as much the dean of Character merchandising in the U.K. as Kay Kamen was in the U.S. I once made the rounds of the English Toy Fair with Eddie at ten o’clock on a dreary London morning. ]
Apparently Davis joined Disney in 1933, became Advertising Manager Film Trade in 1936 and Assistant Manager Cinematograph Trade in 1936/37. In the '40s he was in charge of Merchandising for the UK, then (after 1947) became Managing Director of Walt Disney Productions for the UK and Europe.
He retired in 1963.
Friday, February 19, 2010
[We have been working for 1,5 years now with an exhibition, inviting cartoonists from all over the world to send us a drawing of Donald the way they see him at the age of 75. The list has become quite impressive, as you may see, ages rangesfrom 24 to 91, 6 out of 7 continents are represented etc. The last one we received was from legendary Joe Kubert! So please enjoy the list for awhile, and I'll pick you up at the end of it...
Andreasson, Johan - Sweden
Blackmore, Brian - USA
Bordier, Olivier - France
Bunk, Tom(as) - USA
Bye, Arne (JE) - Norway
Capezzone, Thierry - France
Cau, Mario - Brazil
Dantas, Bira - Brazil
Dias, Ron - USA
Errazu, Carlos "Kalitos" - Spain
Fatunla, Tayo - Nigeria / UK
Feldstein, Al - USA
Ferdinand, Ron - USA
Glez, Damien - Burkina Faso
Goodin, Robert - USA
Grace, Bud - USA
Graff, Finn - Norway
Grethe & Norunn - Norway
Gunnarsson, Joakim - Sweden
Hamilton, Marcus - USA
Helgeland, Charlotte - Norway
Hook, Geoff - Australia
Ito, Willie - USA
Jippes, Daan - Holland
Jurado, Santi - Spain
Klein, Rob - USA
Kumar, Pran - India
Lee, Reggie - Malaysia
Lockman, Vic - USA
Lungu, M'theto - Malawi
Madsen, Frank - Denmark
Maher, Alex - USA
McWilliams, Barry - USA
Midthun, Arild - Norway
Milton, Freddy - Denmark
Moratha (Antonio José) - Spain
Ndula, Victor - Kenya
Nestablo Ramos Neto - Brasil
Nærum, Knut - Norway
Olsen, Gunnar - Norway
Quassim, Andreas - Sweden
Quién, Jorge - Argentina
Sanden, Solveig Muren - Norway
Schliebener, Catalina - Chile
Souza, Caio "Yo" - Brazil
Tunin, Sergei - Russia
Tzaboura, Maria - Greece
Van Horn, William - Canada
Wolverton, Monte - USA
XCAR - Carlos Pérez - Spain
Yalaz, Sevket - Turkey
Aasnes, Håkon - Norway
Rice, Ingrid - Canada
Johansson, Ted - Sweden
Kubert, Joe - USA
Cedraz, Antonio - Brazil
The exhibit is going to be displayed at Villa Fridheim - an adventure story museum - all summer, before being sent around Norway, to begin with.
If you take a look at Tayo Fatunla's blog, you'll get an idea what we have been working on.
This is only to give you a vague idea that we had a tiny idea over here in Norway in September of 2008, that turned into something so far beyond our wildest ecspectations. Personally I have dreamed about having Al Williamson as the final part of this, but I haven't found a way to reach him.]
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The Weather Bird Press, Vance Gerry and Roy Williams (again)
I still don't know if the autobiography of Roy Williams exists. While investigating the matter however, I realized that there is a third book that was definitely written by Roy Williams and that I forgot to mention on Monday. It's named Vaporisms and is a selection of aphorisms by Roy about death. Circulation: 50 copies.
What makes book interesting is that it was released by a company started by Disney story artists Vance Gerry, called The Weather Bird Press. While investigating that lead, I stumbled about a good interview with Vance Gerry that some of you will enjoy. Did you realize that aside from a book by Roy Williams, Vance also released books by Disney artists Tony Rizzo and Walt Stanchfield? This came as news to me.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Didier Ghez: Who is the author of the book?
Marty Sklar: Melody Malmberg. [Note: Joe Rhode’s wife]
DG: A great book about WDI was already released in 1996. Why did you decide to work on a new book on the subject?
MS: The first book, published in 1996, was highly successful… and is still in print in soft cover. However, at the time it was published, there were only six Disney parks around the world, with the Animal Kingdom under construction. Fast forward to 2010 and there are now 11 Disney parks – meaning five parks have opened since the first book was published. Additionally, a huge number of new attractions have opened in the six parks covered in the first book. Today, obviously, there is so much new material, so many new ways the Imagineers have thought of to create shows, so many new Disney-Pixar stories to bring in new ways to park guests … and new leadership at Disney corporate (Bob Iger), Parks & Resorts (Jay Rasulo when the book was prepared), and creative leadership at Imagineering (including John Lasseter) to speak about the importance of the Imagineers. In many ways, this was a “new playing field” on top of a remarkable history and foundation
DG: Could you tell us about the genesis of this specific book?
Melody Malmberg: Marty and Kevin Rafferty (the key writer on Book I) started bugging Disney Editions several years ago about doing a new Imagineering book, for the reasons cited above. However, there were so many park-related books already in the pipeline (Disneyland’s 50 anniversary publications, WDW picture book, Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends, four Imagineering Field Guides, etc) so it was planned for a bit later on. When Tom Schumacher’s wonderful book, How Does The Show Go On? hit the bookstores, Marty really began pushing Disney Editions (especially about including some “special features” in the book). When Disney Editions put the new Imagineering book on its schedule, Kevin was too busy with park projects to work on it … Randy Webster had moved to Florida, and of course, David Mumford and Bruce Gordon had passed away. So a new collaboration was established, with me as writer, Marty as advisor, first Jody Revenson and then Wendy Lefkon as publication quarterback, Welcome (again) as designers, and the Imagineering IRC/Art Morgue staff as “finders of art/photos”. It turned out to be a great team!
DG: What are the main chapters of the book?
MM: Theory – the basic theories which have been developed over time that lie behind Imagineering’s creations; how and what Imagineers think about every day.
Tools – What Imagineers use to visualize, design, manufacture and build.
Portfolio – Highlighting specific projects since 1995, and talking about general ideas like updating, adapting, and translating, which are increasingly important as the parks become global.
While not a “how to” manual, this book gives insight into how Imagineers work, and how they approach their work.
The international focus, thanks to the Walt Disney Comapny’s worldwide expansion over the last 15 years, is new. We cover every park in case you have not purchased your round-the-world plane ticket yet.
How to Think Like an Imagineer, and the Imagineering Glossary and list of disciplines.
DG: Did the author interview many of the Imagineers to write this book?
MM: I talked to probably 100 people, mostly at the California headquarters, and covered the major disciplines and parks in this way; emailed a bunch more; solicited photos from the entire Imagineering cast via human resources, and even talked to the summer interns from 2008. Marty and I developed the list of “must talk to’s” and then we added from there, and I followed stories. The editorial board suggested topics and people to talk to and checked the work; text was contributed by Imagineers Kevin Rafferty, David Fisher, Jason Surrell, and Alex Wright; the art librarians worked on the illustrations.
DG: What are the most surprising discoveries that await Disney history enthusiasts in this book (both from an illustration and text perspective)?
MM: Fun “special effects” in the book like a layered Castle, a fold-out storyboard, and booklet of artwork specially chosen from the Imagineering Art Library. They are unique and help to tell the story of how Imagineers work.
DG: Disney park historians David Mumford and Bruce Gordon passed away and left a huge gap in the field of Disney history. Who is taking the relay today from your point of view?
MM: This has left a big hole in the Disney park side of historical knowledge and sources. On the Studio side, of course, Dave Smith is still at the Archives, and is conversant (or can locate) a great deal of park material. Even in retirement, Marty receives many calls/questions about park history, especially Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (and Marty is the only Disney cast members to have worked on, and participated in, the opening of all 11 Disney parks around the world). Jeff Kurtti, through his research for many books, and his work on The Walt Disney Family Museum, is an excellent source… and had collaborated with Bruce on books and concepts for the Family Museum. Suffice to say that there are lots of “tall stories” and “pseudo experts”
DG: Are you seriously working on your long-awaited autobiography? When will it be released?
MS: Unfortunately, I have been very slow in moving this project, but I will lose my excuses when my great new office (attached to his home) is completed in mid-April. However, I have been extremely busy because I have not learned to say “no”, and also I am doing my own e-mail now (typing for the first time in 30 years – you can see some of the issues in my formatting!). I have been making many speeches, writing for a number of publications, leading our Ryman Arts non-profit arts teaching foundation into its 20th year of serving talented high school artists in Southern California, serving on the Board of Directors of the UCLA Alumni Association and the newly formed Disneyland Alumni Club, etc. Very soon I will engage an agent to seek a publisher with an appropriate advance. (I can show three or four chapters I’ve written, and basically have a pretty good outline of the rest).
Two exciting upcoming books that I just discovered on Amazon today:
[Whether it consists of quick sketches on a lunch counter napkin, elaborate paintings in oils or watercolors, or dazzling computer renderings, the unparalleled creative process of Disney artists is lavishly showcased in Design, the third volume of The Walt Disney Animation Studios - The Archive Series. Among the incredible talents featured in this volume are Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, Joe Grant, Maurice Noble, Gustaf Tenggren, Tyrus Wong, Kay Nielsen, David Hall, Mel Shaw, Mary Blair, Bianca Majolie, Yale Gracey, Eyvind Earle, Walt Peregoy, Ken Anderson, James Coleman, Jean Gillmore, Rowland Wilson, Glen Keane, Chris Sanders, Andreas Deja, Mike Gabriel, Mike Giaimo, Hans Bacher, Chen Yi Chang, Paul Felix, Aaron Blaise, Ian Gooding, and John Musker. Design represents a rare opportunity to again enjoy a glimpse into the truly spectacular trove of treasures from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library.]
- The Art and Making of Tron: Legacy
[The 160-page high-end book, The Art and Making of Tron: Legacy takes fans inside the making of the upcoming Tron film. Full of beautiful concept illustrations, set designs, character bios, film scenes, and introductions and afterwords, The Art and Making of Tron: Legacy will be a must for collectors and fans. The slightly oversized landscape trim format, the cover effects, and the gatefolds will also make this a unique and stunning addition to anyone's coffee table.]
Monday, February 15, 2010
We know that Roy Williams released two collections of funny sketches while at Disney, one in 1949 called How's the Back View Coming Along? and another one in 1957, The Secret World of Roy Williams.
But did he ever write an autobiography? According to one reader of the blog, he did and there was a copy available in one of the internal libraries of Walt Disney World.
Apparently the text contained some racy material.
Do any of you know about this book? Does it really exist? Can you tell us anything about it?
Friday, February 12, 2010
[“WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY” DEBUTS IN THEATERS ON MARCH 26, 2010
NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO AND CHICAGO
After a successful festival debut, Waking Sleeping Beauty will begin its theatrical run
with limited releases in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco on March 26, 2010.
Directed by Don Hahn and produced by Peter Schneider and Don Hahn, Waking Sleeping Beauty
was an Official Selection at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival
and winner of the Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairy tale, as it chronicles the time from 1984 to 1994,
when a perfect storm of people and circumstances changed the face of animation forever. It is a
story of clashing egos, out-of-control budgets, escalating tensions... and one of the most
extraordinary creative periods in animation history.
In New York, the film will open at the Landmark Sunshine. In Los Angeles, the film will
open on two screens, at the AMC Century City and AMC Burbank. In Chicago, the film will
open at the AMC River East, and in San Francisco at the Landmark Embarcadero—all on March
Director Don Hahn (producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and producer
Peter Schneider (former chairman of the studio), key players at Walt Disney Studios feature
animation department during the mid1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent
times the animation studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed
over the next 10 years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box-office flops, and
warring studio leadership create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and
candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home
movies and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney,
alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Steven Spielberg, Richard Williams,
John Lasseter and Tim Burton, Waking Sleeping Beauty shines a light on Disney animation’s
darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance. Waking Sleeping Beauty is a Stone
Circle Pictures/Red Shoes Production.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY
Running time: 86 minutes
Thursday, February 11, 2010
[ I came across this blog today: Modern Mechanix. The posts are all about the old artilces from magazines such as Popular Science, Modern Mechanics and others that I have seen on your site often. The first page had a lot on the topic of Disney. I just found it and plan to spend some time tonight exploring, but thought you might like it also. ]
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
[A Chinese comic strip with Walt Disney figures, printed in Shanghai c. 1947.
Tang Laoya (Donald Duck) and Mi Laoshu (Mickey Mouse) are selling the newspaper Zhengqi ribao (Latest events of today).
From the Oriental Collection at The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A redrawn strip from the Mickey Mouse daily strip serial “Editor-in-Grief” (1935) by Floyd Gottfredson.]
Monday, February 08, 2010
Help needed about Dumbo!
Michael Barrier mentions the following in his essay:
[A footnote: Syracuse University, Helen Aberson Mayer's alma mater, holds the papers of Helen R. Durney, whose "biographical history" on the university library's Web site includes the following: "Artist and illustrator Helen Durney (?-1970) is best known for her illustrations of Harold and Helen (Aberson) Pearl's story 'Dumbo the Flying Elephant.' Sold to the Walt Disney Corporation in 1939, the story was first published by the Roll-A-Book Company of Syracuse, New York." Here's a description of the Durney collection:
Spanning 1934 to 1942, the Helen R. Durney Papers comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the American illustrator. Correspondence consists of miscellaneous correspondence from 1939. Artwork contains Dumbo material as well as sketches for other projects including the Percy Hughes School murals. Writings contains articles, a list of illustrations and promotional ideas for "Dumbo," copies of Durney's column for Design Magazine, and a transcript of her radio program over station WFBL of Syracuse. Memorabilia contains galley proofs for two "Dumbo" books, including the original Roll-a-Book version, and one published copy of "Walt Disney's Dumbo of the Circus," along with articles, clippings, an exhibit catalog, and some artwork by others.
I'm not aware that anyone has examined that material, at least not to report on it through the Web or a printed source, and I know from long experience that such collections can often be very disappointing. I would bet that the galley proofs and such are from the 1941 edition, rather than the original 1939 Roll-A-Book. But still.... ]
Do any of you live close to Syracuse? Would you be willing to try and visit Syracus University to get to the bottom of this?
[Some work had been done on [the story before Joe Grant and I took over]. Otto Englander may have done some work on it, and Webb Smith. They had done some preliminary work on it based on [...] the basic plot. And then Joe and I took it, and added things like the drunken elephant stuff, the pink elephant sequence, and the crows. We took it and we filled up the segments.]
(Thanks to Dan Caylor for the transcription)
Do not miss today:
- Disney Legend Walt Peregoy Exhibition is now open at the Chocolate Bar, Encino, California by Alain Littaye
- JUST WHO IS GRISHAM'S DAIRY ... Teaser by Paul F. Anderson
- FUN FOTO-The "Unbelievable" According To Walt by Paul F. Anderson
Friday, February 05, 2010
Speaking of Dumbo, I just heard yesterday that the DVD and Blu-Ray of Dumbo that were supposed to be released this month have been postponed to February 2011. For various reasons, this is for me a major disapointment. Oh well, we shall wait...
Thursday, February 04, 2010
- WALT'S PEOPLE-Disneyland's "Trail of Tears" by Paul F. Anderson
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 1 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 2 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 3 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 4 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 5 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 6 by Dave de Caro
- The Nixon Family & Disneyland, Pt. 7 by Dave de Caro
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
- FIRST DISNEY COVER IN TURKEY AND OTHER DISNEY COVERS OF AFACAN (2ND SERIES) by Kaya Özkaracalar
- PHILOSOPHY OF WALT "What Is The Cost Of An Idea?" by Paul F. Anderson
- The Princess And The Frog’s Supervising Animator Mark Henn – Part 4: Americana by Jérémie Noyer