Sunday, June 10, 2007

Disney Toony Animation

To continue the ongoing story of the week's studio walk-throughs:

What's termed "Disney Sonora" is a large building sitting near what was once Glendale's Grand Central Airport (seen above in its glory days) and is now a large industrial park owned by Disney and -- off by the cement channel known as the L.A. River -- DreamWorks Animation.

The "Sonora Building" is two stories, housing Disney Television Animation downstairs and Disney Toons Studios upstairs. Disney Television Animation produces half-hour series and reports to the Disney Channel hierarchy (it once was under Disney Feature Animation); Disney Toons Studios reports to the main studio lot in Burbank. In the last few months, John Lasseter has become involved in Diz Toons product.

Both first and second floors have been refurbished over the last couple of years. Downstairs, the DTVA crews work in traditional-looking gray cubicles with walls six and a half feet high. A year and a half ago, the downstairs was jack-hammered into its present splendor, with complaints of dust and noise from the Toon residents on the second floor.

A few months back, the upstairs got a make-over with new carpeting, new cubicles, and a large, spanking fresh open area with fifties-retro hanging lights similar to Disney Features, and new cubicles with deviders that look like starched white linen.

Most of the staff hates the new cubicles. "Too small"..."not enough work space"..."low dividers with people looking in at me all the time"...

On the bright side, when you're just walking through and around the new cubes as I do, the overall set-up looks kind of snazzy, like Civil War tents. It just doesn't have much practicality attached to the snazziness.

But the artists soldier on. The Tinkerbell and Fairies crews have now moved over from the Frank Wells Building on the Burbank lot, and are settling in. The fresh pass on Tinkerbell is now up on reels, and Lasseter is alegedly happy with the new story arc. The sequels beyond it are beginning to take on form and substance.

Enjoy the balance of the weekend.


Pooper Scooper said...

Does this mean Lasseter is going to be involved in the ongoing animated series? Could he start making sure the quaity of stories they make will be better?

I used to love watching Disney Afternoon with Ducktales and Talespin which were fun and decent quality. I don't really care for American Dragon or things like Kim Possible. Nothing against the animation, mind you. Just the stories don't seem to interest me.

From all we hear about Lasseter improving the way feature animation is going, I hope he can place an emphasis on story in the Disney Toon's projects as well.

s.r. hulett said...

Frm what I'm told, John L. is involved with Disney Toon Studios but not Disney TVA.

If this will be the deal in the future, I've no idea.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how much influence is John having over Disney Toons?

Anonymous said...

some, but the wicked witch of the west is still there. with that said, things will be better with the big j but don't hold your breath. he has his hands full with many aspect of the co. until the witch is gone, they will continue to have story problem, creative crap comin out, and people annoyed by the way the devision is ran.

Dan said...

It's kind of obvious, but if Pooper Scooper remembers watching Duck Tales, he (or she? Would a she go by that tag?) is way out of the demographic that the Disney Channel aims toward. Unlike features that try to capture the elusive "four quadrants," a Disney Channel show is aimed at, realistically a half a quadrant. I'm guessing Pooper Scooper ain't in it.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how much influence is John having over Disney Toons?

Impact on story development (the emeryville brain trust is involved). The animation on Tinkerbell will be done by Prana in India. Just like a large chunk of the last version of the picture was.

It would be interesting if the discarded animation surfaces on a deluxe disk sometime in the future. Disney paid for it, they might as well get some use out of it.

Anonymous said...

Who exactly is the wicked witch? Sorry, but I haven't kept up with Disney politics and don't know who runs Disney Toons now.

Moritmer McScrooge said...

I had the opportunity to work for DisneyToons a couple years ago and turned it down. I was having second thoughts when I heard about John's involvement, but if there's a lot of turf battles going on, I don't really want to be in the middle of it. Maybe I was lucky I turned down the job. I wonder if John will win out or not?

Anonymous said...

I too had a Directing opportunity at Disney Toons but passed it up for personal reasons. perhaps this division will find a new identity and employ happy artist again.

Anonymous said...

As for any "witches":don't worry. If you have to work there you'll know the first day.
As for Emeryville having story input-that's excellent!

What would be even better is if the hard-working story crews on Sonora had any input as they do on features.
In the former days it's been done exactly to the script and the directors by and large were not generous with the idea-sharing.
Some were, but again, the VP(see above) had ultimate sway, often bringing in large groups of non-animation jr execs from the development clicque to weigh in on stories while the crew intimately involved with day to day production had to sit by and listen-JUST listen, not contribute so much as a peep. That's a surefire way to get a less than great result.
Lassiter being involved in any way is a gargantuan step forward.

Pooper Scooper said...

Hopefully, Lasseter reads this blog and it'll help him know who to put pressure on. Or who to get Iger to fire.

BTW, I'm a guy. I remember someone wondering that. As far as animation, I just like stories with, well STORY. Go figure, I'm not the type that would like POKEMON and such. I actually have an attention span and want intellegent stories. Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Is there any hope that Lasseter will be able to get a orginational change at Disney Toons like the one that happened over at Imagineering?

Anonymous said...

dtva is the biggest joke in the industry.

Anonymous said...

"Biggest" joke? In the entire INDUSTRY? Far from it.
I'm really tired of the excellent artists on those dtvs getting not only no respect by extension based on the feelings about those videos.

They're openly dissed everywhere--especially by fellow artists who really ought to have more of a clue. The fact is that working on those video movies are just as demanding as working on a feature, artistically. There's this (wrong) assumption that the folks there are there because 'they just aren't as good as feature people". Well, there are people now in features at Pixar, DFA, Dreamworks and Sony who have toiled on the dtv's at Disney--and they managed to get those feature jobs in spite of the handicap of a long seated aversion to the dtv's. What does that tell you?
And not just storyboard artists but the art directors and layout people are frequently feature calibre guys who've gone back and forth. Also a number of big names, like Deja and others. Just please don't have a knee-jerk reaction to the entire shebang based on a hatred for sequels.

The artists are as smart as everyone else, but they do a fantastic job with what they get to work with and hate as much as anyone the exec interference, poor writing and overseas execution that undermines their work, too.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the new shorts that Disney is producing will introduce new characters or use the classic ones. I mean, I know Goofy is in the first one to come out, but what about after it? New characters or Micky and Donald?

Anonymous said...

who cares?

I refuse to learn Tamil in order to get work in the animation industry.

Truck drivers are making as much money these days.....


Anonymous said...

What does that have to do with asking if classic characters are going to be in the new shorts Rufus?

These shorts are made here, on the studio lot in Burbank and no one will have to learn Tamil or any other language.

Calm down and wait to see what happens before you scream the sky is falling.

Zach Baker said...

Bit of trivia: the Sonora building can also be seen posing as a bus station in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

Anonymous said...

Ding Dong the wicked witch is dead.

Announced her departure today.

Anonymous said...

Here's the story :

Sharon Morrill Fired

Anonymous said...

But the story on Jim Hill says:

"As for Ms. Morrill ... According to a company spokesperson that I exchanged e-mails with late yesterday, Sharon will " ... take on new duties at The Walt Disney Studios."

HUH !? Do any of these people ever actually lose their job ? (as in really, truly gone, fired, "laid-off" pemanently) Or does that only happen to the creative staff ?

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