Friday, August 01, 2008

Back in Harness at Disney

(If you look carefully through those windows to the right of the hat, you can see all the cube and furniture changes made for "P&F")

Back from San Diego, and back in the studios. This afternoon I roamed through the Walt hat building, where one end of the second floor has been reconfigured for production on The Princess and the Frog ...

The Princess's directing animators are now all in offices, and a large part of production staff sits in new cubicles in a large open area outside those offices. It's the first big change in the layout of animation cubes since the Eisner Animation building went up, and the folks working inside them -- production support, assistants, non-lead animators -- appear glad to be there.

"I've been back a month now and it's great. This time I'm staying" ... "I've been lucky these last two years. Went from the Simpsons feature to another Disney TVA and then an outside project. Now I'm on this and I've only not worked two days" ...

One of the directing animators said that a quarter of the picture is animated and he thinks that "The first act really works. If we can get Acts II and III up to the same level then we've got a gang-buster movie."

Meanwhile, up in the third-floor story department, two wise old story artists with decades of story development work between them, opined "Uh, there's still work that needs to be done. We know where the problems are."

Come 2009, we'll know how successful the story artists and animators have been ...

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Note to wise old story artists: you reallllllly need to do something about that firefly. And the trailer? The joke's old and not that funny. But happily, the Princess is stunning. The idea of setting the plot in New Orleans is golden. And I'm so glad you're taking a chance with classic 2D animation. I wish you the very best of luck with your new 2D movie.

Anonymous said...

I wish the frog looked like a frog.

Anonymous said...

quote: I wish the frog looked like a frog.

Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Yes, whatever .

let's play this game:

"I wish Mickey Mouse looked like a mouse ."

"I wish Donald Duck looked like a duck."

see how fun this game is ?

The True Anonymous, accept no imitations said...

Anonymous here again (I'm the real, true Anonymous , not those cheap imitators) :

by they way, I think the Frog design looks great . Princess . too.

Is the firefly going to be this movie's "Sebastian" ? Maybe so . I don't hate the firefly design from the first look in the trailer , but I don't love it either ... I think it will all depend on how his character is developed . Audiences don't fall in love with "Designs" ; they fall in love with the real characters represented by those designs. If the character rings true and is entertaining then no one cares that the firefly doesn't look like a "real firefly" or the frog doesn't look like "a real frog" . Real isn't about how they look, it's how they act.

Anonymous said...

"I've been back a month now and it's great. This time I'm staying"

What does this even mean? If wanting to stay was all it took, don't you think most of the layoffs never would have happened?

I hope he's right, but the statement seems a bit naive.

Anonymous said...

Yeah--the "frog" looks like no research was done. It doesn't look like a caricature of a frog, but a leftover from a bad student film. No sense of style or character-just plain bland.

Yougottabekiddingme said...

If you don't like the frog or firefly you're gonna hate the Gator that likes to play jazz.

Me? I LOVE it. I can't wait to see this. I only hope that this leads Disney to go back to being a 2D animation house and leave the 3D to Pixar.

Disney Animator said...

>>I only hope that this leads Disney to go back to being a 2D animation house and leave the 3D to Pixar.<<

Wait until you see Bolt before you make dumb statements like that. I think animated films should be made with whatever technique fits it the best. Hating CG on principle, or loving 2D on principle is short-sighted, juvenile, and old news.

Steve Hulett said...

the statement seems a bit naive.

I took it as tongue-in-cheek bravado.

A joke, if you will.

Anonymous said...

Hating CG on principle, or loving 2D on principle is short-sighted, juvenile, and old news.

Yeah, I really agree with us. I would be very disappointed if Disney gave up making CG films.

Anonymous said...

the fact of the matter is that CGI animation hasn't advanced AT ALL since "Toy Story".

Sure the effects are dazzling. You can masturbate to the realistic hair in "Monsters Inc" or drool over the water in "Finding Nemo" and "Wall E" has some wonderfull lighting....

But the animation is at the same level that it was for Toy Story. Its been 13 years and there hasn't been anything new there. In fact, watching any clip from one of the Shrek movies and comparing it with the short snippet from that new 2D Disney feature and its clear that the latter blows away the former in movement and expresssion.

I work with Maya and STILL the computer can't give you real freedom to manipulate a character. Its a big puppet show - and it still looks it.

If we saw more 2D we'd see better animation. I know that statement lands with a dull thud on the ears of many employed CGI artists, but they can always think of it as a challenge rather than a condemnation

Anonymous said...

Uh huh. If you can watch Ratatouille, and still have that opinion, then I can safely conclude that your opinion is not worth listening to.

The graphic shapes and beautiful acting they were able to achieve in both Incredibles and Ratatouille are lightyears away from Toy Story. Kung Fu Panda showed that CG is now entirely capable of getting marvelous shape change and pliancy, if not quite at the level of 2D, getting very close.

Herald the return of traditional--it's what we've all wanted. But you needn't do it at the expense of CG, which just makes you look foolish.

Floyd Norman said...

I'm aware that some might take offense at this thought, but none is intended.

Sure, it's been a "Puppet Show," and a damn good one. CGI animated films have truly matured over the past ten or so years, and, I offer kudos to the many talented CG animators out there. However, I'm ready to see the work of guys and gals who draw. That's right, I said it. artists who put pencil to paper. That's what attracted to me to this business in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, because I love technology. I've got a house full of computers to prove it. But, the old Disney guys always talked about drawing first. Not just animation -- but drawing. And, for me, that's the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

"comparing it with the short snippet from that new 2D Disney feature and its clear that the latter blows away the former in movement and expresssion."

That's just silly. I love good animation as much as the next person, but I'd rather have a great story and CHARACTERS than really well produced 2D animation alone.

Apparently audiences agree. They don't care about so-called "great animation." They want a great story. And a lot of CG films provided that. And as far as the animation goes, there's better acting in a film like "Toy Story," "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo" than most traditionally animated films of late. The difference is they have stories and characters audiences CARE about.

Animation for animation's sake is backwards.

blithering idiot said...

For me, the bottom line is a great story, told in a wonderfully entertaining way, with artistry. 20 years ago, I would've told you that wasn't possible with computers. Today, there is no reason why either 2D or 3D can't do this. We've seen it. It's been done. And things are only going to get better.

2D is coming back. 3D is healthy. This is an awesome time to be in the feature animation business, mainly because we're going to be seeing the best of both worlds in the years ahead, with employment for a lot of talented people.

I'm just hoping wages rise. Now that might be a little too much to hope for...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this will return Disney to what it use to do best. Traditional animated films and a real joy to see such expressive animation again and such creativity in watching the art form come to life.

I do like most of the Pixar films and they are by far the least like watching a photorealistic puppet show but I would love to see the hat building focus on the original art form and tell great stories. If there's a CG story there just send it and the crew up to Pixar to execute. They paid good money in order to do that.

Sheriff Buzz said...

Hey Floyd,

I heard you saw some of Princess the other day. Give us an idea of what to expect. Is Lasseter on the right track? How do the artist feel? And lastly, will you be working for them again?

Spill the beans, Mr. Norman! Hehe.

Failed Lady Animator said...

I am so glad there's new 2D coming out eventually but can't say I am that excited about another "princess" theme film. Is it a return the grand tradition of the "Disney Princesses" or is it something more cynical? (i.e. is the Disney princess franchise the strongest so they naturally want to capitalize on it?)

"The first act really works" - that statement doesn't bode well. Is it referring just to the quality of the animation? I'm not sure what this statement means, i.e. that the production quality might go down for acts 2 and 3?

Or more worrying - is it a reference to the story? You should already know before you start animating anything if the story is any good.

Moreover you'd think with the amount of work that goes into a 2D animated feature it wouldn't be in anyone's interest to put money and effort into a lousy story. Well - in theory anyway.

Time will tell when we actually get to see the film. Anyway it's always good when animators are employed.

Kevin Geiger said...

> I work with Maya and STILL the
> computer can't give you real
> freedom to manipulate a character.
> Its a big puppet show - and it
> still looks it.

Dear Anonymous,

The computer allows you to place points in 3D space wherever you like. It also allows you to make pixels whatever color you like. You can have as many points and pixels as you like, and are provided with an array of high-level tools to assist your manual labor.

In short, you have complete freedom. The only limitations you face are your own as an artist, or those of your schedule.

Anonymous said...

"In short, you have complete freedom"

No- in short, you don't. Body parts shrink and swell and stretch and shorten. Maya does not allow this kind of manipulation with ANY sort of ease.

Good god, go watch Shrek, or the humans in Wall-E, or any CGI film with the sound off. The weight ISN'T there. Effects wise its superior to anything ever put on film. Animation wise it is consummately inferior to the movement achieved with 2D.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Shrek isn't the best example. I disagree that CG animation is inferior. They both have their advantages. And I think CG has advantages in subtle acting nuances that traditional will never have.

On the other hand, you obviously have more control as an animator in 2D. But if a character built in Maya or other packages is rigged with the controls, you can do an awful lot. Maybe what you need is a better rigger.

Voice of Reason said...

>>Good god, go watch Shrek, or the humans in Wall-E, or any CGI film with the sound off. The weight ISN'T there.<<

Watch Horton Hears a Who and tell me you cant shrink or stretch the model to get the desired effect, and that the weight "isnt there"

Jeez, whatever.

Anonymous said...

Steve Hulett said...

the statement seems a bit naive.

I took it as tongue-in-cheek bravado.

A joke, if you will.
----------------------------

I expected more out of you Steve...maybe I shouldnt. I know the person who made that comment, and they are neither naive, nor acting out of bravado. They were just pointing out that other people shouldnt make blanket statements about the direction Disney and Pixar should take, especially since good CG films are being made at Disney now.

But as the moderator of this website, you should not so quickly discredit the opinions of the animators your organization claims to support.

Steve Hulett said...

I expected more out of you Steve...maybe I shouldnt. I know the person who made that comment ...

Sigh. I seem to disappoint so many.

But if it helps at all, whoever you are, I have no idea what you're talking about.

But I'm thrilled you quizzed the fifty people I talked to that particular day at DAS and pinned down who said what I took to be a joke.

Good for you.

Art Tifact said...

Oh, grow a pair anonymous. He didn't say anything harsh or hurtful. If you're so easily bruised from such a light comment may I suggest wearing a padded suit and turning off Oprah.

Sheesh. Some people are so thin skinned.

Disney Animator said...

I'm talking about the comment you made, right here in the comment thread, right here on your website.

It may come off as thin-skinned, and if that's the case, then so be it. But we here at Disney CG department are constantly the butt of so many jokes, being told how inferior we are, and constantly having to live up to other studios, that it takes a toll to the ego sometimes. And when people make blanket, rude statements about a department they know nothing about, and how we should "send the good ideas to Pixar so they should make it" and imply that Disney should be an only 2D studio again, it feels crappy.

So go ahead and sit out there and take your cyber pot-shots at us. I guess we should just bend over and take it, because after all, we're Disney. But when I said "wait to see Bolt before you make dumb statements like that," what I meant to say is "we are proud of Bolt, and we are going to prove just how legitimate we are." That would have been more tactful, I admit. But it's hard to be polite when you feel like you're constantly being punched in the face for doing your best.

Anonymous said...

to quote Arty Lange... "whaaaahhhh"

Anonymous said...

Dear current Disney CG guy. Don't fret. Its a cyclical business and always will be. Just do your best and it will hopefully be appreciated wherever you go. Whether you stay at Disney's for longer or join a new team on another show. I worked for the mouse house for a dozen years and still do as a contractor. Believe me there is a big animation world out there beyond southside.

Steve Hulett said...

I'm talking about the comment you made, right here in the comment thread, right here on your website.

It may come off as thin-skinned, and if that's the case, then so be it. But we here at Disney CG department are constantly the butt of so many jokes, being told how inferior we are


Okay, I'll admit it. I really don't know what the hell you're talking about.

If you're referring to moi, please specifically cite the nasty, hurtful thing I said. Because I'm at a loss.

Like, the actual quote. Then we could start getting somewhere.

Kevin said...

I just want to point out that the anonymous Disney animator who was offended by Steve Hulett's comment has made a basic misunderstanding.

Steve never said he thought the quote, or the person he was quoting, was naive. That was another poster's response (I believe number 6 in this thread), which Steve quoted in bold and then shrugged off. Reread the original post please.

In the original post Steve quoted a Disney animator making what Steve took as a playful comment. He then explained exactly that in the comments.

There was absolutely nothing in either Steve's post or his follow-up comment that indicated the slightest "discrediting of the opinions of animators" going on. Relax, he's on your side. ;)

Kevin said...

Just saw Steve's comment. Guess we were writing at the same time. Hope it's all clear now.

Anonymous said...

Yup. I totally missed that was a quote from another comment. (maybe quotation marks would help?)

Well, I'm glad that's explained. I truly thought Steve was defending the "Pixar should take over the 3D development, and Disney should stick to 2D" aspect of the argument, and I was quite surprised, especially after the relatively positive comments in the past about the Bolt/Rapunzel progress.

My apologies for fanning a non-existant flame. (except for the rest of you who REALLY think that *wink*)

Kevin Geiger said...

> Body parts shrink and swell and
> stretch and shorten. Maya does not
> allow this kind of manipulation
> with ANY sort of ease.

It does if you know what you're doing.

Who am I debating with, anyway?

Anonymous said...

So Pixar's animators don't know what they're doing? Watch the humans in Wall-E and then tell me that they aren't stagnant, sluggish, stiff.

Maybe you don't know what you're looking at. Most CGI animators can't draw anyway, so why debate it with you.

Kevin Geiger said...

I know what I'm looking at. I just don't know who I'm talking to. An ignorant noob, from the sound of it. Most CGI animators CAN draw, knucklehead!

Why don't you put your name up with your words? Dogs always bark more when they're behind a fence.

Kevin Geiger

Anonymous said...

Watch the new trailer for 'Monsters and Aliens', then watch the 'Iron Giant'. Both have the exact same shots of army platoons reacting to an invasion.

If you can't see that the 2D animation has more weight, more rhythm, better timing and better movement, then you don't know what you're looking at.

Anonymous said...

We can both play this game. Go watch Horton Hears a Who and tell me there's no weight, no rhythm, and no "snap." Those people who animated on that were GENIUSES.

Go back to cartoon brew.

Anonymous said...

I've kept out of this conversation until now. Geiger draws me back in every time with his holierthanthou attitude. I guess if we wish to remain anonymous, we can't have an opinion? Who gives a shiite if you know our names or not? Go back to China.

Kevin Geiger said...

Oh boy! Another brave "anonymous" person with an opinion.

You're right, you CAN'T have an opinion if you wish to remain anonymous. It's a contradiction in terms, and it's cowardly. Have the courage of your convictions, and put your name to your words. Or STF up.

If speaking from experience in response to ignorant comments by anonymous posters makes me "holier-than-thou", then so be it. At least I have a spine. You should grow one.

Moon Seun said...

Is that better now? WTF, I could make up any name and it wouldn't matter. It is a contradiction only in your mind. Get over yourself.

Kevin Geiger said...

Dear Anonymous,

What you have just done is absolutely pathetic and appalling. Where is your decency?

You had better STAY anonymous, pal!

Kevin Geiger said...

One final thought:

The history of anonymous expression is not a noble one.

If you have something to say, put your name to it. Don't live like a worm.

KG

Anonymous said...

This is great news! No one should be anonymous and express an opinion. That makes everything more fair.
Therefore if employees at a nonunion studio want to fill out union representation cards because they have an opinion that they'd like to be treated differently, they should not be anonymous. That's not being courageous. Please note this, people don't need this law.
It's also great that if someone posts an opinion here anonymously....demanding the person name themselves is not an implied threat of any kind.
Former Cg Supervisors, studio management, and department leads always hire solely on the artist's talent, not on opinions they may have stated on blogs or in company meetings.
I'm glad I learned we're above all that.
Love to All
Anonymous #4

Kevin Geiger said...

Throughout my career, I have always expressed my opinions in a forthright manner, with my name and face visible. Whether posting on a bulletin board topic, or standing up in front of an executive at a town hall meeting.

Steve Hulett can attest to my directness on behalf of others as a Disney shop steward for more than 11 years. When I helped to organize the Disney TDs as union members in 1996, I was right out there in front. Wayne Metcalf even called me on the carpet and read one of my emails to me.

It all comes down to how you want to live your life, and what it takes for you to be able to look yourself in the mirror each morning.

When people post anonymously, they tend to express themselves little more irresponsibly than they would if their name and face were on the line. For example, "anonymous" would have never dared to use my wife's name like that, if his identity were public. I'm just astonished at that. Nicely done.

KG

Jacob said...

Dude. To the guy who used Kevin's wife's name...

You're low man, really low. You want to talk about bad karma? There you go.

PS. CGI animators CAN draw, thank you very much.

PPS. You're never *really* anonymous. Your IP is recorded every place you visit, so I'm sure the owners of this website know exactly who you are.

Anonymous said...

Actually Jacob.

The people running this blog don't have access to the IP. Only Blogspot has that information. In order to get it, someone has to break the law. That hasn't happened. Yet! :)

Anonymous said...

Kevin- Obviously you like to use your name. However, at the same time, do you really think that people that wish to be anonymous shouldn't have an opinion? What about the people at Disney that had a complaint about management (or whatever the case may be) and didn't want them to know their name. Did you invalidate their concerns because they wanted to be anonymous?

Just curious.


Sincerely,

Anonymous #1001

Kevin Geiger said...

Opinions backed by names have weight.
Anonymous opinions are just background noise.

When people see someone state their opinions in the full light of day, it encourages others to do the same - perhaps, in the process - effecting real change in this world.

What if Norma Rae were "anonymous"? Who would everyone have been inspired to follow out of the factory?

I'm going to bow out of this thread now. It's ridiculous to debate with a faceless bunch of "anonymii".

KG

Anonymous said...

Well backing out is your right. But I really disagree with you here and I have a feeling I'm not alone. If opinions or thoughts were ignored because of they came from an anonymous source, this world would be in a much worse state than it is already.

Moon Seun said...

Would the anonymous individual who posted under my name 10 entries up please have the decency to identify yourself and apologize?

I find this incredible!

Moon Seun

Disney Guy said...

Not only is Kevin the best CG Superviser Disney ever had, but he also gave his time to others, and spoke up on issue when no one else would.

He has my total respect. You guys should lay off.

China said...

Yes. Thanks Kevin. We appreciate all you're doing!

John Q. said...

Man, there's some nasty SOB's out there!

Steve Hulett said...

See? This is what I get for not moderating comments. But there are only so many hours in the day.

Sorry about all this, Kevin. Maybe I can take you and the Mrs. to lunch at your convenience. Just let me know ...

Kevin Geiger said...

No worries, Steve.

KG

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