Monday, February 01, 2010

Through the Hat

Walt Disney Animation Studio employees, July 2009.

Most of my morning was spent at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where Rapunzel (still its name) is shifting into higher gears.

"We've got lots of inventory now. In a month and a half, we'll be doing sixty hours per week, but it hasn't gotten crazy yet."

Everybody expects it to get crazy. The schedule is not long and the production is not simple ...

But everybody seems up to it. (When I ask people how morale is, they smile and say: "It is what it is.")

164 comments:

Anonymous said...

Morale is ... careful. We got an e-mail asking for suggestions to make the studio better. Not many people I know plan to answer it.

Nobody wants to say something that could get them in trouble.

Anonymous said...

what email?

Anonymous said...

Know what, I think THATS the problem. Everyone is all timid and shy and scared to get in trouble.

A whole lot of good that does us when we just end up getting laid off anyway. I say we speak our minds!!!

Anyway, my morale is up, but Im sure Im in the minority. I really like Rapunzel. I wish everyone would get psyched about it. Unless we really pour it on, its not going to get done. What we need is a pep talk and some type of assurances that the company is going to stand by this film, not bend to marketing's every dumbass whim. And what are the layoff plans after this movie?

Anyway, we're supposed to know the new title of Rapunzel soon. Theres a chance it could stay Rapunzel, but a very slight chance.

yahweh said...

They're looking for stuff like "more yougurt at lunch" and "more 'atta boys' from John" not "stop with the fairy tales" and "treat the employees with respect and not fire them between pictures".

This is definitely where anonymous signatures would come in handy...

Anonymous said...

I always thought at the very least they could offer extra vacation time based on the amount of overtime a person works on these grueling films.
But of course, that's putting $$$ where their mouth is. They'd rather put on the facade of improving morale with a few lame "happy hours" and cheap snacks a few times a week.
Is it written in "Management 101" that food is the only way to improve morale?

Anonymous said...

I just want to see them stick by their lip service that they are trying to build/maintain an animation team, not burn and turn like it was on Robinsons, Bolt, and PATF.

Right now the team is learning and growing and leveling up because of the supervision and leadership on this film. Too bad everyone's probably going to take all their new skills back to Dreamworks, Pixar, Sony, and Blue Sky.

Anonymous said...

Do all of you see the company a bit clearer now?

You're just starting to notice the pattern of how they USE the artists and lay them off when they finish making millions of dollars off of them?

You folks just keep going back for more and more abuse from that joint??

Those crazy crash and burn schedules are a combination of the company suffering from politics and spending less money on the crew by "making" them hurry up and get out!!

All in the name of PROFITS!!!

Not art.

Any "pep" talks are just a smoke screen to keep the artists "happy".

Anonymous said...

You know, the Company and I settle up every week on payday.

Neither "owes" the other anything after that.

HA! I'd love to see what millions of dollars Disney's made off of me. Seems to me, each movie I work on winds up deeper in the hole.

And yet, everyone who greenlit these masterpieces seems to live in a much bigger house than I do!

In other news, morale sucks at the big D. Time to dust off that reel.

Anonymous said...

So, for those of you who ARE at Disney, what would you actually LIKE to say in response to that email? Because I mean, it seems to me that they're offering up an opportunity for suggestions, and no one is taking it. How on earth are things supposed to get better? So, what would you say if you weren't scared to say it?

Floyd Norman said...

They can always ask me.

If they've got an hour or two.

Anonymous said...

So what's wrong over there at Disney? Is it basically just that nobody cares because they know that they're going to be laid off anyways? The movies suffer because there isn't enough time to make them good? What's the biggest difference between Disney and all the other studios where all the rest of us work?

On a side note, as a Disney man at heart, I wish we could rewind 15 years so Disney could continue doing it right this time.

Known Bandit said...

You mean you haven't mentioned anything to Lasseter lately, Floyd?

Don't tell me you're silent too?

I think he'd value what you had to say.

Hmmmmm?

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, I'm an animation student and I was hoping I could pipe in. I don't want to come off as some annoying animation fanboy, so if someone who isn't a member of TAG posting on here just an annoyance, then sorry about that, and I'll just quietly leave :)

So Disney is what has fueled my love for animation throughout my life, and I have always kind of hoped to, in a perfect world, study animation and end up working there one day. I'm in my second year of college now, and so I'll be making some actual career decisions in the next few years, and I've just been trying to take in as much info about the industry as I can. I haven't personally been able to meet anyone who works for Disney, so all I can find out about it is what I read online. And half of that is either Disney fanboys who bow to anything with Mickey on it or really negative guys who seem to just hate on Disney for no reason.

So I was just hoping maybe someone could enlighten me. I know the basics of things, but I guess I just don't really understand why Disney seems to be the studio with the most hardships right now. Why exactly is morale bad? Is it stupid for someone graduating college to be aiming for Disney?

Again, if I'm just an annoyance here, I understand. I just ran across this blog doing some research and thought this might be a good place to ask some advice from professionals in the industry.

Thanks!

Disney Employee said...

What an annoyance! Begone with you!


Seriously, the truth is that there is a long, long tradition of grumbling about working at Disney, some of which is tongue-in-cheek curmugeon-ness, and some of which is based in the studio's tightfistedness. Long before I worked here, I remember reading articles in the 80's about animator grumblings. It's just part of the "character" of the studio.

The crew at Disney is a very talented crew. The movies we work on vary--some are better than others. Production schedules have gotten shorter, so there is pressure to do work faster. But there is still a tremendous emphasis on quality--certainly there is in my department. And everyone I work with takes pride in doing a top-quality job. Of course, that only increases the pressure--you don't want to show anything to your peers that isn't your very best stuff.

Currently, Disney has a very active training program, bringing in summer interns who are still in college, and for those who have just graduated, there is the apprentice program. Many apprentices get hired full-time after a while, so it is a very worthwhile path. Yes, Disney IS a good place to aim for, because there are a number of projects on the docket, and good opportunities to get in. Maybe a little easier to get in than some of the other big studios.

On the downside, there have been fairly substantial layoffs at the end of each project recently. This is due to a domino-effect: the Story department takes too long to get the story in good shape (for many reasons, many of them not their fault), which means all the other "downstream" departments now have a shorter time to do their work. So they must hire additional people to get it all done in a very compressed time. When the work is finished, all those "extra" people must now be layed off. This is a very unfortunate and bad way to run things, and we're all hoping future movies don't have these story problems in the first place. We'll see.

Another downside is pay. Disney is a union studio, so you do at least get union minimum, which isn't bad. But Disney is pretty notorious about being stingy about pay increases after that. What you negotiate BEFORE starting to work is what sets the tone for the rest of your service here. Don't expect any big pay raises after you've started. The head Human Resources lady here is a total dragonlady.

Disney hasn't had a huge hit in quite a few years, while Pixar, Dreamworks and BlueSky have all done very well. Obviously morale has taken a hit, because we genuinely thought Bolt would be much more successful, and same with PatF. When the movies you work on for months/years aren't successful, people get antsy and disappointed. But we are continuing to make movies, and Rapunzel is now looking good, so I, at least, am hopeful. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Because I mean, it seems to me that they're offering up an opportunity for suggestions, and no one is taking it. How on earth are things supposed to get better?

We've learned to keep our mouths shut. When JL and EC came in, there were lots of meetings with the animation crew. We noticed that people who spoke up at those supposedly 'safe' meetings tended to disappear not long after.

Keeping your mouth shut is no guarantee of staying, but offering suggestions for improvement has so far been a good way to put yourself in the crosshairs.

robster16 said...

Why would anyone think of renaming the movie "Rapunzel" to someone else? Because they are afraid the title would suggest it to be a film targeted at girls?

Why not stick to the recognizability of the name of the character. I mean, it IS a fairytale movie, why not stick to it and go for that. It worked with "The Little Mermaid" and "The Beauty and the Beast" then why would "Rapunzel" be any different. I don't get why marketing people are always so jumpy and paranoid! Stand by your product and don't go for cheap marketing tactics to try and trick your audience, THAT is something they simply won't buy.

I seriously hope they won't go for a title I've been hearing along the lines of "The Hidden Tower" or something like that. Which would be awfull! They have been making Rapunzel and whatever they end up calling it, It'll always be Rapunzel in my book. Hell, I'll just make my own posters, book and dvd covers!!!

Anonymous said...

We're with you robster. As a whole, we all love the title Rapunzel, and think its the dumbest decision ever to change it, but the big wigs in marketing have made JL and EC nervous about it and there's not much else we can do.

I agree with Disney Employee, in everything he/she said. I wish we were paid more and had more time to get Rapunzel done, because it deserves it. I think we can do it though. I mean, we have to, right?

Anonymous said...

"The head Human Resources lady here is a total dragonlady."

Do you mind sharing who the HR contact at Disney is? Can anyone tell me? My attempts at contacting TAG about this have gone unanswered.

Justin said...

I also agree with Disney Employee. It's the combination of the fact that Disney hasn't had a hit movie in almost a decade, schedules are short because the story is taking longer than planned which also results in large amounts of hirings and then firings, and the financial pressure to keep salaries down due to the lack of success at the Box Office.

If Disney had a solid slate of movies in development that could ramp up as soon as the current movie ramped down then there wouldn't be as much hiring and firing, there would be less overtime resulting in lower budget movies which would ease the pressure to perform well at the Box Office and ease stress among the crew. The crew would have something they could look forward to working on as they rolled off the current movie instead of staring at months of wasted down time.

Anonymous said...

I have a modest proposal. Change the name of the film back to "Rapunzel Unbraided!"

(It seems like this studio hasn't changed in the least bit...)

Anonymous said...

In the 1st animation meeting with John Lassiter where they closed the doors and asked us to speak freely. As animators, what was wrong with the studio, how things could be better ?

Hearing that John was for the artists, him being one himself, one animator spoke up and told him that the company is using fear as a motivator. The crew is constantly worried about being laid off instead of spending their time being creative in a positive way.

His response was , and whats wrong with that ? He did laugh, as did others, but it did get very quiet.
The animator who asked the question was the first animator to be told that he was to be laid off { along with 170+ other artists in march 07 }

They don't want our suggestions. They only want to know who will keep quiet.
And still being in the building today, it hasn't changed.

God said...

"And half of that is either Disney fanboys who bow to anything with Mickey on it or really negative guys who seem to just hate on Disney for no reason."

No, it's not for no reason.

It's missmanagement, and the state of lack of job security.

However, there is life after Disney. And in my experience, it's better.

God

Floyd Norman said...

Known Bandit said, "You haven't mention anything to Lasseter?"

It's not my job to tell someone how to do theirs. I don't run the studio, they do. If they want my advice, they know where to find me. However, I doubt if anything I had to say would make a difference.

Anonymous said...

But-it's the absolute best place to work in the world!
It's-DISNEY.

Right? Right???

Studio names don't mean squat if there's no vision or comittment & support to back it up.

At WDFA there's the artists carrying all the load but not the leadership.

Anonymous said...

Well, Floyd, you don't work there, do you?

Anonymous said...

Disney Employee, thanks for answering my question. Do the college kids/recent grads seem to enjoy their internships there?

Also, am I correct in saying that the artists at Disney are doing what they can? And that higher up "creatives" like John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are also doing what they can, but are under pressure by people above them? Who exactly is above them?

Yahweh said...

If Lasseter was allowed to completely revamp all those films (Robinsons, Dog and Tink) for the hefty price it cost there aren't many above him that he can't override. Tink cost 100mill!!! Holy Crap. Why didn't he just smoke the money. Yeah, his version might have been better but that's like saying his turd had a better consistancy than Morrill's turd

Anonymous said...

"Who exactly is above them?"

Iger and the everlasting dollar.

They answer to the financial stability of Disney

Anonymous said...

If at least one of the films JL had helmed there had been a hit then he might actually be able to call a few shots. I'm guessing he's on borrowed time there now.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks Iger has been micromanaging JL and EC, they're on crack. Maybe at this point Iger might be getting a little impatient, but JL and EC came in with the mandate to do whatever they thought needed to be done. The sky was the limit. And instead of running the place like they ran Pixar (with crew stability and directors calling the shots and making original, innovative films), they've done just the opposite.

You think management oversight and the almighty dollar weren't factors when Katzenberg started running Disney? Yet the results were completely different then.

To me the elephant in the room is why JL and EC have treated running Disney so completely differently than they treated Pixar? The resulting low moral and lackluster films aren't a surprise, since terrible management always has the same result. They've had 4 years and the studio is no closer to making films the world wants to see.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"To me the elephant in the room is why JL and EC have treated running Disney so completely differently than they treated Pixar"

What do you mean by that? Why don't they run it the same as Pixar? That's more than obviously the right way to do things.

Anonymous said...

steve did you add clouds to our group folder or do you just reuse previous gatherings' photos? how fox news of you !

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by that?

I explained it already. At Disney there is no crew stability, there is no push to make original, innovative films, and the directors get replaced if they don't go along with management. The result is low morale, tentative decision making, and lackluster films. None of that crap goes on at Pixar. And I don't think it's Iger who is mandating the difference.

Anonymous said...

There has been a rumor going around for quite a while that Lasseter wasn't all that interested in having WDFA succeed. I believe it.

Anonymous said...

there is no push to make original, innovative films

You clearly werent in todays meeting, or havent been paying attention to the lineup of films changing...

Anonymous said...

How long has the lineup been changing? How many times has Rapunzel been revamped? How much changing went into American Dog/Bolt and Robinsons? One week King of the Elves will be the greatest movie ever, the next it's canned. Joe jump is great, no it sucks, no we can't wait to make it.

I learned loooong ago not to get excited by the latest, greatest pitch of whatever movie is the latest darling in development. It's been that way at all three studios I've worked in. All that matters is how all the potential is translated into a film on the screen. And right now, we aren't getting the chance to translate that potential into reality.

Anonymous said...

"There has been a rumor going around for quite a while that Lasseter wasn't all that interested in having WDFA succeed. I believe it."

This doesn't make sense at this point. If JL wanted to see Disney fail, he wouldn't have accepted his current position there. He would've stayed happy at Pixar and watched it happen from there. Because if Disney bites the dust NOW, it makes HIM look bad.

yahweh said...

"there is no push to make original, innovative films

You clearly werent in todays meeting, or havent been paying attention to the lineup of films changing..."

You clearly didn't drink the fine fermented kool-aid of Disney...is what he meant to say...

Justin said...

"The ... lackluster films aren't a surprise... They've had 4 years and the studio is no closer to making films the world wants to see."

In the 4 years that Ed and John have been in charge Disney has released 3 features, 2 shorts, and 1 t.v. show. Each of the three movies are rated "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, two of those movies have been nominated both for the Academy Award and Golden Globe award for Best Animated feature, the two shorts have been widely praised, and the t.v. show was a hit Christmas special for ABC.

WDAS has turned out quality animation, it just hasn't translated into financial success which contributes to job stability and high morale.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't make sense at this point. If JL wanted to see Disney fail, he wouldn't have accepted his current position there. He would've stayed happy at Pixar and watched it happen from there. Because if Disney bites the dust NOW, it makes HIM look bad.

The one way to ensure that something goes the way you want it to go, is to have control of it. And it doesn't necessarily make him look bad. It makes Pixar shine even more. After all, they would be the only ones with the magic.

I love conspiracy theories. And this was just one of them floating around.

Anonymous said...

Disney is floundering.

But what's ironic is that Rapunzel looks AWESOME, and has potential to be successful, but they are already writing it off as a princess movie doomed for failure and are too close to it to leave the title alone and stick by it.

Whats even more ironic is that if it does really well at the box office, they'll have to admit princess movies/fairy tales arent the problem after all. Maybe its hiring directors who hit their peak in 1989? Maybe its putting PATF up against AVATAR? No...no, clearly it was that the title had the word "Princess" in it...

Floyd Norman said...

In the immortal words of Zippy the Pinhead, "Are we having fun yet?"

Apparently not.

Anonymous said...

"there is no push to make original, innovative films"

Bingo! And to illustrate that point: Ross wants to make a new Muppet movie.

Walt's gotta be rolling in his grave...

Anonymous said...

The Disney jungle telegraph keeps thumping.

"Snow Princess" shelved, as executives recognize the trouble with "girl" films.

So what this does to the hand drawn stuff, I don't know.

John McCain said...
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Anonymous said...

Dear Aspiring Animation Student (if you're still reading this far down the page:)

I was once like you not too far back. Disney was the reason I wanted to get into animation-- it's all I ever aspired to. I made it, but now I work at a competing studio that is night and day compared to the- in my opinion- poisonous Disney Studio climate. You'll probably have to figure this out for yourself like I did, but trust me, Disney is not the be-all-end-all.

I dont like telling people this... I like everyone killing themselves trying to work for the great Wizard Of Oz. Keeps them out of the more enjoyable studios, and less competition for me. :)

Anonymous said...
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X Disney Animator said...

I also worked at Disney on PFrog and will say that what the studio is interested in is YOUNG ARTISTS. Most all of the Apprentices and Rough Inbetweeners (that had come up through the training program) were retained while others (mainly mid level crew animators, layout, EFX, and most of clean-up) were shown the door. Certainly they all (the apprentices) deserve to be there, no doubt, but the unfortunate thing for them is that Disney wants them because they are cheaper, and WILL work as much as they ask them too. Without questioning or complaining... it's too bad, Disney plays on young artists dreams of "being at Disney" and take advantage. And the young artists just love the fact that they are "at Disney". Never mind that they will hardly promote any of them because that would cost more money.
It's very sad and unfortunate, but that's exactly the way they operate. So, students be warned-- it is a good place to get a start but as soon as you cost too much or question them, you're gone. I would advise working elsewhere for the long run. Now that I am gone I am, frankly, having the time of my life and getting opportunities Disney would never give me. Animation is SO much bigger than the little world of Disney, or Pixar, and any place. Remember you are an artist with something to say, not a gear in a cog.

Anonymous said...

" At Disney there is no crew stability, there is no push to make original, innovative films, and the directors get replaced if they don't go along with management. The result is low morale, tentative decision making, and lackluster films. None of that crap goes on at Pixar."

Baloney. From what I hear, it goes on all the time. They're just not in L.A. Goes on here at Dreamworks. Remember, DW had all flops prior to Shrek.

Anonymous said...

I've worked at many studios, Disney included. Yes, there are some better places to work, but there are some worse places to work too. Incompetence and clueless management isn't exclusive to Disney.

Anonymous said...

Dreamworks did *not* have "all flops prior to Shrek". Both POE and Antz made money.

The BIG difference between the way Dreamworks was/is managed and the way Disney FA is is that Dreamworks when faced with underperforming films just moved forward and kept new films in the pipeline. And yes, Shrek helped keep it afloat in the main while the other films were in production.

The point is, ALL Dreamworks does is make animated films. Feature Animation at The Walt Disney Company is looked at as an unprofitable cog in that Corporation's suitcase.
PIXAR is the success that is not to be tampered with.
They do not need TWO animation studios, simple as that.

Anonymous said...

stick a fork in them -

Animation Student said...

Thanks for all the responses everyone. From my standpoint, it's encouraging that Disney is very interested in young artists right now. As for the conditions at the studio right now, all I can say is that I'll keep my fingers crossed that in the coming years they can sort stuff out and get back to being the studio they used to be.

I have one more question. I'm in my second year at school right now, and the way our curriculum works is that for the first two years we get to play around in both CG and traditional animation, and then after that we're supposed to buckle down and choose one medium to focus on. I have always wanted to stick with traditional animation, but I realize that isn't necessarily the most realistic thing to do right now. What do you all think? Now, whenever I ask this question I always get bombarded with "it's not worth it, you'll be out of a job, CG is where it's at." Honestly, I'm not asking for that - it doesn't help much. What I'm asking is, for those of you at Disney, what does the future of traditional animation look like right now, after PatF? I know Pooh is already in production, but is there any real hope for it after that?

Thanks again for all the advice, it's really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"in the coming years"..?

They may not make it to the end of the month.

Anonymous said...

"Stick a fork in them"


Yeah, yeah. Disney's heard that many many times before, and they're still kickin. I hope/honestly believe that the roller coaster will come back up to the top in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

I worked on Bolt and as we all know, it was nominated for an Oscar the same year as Wall E. Driving down Highland that awards season was a HUGE billboard of Wall E, for your consideration. I never saw or heard of anything like that for Bolt. That holiday season, I stopped into the Disney store at Glendale Galleria to get some Bolt schwag for gifts. There were 1 or 2 kids pajama sets, 3 stuffed animals and a book and I had to look very hard to find them. Meanwhile, Wall E had an entire front section of the store with a bunch of displays, kids clothes, action figures, etc. So tell me... Who do you think they're rooting for? For someone who worked hard on Bolt and still thinks it's a great movie, it was very disappointing.

Disney Employee said...

What I'm asking is, for those of you at Disney, what does the future of traditional animation look like right now, after PatF? I know Pooh is already in production, but is there any real hope for it after that?

Unfortunately, at the present time, it doesn't look incredibly bright for 2d here, at least for the next several years.

Anonymous said...

someone wrote:

"To me the elephant in the room is why JL and EC have treated running Disney so completely differently than they treated Pixar"

-----

Exactly . Why they run WDAS so differently from how Pixar is run is the big mystery.

When they first came in they paid a lot of lip service to the idea of "transplanting the Pixar culture" to WDAS and making WDAS a "director driven" creative studio.

But instead the culture of fear is still in place at Disney . The little floaters from the Stainton and Schumacher eras who should have been flushed away with the big turds are still occupying key management and production positions . Those people know nothing other than the culture of fear.

That would be the question to ask in response to that email: "Why do you run Pixar so differently from Disney and why can't Disney truly adopt the "Pixar culture" ?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think the success of Pixar has less to do with John and Ed and more to do with Stanton, Docter, Ranft, and Bird.

I put quite a bit of stake in Byron Howard, Nathan Greno and Chris Williams. They are quality directors, so dont stick a fork in Disney yet. Rapunzel might surprise everyone...

Anonymous said...

Having lived through it all, I don't think there is that much of a difference between JL & EC's management of Disney from Pixar. While there may be a small measure of favoritism, it is relatively trivial.

What *is* true is that Pixar has earned the right to be more daring with its stories, given its tremendous success. Whereas with Disney, they obviously decided to be conservative with the stories they chose, hoping for some "easy" successes to get things started off right. Ultimately, this backfired, because the stories were too bland to excite the public.

But Pixar has had...and is having...it's own share of internal problems, similar to Disney's. Director firings and story crises happen at Pixar too, but we often don't hear about them much. The boom/bust cycle of hirings/firings at Disney are a product of hard-to-control factors of schedule overruns. But there is no inherent difference, other than the obvious fact that a very successful studio gets more creative leeway than a less successful one.

Steve Hulett said...

Do you mind sharing who the HR contact at Disney is?

Ann Le Camp is head of WDAS Human Resources. Nice lady.

Steve Hulett
(818) 845-7500

Steve Hulett said...

To answer a question above:

The puffy clouds photoshopped into the picture (July 2009) shown above? I had nothing to do with it. It's a screen grab off the internet.

I put the picture up because WDAS staffers recently got the group photo (minus clouds). Seemed like a nice visual addition to the post.

So-so photoshop tho. You can see the clouds on the hat.

Anonymous said...

You know, I've never seen such rampant speculation, misinformation and outright cluelessness in the comments, ever, in the years I've checked in with our Stevie. You honestly do not what know what the eff you're talking about, 86.3% of you.

Anonymous said...

Really? Care to elaborate? Im not sure what part you think is misinformation...

Anonymous said...

The misinformation is the part that says the same crap that is happening at Disney is also happening at Pixar. No, it's not the same. Of course Pixar has it's issues, but the scale of the problem is completely different between the two studios.

Anonymous said...

It's Ann Le CAM, not Le Camp.

Anonymous said...

The misinformation is the part that says the same crap that is happening at Disney is also happening at Pixar. No, it's not the same.

Not according to Ed Catmull.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Ed Catmull, the man who spoke at SIGGRAPH and answered the question, "What does it mean to have a good creative community?"

The man who said this: "Sometimes, it's the leadership that's blocking something," Catmull said in a recent interview in his new office at Disney, a place where animators have griped for decades about being micromanaged.

"I've always believed that you shape the management team around the talent rather than try to force people into a certain way of doing it."

Regarding his work at Disney, it's hard to imagine a bigger mismatch between words and deeds.

brad said...

Hi, I found you guys through google which I was doing because I have some interesting news for you that you might be interested in.

Yesterday, Disney registered domain names for The Hidden Tower, The Thief and the Tower and Tangled (along with one for a movie titled The Switch).

Doesn't mean they're going with any of them of course but it looks like they are serious about changing the name and are just going ahead and protecting themselves.

Full details at http://www.stitchkingdom.com/disney-news/movies/speculation-disney-rename-rapunzel/

Anonymous said...
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Yahweh said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! Politicians lie! What an amazing revelation.

Now back on topic please....

Anonymous said...

Enough with Owe-bama, please get back on topic. What is the next hand drawn Disney film after pooh?

Anonymous said...

Ah, Ed Catmull, the man who spoke at SIGGRAPH and answered the question...

Ah, okay, so you have no answer for the fact that Pixar has its own share of problems and crises.

Floyd Norman said...

How many of you have worked at Pixar?

Totally different culture, believe me. Pixar is managed the way Disney once was.

Anonymous said...

I believe Pixar has their share of problems and meltdowns. But they just handle them better.

They also have a more capable crew. Disney (in my opinion) is still quite full of do-nothing middle managers who cause more problems than they solve. Less than it used to be though...

Brad: Yup. Good sleuthing. I still have my fingers crossed that they change their minds, but all signs point to them changing the title. Sucktastic, isnt it? BUT, dont let it fool you into thinking Rapunzel is in any way a bad movie in need of saving or something. This is just a marketing move to broaden the audience past families and girls.

Anonymous said...

How many of you have worked at Pixar?
Totally different culture, believe me. Pixar is managed the way Disney once was.



ALL places change.
Pixar as it is now is much, much bigger than it was at the time of production for the Toy Story sequel, and moreover it's now owned by the WDC which wasn't the case back then.

And the experience of, say, the animators on Ratatouille or Cars was quite different than for a senior member of the story staff on TS2.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Ah, okay, so you have no answer for the fact that Pixar has its own share of problems and crises.

I've answered it a couple of times. Yes, Pixar, like every feature studio, has crises and problems. That's not what we're talking about. Pixar does not do wholesale layoffs after each picture. Pixar does not keep trying to make 'sure bet' movies that are driven by merchandising, or that look like they could have been made 25 years ago. Pixar does not replace senior talent with cheap, inexperienced recent grads as a broad policy.

Pixar, however much it's changed, and however much there's typical big-studio crap that goes on, is run in a fundamentally different way than Disney. When JL and Catmull came in, everyone was thrilled. Who's thrilled now? 4 years later, things are no better, and in fact they're worse in a lot of ways.

Catmull loves to talk about how important failure is, that failure shows you what doesn't work. Is he man enough to admit that his management at Disney has been a failure, and that he needs to do things differently?

He claims that management should be tailored to the talent, but instead Disney fires existing talent when management decisions don't work.

He claims you should hire people more talented than you are, yet most Disney hires now are kids fresh out of school.

He says in his many interviews that creative people can't work well in a fear-based environment, yet that seems to be the dominant Disney management tool right now.

Are those enough answers for you?

The sad thing is, I bet Catmull is reading this stuff, and instead of looking in the mirror, it's probably making him even angrier at those uppity animators who won't just toe the line. It's depressing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, THAT is offensive. I'd say that same-old politics aside racial slurs like that have NO PLACE HERE.

GTFO.

Anonymous said...

The name "Rapunzel" may be recognized pretty well in the USA and Germany, but outside of those two countries, even in some neighboring countries, it is utterly unknown. I'm not arguing for or against any name, just saying that if you think Rapunzel means automatic name recognition, you might not be right. I personally like the name.

As for morale, talk to anyone who was working here in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s. There have been times of high morale. There also have been long stretches of very low morale.

Anonymous said...

Long answer guy above:

You're dead on about Catmull.

He's the voice of doom in story meetings, a humorless drone with a 7 figure salary who talks the talk while acting as a vicious hatchet man behind closed doors. It's been obvious he has a bit of contempt for the WDAS artists vs. "his" people in Emeryville, and it's too bad.
And frankly JL isn't too far behind him in that respect with a couple of minor exceptions.

What a waste and a shame.

God said...

to 2nd year student:

Get it through your thick skull;2D is DEAD!!

And to Sarah Palin: The Earth is estimated to be around 4.54 Billion years old, NOT 6000 years old, you ignorant inarticulate dumbass!

God

Anonymous said...

I'm aware of Disney history and know that morale has gone up & down over the decades.

That doesn't change the obvious fact that the feature animation division is closer to a de facto shuttering than it's ever been.

I repeat: Disney dosn't need TWO studios at anything like full operation, especially when one studio is thriving and expanding and the other is floundering.

Anonymous said...

He claims you should hire people more talented than you are, yet most Disney hires now are kids fresh out of school.

Gosh, Im looking around, and while much of the artists/animators are on the younger side, not a single one of them are fresh out of school. They at least have one film under their belt, but most of them are in their late 30's or 40's and have at least 5 films under their belt.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, look upstairs at the story trainees, visdev trainees, and animation hires on PATF that I know. Median age is probably 25.

Animation Student said...

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the exact answer that I said I have gotten enough of. That doesn't help.

I'm not asking for people's opinions on the matter. I know the general consensus that 2D is dead. I understand it. I'm asking what someone else has since asked: What is the ACTUAL future of it at Disney. As in, is there anything planned after Pooh? I know Snow Queen is supposed to be hand drawn, but someone up top has said that "Snow Princess" (which I'm assuming is Snow Queen) has been shelved. Is there truth to that? Are there any other 2D movies on the slate? I'm not necessarily asking for names or anything, because I understand that certain information is not allowed to be discussed. But simply, is there more 2D in the works at Disney after Winnie the Pooh?

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

but someone up top has said that "Snow Princess" (which I'm assuming is Snow Queen) has been shelved. Is there truth to that

Yes.

is there anything planned after Pooh?

Not yet.

Gosh, look upstairs at the story trainees, visdev trainees, and animation hires on PATF that I know. Median age is probably 25.

I was talking mostly about Rapunzel, so you're probably seeing something Im not seeing. (which doesnt mean you're wrong)

Anonymous said...

Animation Student-

You got your answer-great. Now you can stop paying attention to responses.

That said, this being a Union blog and as the topic isn't actually about YOU and helping you with your essay question, but about WDAS which has had some newsy stuff happening lately, people are going to come by & continue to comment about their lives and business and mayhap toss a random remark your way, as you inserted yourself into the discussion with the 10,000th query about getting "into" 2D.

So: if you have average intelligence (which is getting doubtful) you'd read and comprehend from these comments THAT NO ONE KNOWS THE FUTURE OF 2D at the moment at Disney. GET IT?

Sigh.

And Rapunzel person-I wasn't thinking of the CG crew, which is indeed comprised as you say, of course.

Anonymous said...

"I repeat: Disney dosn't need TWO studios at anything like full operation, especially when one studio is thriving and expanding and the other is floundering."

Do you really think that Disney would have continued operating Disney animation for the last ten years if we weren't generating income for the entire company? We haven't had huge hits, and sometimes haven't even broken even, but other departments and the company as a whole is profiting from our work, otherwise they'd have shut us down long ago.

Animation Student said...

"Animation Student-

You got your answer-great. Now you can stop paying attention to responses."

I realize full well that this topic isn't about ME. I never once implied such a thing.

I am following this topic because I am, in fact, interested in what's happening in the industry, and especially at Disney. Not to "get my answer." Yes, I did decide to ask a few questions, because most of you seem very informed (at least more informed than anyone I have any personal contact with). But having asked those questions, not one part of me expects any one of you to care about/respond to what I'm saying, as I mentioned in my first post. However, when someone DOES answer me, it seems unnecessary to be rude or not helpful.

I'm sorry if I come across as having less than average intelligence, but you have to understand that I am not nearly as informed as any of you regarding news happening in the industry. But I'm a student, and so obviously I'm very eager to learn. You all seem very informed, and so I thought maybe someone might be able to give me a little nugget of advice as to the future of 2D that I maybe hadn't heard yet. That's all I was looking for.

To those of you that have been helpful, it really is greatly appreciated, thank you so much for all the advice.

EricJ said...

All right. That does it.
I'm not in the Guild, but someone has to speak up for the poor persecuted audience. Disney, we've taken about as much of your danged floating-anxiety handwringing as we can stand.

Know three things, Corporate Disney, and learn them well to heart, as the student to the master:

1) We out here in the Real World LIKED Princess & the Frog. It was cute. Live with it. It wasn't Aladdin, but frankly, what is, and we'd watch it in a second over the lunch-hour brain-fart projects we got under David Stainton. Bring on the fairytales, bring on the musical numbers and bring on the classics; we want to keep pretending "Chicken Little" never happened, and that someone made on calendars that say 2010 instead of 1995.

2) "But it didn't make money! :( "
Well, of -course- it didn't freakin' make money in MID-December, Sherlock!!--Do YOU go to shopping-mall theaters after Black Friday either? Did no one learn the martyred lesson of "Treasure Planet"?? The money you could make in Dec. 10th is nothing short of a flat-out miracle considering the seasonal marketing, and you really don't know where it came from, figure it out.
Yes, we know, you wanted that prestige Thanksgiving NY/LA opening, but you were scared of Alvin and Robert Downey for the Dec. 25th opening and all that delicious vacation-week business. We feel your pain, but you were still chicken...Buck-buck. Alvin was available, but Tiana still got the audience love--We'll remember one of the two a year from now.
And that includes blue alien Pocahontas catgirls that managed to barge in and take away business, the same way that teen vampires took business away from "Bolt"...You just can't slap some fanboys/girls as hard as they deserve.

3) There will ALWAYS be a place for Disney. Because nobody else in the mainstream animation market has the slightest clue of how to tell a story in the way the audience wants (Dreamworks, Disney doesn't -care- about Jerry Seinfeld or Ben Stiller...), except for Pixar, who doesn't do the Classics.
And the Classics and the Fairytales are important--Believe us, nobody wants the Lincoln-broom movie or the garden gnomes back either. And much as we love iconoclastic Hawaiian girls and drooly aliens, the Disney version of a well-known Classic is the first version of a story we know that we as parents show our kids, which is why we worry about what spin the Mouse will take on it.
Maybe there's no Walt anymore to act out the Evil Witch personally, but there's got to be SOMEBODY in the studio who grew up with his own favorite story enough to be obsessed with what it would look like onscreen. Take that away, and you doom the animation industry to a lot of pretenders who wouldn't know childhood if it bit them. Pixar is nice, but as the mania for Cars-bashing proved, Pixar isn't everything.

You've been through this before. You've been through wartime, you've been through "Jungle Book", and you've been through Eisner.
We thought Tiana was going to snap you back into sense again, but right now you're your OWN enemy. And we the audience have done all we can to help you there, short of a few well-deserved personal slaps on the side of the head...Now bring on them Snow Queens, and keep Rapunzel's name!

Anonymous said...

"Because nobody else in the mainstream animation market has the slightest clue of how to tell a story in the way the audience wants"

Huh.

*glances around beautiful campus overflowing with animations artists*

You don't say? Audiences don't want our movies? Huh.

Fanboys: they always bring the lulz...

Anonymous said...

Dont listen to the grumpy Disney employee, especially you, animation student. He is not representative of all Disney employees.

Theres a lot of us here who are positive and excited about the future prospects.

EricJ said...

"*glances around beautiful campus overflowing with animations artists*
You don't say? Audiences don't want our movies? Huh. "

If only said students (who grew up on what they remember) greenlit the movies.
As it is, we've got wannabe pretender studios trying to follow Dreamworks' sitcom leads, and paste in plastic imitation faux-Pixar hugginess, and heck-YEAH, we don't.

The particular symbol of that was seeing Roger Allers and most of the Toy Story crew fleeing the Eisner-vs.-Pixar wars to go and make "Open Season" for Sony, back when employees of both studios thought there wouldn't be anything around a year from then.
Okay, if they're happy, and they stayed safe and working during the Troubles, more power to them. But Roger, what the heck are you -still- doing at Sony, when we can't stand Sony movies!--The War is over, come home and make another Lion King and Aladdin for us, all is forgiven! You want "doomed studios", you don't know the freakin' HALF of it, pal. :)

It will come as a great shock to Jeffrey "the Midget" Katzenberg that we don't really -like- Dreamworks movies as much as he continually tells himself we do...We're tired of comparing them to What Disney/Pixar Does Right, and the novelty of doing so has worn off. The fact that he was forced to end the Shrek series should helpfully be a slight hint.
We don't know why there are other studios making animated movies, but we've long since accepted that we're powerless to do anything to stop it. All we can do keep the underground Resistance going.

Anonymous said...

...koo-Koo...koo-koo....

Yahweh said...

Wow...EricJ, you insulting piece of shit, go on your fanboy misguided rants elsewhere. We don't need them or find them interesting in anyway other than as a case study for fanboy retardation.

Old fart commercial animator said...

Animation student: Consider yourself lucky...Youre presumably young and ready to get your career started. Whatever you pick (2d or 3d), go at it full force and dont let up... If features are youre goal, make sure you persue that.

Don't make the same mistake I did... I'm now pushing 40 years old and although I've been in the industry for almost 20 years, I've been on the commercial side. Kept getting suckered into short job after short job and never pursued a feature gig... Now that I'm interested... And at this age, I doubt a feature studio will give me a chance.

I've been tempted to send in my resume/reel to Disney... However, I have a feeling that a 40 year old that doesn't have a feature to his credit is pretty much sh*t out of luck. My age and reel of non feature work probably dont do me any favors.

Anyway, step on the gas and don't let up.

old fart out...

Floyd Norman said...

"Step on the gas and don't let up."

I agree. As a guy who worked at Disney way back in the fifties, you can bet your life the pissing and moaning was going on even back then. Hell, they even said Walt was going to shut the place down. Well, he didn't. And Disney Animation is still here.

Yeah, the business can suck at times. But, it remains better than most jobs.

Anonymous said...

"pissing and moaning"? gee, nice.

That kind of verbiage seems like the exact kind the execs would use to describe the stories here.

You know, sometimes there actually ARE negative things at work worth discussing frankly. I don't need to be 60+ to have enough perspective to know people had gripes 50 years ago. That seems obvious.
What MATTERS is that there ARE real reasons that morale is particularly bad at FA right now.

jesus, if you can't vent on a union board...

Anonymous said...

Leave jesus out of this!

PS) quit yer bitchin. get to work.

Anonymous said...

Where are you, Yahweh?

Steve Hulett said...

I'm not in the Guild, but someone has to speak up for the poor persecuted audience. Disney, we've taken about as much of your danged floating-anxiety handwringing as we can stand.

This isn't Disney doing the hand-wringing. This is mostly anonymous posters putting in their two cents.

All we know for certain is there has been a LOT of commenting.

EricJ said...

Fine, fine, but if I seemed a little het-up before, be aware that there IS a lot of frustration on the part of the audience about just who's getting the blame--And that they are getting angry is about the best compliment from them Disney could get:
All the hype centered on "Frog" as not so much a movie as an acceptance that the studio's regime had changed hands and was trying to focus on the legendary "old days" again. No problem with us...That's exactly why most of us bought our tickets in the first place.
Releasing it in the single -worst- movie week of the year? Not a smart move, but we did our parts. Generally speaking, only one family-oriented movie becomes a hit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and wasn't Disney lucky they were the one.

But, oh, it didn't make "enough" money, whatever "enough" means. Too many chipmunks and blue aliens. And now inside Disney's boardroom, they're afraid of princesses. They're afraid of 2-D. They're afraid we the Mysterious Audience might associate their next movie with the last one they couldn't explain away.
The audience may come off as angry at a lot of the "fear" rhetoric coming out of the boardroom at the moment, and as the ones taking a lot of the unfair blame for it, they've got a right to--I believe the question is, what the hell do we the paying folk have to DO to support the studio anymore??

When someone gives another a compliment--like, say, a good review, or an Oscar nomination, or the first #1 box-office opening in ten years--the proper response is "Thank you"...NOT scapegoated blame for someone else's fears, superstitions, or just plain bad decisions.
Disney did something right for the first time in a very -long- time, and we feel literally powerless that they're talking themselves out of doing another right thing anymore. And choosing nameless fear over public acceptance just isn't smart business for the studio.

yahweh said...

Why is it you think you can speak for the public when the public speaks so well for itself? Frog was not a hit because the public didn't want to see it not because Disney somehow talked themselves into believing it wasn't a hit.

I don't think you understand the basic math or the way things are perceived in Hollywood.

I'm sure Disney is happy you liked their film, but it doesn't change reality any.

There are severe problems at the Mouse Factory and you're begging them to continue on this path over the cliff only makes you appear to be foolish.

Anonymous said...

there IS a lot of frustration on the part of the audience...

Really!?! You can speak for the entire 'audience'?

... an acceptance that the studio's regime had changed hands and was trying to focus on the legendary "old days" again. No problem with us...That's exactly why most of us bought our tickets in the first place.

So wait, the 'audience' was thrilled that PATF was a throwback? That's why it wheezed to the $100 million mark? Because the audience was signaling their joy?

By the way, here's a little tip from a pro who's watched lots of film openings - the excuse that a film didn't do so well because there was too much competition is beyond lame. Audiences go to see films they really want to see, regardless of what else is in theaters.

Truth is, the 'audience' doesn't seem to angry about PATF, or about any supposed boardroom decisions inside the Mouse. Mostly, they seem bored, which is far worse.

Now, geeky hyperfans who follow all things Disney, and who enshrine films made 50 years ago as the pinnacle of animation, they might just be a little angry or frustrated. But don't confuse your little interest group as 'the audience.'

Anonymous said...

the excuse that a film didn't do so well because there was too much competition is beyond lame.

Granted, but you must concede, just a little, that going up against one of the highest grossing films of ALL TIME is a bit of a tall order.

Had PATF come out in say, this February, Id suspect it'd be at 150-165 million.

Anonymous said...

February is traditionally one of the worst possible times for film releases. And was the audience for a throw-back, traditionally animated Disney princess film really the same one as a Cameron sci-fi fest?

How is it that a film like Alvin and the Chipmunks 2, which opened a week AFTER Avatar, does twice as well as PATF, which opened a week in front of Avatar (after a carefully staged limited release for PATF in LA and NYC)?

PATF opened weakly, at $24 million, before Avatar and Alvin were factors. The people in the Disney boardrooms understand that. They make be taking the wrong lessons from it, but they understand that audiences weren't terribly excited about this particular film.

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Anonymous said...
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EricJ said...

"How is it that a film like Alvin and the Chipmunks 2, which opened a week AFTER Avatar, does twice as well as PATF, which opened a week in front of Avatar (after a carefully staged limited release for PATF in LA and NYC)?"

"How" is exactly what Fox has known for every year out of the last seven years. (And what Disney knew before they knuckled under on PATF's release date):
As noted earlier, it's a LOT harder for a movie to become a hit between Thanksgiving and Christmas--Most of the theaters are in shopping malls, and getting there is hard enough. The kids are in school, and theaters don't show as many showings. Not to mention, the parents are already bogged down with holiday stress, and, except for one -carefully- chosen kids' favorite, would prefer to save their movie activity for...you guessed it...AFTER Christmas. Parents finally faced with a bit of spare time, cabin fever and the kids are home from school will take any excuse to get out of the house, and the new week's unseen opening is always freshest on the menu. Which is why every studio with a family tentpole now rushes a Christmas Day opening and lets the rest of December go hang.

(And too much competition?--Let's think back on the time Disney tried putting one of their big holiday tentpoles literally a week after Harry Potter and 007, and hadn't expected one of their own live-action movies to still be in theaters by that week--"Treasure Planet" couldn't live up to such a simple task of defeating Bond and Harry, was proclaimed a "catastrophe" for opening in mere fourth place, and Mr. Eisner made sure it was pulled from wide release BEFORE Christmas vacation audiences had a chance to be curious about it. Sure sounds like "competition" to me, but I'm not in the union.)

I'll agree, February is saved only for school vacation quickies, and March is the kiss of death. But the consensus is that a real release date would have helped PATF (yes, the NY/LA opening was "carefully staged" for word-of-mouth, but the rest of us would have preferred a nice Thanksgving opening to get us in the mood, thanks), and movies with crazed fan-geek followings grabbing all the headlines didn't exactly help either.

Anonymous said...

I agree the release date could have been better, but I think Disney should have pushed the release date of that ugly christmas carol zemeckis movie flop closer to christmas, and moved PATF up to just before Thanksgiving.

PATF is a fine film. Not great, but pleasant enough. It should have taken bigger chances.

Anonymous said...

March is the kiss of death.

Dont tell that to Blue Sky. They've made over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide by releasing animated films in March (Ice Age, Robots, IA2, Horton). Only Ice Age 3 was a non-March release, which made 900 mil worldwide.

PATF would have been smart to have been released in Feb or March.

Steve Hulett said...

I thought maybe someone might be able to give me a little nugget of advice as to the future of 2D that I maybe hadn't heard yet.

Here's the union thug's:

2D will continue to be made, but relative to CG, the amount of work in it will be minimal. If you get into 2D and ignore 3D (CGI), you'll be stunting your career prospects because you'll be competing with a sizable talent pool of 2D artists with lots of experience.

They'll be fighting tenaciously for the limited number of 2D slots and you -- with a very limited resume -- will be fighting against them.

My opinion: Your odds of employment will be better in the 3D area.

Animation Student said...

Steve -

Now THAT'S real advice. Thank you. I do feel that I'd be stupid to ignore studying 3D. Thankfully, the curriculum at my school allows us to focus in one area, but we are still required to take classes in the other, so we are at least comfortable with the fundamentals of each medium. In my opinion, that's a good way to run things. I'm very tempted by the realistic side of me to give in and focus in CG. But there's that piece of me that knows that if I do, and Disney continues to make 2D films, I'll be kicking myself. Everyone I've talked to on this subject agrees that it's much easier to make the transition from 2D to 3D than it is the other way around. It's THAT bit of knowledge that is making me so unsure. Because, as you can obviously tell by now, if I could "live the dream", it'd be doing 2D animation. But now I'm just venting hahahah... anyways, thank you SO much to anyone that has given me their input on this thread, it has been greatly appreciated. And most of all thank you for your responses, Steve - it's nice to know that at least the man in charge isn't super negative about everything.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I don’t want to sound racist, but “TpatF” looks like a BLACK MOVIE, and extremely predictable. And now Pooh... seriously? “Snow Queen” is a great fairy tale and almost unknown, made correctly, it could be very, very appealing. I can’t believe what kind of decisions they are making.. The real problem is the huge damage of the Disney brand , its resurrection indeed will take years... or decades. And let me tell you... Brave and Rapunzel are going to be hits.

Steve Hulett said...

... there's that piece of me that knows that if I do, and Disney continues to make 2D films, I'll be kicking myself.

Don't.

There's a long line of ex-Disneyites waiting at the Mouse's door to get in, even if they do more hand-drawn product. As commenters above have mentioned, the 2D Snow Queen is now in limbo, and there is nothing (yet) to replace it.

Which means, after Winnie the Pooh, the 2D future is cloudy. (The only American 2D feature that will definitely be made is the next Simpsons movie, and that is years away. You can't plan a career path based on that.)

Do yourself a favor and be hard-headed about it. I'm not saying you shouldn't do some hand-drawn stuff on your own if that is your passion, just don't bank on making any kind of living with the Frank & Ollie art form.

Anonymous said...

Was an afroamerican movie the test for hand drawn animation?... are you kidding me? and now.. a sequel for the most infantile franchises of all? and that's all?...

KC Johnson said...

Hey Animation Student:

Here's my two cents on your 2D/3D quandry. When you enter the field of animation, here are some skills you may find useful and hopefully marketable:

1.) The ability to draw. I don't care what medium you ultimately use. Your peers respect you more if you can draw. Your drawings should be able to communicate solid volumes and have character and personality. Go to as many figure drawing sessions as you can manage, and include plenty of time sketching at the zoo.

2.) The ability to tell a story through the medium of film. Basically, don't just study animation -- study composition and story-telling. I saw Toy Story and Toy Story 2 retooled in 3D and they were amazing -- because the shots already were composed so well, with a lot of depth. If you become a traditional animator, this ability will help you stage your scene and pinpoint the important story points. If not, you will have other avenues open to you -- such as storyboarding for TV. Remember, Disney also has a TV division. Lots of other studios need good storyboard artists. It's a good, creative job.

3.) The ability to use the current computer programs and tools, including Pencil Check Pro, Storyboard Pro, Flash, Wacom tablets and/or the Cintiq, etc. The more you know, the more jobs you'll be able to qualify for.

4.) The ability to think. This one's a big one! You need to be able to understand your task, prioritize your time, and work efficiently. A beautifully rendered scene that's not well thought through can be useless to your director. The ability to take initiative, identify problems, and demonstrate the ability to solve them should not be underrated.

Don't let the Anonymous nay-sayers that pop up on this blog occasionally sway you from your passion and enthusiasm. We were all there once too.

I also started with my eyes on Disney Feature, but have found a very happy home in the land of TeeVee.

I'm sure you do, but keep your "Illusion of Life" book handy and look through it often.

Best of luck to you in your studies!

robster16 said...

The problem at this point is that Disney animated features have an image problem and if they had expected to see a glorious return of interest in 2D after just one movie, then they must be dellusional! The best thing they can do is stick by their projects and speak positively about them. Frantically canceling projects and renaming them only does more damage to the image they were trying to rebuild!

I hear Snow Queen is shelved. What on earth does that say about Lasseter who kept repeating he wanted Disney to stay true to it's roots and create 2D movies. If he starts canceling 2D movies after one project that did not live up to their expectations that makes him look not only cowardly but also like a liar.

Princess and the Frog was a risky project with some unnecesary and uncalled for controversy, but controversy nonetheless. All the discussion about the black main character, interracial relationships, the cajun character, etc. All that political correctness didn't really help the movie in the US. Plus the ginormous success of Avatar which also influenced the success of movies programmed around it's release!

They need to stick to their strength, expand press on the academy award nominations and remain confidant. Confidence shines, cowardly marketing ploys to trick the public FAIL! The general public has been hearing about the movie adaptation of Rapunzel for YEARS now. Changing the title last minute not only looks bad but also takes away recognizability of the project. Also, it's the name of the friggin fairytale! They didn't rename the little mermaid to "Girl Out Of Water"...

RayChase said...

The thing that's troubling these days is the enormous pressure on a film to be an instant "hit". In many cases, if a film doesn't make a mint opening weekend then its branded a failure. If you look at Disney's own history they have films that weren't instant classics..Bambi didn't do well on its initial release..Alice in Wonderland wasn't a smash..neither was Pinocchio..films that are now considered masterpieces; ultra gold plated Blu-ray editions Some even have theme parks rides based upon them. The films found an audience over time...Now days you either find it immediately or your swept under the rug, which is kinda sad.

yahweh said...

Let's be clear: Frog was not a flop because of Avatar or any other films that were released after wards. It was flop the first weekend because it underperformed - and it did this all on its own.
It may be due to any number of factors and I'd feel very sad if it had anything to do with it being due to the main character being Black. 2 years ago I wouldn't have thought that to be possible, but after seeing the racist behavior towards Obama from many of the audience that Disney needs to gain a huge BO makes me wonder. I wonder if Disney has looked into where these numbers were lowest...the Midwest? the South? But let's assume that's not the case and Frog tanked because it was in a genre (Princess musical) that the public had grown tired of years ago and Disney forgot this fact because they thought Lasseter could pee gold and the audiences would lap it up like fine champagne. Hopefully they don't have any plans for a Gay main character anytime soon to really piss off those same people.

And Robster16 don't fret about the name change to Rapunzel, the general audience won't realize all that went down to come up with the name or even know what it could've been. They will either see the film because they want to or not regardless of the name. IMO I dopn't feel that having Princess in the name was what hurt the BO - Miley Cyrus' films seem to do well and have no issue with alienating young boys and if you add all the animation fans to those numbers then they should have had a hit. My guess is they couldn't even bring in all the young girl audience or even all the animation fans.
And if they do change the name that leaves the name rapunzel available to you to use when you finally finish your version...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"I hear Snow Queen is shelved. What on earth does that say about Lasseter who kept repeating he wanted Disney to stay true to it's roots and create 2D movies. If he starts canceling 2D movies after one project that did not live up to their expectations that makes him look not only cowardly but also like a liar."

>>>>>

If that's what is really happening at Disney then what you say is sadly true.

If John and Ed really believe that it's not about the medium a film is animated with (2D , CG, Stop-mo) but it's all about the Story and whether the audience cares about the characters then they would not be so timid about forging ahead with more 2D projects.

So what's it going to be ? Blame 2D for PATF's "underperforming" and backpedal from all the grand words about the glorious legacy of Disney hand-drawn animation ... Or will they take a good hard look at their own decision-making process , fess up that mistakes were made , but resolve to do better and keep moving forward ?

Steve Hulett said...

I'm deleting some of the off-topic material as I encounter it (just to let you know.)

Animation Student said...

Steve and KC Johnson-

Thanks again to both of you. I'll definitely take all of that into consideration when it finally comes down to it and I have to choose a focus next fall.

As for Snow Queen, does anyone actually know the reason it got shelved? Is it actually because it's 2D? Or are they having story problems again?

Anonymous said...

It has nothing to do with 2D and everything to do with princesses.

Anonymous said...

Can I know this: since when is Snow Queen about a princess?!? Yah it has Queen in the title, but she's the villain (well sort of). Disney could have easily changed the name, since the name "Snow Queen" isn't that popular.

But names like "Rapunzel" is...So I have no idea why they're changing it. I understand if it was called "Princess Rapunzel" but other than that, there's no excuse.

EricJ said...

Which is exactly the point:
WHO EVER SAID any money the movie "didn't" make was about princesses?

Although the project was clearly in the works for years, the announcement of a, quote, "90's throwback" musical, and the hiring back of Musker & Clements, was promoted in tandem with Lasseter's arrival--The message was pretty hard to miss, and a public weary of the last administration was loving every minute of it: Although no one knew the story yet, the public knew there were songs, there was a New Princess, and the main selling point early on was that PATF was being made so that the door really WOULD hit Mr. Eisner's butt on the way out. Pick your Eisner offense--the 2-D firings, "Chicken Little" or that 3-D Peter Pan he'd threatened to make--the audience -wanted- a 90's Throwback, just to throw it back in his face.

Whatever bad or underwhelmed reaction PATF seems to have gotten, where or when it did, was not over the notion that it was a 2-D or a Princess story, but that it wasn't ENOUGH of one. Which sounds a lot like the public -did- want one, but one closer to what they remembered out of their own particular 90's memories.
And it seems that a little bit of good old-fashioned Practice Makes Perfect would remedy the problem a lot more than making invisible boogeymen out of those who had been trying to lend moral support. The public had made every attempt to vote in -favor- of princesses with their dollars, and some feel they had been frustrated in the good-intentioned attempt.

J said...

Forgive me because I didn't read all the posts here. Though I read more then half of them. The general consensus is that fear of being heard is the main reason no one is speaking up. Because those that have approached management (which in my line of work, and I would think any line of work is just there to drink and pour the juice of corporate big name company).

What about the one group of people who can do something. The stock holders. Any lack of faith in your company/management should be passed onto them. They are the ones who can vote your CEO out, they are the ones who can bring change, vote on a lack of confidence in the leadership of the company.

It's sad to say another Save Disney campaign is necessary, but only those in the company can speak to the morale there and whether or not anything should be done about it.

If you truly care about what you're working on, (I hope you still have some sort of care). Then you should feel the need to speak up, (punishment or reward). I would hope if things are actually as bad as you all are complaining about, then someone, would do something. One voice heard by a hundred others is silent, a hundred voices heard cannot go unnoticed.

Just my thoughts and questions to you all.

J said...

Forgive me because I didn't read all the posts here. Though I read more then half of them. The general consensus is that fear of being heard is the main reason no one is speaking up. Because those that have approached management (which in my line of work, and I would think any line of work is just there to drink and pour the juice of corporate big name company).

What about the one group of people who can do something. The stock holders. Any lack of faith in your company/management should be passed onto them. They are the ones who can vote your CEO out, they are the ones who can bring change, vote on a lack of confidence in the leadership of the company.

It's sad to say another Save Disney campaign is necessary, but only those in the company can speak to the morale there and whether or not anything should be done about it.

If you truly care about what you're working on, (I hope you still have some sort of care). Then you should feel the need to speak up, (punishment or reward). I would hope if things are actually as bad as you all are complaining about, then someone, would do something. One voice heard by a hundred others is silent, a hundred voices heard cannot go unnoticed.

Just my thoughts and questions to you all.

Ananamous said...

If you're gonna start deleting off topic comments Steve, then how 'bout doing both the ones that bash Republicans as well as those that defend them. Hmmm, Buddy?

Hopefully, that wasn't too off topic.

PissedOff said...

In my experience, management (in most animation companies) hardly ever takes responsibility for any bad results or poor performance of their "product". It's the artists who get the blame and get layed off. Only when the f*up by management is massive and clearly their doing, that directors/managers get fired.

My question is, is it true that an artist will be black listed if he brings a lawsuit for unlawfull termination? Has any artist in the past gone through this? Has any artist sued a company for unlawfull termination?

robster16 said...

response to yahweh

For some reason PATF didn't manage
to attract a large enough audience for Disney's liking. I say it's largely due to the fact that Disney has an image problem and was the only studio over the past decade with underperforming movies, compared to other succesfull studios and franchises. They have the disadvantage and once people think something of you, it's hard to break it. It took Disney a couple of movies to get the success of Little Mermaid, so why should PATF catapult them back up in the top ranks now, especially since there are much more contenders for the prize this time around.

I find it quite annoying if they would really cancel all further 2D features or fairytale projects after their first try. As other people have said, Snow Queen is a fairytale, but without princesses and princes. It's about an evil enigma, with two normal children, one trying to rescue the other. I think it could be turned into a magical, epic and awe-inspiring movie with lots of great themes to explore. But I don't know what direction they went in at the studio.

Yahweh: And Robster16 don't fret about the name change to Rapunzel,... if they do change the name that leaves the name rapunzel available to you to use when you finally finish your version...

How did you know about my own version of Rapunzel? Visit the weblog on the site I linked to? As a single person I can only do so much of course, it would take me decades to achieve the movie I envision on my own, but who knows. It's still my pet project :)

Floyd Norman said...

Does this mean "Snow Queen" is available as well?

yahweh said...

"How did you know about my own version of Rapunzel? Visit the weblog on the site I linked to? As a single person I can only do so much of course, it would take me decades to achieve the movie I envision on my own, but who knows. It's still my pet project :)"

yahweh knows all. just be careful...I can be vengeful

Anonymous said...

Available: "The Unfunny Uncle Remus"

robster16 said...

Vengeful, why? What did I do? LOL

EricJ said...

I find it quite annoying if they would really cancel all further 2D features or fairytale projects after their first try. As other people have said, Snow Queen is a fairytale, but without princesses and princes. It's about an evil enigma, with two normal children, one trying to rescue the other. I think it could be turned into a magical, epic and awe-inspiring movie with lots of great themes to explore. But I don't know what direction they went in at the studio.

Not to mention, in the tale, the girl is also later aided by a gutsy girl bandit, who even on paper had the potential to be an appealing plot-essential "sidekick" some of us were really looking forward to--
The "glory days" of Mermaid-Beauty-Aladdin came from story sources that were ALREADY big and cinematic enough in their own form to need only the barest Disney-izing to be fleshed out to Hollywood form, and Snow Queen fits the bill. (Rapunzel too, to some extent, but more that it was "avenging" the condescending contemporary version Eisner wanted to do.)

I'm not so offended at being "told" by the boardroom for my own good that I didn't like PATF when I did, so much as seeing them throw away an opportunity I as the audience want to see, and then being "told" I probably didn't want to see it either.
I'll decide for my OWN danged self whether I want to see the Snow Queen as a 2-D Disney movie, and I'd like the decent respect, freedom, and opportunity as an audience member to say "I want to see it! :) "

Anonymous said...

So, is Snow Queen "shelved" as in... ehhh, we'll see what happens in a few months when once we can try to work things out? Or is it "shelved" as in pretty much cancelled. I'd hate to see this exciting opportunity go to waste.

Anonymous said...

My question is, is it true that an artist will be black listed if he brings a lawsuit for unlawfull termination? Has any artist in the past gone through this? Has any artist sued a company for unlawfull termination?

The animators being dumped by Disney have been 'at will' employees, or had run-of-project deals that completed. In the rare cases where someone had a long-term contract and was fired, the company has been required to pay out the contract. Which is part of the reason that Disney no long signs people to contracts - it gives them maximum 'flexibility' to adjust their workforce.

Steve Hulett said...

is it true that an artist will be black listed if he brings a lawsuit for unlawfull termination?


Welll ... the strike zone for getting rehired will shrink, let's put it that way.

There are no permanent blacklists. Circumstances change continually. Mogul Jack Warner hired unrepentant leftie Howard Da Silva for the role of Ben Franklin in the movie "1776," even though Da Silva had been blacklisted from Hollywood work for freaking years.

Nothing is forever.

brad said...

And we have a new contender: The Secret Tower ? No doubt to be found in the Secret Garden.

Anonymous said...

Tangled.

Just approved yesterday.

yahweh said...

First rule of naming a movie: NEVER give the critics help coming up with adjectives to possibly describe your story.

Fractured Fairy Tale said...

"Tangled.

Just approved yesterday."


-----

I guess "Roots" was taken .


as was "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" .

and "Tight Around the Belly" was right out the window.

Anonymous said...

From Mirriam-Webster's Online:

Main Entry: tangled
Function: adjective
Date: 1596

1 : existing in or giving the appearance of a state of utter disorder

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's "Merriam." My bad.

Twenty bucks says it goes through another name change.

Anonymous said...

If they are trying to appeal to a boy audience, giving it the gayest sounding, reality-show-wannabe, chick-flick name ever is simply self-destruction.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, if theres any time for Slashfilm to come borrow comments and make a stink, its now.

I think the Disney execs need to hear from their fans and audience just how FUCKING STUPID changing the title will be.

Especially to TANGLED.

GOD. TERRIBLE.

Anonymous said...

Plus, its been done already:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238137/

robster16 said...

As expected, they go with the absolute WORST possible different title. The one I had already rejected and written off as a possibility. This is absolutely DREADFULL! AWFULL title change.

I guess it's time to stick to my word and start that damn petition I've been talking about to get the original title back. On all the animation boards and forums I go to people are ridiculing the title or are angry about the change! Just think what the general public will think!

As soon as Disney officially confirms the new title being this, I'm starting a petition. Might be useless, but I'm gonna be sure my voice will be heard in this!

LIVID Here!!!

Anonymous said...

What makes it worse, is that Rapunzel is actually a really, REALLY good movie. They showed it Pixar last week and instead of the usual "ho hum," they actually praised it.

yahweh said...

The title (even as bad as it is) will have little effect on how the film does. Either audiences will want to see another fairytale or not regardless of what the title is. They could name it Terminal Apocalypse and it still won't convince anyone it is anything but a princess movie. The only hope it has is if audiences might be willing to see one in CG this time.
They didn't stay away from Frog because of the title despite what Disney is telling themselves. They stayed away because audiences had lost interest in musical fairytales a long time ago. That's partially why Shrek and Enchanted were huge successes.
From what I hear Rapunzel - sorry Tangled - is pretty milquetoast and not very exciting. Maybe the'll fix it and coinvince audiences there's a reason to go.

Anonymous said...

You're hearing wrong. Its a great film

robster16 said...

I don't get it. I mean, are they going to avoid the character or at least the name "Rapunzel" in trailers and marketing completely? I mean, the story is what it is. A classic Disney fairytale inspired by the fairytale "Rapunzel". This title only will confuse and take away familiarity with it's potential audience!

- Have you see "Tangled" yet?
- What?
- "Tangled"! The new Disney movie about Rapunzel!
- OOOHHH, that movie!

This makes NO sense what so ever!

I hope it's too late for them to change it, with merchandise in preparation etc, cause this sucks!

yahweh said...

"You're hearing wrong. Its a great film"

I hope you're right, but there's the chance you're too close to it and suffering what is a sort of 'stockholm syndrome' - which is when the film was so bad that any marginal improvements make those working on it think it's suddenly wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

Im not working on it, so Im not close to it. I saw a screening last week though, and I thought it was pretty solid.

Anonymous said...

"Retardzel" would be a better title than "Tangled."

Luca said...

Tangled is just an horrible title!!! the worst between the hidden tower, the secret tower, the switch or the thief and the tower!!! the secret tower or the hidden tower were the best!!at least they mainteined a sort o classic feel to it...a tie to the original fairytale....but Tangled???it is just the worst idea they could come up with!it just doesn't make any sense...

Aurora Dawson said...

So it's official the queen is dead, excuse the pun. So does this mean The Snow Queen is shelved as in cancelled or shelved as in put off until God knows when? I know a lot of you guys are going crazy cause of the recent lay offs, but come on. As soon as I hear the return of 2D Disney I finally get back into Disney, but then this happens.

I know right now I'm sounding like I'm a wannabe messiah of Disney fans, but what happened to creativity. JL should be ashamed for crippling future Disney projects because of fear. There is absolutely no reason to me as to why this has to happen. Well, I hope you guys figure things out, and to any Disney employees hope you guys are doing well.

Thanks for hearing me rant.

-Aurora

PS: Tangled is not a good title at all, but the movie does look good. And I hope to become a screenwriter for Disney, any tips?

Again thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am a former longtime Disney employee, no longer there, by choice. I was there when John and Ed first came in and took the helm. I remember very distinctly a Town Hall meeting being where Ed went on and on about reading the head of Toyota's book and how much it had influenced his new thoughts about how to manage a company. Specifically the part where anyone along the factory line could push the emergency stop button at any time if they saw something they belived to be wrong. I wonder what he thinks about that now? More ironic words have never been spoken...

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