Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Around the Mouse

Now with a movie-appropriate image.

Inside the Hat Building, the animators on Tangled are on their last couple weeks of work.

"We're near the end of the seven-day workweeks. We've been really kicking it for the last six months, but I'm on my last shot ..."

"I got my notice of layoff. I'm out of here in August. I don't know, maybe it's time to move on. It's like Kubler Ross's five stages of grief, only without the denial since we all knew the layoffs were coming..."

"What everybody around here knows is that this [Tangled] is a really good movie. We've all worked our butts off and we're proud of what we've done." ...

In short, there was resignation and bitter-sweet emotions as I walked the hat's halls this afternoon. Lots of people are fairly worn out from working so hard for so many months, but as one animator shrugged "It's the way the business is, you know? You work when there's work."

One long-time staffer told me the morale is down not from the quality of the pictures they've all worked on, but from the uncertainty and insecurity of not knowing how long people have before getting let go.

"I just don't get why there's been so little stuff in development, why there are such big gaps in the pipeline. You'd think they'd want to keep more of a talented group of animators, layout artsts and tech directors around. Not a high priority for them, I guess."

I've listened to Disney management talk about how they want to build up staff and keep people on, etc., etc. But as my sweet old grandmother related years ago: "Don't listen to what people say, dear. Watch what they do."

So okay. Enough of the sour, let's move on to the sweet.

At the same time the crew was lamenting upcoming departures, it was also telling me Tangled is "Amazing," "Kick-ass," and "Very good." That the visuals and art direction are outstanding. (I agree with this last; what I've seen of finaled shots are top notch. But I've said this before, no?)

Last thing: One of the Disney crew members did me a kindness by unspooling two animated song sequences of the upcoming Winnie the Pooh, one featuring WP frolicking inside a dream sequence. The other was a sprightly number boarded and choreographed by Eric Goldberg in a fresh and very imaginative way. The songs were serviceable, the visuals and animation super fine.

Based on what I've seen, I think the Pooh picture will be well-received when it comes out and make a nice amount of cash. (I'm told that it's on schedule on still holding to its $35 million budget. Rough animation will be completed in September.)

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping Tangled makes a killing at the box office. Lord knows those poor souls need a morale boost, even though they ARE making the most appealing-looking CG film ever made to-date.

Anonymous said...

The SECOND most appealing-looking CG film ever made to-date.

After "Up."

Anonymous said...

Yes, nothing more appealing than an octogenarian gymnast with a cube for a head.

Jeremy said...

For what it's worth, I wanted to offer my best wishes. It's never easy being laid off, even when it is expected, and I hope everyone lands on their feet.

Anonymous said...

Tangled has Up beat, hands down. If anything is better than Tangled, its Ratatouille.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, they're going to practically shut the place down, no matter what they publicly say.
It would help the place if they would make it a place that is more open and fun like Pixar is, but with the paranoia and secrecy, I don't that is going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Thats not the problem. The problem is revenue. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

"Tangled has Up beat, hands down. If anything is better than Tangled, its Ratatouille."

Shouldn't you have said "Tangled is up beat?"

Michael Polvani said...

I've heard nothing but wonderful news from folks on the crew about the Winnie the Pooh feature and am looking forward to seeing it VERY much!

I would also like to offer my best wishes to the crew upon their finishing up.

Good luck to ALL of you!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see Tangled. Good luck to the crew(although I think they should get together and make their own studio and mentor for cash on the side). I also nominate to change Disney's name to Bizney, out of respect for Walt seeing the reason he started his studio with Ub was cause the suits jacked his talent and left him high and dry.....wait that's what they are doing now!

Anonymous said...

I wish all of them well and its not a fun thing to be laidoff after working so hard. But like you said most if the studio understands or has accepted that is the new business model. Here's to getting a show going so some of them can come back.

What happens to the 2D animators in September?

Anonymous said...

rough Animation from the movie...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJCTsogXV4o

Anonymous said...

**Tangled has Up beat, hands down. If anything is better than Tangled, its Ratatouille.**

Ratatouille was the most boutique-y movie Pixar has ever made...and one of the weakest. Only Cars is weaker. Let's hope Tangled is better than that...

Anonymous said...

I was talking visuals, not story.

Anonymous said...

@Steve Hulett: That concept art you have embedded is not from "Tangled" but from "Happily Never After". It was shown on the bonus features of the DVD too. Somehow that image got itself online and because it depicts Rapunzel everyone thought it was a concept art for the Disney movie. Apparently it is not. If you don't believe me you can check for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Any word if Carly Simon will be returning for the Pooh movie?

Anonymous said...

Why are we comparing pixar and disney films?

I'll judge Tangled when the film comes out.

Also, were a lot of those animators you spoke to Steve hired on from the get go as a run of picture? I doubt they're letting go of their entire animation crew -

I've heard about some of the things in development and they seem pretty exciting. I think Disney's got some serious contenders for great films in the pipeline. Here's hoping they see them through! I've got friends over there and wish them only the best -

Steve Hulett said...

That concept art you have embedded is not from "Tangled" but from "Happily Never After".

I think you're right.

My fault for lurching around looking for an image and finding a mislabeled one. Which I then, of course, use.

My mistake.

Steve Hulett said...

Also, were a lot of those animators you spoke to Steve hired on from the get go as a run of picture? I doubt they're letting go of their entire animation crew -

No, they're not letting go of everyone. But they are letting go of some folks who've been there for years, as well as production hires.

Sadly, an old story at the Mouse House.

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