Monday, February 27, 2006

Scuttlebutt at the House of Mouse

I was out at Disney Feature Animation this afternoon, and the buzz around the building was that Ed Catmull (the incoming Prez of Disney Feature Animation) was holding meetings across Riverside Drive with groups of Disney Animation employees.
Employees with whom I chatted were very upbeat about the meetings.  They related that plans by the incoming team include:
* Having directors be the drivers of the features in development and production, with less interference from corporate administrators (this would be a big step in the right direction, IMO.)
* Fixing small problems before they become big problems.  For instance, when Pixar employees were having carpal tunnel problems because of work crunches, they made work stations more ergonomic and brought in physical therapists.  Medical expenses fell dramatically.
* Pixar and Disney Feature Animation will remain separate studios turning out different projects; each likely doing one feature a year.
The new creative team can't get into specifics of its plans, since there's government regs preventing them from making decisions before the merger becomes final.  But the half-dozen employees I talked to think there is definitely a new and better era coming. 
Other scuttlebutt:  Ron Clements and John Musker (director/writers of "Aladdin," "Little Mermaid," and "Treasure Planet" among others) will be returning to Disney Feature Animation after six months away.  They left the studio last September.  So the Fall departure was really more like a half year sabbatical.


Anonymous said...

Great news for traditional animation. Leave the art for the artist. 200 people in a year can make a great movie, all in Burbank.

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