Monday, May 15, 2006

Meet the WDFA

Monday was spent at Disney Feature Animation, where I spent some time talking to tech directors who want improved family leave benefits... Specifically, matching company funds for women who are away from work having babies. The company match is designed to improve state disability and/or unemployment benefits so that they equal the employee's Disney salary. This benefit is now offered to the Mouse House's non-union employees, but not those working under a union contract. I was asked why that is. I answered "because the company chooses not to. Disney can grant benefits to whoever it wants. Like it used to give stock options to most of its animation staff, but options for artists stopped in the mid-eighties, when Michael Eisner took the helm..." (Lucky for the "Nine Old Men" and other first-generation artists that Walt felt differently.) Word floats hither and yon that "Rapunzel" might be made as a hand-drawn feature (I know that was Glen Keane's desire a couple of years back. And I know that, if hand-drawn, Glen wanted to animate on it.) I saw, with my very own eyes, artists drawing actual "Rapunzel" characters on paper and with light boards. (Addendum to the above: The Rapunzel paragraph -- about it being hand-drawn -- is...ahm...not accurate. I should have checked with one of the leads on "R" who I talk to all the time. But was Hulett remembering this info at the time his fingers hit the keys? Noooo. Should Hulett have checked further? Yeeess. I Hulett occasionally lazy? No comment.) Up on the third floor, there's some nifty artwork being done for "Joe Jump." (Mr. Jump appears to be on track as a CGI character in a CGI 'toon.) Lots of story artists are prepping pitches for the shorts program. Staffers continue to marvel at how open and straight-forward Ed Catmull is compared to..well, the previous President of WDFA.


Chrlane said...

I would like to propose that it is in the best interests of a family entertainment company to invest in the quality of the family lives of their employees. It may seem financially burdensome, but I assure you, it will inevitably result in a higher quality and level of efficiency in their workers. This is the delicate nature of the human commodity. You cannot discount the impact of their personal lives on their morale, and therefore on the quality of their work.

And for those who see exploiting the Third World as a viable option-- you are nothing more than slave drivers. And that is nothing less than shameful in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

"Rapunzel" is a 3D production. Yes, Glen Keane originally wanted to do the film in 2D a few years back. But when asked point-blank by John Lasseter after the merger whether he would like to do the film in 2D, Glen responded (paraphased): "If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said 'Yes.', but seeing what is now possible, I would have to say 'No.' I want to do it in 3D, but a 3D that we haven't seen yet." This comes directly from Glen himself, as told to the Rapunzel crew. The artists who are exploring characters in 2D are doing so in order to more fully inform the 3D character construction process. Drawing, painting and sculpture will play a significant role in the creation of this 3D film.

Steve Hulett said...

Yes, I've subsequently been informed "R" will stay a 3-D production.

No point in setting too many hearts aflutter. But hopes remain high for another hand-drawn feature from Disney. As John Lasseter says in this week's TIME:

"Of all studios that should be doing 2-D animation, it should be Disney. We haven't said anything publicly, but I can guarantee you that we're thinking about it. Because I believe in it."

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