Friday, January 04, 2013

Around the (Ever-Changing) Studios

So now that the holidays are over, I am back schlepping through the various halls of various fun factories ...

Today at the Hat Building, the lighting department was cranking up for a concentrated production schedule on Frozen:

We worked on a test sequence to see how the characters will look, how the environment [lots of snow!] looks. It's coming right along. The picture gets released in November, so we'll be busy. ...

Another staffer said the studio is doing the project with a relatively lean crew; the staffer also thinks that more hires will be made later in the year to meet the full-steam-ahead production schedule.

Upstairs, a story artist told me the next picture to go into production after Frozen has been decided on but not yet announced, so I (of course) will keep my yap shut. (Hint: It's one of the films now in development.)

And maybe I'm out of the loop, but the thingie that was total news to me?

The company will be gutting the whole inside of the Hat building, changing where people enter, blowing out all the offices and making the floor space way more usable.

People are going to come in through the Sorcerer's hat and enter a big space on the second floor. The story rooms -- which I think are too big -- will be shrunk. The offices and hallways will be reconfigured.

I like the idea that we'll be in the same building, but the space will be complately changed around ...

I didn't know the revamp was taking place, but (if true) it's an excellent event to have happen. Because the interior of the HB as it now exists is ... how do I put this delicately? ...


I'll give you a few choice examples: The lobby is small and down a long, dim hall far away from the front doors. The lobby and curved entrance desk are part of a circular, high-ceilinged space with acres of window glass that enables whoever gets to man said desk to bake in the midday sun.

Actually, that was the reality in the old, early days. But that meant dehydration and permanent sunburn for any Disney employee sitting for hours back of the desk. Solution? They put up a big umbrella so the people out there could live to a ripe old age without getting melanoma.

It was ludicrous.

So ludicrous, in fact, that feature director John Musker drew a gag cartoon depicting the front desk (under the umbrella) as the reception area to an "Islands" restaurant, showing the guards and receptionist beneath the canvas in bright Hawaiian shirts. (This was way before John Lasseter took over.)

The umbrella was eventually replaced by a big metal sun guard that looked like a space ship from Fry's Electronics. More ludicrousness.

Hallways weren't (aren't) intelligently laid out. You march down a passageway and the aisle comes to an an abrupt end, or veers off in another direction. Offices are small and chopped up. Large areas have little natural light. The place would make a dandy maze for rodents, but it's not the greatest workspace for human beings.

(Another added treat: There are three main floors. If one floor is heated or cooled at a comfortable temperature, the other two floors are either too hot or too cold. In winter, staffers use free-standing floor heaters in various locations.)

So my reaction to Diz Co. tearing up the existing floor plan and starting over?

About. Freaking. Time.

& & & & & & &

Meanwhile, over at DreamWorks Animation, I'm told by the story crew of Sherman and Peabody, who have just recently seen all the story reels, that the continuity is in good shape, with two acts pretty well locked and one act getting some revisions.


Megan said...

Thanks for the update, Steve.
I hope Disney will show soon something about "Frozen".

I read "Big Hero 6" is the next movie after "Frozen". Is it confirmed? or Ron & John movie will be the next movie to go into production after "Frozen"?
reading your article, I'm thinking Ron & John next movie will be an "Islands" movie, probably Hawaiian or Polynesian...


Steve Hulett said...

You seem pretty close to the mark, far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

How about the rest of the films in development? Are they coming along?

It's been a long time since I've heard anything about Dean Wellins' project or the ones by Byron Howard and Nathan Greno. Are they still on track?

Justin said...

I've worked in this building for 7 years and given an office number I still need a map to know where it's located. They've been working on a redesign of the building for about a year, but the last I heard was that the architect was approved for the next phase of design but that full construction had not yet been approved. That may have changed in the past couple of weeks.

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