Sunday, November 15, 2015

Animation's First Modern Turning Point

Not Toy Story (that was the second), but the release of this:

It was released 26 year ago. It was the start of animation's renaissance. ...

And at the moment of its first pitch, studio brass turned it down.

Ron Clements presented Mermaid as one of his ideas for a new feature at an Eisner-Katzenberg "gong show" the summer of '85. The pitch session was in the conference room of the Disney commissary, and almost every animation director and story person was in attendance.

Jeffrey Katzenberg passed. ("Splash is the studio's mermaid picture." ... "We're not doing any more fairy tales." ... etc.)

Ron wouldn't take no for an answer. He sent a longer treatment to Mr. Katzenberg, and Mr. Katzenberg changed his mind. And the rest -- the hiring of Ashman and Mencken, story development, test animation -- unfolded over the next four-plus years ... until the feature was released in November of '89 and changed the course of animation.

It was the first feature to use the CAPs ink-and-paint system (developed by a tiny little northern California company named Pixar).

It was the first animated feature in ages to put songs and musical numbers back into the foreground.

It contained full-bodied characters the audience cared about, and that were funny.

And the feature made a whole lot of money. And the studio ... and ultimately the wider movie industry, began to take animation seriously as a theatrical force.


Firefly said...

I always thought LM was the last cel-painted feature and Rescuers Down Under was the first to use caps? Or was LM partially completed with caps?

Firefly said...

nevermind, just answered my own question!

Steve Hulett said...

Yup. ONE SCENE was done in CAPS.

So, the first.

Unknown said...

Could you do a piece like this but for Treasure Planet Steve? Oh, the stories you can tell & just what the hell went wrong!

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