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Disney feature animation going DIGITAL (not closing down as I said before)

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About a month ago I sent in an article titled "Disney animation to Close Down". That was actually not a fact but an opinion, and so I should have chosen a different title. Here are more details.

The current classical animation production, "Treasure Planet", looks like it's going to be quite good indeed. The classical animation production being done by the other production unit, "Sweating Bullets" sounds fairly lame to me but it's too early in production to really get any information about it - except that it *WILL* be the last regular animated feature film made by the Disney studios in Burbank.

After these two films currently in production are completed, all upcoming features done on the west coast will be done by computer animation. There will not be another hand drawn feature film made on the west coast by Disney.

I don't know what's going on in Florida, and I don't know what the television side of Disney is doing.

I just came back from watching "Monsters Inc." and while it was a great film, it doesn't look anywhere as beautiful as "Lion King" did. I think we may have finally reached the point where computer animation is cheaper than classical. It had to come someday.

Now before a "Sounds like Hearsay" tagline gets stuck on this - I have personally verified this with three different animators in the Disney feature department, two of which are scrambing to learn 3D and the third is debating retirement.

So those are the facts. Now, in my OPINION, the animation department is closing down. Consider what the "Lion King" would look like in 3D computer graphics and you will understand where I'm coming from on that.

Hopefully that is a bit more clear than my previous news submission. I apologise for the confusion.


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Well, I for one though that Monsters, Inc. was just a awsome movie. If you know any of the techincal aspects of this film, you would be very impressed on what they achived with this film. There where some problems with fur here and there, but minor things compared to the lighting and texturing.

Let's also not forget that Monsters, Inc. is a Pixar movie released by Disney. Pixar also has about one more film under the Disney contract before they are able to do their own. Word on the street is that Brad Bird, the director of 'The Iron Giant' is working with Pixar on their next film.

The Lion King in 3D ? Well, the times have changed and I'm sure someone over at Disney got impressed by how much Sherk made in the box office and video sales and decided to go full out with the 3D department. Though I wonder excatly how sense they shut down 'The Sercet Lab', the folks who made Dinosaur. (,7220,30771,00.html)

Yes, the Lion King was a good movie but I havn't seen a film sense that really was as good as that. Their sales on animated movies are going down and if you saw the trades, Disney lost millions in thier last quaterly report. They are deffently looking for new was to increase profits now.

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> Disney lost millions in thier last quaterly report.

Does this mean that the activists (including Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping) protesting Disney's sweatshops are having an effect?

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Not really. The Southern Baptists' boycott was quite effective, however, in making Disney more conservative than it had been previously.

Their economic woes are due to a string of mediocre and poorly-attended movies that failed to move merchandise, a downturn in advertising revenue, and a slump in attendance at their theme parks.

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"Focusing on 3D" is very different from "shutting down". The West Coast studio has been moving toward 3D for awhile; "Treasure Planet" has a great deal of 3D, and Long John Silver is actually a 2D character with a 3D robot arm. They've ramped up production of their next feature, the all-3D "Chicken Little". So this isn't a big suprise.

But it doesn't mean that "the animation department" is closing down. Disney TV is still churning out their direct-to-video dreck (Dumbo 2, Hunchback 2, Peter Pan 2....), and the Florida studio is working on some really cool looking feature animation: "Lilo and Stitch", "Bears", and "The Snow Queen".

And Florida isn't their only remaining studio...there's still a good deal of work being done in Paris, in Australia, and in Asia. Disney's not at their best right now...matter of fact, they're struggling...but they're not "closing down". Not yet.

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Well, in front of "Monsters Inc" was a plug for Peter Pan 2 - as a THEATER release! It's not going direct to video. Though it should.

I wasn't aware about the 2D character with the 3D arm. I have yet to see 2D - 3D integration good enough to pull this off. We will see.

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I can't get my password yet, so I'll just say my name: packardmelan. The rest of this message IS by me.

I just wanted to say, going digital doesn't mean the same thing as "going all-3d". Many Japanese effects and animation houses are all-digital, but still produce traditional 2d cartoons just fine.

One example of this is the later Batman Beyond episodes, and to an extent the entire series. ...While originally, all of the art was drawn by hand, it was all scanned into computers and brought together digitally. And colored on the computer. After the direct-to-home release of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, which was done by the Japanese studio responsible for Akira, and Monster Rancher among other titles, WB decided to cut costs and just do everything on the computer. Presumably with tablets.

The opening credits for Monsters, Inc. shocked me as much as the rest of the movie did -- it was classic 2d Disney animation, by Pixar of all studios. That amazed me...

Now, you mentioned Lion King -- but were you aware that fair parts of the movie were done digitally? The ants on the leaves during the opening scene, and the stampeding wildabeasts were all done on the computer, as an experiment to see how it could stand up to the traditionally-animated parts of the film.

So... Disney's been making the move to all-digital, sure. That I can believe. But with the next, what, four films still done largely with traditional 2d graphics, I have a hard time believing they'd completely drop that, and go all 3d. That's Pixar's role.

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I've noticed that when Disney tries to do a film with one foot in one camp, and one in the other, it doesn't usually turn out well. Usually when they try to mix conventional animation and computer animation, it's painfully obvious. The ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast is probably the most blatent example.

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The ballroom scene is also one of the first. If you're actually paying attention, ALL of their following films have used computers, progressively more extensively; they're just getting better and better at hiding the seams. They're mostly using computers to give the animation camera the same freedom of movement in its virtual space that a real movie camera has in its space. Look at the camera work in 'Tarzan' and 'Atlantis' in particular for this. For earlier examples, look at the crowd scene in 'Hunchback,' or even some of the scenes in 'The Lion King': as Simba and Mufasa talk on Pride Rock during an early scene and the camera pans around them in an arc. That's a classic 'dolly' tracking shot, common to live action--and without computer assistance it would have been incredibly painful.

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