March 31, 2011 by Kelvin Cedeno
If you're an animation fan, you know how arduous the
process of making moving images really is. If you're an animation
fan and don't know that, then please retire your membership badge
and watch the bonus features on a Disney DVD or Blu-ray. Perhaps you
have and you're still craving more. If that's the case, then the
Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series is just for you.
This series collects production artwork from the Walt Disney
Archives in handsome coffee table books.
Having released the first volume, Story, back in
2008, Disney realized, as any animation fan should know, that there
are a great many steps and layers to making an animation feature.
Creating the story is just the first step. So, naturally, they
decided to devote a second volume to what's perhaps the most
difficult aspect of production - the animation process itself.
In Animation, we see a great deal of
beautifully-scanned sketches that were later cleaned up, inked, and
painted for their respective films. Animators have often bemoaned
the fact that their original drawings (24 per second) don't usually
end up directly on the screen since technically the on screen
product is a clean tracing done by someone else. Here, though, we
get to see these works of art in their original, and often rough,
32 feature films and 18 short subjects are covered
chronologically in this collection starting with 1928's 'Sagebrush
Sadie' (a rare Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short) all the way through
2009's The Princess and the Frog. While the Story volume had a few
fold-out pages that revealed more artwork, this Animation volume has
quite a few more. They include Pluto's attempts at trying to get
flypaper off of him (from 1934's 'Playful Pluto'), Dumbo being
cradled in Mrs. Jumbo's trunk, Maleficent transforming into a
dragon, the Beast's transformation into a human, the Genie's wild
introduction, and Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation:
Cinderella's ball gown transformation.
While the format matches Story nicely (including
another introduction by Disney and Pixar creative chief officer),
there are slight changes that offer both positives and negatives. On
the negative side, there's no film index in the back of the book
like there was with Story. There's an index for characters and
objects, but not films and shorts. Also, less films are covered in
this volume than in the previous one. However, this has the pleasing
effect of devoting more images per film in the 262-page book,
especially for the Walt-era ones. Another nice touch is that,
instead of lumping all of the artist credits at the end, they appear
as captions throughout the pages for convenience. As with the
previous book, the last few pages feature photos of the legendary
animators whose work you're witnessing.
Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series -
Animation is another pleasing volume in an impressive roster of
books. Despite what Disney's marketing attempts may like you to
believe, animation isn't just a babysitting tool. It's a pure art
form. To be able to see the raw work of such masters as Marc Davis,
Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, and Eric Goldberg
collected together is like having a personal museum. The hard work
these and many other animators poured into their characters is
evident here. To you animation fans who appreciate such efforts,
this book comes highly recommended. To the rest of you fans who
haven't appreciated them until now, you may pick up your membership
badge again as soon as you've perused through this series.
This article is a follow up to
February 3rd article about the Story book in the same series!