Friday, November 25, 2011

IS HOLLYWOOD ANIMATION A BOY’S CLUB?

Directors get fired from animated features all the time for various reasons: they go over budget, they take too long or they have “creative differences” with studios.  Glen Keane got replaced after working for seven years on Disney’s RAPUNZEL, renamed TANGLED,  Jan Pinkava  was replaced on Pixar’s RATATOUILLE after five years of work and last year Brenda Chapman was replaced by Pixar after six years as sole director on THE BEAR AND THE BOW, renamed BRAVE.
    What made Brenda’s replacement particularly disappointing was the fact that, while most major studios have at least two directors on every feature film, prestigious Pixar often has only one and Brenda would have joined such illustrious solo directors as John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Lee Unkrich and would have been only the second woman solo director of a big-budget animated feature for a major studio in the seventy-four year history of Hollywood feature animation. On the other hand, she does join
other illustrious replaced animation directors like Glen Keane, Jan Pinkava, Roger Allers.   
    Nobody is saying that Brenda was hired or fired for being a girl,
but the animation industry has been watching her with great interest because she was expected to join the one solo female director of a big-budget animated feature film for a major Hollywood studio in seventy-four years: Jennifer Yuh, who directed KUNGFU PANDA 2 for DreamWorks.
    Brenda Chapman appears to be the first woman to to get a co-director’s credit, on DreamWorks’ PRINCE OF EGYPT (with Simon Wells and Steve Hickner) in 1998.  In 2000 Jun Falkenstein solo-directed Disney's modestly budgeted feature THE TIGGER MOVIE, in 2002 Lorna Cook co-directed, with Kelly Asbury, SPIRIT: STALLIN OF THE CIMARRON, in 2006 Jill Culton co-directed (with Roger Allers and Antony Stacchi) OPEN SEASON for Sony and, in 2012 Brenda will get another co-director’s credit (with Mark Andrews) for BRAVE.
    Five woman directors in seventy-four years.  Is this pathetic or what?
    Even though there are many female producers in the Hollywood animation industry, on the creative side breasts and ovaries seem to be impediments to heading departments and directing.  Well, most studio heads seem to think so anyway, with the exception of Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks, who hired Lorna Cook, Brenda Chapman and Jennifer Yuh.
    Another possible factor in Brenda Chapman’s replacement could be parent-company Disney’s change of animated feature template. A fairly sexist template too, when you think that their target demographic is twelve-year-old boys. As we know, Disney’s RAPUNZEL was reworked to fit this template and renamed TANGLED. Why reworked?  Because Disney allegedly blamed the lack of profits generated by THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG on the fact that it was too girly and isn’t that a bit sexist too? After all, the only thing wrong with girls in film is the way they’re portrayed. Ellen Ripley in ALIEN is the way to do it. Where is it written that a female animated lead must be a princess? And surely tougher princesses can't be the key to making more money? Anyway, Disney decided that adding a hero, a sidekick horse and a new Rapunzel, all behaving boyishly, would appeal to the target demographic. So Glen Keane was replaced as director, the beautiful but now “too girly” software Glen helped invent for the film was quickly sold off and hey presto––the profits of TANGLED did not exceed those of The PRINCESS AND THE FROG by much.
    Could it be that the same type of thinking is being applied to Pixar, forcing them into franchises and template film-making
(CARS2, PLANES,   MONSTERS UNIVERSITY)? Are we going to see a tougher, more boyish princess injected into BRAVE? And, if so, is it possible that Brenda wouldn’t have been fired if Disney hadn’t bought Pixar?
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PS - How sophisticated is the software used to create the BRAVE character above? Parts of the face are soft, like the mouth and nose and parts are very sharp, like the eyes.  The hair is both sharp and soft.  Lovely.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

INTO THE STREETS

Three years after Wall Street quants caused the global economic crisis with their CDOs, sub-prime mortgage-backed securities and other finagling, we are in a worse mess that's getting worser, what with algorithmic, high frequency and rogue trading and lack of banking reform. Everything costs more than last year, people are still losing their houses and their jobs, banks are still not lending or regulated, Greece is still on the verge of bankruptcy, the euro is in big trouble and other countries like Italy and Spain are teetering on the brink of financial disaster.  Nobody is talking about W-shaped recession or "green shoots" anymore,
     And, at last, people are outraged.  
     As Emanuel Derman, a theoretical physicist and early quant says: “If people don’t complain now, it serves them right when the next financial crisis happens."
     Having understood that this is no mere recession but a global Wall-Street-made financial crisis, that corporations are treated with more respect than individuals and that no government is going to bail them out, the people who’ve suffered the consequences of bankers' greed and government bailouts have finally taken to the streets, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. 
     People have responded to @OcuppyWallStreet @OccupyLA, SanFrancisco Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Houston and also to @OccupyToronto,  @OccupyLondon @OccupyLSX on October 15th.
    Salman Rushdie tweeted: "The world's economy has been wrecked by these rapacious traders. Yet it is the protesters who are jailed."
    Why is this?

    Some ask what the protesters want.  Mainly, financial and banking reform, so this kind of crisis can't happen again.  Here are some articles that indicate what's needed: 
- The Volker Rule would restrict banks from trading for their own benefit,           
- closing the "Carried Interest" loophole that allows the wealthy to pay 15% tax 
- implementing the "Bank Tax" , proposed in January 2010 and dropped in June 2010, which would require banks to clean up after themselves
- imposing a financial transaction tax to curb speculative trading
- cancel the bad mortgage debt so "the fraud that originated on Wall Street isn't borne entirely on the real economy." 
- Investigate Wall Street: "Loans were made so fast that proper records weren't kept, which means it's difficult to hold creditors and debtors accountable."
    If you feel you're just as important as a bank or a quant or a trader, or a hedge fund manager, print out a few signs with sexy slogans like: We Demand Banking Reform,  Bank Tax Now,  Tax the RichClose the Carried Interest Loophole,  Cancel the Bad Mortgage Debt,  The 99% is too big to fail  and occupy something near you, get arrested for standing up for your rights rather than waiting for Wall Street to walk all over you again.  And if you don't want to get arrested or camp out, donate some supplies and "OccuPies" to the occupiers via their Twitter accounts.
     As somebody else said: More protesters of Wall Street's criminal behavior were arrested yesterday in New York, than any perpetrators of this catastrophe.  
     Why is this?
     For a big-picture understanding of what's going on worldwide, check out this informative RSA Animate video of the Crises of Capitalism by renowned academic David Harvey, see why politicians are talking crap, why we must speak out against banksters and the global economy gone horribly wrong in the West.

Photo: Robin Wilkey @OccupySanFrancisco

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

WRITING FOR ANIMATION

In 1927, while preparing shorts Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie, one of the first animated films 
with synchronised sound, the Walt Disney studio invented the storyboard, a form of writing in pictures, similar to comic book panels.

The storyboard quickly caught on and now most live action films are boarded as well as written.  Looking at the example, you can see why a storyboard has many advantages over a written script. With a few expert lines the highly specialised storyboard artist not only indicates mood, expression, intent, dialogue and movement but also body language, camera angle, camera moves and type of shot. A drawing is worth a thousand words that a screenwriter could, very often, not even imagine. Storyboard artists are really writers and masters of animation language: the exaggerated flexibility of characters, the eyes popping out on stalks, the jaw dropping to the floor, the double take, the swirls, lines and little puffs of smoke that indicate speed, the sad-eyed, shoulder-slumped dejected expression, the leap of exaltation. 

A writer could use words to explain all these things but words are open to interpretation, whereas a drawing tells you exactly what’s going to happen on the screen. Visual thinking is one reason why there were 29 "writers" on LION KING and it worked; most of them were artists and animators who knew their stuff.

When screenwriters were hired to work on animated features, there was a great deal of friction between directors, storyboarders and the writers. The writers felt they were working on inferior material, animation being held in a certain amount of contempt by the literary establishment, especially Hollywood screenwriters and they were indignant when their stuff was thrown out and radically revised by storyboarders and directors who knew exactly what they wanted and had quite a bit of contempt of their own for hoity-toity literature and writers who wanted to intellectualise animation.

 Here's Chris Sanders' famous, thinly veiled, beautifully illustrated story: The Big Bear Aircraft Company, on the subject of writers and animation.  Chris has moved on to direct the wonderful Lilo and Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon which both have his inimitable connection to the audience, unwriteable and undrawable, a personal magic.
    Animation has grown a lot technically since then, but not much intellectually; it’s still considered a jokey medium exclusively for children. A few adventurous feature films have proved that it’s not. Animation is a medium and a medium can be used to express anything.   
    Maybe prejudice on both sides could move aside so animation could evolve and expand and Disney, who does animation better than anyone's, could consider developing what they’re good at instead of doing mediocre CGI*, recycling old stuff in 3D and considering a sequel to Roger Rabbit in CGI and mocap, shudder.
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PS April 2016 - *Disney has, of course, since moved on to make breathtakingly excellent CGI films like FROZEN and ZOOTOPIA, even more reason to consider doing an animated feature for adults.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ANIMATION FOR ADULTS

     Since we know that mocap and CGI characters have a creepy, disturbing effect on audiences because they look like corpses, zombies and prosthetic limbs, wouldn’t it be logical to explore and develop an art that everybody loves and that doesn’t creep anyone out: traditional animation?
    How about bringing great art to life?  Even more radical, how about bringing great literature to life with great art?  The way Disney brought great music to life with beautiful art in Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.
    Animated films don’t have to be restricted to whimsy and children’s stories anymore.  Today’s animation is a sophisticated medium that can be used to tell any story.  Most traditional animation incorporates quite a bit of CGI these days it's not as old school as you might think 

 
(the above CG backgrounds in Tarzan for example),  so an even closer collaboration of the two media might produce surprising results.
     Imagine an animated feature of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, for example and Gogol’s The Nose and The Overcoat.  Joseph Brodsky’s graphic poetry would be especially interesting to animate, as would Boris Vian’s l’Ecume des Jours and Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.  There’s plenty of blood and guts, historical and costume drama and sexy intrigue in literature, as well as philosophy, satire, fantasy, horror and other juicy stuff, so let’s move on to more thoughtful adult animated films.  I know many beautiful animated shorts have been made of literary subjects, including Caroline Leaf’s The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa, but I’m talking about fully developed feature films here, with identifiable adult characters and plots.  Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir have proved that political repression and wartime atrocities can be successfully done in animation, so how hard would it be to make a successful animated feature of Jennifer Egan’s A visit From the Goon Squad?  The same care and talent go into top animated acting, lighting, camera angles, set decoration, costume design as go into top live-action films.  Look at any Disney feature and you'll see this. 
    Digital tools to render generic oils and watercolors already exist, but I’m pretty sure scientists could do better and make specific painting styles for CG tools, a Matisse model, a Léger model, a Hopper model, and even a Picasso model, why not?   This was already attempted by Kyle Strawitz and Glen Keane at Disney when they invented a lovely painterly software for the film Rapunzel/Tangled based on Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s painting  Les Hasards Heureux de l’escarpolette but Disney never even mentioned it in connection with the film after they decided to make the story less girly and add a boy and a horse to appeal to the twelve-year-old-boy demographic.  They recently sold the software to someone else, what a shame.  While the software wasn’t exactly Fragonardesque, it was much softer than the usual photo-realistic CGI images and it was an evolutionary step away from the same old treadmill. 

 
    Animation producers, the fairy tale, comic book heroes and ogre markets are saturated and audiences comprise more than the twelve-year-old-boys.  Many adults also love animation and discerning adult animation-lovers will buy many DVDs and much animation art, so why limit your market?  It’s time to dare to push the animation envelope and break out of the children’s toy box.  Forget about box-office profits for a minute, hire some innovative scientists and adventurous animators to research new artistic software.  And some bold writers to write animated scripts for adults or adapt great authors like Nabokov, Morrison, Barbery for adult animation.  Give great art and literature a shot. There could be a big payoff later from a whole new market.

   
    Picture Flaubert, Houellebecq and Beauvoir animated in the style of Edmund Dulac, Jacques Rousseau, Marcel Duchamps or Fernand Léger:


Imagine Dickens, Pinter, Lessing, Joyce, Burgess, Dahl animated in the style of Arthur Rackham, Peter Max, Roger Dean:

 
Nabokov, Pasternak, Bulgakov animated in the style of
Orinyansky, Billibin and Vasnetsov:


Annie Proulx, Fran Lebowitz, Chuck Palahniuk animated in the style of Hopper, Pollock, Lichtenstein:


 
    Of course we don’t have to match the literature to the artist of the same nationality, it’s just a thought and, if you don't feel that adventurous, it doesn't even have to be an existing book or art, just an animated feature film for adults.  Or you could start with a best-seller with a built-in audience, like The Help - after all, animation is not inherently silly or funny, it's the animators who make it so and they can also make it serious, dramatic, thrilling, romantic and sad.
    There’s so much exciting stuff to be done in animation, we shouldn’t leave innovation to the Iranians and the Israelis only, everybody needs to get involved.  Sylvain Chomet, Andreas Déja, Caroline Leaf, Bill Plympton, Richard Williams what do you think?
    Audiences, what do you think?   Demand more intellectually challenging animation from the studios: DreamWorks:
@DWAnimation /   @blueSkyStudios / @DisneyAnimation  /  @Sonyanimation
 

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

TINTIN AND THE UNCANNY VALLEY

There’s something magic about a drawing that moves on the screen; we happily suspend disbelief and laugh at all kinds of pencil-generated silliness and cartoon exaggeration. But there’s something creepy about a well-known cartoon character in CGI (Popeye, Mickey, Smurfs) and downright repellant about a cartoon character in mocap. The same gags and exaggeration that charm us in pencil animation, leave us stone cold and disturbed in mocap.


We feel quite pleased when looking at the drawn Tintin but uneasy and incredulous when looking at the mocap version. Is that really Tintin?
     In other examples, look at this early Spielberg “Tintin” trailer. Aren’t you bothered by Milou’s spastic movements, Tintin’s glass face and Dupont and Dupond’s very realistic eyes looking through holes torn in the realistic newspaper? Somehow it just doesn’t work, it’s not funny or quaint, just disturbing and very contrived. This medium won’t let us suspend our disbelief.  It’s The Uncanny Valley effect.


Apparently, Spielberg’s idea was to put the skin of a Tintin drawing on a mocap body captured from a human actor, create a hybrid of live action and animation. But, just as oils and watercolors don’t mix, neither do mocap and Hergé's art. Animation and live-action characters can work together independently, like the wonderful, Spielberg-produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit but they can’t genetically combine because they’re different species.
    Some of the delightful drawing and colors of the comic books by Tintin's creator, Belgian artist and author Hergé, are retained in early pencil animation, but are completely lost in mocap, which sucks every bit of life out of a character and loses Hergé's lovely “ligne claire”, a fine, even line which is the secret of Tintin's charm. Imagine what wonders could have been achieved for Tintin in top notch pencil animation with a mocap budget. Especially since a ligne claire is also used in pencil animation.


Making a mocap movie is massively complex. A director has to hire live actors, have them act out the whole movie with sensors stuck all over them, including their face, then the data thus captured becomes stilted 3D action which has to be colored and clothed and smoothed out by animators. So much effort for a mediocre result.

Even though the Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn trailer #2, poster and editing have been redone, we now have Indiana Tintin, not our beloved hand-drawn reporter of the charming rocambolesque adventures.  

This is not a critique of Steven Spielberg’s work, after all he never does anything that’s not innovative and excellent. Rather, it's a defense of the fragile art of Tintin. The fine ink lines and delicate watercolors on paper have been crushed by the weight of 3D humanoid figures and the jerky movements of mocap. Trying to force mocap on to hand-drawn animation is like trying to mate an elephant with a spider.

Directors, we understand your desire to explore new media, but this one has been explored enough and we find it distressing to watch. No matter how loud you make the music, how fast you cut the action sequences, how many sensors you use, mocap will never look alive. And why should it?  We already have live actors and wonderful cinematography to capture them perfectly and equally wonderful animation to capture whimsy and fantasy and we also have remarkable CGI to enhance both, so what exactly is the point of mocap? 

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Did you notice all the articles about the Uncanny Valley 
that came out after this blog was published? 
 The Guardian's even has the exact same title.
Just saying. 

PS December 2014: This Disney research is interesting but I don't think it will solve the problem because the uncanny valley effect involves more than eyes.
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 MOCAP, ANIMATION, CGI, COMICS, TINTIN, UNCANNY VALLEY, ART

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DISNEY ANIMATION HISTORY Part IX: BEHIND THE BLUE HAT

The Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank

Inside the main lobby.

Inside the blue hat.  See the light coming in the rear window?   Formerly Roy Disney's office, now a conference room.

The secret staircase

Corridors 1 and 2

 Disney animator’s desk

Just kidding, this is a real Disney 2D animator’s desk. 

And back outside the blue hat again.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

The entrance on Buena Vista Drive.

These traditional animation departments have moved across the street and only the signs are left for historical interest:


The commissary with outdoor patio, wisteria and pretty good food.

The beautiful old animation building now houses producers.


Dopey Drive (note the squirrel) and Eucalyptus Drive 
(the old animation building at right)

Management buildings made of the finest Italian marble.

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COMING SOON: BEHIND THE BLUE HAT

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MESDAMES LES MISOGYNES


French women do everything modern women do, but, astonishingly, many still defer to men, allowing themselves to be treated like inferiors, children and servants.  Even though most French women work, are financially independent and sexually responsible, they continue to tolerate men’s antiquated, old-fashioned, out-dated, passé paternalism and machismo. 
French women are no shrinking violets.  Very few think they’re inferior to men, they’re mostly strong, ambitious, free-thinking, out-spoken, go-getting women of action.  French women stand up for themselves and are not afraid to speak out––except to the men in their life.
    Many French women will also walk all over their female friends to get and keep a man, obviously not considering female friendship worth a damn and thus illustrating the fact that they don’t think much of their gender. Giving men this much power weakens women and the entire culture.
    Shocking, really, when you think that French feminism had it’s origins in the Revolution of 1789     and one of the most famous works about feminism,    The Second Sex was written by Simone de Beauvoir.  Not that there aren’t feminists in France today, but, as late    as 1974, France actually had a Minister of the Feminine Condition.  Good grief. 
    The reason most French women give for their behavior is that they are deathly afraid of being thought of as “aggressive”, as they consider feminists and American women to be.   As if being groped, attacked and insulted makes you feel soft and feminine.  They prefer to appear submissive in public and to wield their power behind men’s back.   This involves much subterfuge, artifice, manipulation and quite a bit of deceit.  Nasty, underhanded stuff.
   This behind-the-scenes “power” also creates men who believe they can get away with anything, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose innocence we will presume until he’s proven guilty.  As long as women allow men to behave abusively, men will continue to abuse them.  French women say they believe in equal pay for equal work and they complain bitterly to other women when men treat them like children and servants, but many are just not prepared to stand up for their rights for fear of being thought “aggressive”, “crazy” and “feministe”, a dirty word in France.
    Tolerating male dominance is admitting that you’re inferior, that it’s okay to pay you less, treat you disrespectfully, order you around and expect you to be a servant, no matter how cleverly you dodge around behind his back.  This decades out-of-date behavior is feminine machismo, female sexism and it does France no favours.
    French men will tell you that they don’t dominate women, that French women are strong and free to do what they like and they have plenty of power.  I recently heard a young male French film director defending the wimpiness of his heroine by saying that she really had plenty of power at home.  So much for French gallantry.
    Standing up for your rights as a human being is not aggressive, it’s essential. 
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

WHAT KIND OF MOTHER?

      Photo: Louise Bourgeois' sculpture "Maman" 

     I’ve often wondered what abused children feel about Mother’s Day.  What do they think about all the advertising exhorting them to pay tribute to their mother for all the loving guidance, encouragement, protection and support she’s never given them? 
     What do they make of the gift-giving, floral tributes, dutiful telephone calls and loving lunches to be given to the woman who gave birth to them, who holds the powerful and venerable title of “mother” but who doesn’t deserve it?   
    What do they think of doing to the woman who beat, kicked, slapped, insulted, burned and humiliated them? Abusing a child is condemning him to a damaged life so, what kind of tribute should be paid to someone who’s abused trust and innocence and made a child suspicious and wary of others? Solitary confinement, drawing and quartering? A day in Abu Graib?
     What kind of flowers would you send to an abusive mother? Dead black roses with plenty of thorns? Weeds and poison ivy for evil and wickedness? A wreath of nettles with black ribbons mourning the death of motherhood in her case?  
    What kind of gift does cruelty merit? Arsenic-laced chocolates? A rack, handcuffs, a water-board?
    What kind of mother abuses her own child? Obviously, a cowardly one, deserving of the utmost contempt. Who would raise a child with hatred instead of love, sneers instead of encouragement, hits instead of protection?   Imagine being attacked by the very person whose job it is to protect you. If you your own mother hates you, what’s the world going to do to you?  
    On Mother’s Day, do abused children make reproachful phone calls with angry accusations? Send their mothers cards full of curses, reproaches and suffering?
    Or do they send Mike Tyson to beat the crap out of her, bite her ear off, pull her hair, scream at her, belittle her and tell her she’s bad, evil, twisted, insane, selfish and cruel?
    It must be tempting.                                   
    What would you do?
    Perhaps grown abused children don’t mark the day at all because it has too many ugly memories of having their sovereign self beaten into non-existence, their accomplishments ignored, their dreams held in contempt.
    I like to think that, on Mother’s Day, abused children choose to celebrate themselves instead, knowing that they mothered and comforted themselves as best they could. Perhaps they send themselves a mothers’ day card and flowers. Why not, they certainly deserve them. I hope they refuse to waste one iota of reclaimed life on an evil female who once had total control over them and abused that power. I hope they prefer to celebrate the fact that they managed to rise above the slaps, whips and harsh words to live a generous, loving life even if it is a bit bruised, broken and patched in places. 

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

THE LION KING

Last Sunday a group of animators had a viewing party on Twitter while watching THE LION KING and we all agreed it's one of the best animated features ever made. Some of the things that make it great: 

1) the stunning opening sequence will give you goose bumps, starting with exotic bird sounds, a distant roar behind the studio logo (even though it’s not MGM) then a dramatic drum beat echoing into silence over the title and the thrilling “Circle of Life” number with its swooping camera moves, focus-racking from ants to zebras and the breathtaking flying shots of three layers of flamingos flying over a sunlit river.  
2) Hans Zimmer won an Oscar for the music and Elton John’s career was resurrected by the wonderful songs he and Tim Rice wrote for this film: “I Just Can't Wait to be King”, “Hakuna matata”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” all make you want to dance, swoon and sing along, what could be better?

3) Chris Sanders’ production number for the song “I Just Can't Wait to be King”, is so beautifully designed, edited, colorful and exuberant you just want to be king. Or queen. Or both.


4) The sensational slow-motion lion fight set against a fire. 

5) The acting done by the animators is remarkable. Marvel at Simba’s personality successfully making the transition from cub to adolescent to adulthood, and the impressive feline movements in the animation, so realistic you feel the bones, the fur and the sinewy weight of the animals.

6) Instead of a solid wall of loudness, LION KING has peaks and valleys of sound, from delicate bird twittering, to soulful chats about the stars, to thundering lion roars, to rousing music and it allows us time to savor the differences.


7) Much research and effort went into designing the characters, including visits to zoos, lions at the studio to pose for the artists and esteemed lecturers from the University of Chicago giving artists lectures on hyena behavior. One hyena consultant was so upset that the hyenas were portrayed as fools that he allegedly sued Disney studios for defamation of character and suggested boycotting The Lion King. Others saw the hyenas’ African-American and Latino accents as racist (And you think animators take their work too seriously?) Here's an example of the efforts animators made to faithfully represent hyena morphology: 


8) Astonishingly, 29 writers are credited as having participated in the writing of LION KING, including directors Gary Trousdale, Chris Sanders, Kirk Wise, artists Ed Gombert and Andy Gaskill and animator Tom Sito. It’s a very dense film, bristling with one-liners, gags, inside jokes, puns, wise-cracks, drama, even death and sadness, all held together with a rare overall joyful exuberance. How is it possible that so many writers could have produced such a happy, coherent film? Usually multiple writers make a terrible mess, but this not only works, but works sublimely. “Hamlet with lions”, was the famous pitch for this movie, the original treatment, inspired by Hamlet, having been written by Thomas Disch in late 1988. But, as his treatment was written as work-for-hire, Disch received no credit or royalties. A crying shame, considering the twenty-nine other "writers" who did get credit and royalties based in his original idea; it’s so easy to build on a good idea. How hard would it have been to give him an "inspired by" or a "suggested by" credit?  

9) Surely it was the directors, Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, who brought out the best in all these disparate people, put it all together with talent, enthusiasm, a clear vision, some voodoo and quite a bit of luck?
 

A surprising fact is that LION KING was made in a warehouse in Glendale, not at the Disney studios in Burbank, the animation department having been kicked out of their offices and threatened with extinction by Michael Eisner in 1988 and only returned to the main studio after the success of THE LION KING.
       Watch THE LION KING and see what makes it magic for you.

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