Archive for the ‘Animation Art in Film’ Category

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The Little Prince, 2015

March 31, 2016

It was a pleasure to have been asked to work out some visual problems for the animated film, The Little Prince. The stop-motion sequences were being produced by Duck Studios in Los Angeles and directed by Jamie Caliri. Following is an example of a before and after shot:

The problem: the scene didn’t look “epic”.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 11.29.37

Solution:

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Venice Biennale Project, Austrian Pavilion 2013

March 31, 2016

Film director, Mathias Poledna won the distinction of representing his country for the 55th, 2013 Venice Biennale. His animated short, Imitation of Life, can be seen at the Austrian pavilion. The exhibition runs from June 1- November 24.

Mathias worked with Duck Studios in Los Angeles to produce the film. The director’s art mostly pays tribute to 1930’s pictures, and accordingly, he set out to make an animated short reminiscent of early Disney movies: Snow White, Bambi, and Pinocchio. Mathias assembled a cast of traditional Disney artists, beginning with animation director Tony Bancroft.

It was important that the background art capture the vintage setting accurately. I had the good fortune to land the opportunity and help to establish a background style in watercolors. Once there we brought on two phenomenal painters to see the project through, Xiangjuan Jie and Kevin Turcotte.

Update: Imitation of Life can be seen at the Whitney Museum’s Dreamlands exhibition from October 28, 2016- February 5, 2017.

Links:

http://moussemagazine.it/55vb-austrian-pavilion/

http://ourgodisspeed.blogspot.com/2013/06/secondary-action.html#more

 

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: John Henry

November 6, 2011

John Henry backgrounds used two styles to set the stage: Scratchboard on a painted acrylic ground–digitally composited, as well as paintings made completely in acrylics that looked like handmade quilts. The crew studied the art of the Harlem Renaissance as well as Krazy Quilts.

Scratchboard paintings:

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Acrylics: (Disney didn’t use this title screen, Bob Stanton, who art directed the film painted a new one lighter in mood and therefore more appropriately Disney-esque.)

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Tarzan

November 6, 2011

Due to its labor-intensive backgrounds, Tarzan required more painters than any other Disney film: about 50 in total.  Here are a few of my scenes of the jungle in moonlight or illuminated by red ‘flares’.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Mulan

November 6, 2011

Mulan was my first experience working on an animated film. I was hired while the movie was well under way and painted approximately 30 backgrounds, fewer than the standard 100 or so. Immediately following is and image of the Emperor’s palace, an establishing shot (first in its sequence). Believe it or not, there were some 24 layers painted on acetate and board. This allows for movement of the layers as the shot closes in. The foreground wall below moves to reveal a massive staircase.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Lilo & Stitch

November 6, 2011

While at Disney I worked as a traditional background painter at a time when so many other artistic jobs were becoming electronic. I was happy to be working with a paintbrush and am now even more grateful for having been a small part of a particular legacy. It was the Disney studio that pioneered techniques in staging and mood for animation emulated by other studios today. But they took their cue from the past, from old masters such as Claude Lorrain. (See Origins in Staging for more on this.)

Director Chris Sanders wanted the background art in his film, Lilo & Stitch to be painted in watercolors, but no Disney film had been painted in watercolors since Snow White. As the story goes, Chris took his idea to the background department in Los Angeles where he was informed that such an undertaking would not be possible. We, in Florida, took him up on the challenge and the rest is history. Needless to say, painting backgrounds on Lilo & Stitch was special. Watercolor is an exciting medium because it’s unpredictable, difficult to control, and almost impossible to correct.  Building value while keeping a clean edge around the forms is also tricky (such as the painting below where the outline of Stitch meets the sky).  I like what John Singer Sargent had to say about watercolor, ‘Make the best of an emergency!’

The following images are reproductions of paintings I crafted by hand– from start to finish. But keep in mind, the character designs, story concepts, layouts, and time of day were created in a collaborative setting in the studio following a specific production pipeline. This pipeline is comprised of very skilled Disney artists, under two directors and a producer. If you’d like to learn more about the production process, I recommend Hans Bacher‘s book, Dreamworlds.

I appreciate what animation author, Tony White, has said about background art: Since the environment takes up most of the screen, it’s in the hands of the background painter to make it look like you’ve spent millions on the production.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

“With watercolour, you can’t cover up the marks. There’s the story of the construction of the picture, and then the picture might tell another story as well.” David Hockney

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Brother Bear

November 6, 2011

The aspect ratio of Brother Bear was widened to give the feeling of ‘big country’, and it was effective. Xiangjuan Jie was the production stylist and the background artists were required to learn to paint like him. Not an easy task, it was amazing to see the film come together in the end.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.