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  1. #1

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    How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Disney launches a new shorts program with a timely Goofy misadventure, and Bill Desowitz gets an AWN exclusive from some of the directors, animators and John Lasseter.

    November 16, 2007
    By Bill Desowitz
    AnimationWorldNetwork
    When John Lasseter and Ed Catmull instituted the new shorts program at Walt Disney Animation Studios, they not only wanted it to emulate Pixar's successful program, but also to reinvigorate the Disney legacy characters in 2D.

    "The shorts program to me at both studios is very, very important," emphasizes Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. "One: to develop talent. It's not just directors, but directing animators, technical directors and all these things. So it gives young people the chance to be a supervisor in a small setting and to try people out at different things. This is where talent development is really great. And it's great creatively to have these shorts because sometimes there are little ideas that aren't meant to be for features, but you just want to see them. And, at Disney, we have the added heritage of all these fantastic characters. It's so much fun to go back and try things with them."

    Hence, launching with How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, starring Goofy in a very contemporary situation: buying a big-screen, HD TV, and then trying to set it up himself -- with all of the wiring and remotes -- in time for the big football game.

    Home Theater's writing and directing team Stevie Wermers (l) and Kevin Deters wonderfully captures the spirit of the How to Goofy shorts from the '40s and '50s -- but with a contemporary spin.

    Written and helmed by longtime story partners Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers (Walt Disney Animation Studio's first female director), How to Hook Up Your Home Theater wonderfully captures the spirit of the How to Goofy shorts from the '40s and '50s directed by Jack Kinney and animated by John Sibley -- but obviously with a contemporary spin. "They were looking for story people to pitch ideas and also ways of bringing back classic characters," Deters recalls. "I had just purchased a new big-screen TV for the Super Bowl and Goofy was a natural. You look at those cartoons and think, 'I may be a dumb guy, but at least I'm not as dumb as him.' I pitched the idea to Stevie, and we brainstormed and developed a structure. John immediately recognized the great marriage of Disney and something you could relate to today. Great animation, as they know how to do here. One thing we discovered quickly was [that they had just come out] with The Complete Goofy on DVD, so that was a godsend. You recognized that everyone had a warm, fuzzy nostalgia for what they remember and that the Goofy shorts were really all over the map. So what we did was pick our favorites and acknowledge a little bit from different eras."
    Thus far, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater has played at the Ottawa Animation Festival and the Chicago Children's Festival, qualifying for Oscar consideration. Although there was speculation that it was going to screen theatrically with Enchanted (which opens Nov. 21), Lasseter confirmed that theatrical plans have not yet been finalized.

    Home Theater's Deters and Wermers are halfway through their second short, The Ballad of Nessie, a sweet origin story about a female Loch Ness monster.

    Meanwhile, Deters and Wermers are halfway through their second short, The Ballad of Nessie, a sweet origin story about a female Loch Ness monster. Nessie, also in 2D, is a continuation of a student project Wermers began at CalArts. Baer, Deja and Henn have been recruited once again. Nessie, according to Wermers, "is very different from crazy Goofy, with much more subtle acting." Inspired by Mary Blair, it has the painterly look and feel of a lovely children's book. After that, Deters and Wermers would like to do another Goofy short.

    However, next up for Disney is Glago's Guest, a 3D, stereoscopic short by Chris Williams. It's about a Russian soldier guarding a Siberian outpost who has a strange encounter with an extraterrestrial. The director of the shorts program describes it as "serious, suspenseful and arty," with new texture development as its technical innovation. "On Glago, they are really pushing 3D animation," adds Chuck Williams. "There's human animation and a step toward what they're doing on Rapunzel, but also the hair and cloth were a challenge beyond what has ever been done before at Disney. Shapes are stylized and pushed, and the proportions are exaggerated, but the environments and detail are photoreal."


    Disney's next short is Glago's Guest, a 3D, stereoscopic work by Chris Williams that is serious, suspenseful and arty, containing innovative texture development for the studio.

    In fact, Lasseter was so impressed with Glago that he assigned Williams to take over the 3D-animated Bolt feature (formerly Chris Sanders' American Dog). Glago's Guest is scheduled to debut at the Annecy Animated Film Festival next year and play theatrically with Bolt (Nov. 26, 2008).

    "It's also nice to stay in touch because all around the world there's this wonderful community of animators that get together at animation festivals," Lasseter suggests. "It's great to send a film to these festivals... Pixar's been doing it for a long time; I used to do it with my films. I have lifelong friends from these festivals. And it's very artistic -- these festivals are about the art of animation, not just the commerce. I love both studios being a part of that."

    And to further nurture talent, the shorts program has been extended into the "Shorts Club," in which anyone in animation can pitch a short and make it on their own if they can get volunteers to help out. There are five projects currently in production, including a spin-off of Meet the Robinsons.
    "It's a wonderful opportunity to utilize studio talent and equipment in their spare time, downtime or on weekends," Williams offers. "Currently there are a trainer, a layout artist and an animator making shorts. The ability to lead and inspire is a big plus. These are people that are learning on their own."
    Full article at:http://mag.awn.com/?ltype=pageone&article_no=3454

  2. #2

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    WOW, it really sounds like John and Ed are trying their hardest to breath life back into the dead 2D animation department at Disney, as well as foster creativity, experimentation, and staff development. Walt's animation department used shorts for the exact same purpose. It is such a wonderful thing to see so many parts of Disney coming back to life by returning to their roots.
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  3. #3

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Thanks for the link Aliasd and very well said Dusty. I am extremely excited about Catmull and Lasseter bringing the creative synergy back into the Disney studios. Considering how far WDFA has separated itself from its roots and culture is really sad.

    To once be the company that paved the way from aspiring animators around the world, to being considered as a struggling division within a company that was founded on the results of its success in animation is mind-boggling.

    I am reading "To Infinity and Beyond," the story of the Pixar studios. Though I have always had a tremendous respect for Ed and John, it wasn't until I understood just how much they have contributed to the entire animation business that I began to see how valuable these two men are. They are the true pioneers of today and to have solidified their relationship with TWDC is one of the best partnerships of our time.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Now, if we can get Lassitter to be CEO of the company and put some life into Disney Channel between noon and six am...

  5. #5

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    According to Animation World Network, the new Goofy short will debut with National Treasure 2.

    Goofy Hooks Up with National Treasure Sequel

    November 19, 2007
    Instead of opening with ENCHANTED on Nov. 21, the new 2D Goofy short from Walt Disney Animation Studios, HOW TO HOOK UP YOUR HOME THEATER, will make its theatrical debut with NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS on Dec. 21.

    This is surprising, considering that Kevin Lima's ENCHANTED opens with 10 minutes of 2D animation of the fairy tale world.

    However, the counter programming of Goofy with the live-action sequel to the NATIONAL TREASURE blockbuster shows how passionately Disney views its new animated shorts program under the leadership of Pixar's John Lassseter and Ed Catmull.

    HOW TO HOOK UP YOUR HOME THEATER, directed by Kevin Deters & Stevie Wermers, has already qualified for Oscar consideration by playing at the Ottawa Animation Festival and the Chicago Children's Festival. The short is inspired by the beloved HOW TO Goofy shorts of the 40s and 50s directed by Jack Kinney and animated by John Sibley.

    "I'm very proud of what Kevin and Stevie have done with HOW TO HOOK UP YOUR HOME THEATER because he's exactly in the style of THE HOW TO shorts, but it's subject matter that's totally relevant for today's audience, and that juxtaposition is so entertaining," Lasseter told AWN
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

  6. #6

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    This new program sounds fantastic.

    Bravo John and Ed, bravo!

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Yeah, I was really surprised with Your Friend the Rat on Rataoullie--reminded me of the edutainment shorts that Disney did so well..Disney is back on track finally

  8. #8

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    I can't wait, I love and so miss 2-D animation

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    This is absolutely the best bit of news coming from Disney. Can't wait too see the finishing product.
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  10. #10

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Robinsons based short? DO WANT!
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  11. #11

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    I LOVE IT ALREADY! I've always missed the shorts and it's great to see new Disney Characters and old ones be MOVIE stars again!


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  12. #12

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    At CalArts, we were fortunate enough to preview the film a few weeks ago... and on 35 mm.

    And let me just say I am a HUGE fan of this. The film was fantastic because the directors put as much effort into making this like a 1940s short as humanly possible. They even went as far as going into the ARL and pulling out old backgrounds from the 1940s shorts and reuse them. Its so freshing to see 2D back on the screen. With the 35 mm and the small theatre I was in with my peers I felt like I had fallen back into the 1940s... it was AMAZING. (And part of that might have just been my excitement about the 2D revival as well).

    This film is hopefully paving the way for a whole new batch of 2D projects as well. The next 2D project, "The Ballard of Nessie," is 4 shots from being completed.

    I was a little too excited to take notes during the screening... but luckily one of my peers did...

    Stevie Wermers-Skelton (one of the directors) was a student at CalArts from 1992-1994 and has been at Disney ever since. And on a bit of a cool note, she's the first female at Disney to direct a cartoon. "The Ballard of Nessie" was her second year film at CalArts and is being redirected by her for Disney.

    Kevin Deters ((the other director) has been working at Disney since 1996. Also his first directorial debut.

    When Pixar and Disney merged two years ago, John Lassester and Ed Catmull made it a priority to bring back the short film division at Disney. With this short especially, they placed great importance on bringing back the classical Disney characters and of course traditional animation. The short is made with that mid-40's style (they really looked to the 1938-1942 era Goofy designs/animation) in mind. Throughout the making of the Goofy short, the team visited the Animation Research Lab and brought a lot of the original Goofy short artwork back, but with a digital retouch. During the presentation they showed photographs of the original cells from various Goofy shorts and then showed their own Goofy short stills to show how much influence the 40's era had on the new version.


    Technical details:
    The actual animation was divided pretty evenly between 6 amazing animators (Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Mark Henn, Dale Baer, etc.) and they alternated between actual paper animation (they showed some rough pencil paper animation that Mark Henn did for a particular sequence! It was mind-blowing, and then they said he did all of the animation on one-layer! Which stunned the crowd! When the short is actually released just look for that final dog-pile sequence after Goofy turns the TV on....ONE LAYER! AH! Also there are several classic Goofy references within that one scene as well. They animated in characters from old Goofy shorts that are only visible for one or two frames!) So while some of the animators used paper and pencil animation, others animated using the Cintiq and the software titled, "Harmony" which was also used for clean-up. You could just tell the animators were exceedingly happy to be working in traditional animation again. Which worked beautifully with Goofy--part of the presentation included a DVD special that had interviews with all of the animators on the short, so as they put it, "Goofy is designed for maximum expression" and believe me, some of the poses Goofy pulled would have been impossible in CG! They used Photoshop to recreate a lot of the backgrounds and are really using the short film division to test out the best way of combining technological advances with traditional old-school animation techniques and hopefully, bring these into feature film projects (Like The Princess and the Frog). There are several shorts in the making and the directors ended the screening on this note, "It's a great time to be at Disney."

  13. #13

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    ^Great news!

    Thank you for the information and review. I am looking forward to seeing this short later this week.
    "If you build it right, they will come." - Bob Iger

    "I'm not a literary person. As far as realism is concerned, you can find dirt anyplace you look for it. I'm one of those optimists. There's always a rainbow." - Walt Disney



    "I don't care about critics. Critics take themselves too seriously. They think the only way to be noticed and to be the smart guy is to pick and find fault with things. It's the public I'm making pictures for." - Walt Disney

  14. #14

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    Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    Thanks for the review Rapunzel!

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    Thumbs up Re: How to Hook Up Your Animated Short at Disney

    HOW TO HOOK UP YOUR HOME THEATER, was the best part of NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS.

    Both my daughter and I really enjoyed it. I had just finished the day before setting up a 7.1, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray and HDTV Home Theater with over 50 electrical connections.

    I loved the Pixar shorts since Toy Story and it's great to see Lasseter bring this rich tradition back to life at Disney. I sincerely home the NT:BOS Blu-Ray has this short. I wanted to own it from the moment I first saw it.
    Last edited by Konrad63; 01-17-2008 at 12:27 AM. Reason: typo
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