Recently, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) hosted a sneak peek at their upcoming productions "Get A Horse," and "Frozen," over at their Burbank offices.
"Get A Horse," the latest short to come out of WDAS and the first to be directed by a woman, combines 1928 artistry with 2013 technology to produce a rollicking interlude starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and their old nemesis Peg-Leg Pete.
Director Lauren MacMullan and her co-heads of animation Disney Legend Eric Goldberg (2D) and CG artist Adam Green (3D) collaborated to create footage incredibly authentic to the first Mickey shorts, even down to combing all the originals for voice clips from role originators Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, and Billy Bletcher.
Although a huge amount of effort went into making the animation identical to the loose, rubber-limbed animation of the 1920's, every line of the short is new and created specifically for this short.
MacMullan and Producer Dorothy McKim presented the short, along with a short talk on the various challenges they had giving it an authentic period feel. Animated as a theatrical short shown on a cinema stage, the action begins with black-and-white footage of our characters enjoying a musical hayride, until Peg-Leg Pete comes upon them and tries to intrude on their fun. Numerous fast-paced episodes of conflict lead up to a grand chase sequence in which the characters constantly pop in and out of the flat black-and-white screen to emerge colored and in 3-D across the screen's stage.
Care was taken to make sure the 3-D versions were consistent with the time--rather than have real world textures, the characters have a "fondant" appearance, with the colors taken from old company Christmas Cards (the only color representations from then.) The 2-D footage was also aged appropriately, as if subject to the same errors and skips inherent in early hand-drawn animation.
I thought this short was an amazing example of what the combination of CG and hand-drawn animation can produce and certainly puts the lie to the "one or the other" mentality. The care and detailing involved in making it is evident in every frame and will hopefully spark a revival of interest in revisiting this style of animation, which is sometimes unfairly disregarded by people who equate "old" with "unsophisticated."
The short was premiered for the first time in the US at the D23 Expo and will be shown in front of "Frozen" on November 27, 2013.
Disclaimer: As invited media, AllEars was granted access to the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Production Team.
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