Browsing Disney research…

If you ever need a short little break from animating, browsing through Disney’s or Pixar’s graphic publications may provide some “edutainment” for your intellectual hunger. OK, they are mostly completely over my head and I have no way in which to apply the material they contain, but they provide some interesting hints about how the big guys achieve some of their amazing 3D graphics. And there are pretty pictures.

No more princess fairy tales for Disney?

I found this article to be interesting. It states:

Once upon a time, there was a studio in Burbank that spun classic fairy tales into silver-screen gold.

But now the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future.

Actually, I think most of the “princess-ness” of Disney came about in the 90’s with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas, all released in less than a decade, and all following a similar Broadway-influenced romantic comedy formula. I’m sure Walt Disney himself never meant for his company to be defined by fairy tales or princesses. They did Snow White in 1937, then didn’t do Cinderella until 1950, and didn’t do Sleeping Beauty until 1959. That’s only three princess-oriented fairy tales done in old Uncle Walt’s lifetime.

The article mentions that their Princess and the Frog didn’t do as well as they’d like. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but looking at the previews, it certainly didn’t look that great. It was tauted as introducing Disney’s first black princess just as the nation was getting its first black president. A film decision like that should never be made for political brownie points. And they were, dare I say, racist, playing to stereotypes and setting the film in New Orleans and making the music score jazzy. The film shouldn’t have been set in America at all. Unless the intent was to make the movie about racism (which I doubt, and there are already plenty of movies about that), the movie should’ve treated the princess just like any other princess.

Anyway, I digress. My point is, I don’t think this news is really all that breath-taking. It’s natural. It’s obvious.

I think it’s kind of silly to guess at what the public wants, because I don’t think you really can know, beyond certain genre generalizations. Like “vampires are popular now” or “wizards are popular now” … but that doesn’t tell you what sort of story people would be interested in seeing, or what sort of stories they would not be interested in seeing.

I think filmmakers should step away from looking at the profit numbers (as long as there’s a profit at least) and just do whatever interests them the most, whatever story gives them goosebumps just thinking about. The audience does matter, but only to a certain degree… not to the degree of dictating what sort of film to make next. Really, audiences have no idea what they want.

Not that that’s not what Disney is doing. I can’t really tell from the article what they’re doing; who knows how they’re making their decisions?

Oh, and did they really want “Tangled” to appeal to boys? Firstly, its style is all wrong for that, from the colors to the guy’s facial hair pattern. Secondly, the preview doesn’t show enough thrilling action. Instead it shows “Here comes the smolder…”

The article also mentions that they’re no longer doing Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. Though it’s been dramatized before, I’m rather happy about this. Firstly, I’d hate to see the story Disney-ified. The story has a darkness to it that Disney (or Pixar) would probably ruin, even if they ruin it well. Secondly, I’d like to do it myself. Not ruin it, that is, but turn it into an animated feature. I guess there’s really not much of a chance of that, but if Disney had done it, there’d be no chance, so at least now there’s a one billionth of a percent chance.

Disney making some more shorts

And I don’t mean pants.

I hate posting a link like this, since they go out of date so quickly, but it looks Disney is bringing back the shorts.

Perhaps they are following the tradition of Pixar, or perhaps John Lasseter made them, but I’m hoping there’ll be one of these shorts before Tangled and one before… er… is anything else coming out from Disney Feature Animation anytime soon?

Right now, they’ve got clips of a computer animated short called Tick Tock Tale, which looks great, and How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, bringing some nicely animated Goofy to the modern world.

I also noticed on their feature projects page, King of the Elves is no longer listed. Too bad, since that looked like the most interesting one, but then again, they might’ve completely messed up the story. I don’t think they’re cancelling the project, just putting it on hold for now.

(Speaking of shorts, it was also nice to see that Looney Tunes short before Legend of the Guardians. Hopefully the habit will continue! Now they just need to put shorts in front of live action movies as well, bwa ha ha ha! Create more animation jobs so I can have one!)