Thursday, February 08, 2007

Being enslaved to someone else's style-the Disney Lion-evolution and devolution






Where Disney lions and tigers come from.

Here's a real lion. Someone actually looked at one once. At one time artists looked at real things then came up with what they thought the real things looked like to them.


Here's Sullivant's caricature of a real lion. Very observant of what cats actually look like but cartooned with an original opinion of which parts of a lion's features were interesting.


Here are some Disney imitations of Sullivant's designs of lions and tigers.



Shere Khan is a copy of a copy of a copy of a Sullivant cat, getting less fun but still having good structure. Technically, the drawing is great, but it's not very fun and nothing new has been added to the - by now stereotype of a Disney (Sullivant) cat. I don't think anyone will ever do better technical animation of this particular design of a cat, but lots still try. Why?


Now here it is on top of a human body from the movie that started the "furries" movement: Robin Hood.



Here's what happens when you steal someone else's copy of a copy of a copy of a design superficially but don't draw construction well and can't commit to the design because you live in bland times.

A Nelvana-ized Saturday Morning cartoon version of Milt Kahl's version of Sullivant's version of a lion.


No fun and no visual interest and no original idea or new take on an old idea! Just a blander version of what was once creative. Even baby Lambert has been severely toned down and turned into a Saturday Morning cartoon character.



the "man king"



amazingly, the baboon is drawn great!


Here's what happens when you don't enslave your view of the world to someone else's and you make up your own designs based on your own observations and hard won skills. ...being creative and drawing well at the same time.


A good artist is influenced by many artists and styles, not just one and is also influenced by his own observations and opinions about what actual things in the real world look like.


When people talk about the "Cal Arts" style, they are talking about films like The Lion King which looks like it was done by artists who think the world looks like decadent 60s and 70s Disney and Bluth films- as if that very narrow style has already figured out the way all animation design and movement should look forever. Same old recycled designs and movements but getting further away from what originally made it work and further away from life and humanity and individual observation.

With each generation this style seems to gets blander and less well drawn and further away from the source.

I'll do the horse next. You can follow this tradition with many Disney characters that get reused by later generations who think that every character has already been discovered so "why bother creating anything new ever again?"

91 comments:

Alex said...

Hmmm...I'm not sure if the lions in The Lion King are a copy of a copy, maybe just a bad imitation of actual lions. I remember seeing a production picture of The Lion King, where some of the animators are playing with an actual (young) lion. Dont qoute me on that yet, I'll type an additional reponse with the link to the photo if I can find it again later today. Peace.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Actually, I think you can lay the blame for the blandness of Lion King squearly at Jeffeyr's feet. He would constantly tell people their designs were "Too cartoony init". To Jeffery, the word cartoon was a pejorative. The early pre-production stuff on Lion King was great until they put it through the Jeffery Katzenburg blanderizer.
Great post though. It's intereesting to see the direct influence Sullivant had on the Disney style. Actually, Walt Kelly credits Sullivant as his biggest influence too.

akira said...

great case presentation with irrefutable evidence. do you think timon and pumba watered down Ren and Stimpies? sadly it was a huge success. proving you don't need original ideas, designs or even decent songs(first disney movie without Howard Ashman writing songs).. But besides copying and watering down character designs they also ripped off Hamlet and Osamu Tezuka's "Kimba, the White Lion" in order to come up with some semblance of a story. hmm i wonder if "madagasgar" or "the wild" or any of these recent talking animal movies had been released back then with elton john promoting them, would they have been incredibly successful too?

fabiopower said...

Hello John..!
I am trying to find you by different ways. Would like much you could give I me an answer. From Chile, we are analyzing the possibility that you come to our country to give a conference about the cartoons (and about all that...). Previously you had said to me that you would be arranged to travel to South America if the economic means exist to do it… Then, this is a serious proposal, but that still needs analysis. For that, we must count on your possibilities and your interest of visiting to us. Soon, we want to make the costs and the prices for to reunite sponsors… what you say?
S. Worth has my email.
A hug
POWER

Pat McMicheal said...

What bothered me MORE about the Lion King than the bad art, was the stolen stroy line from Osamu Tezuka's Kimba the white lion. Im sure you can remember this cartoon from the 60's.
Early anime, but as a child I liked rhe drawings!

mike f. said...

Agreed, all down the line. I still can't believe people went to see The Lion King in droves.

Someday, when we're all dead, maybe someone will finally publish a book about T.S. Sullivant. He inspired everybody - especially Walt Kelly, no slouch at animals himself.

Ask Steve to send you a scan of his amazing original Chuck Jones drawing of the Warner Bros. lion - one of the best drawings Chuck ever did, in my opinion.

Sean Worsham said...

Sad,

But you pretty much said it all. The Lion King is the most overrated animation of all time. I remember when I walked out of the theater disappointed when it first came out. Aladdin (the previous film) showed some promise w/ it's Al Hirschfield inspirado but fell way loose w/ the Lion King's even more unstructured feel.

Yet I still hear from other animation afficianados that they want to see the "glory late 80's early 90's" Disney return. To me that was never a high point, I was watching Ren and Stimpy at the time and wanted more of that. In fact at the time creator-driven cartoons and animations like Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-head, Liquid Television and Batman on tv were far more interesting (with a little help from the anime boom at the time). I also liked watching syndicated Looney Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle and MGM at the time.

If the resurgence in the 90's only went further we would be seeing more good creator-driven animation.

CartoonSteve said...

Good illustration of devolution - most evident when seen next to Tex's great Slap Happy Lion. What about the further removal of fun in Disney's "The Wild", especially compared to Dreamwork's "Madagascar"? I've seen neither (not being a fan of 3d) but would welcome opinions from others on their merits, if any.

Mad Taylor said...

I think the design on the villain in Lion King, Scar, is getting away from the recycled stuff. Maybe this is why Disney villains hold up in interest a little more, because they are the only characters that have something different in their design and escape bland recycled routine. And that one still of the "man king" is scary, it's like a bad American Idol auditioner.

Max Ward said...

Can anyone figure out the success to Lion King? To me, the Lion King seemed like a cookie cutter production from the beginning. The plot and some of the characters are a rehash of Bambi. It really wasn't new or different. Maybe people were really interested in zoo animals at the time?

John, or anyone, what's your two cents?

Gabriel said...

while i was reading this i wondered if you were gonna bash the baboon. He's the only cool character in that film!

Anibator said...

Part of the problem is that pinhead executives are obsessed these days with the notion of 'relatability'... they think that if audiences can't put themselves into the skins of the main characters then they won't see the movie (or watch the show or whatever). That's why animal characters are becoming more and more human-looking.
I have no doubt that earlier drafts of the Simba design were probably more interesting and looked more like a caricatured lion, but undoubtedly the geniuses up the corporate ladder forced them to 'pull back' the design.
I could be wrong in this specific case, but I've seen it happen countless times.
Any time you get executives weighing in on designs it's a disaster.
I once tried explaining why I designed something a certain way to an executive in very easy-to-understand terms, very calmly and logically and he just fired back "I'm not here for an art lesson - just make the eyes, mouth, hands and feet smaller! This is too cartoony!"
Meanwhile, kids (or really anyone who enjoys being entertained) don't give a crap about 'relatability' or any of that focus-test nonsense. They just want to watch fun characters.
That's probably why the monkey looks better... he's not a main character... we're not "required" to "relate" to him (see how this philosophy bullies its viewers?) so his design was allowed to have some life to it.
I know it's a bit off-topic, but I'll never understand why they picked Mathew Broderick to be the voice OF A LION. James Earl Jones? Absolutely! But Ferris Bueller?
Once again, I am left to assume that it was some pinhead executive saying "Hm - we need him to sound young so teenagers can relate to him."
Ugh.

cableclair said...

with Disney movies I usually tend to root for the baddies. They are at least a tad less bland than the goodies. I will admit that I really liked Scar. I think Jeremy Irons saved the flick.

benj said...

great post John!

Bjorn Carlson said...

first disney movie without Howard Ashman writing songs
-Akira

Actually Akira, the first Disney movie with Howard Ashman writing songs was Snow White, which came out 13 years before Ashman was born.

Billy Bob said...

This is more broad, but i remember there was this great site called animated movies.com, the site had a ton of information of the production of feature animation works including disney ones. I noticed that the early designs for a lot of films were a lot more interesting then the ones they ended up using in the films.

Jordan said...

John, I COMPLETELY agree with you, but Lion King is a pretty sad, dramatic movie, should the Lion look really "funny"? Or are you just referring to creativity in it's design, aside from funny cartoonyness?



Jordan

Kali Fontecchio said...

I loooove the Tex Avery Lion, maybe more than Lambert. The song in that cartoon is cute too... Laaaaambert...

T.S. Sullivant, and anyone who actually drew a lion in front of them, deserves credit for doing just that! Animal drawing is far more difficult than humanoid drawing- they never stay still!

Mcnuggetinator said...

Wow! back when you said that the modern Disney features were as badly drawn as saturday moring cartoons, I just did'nt see it. But now that you put comparsions side by side I can see what you mean. Simba is basiclly Lambert but with toned down proportions and Scar is Goofy's tiger's cranuim with that other Tiger's mouth. They also dont seem to have as much of a feeling of weight and skin compared to the older Disney drawings.

Would you say the other modern Disney movies like "Hercules" and "The Emperor's New Groove" are badly drawn? They look real good to me.

JohnK said...

>>John, I COMPLETELY agree with you, but Lion King is a pretty sad, dramatic movie, should the Lion look really "funny"? <<

If it is a "serious" movie, why are the characters based on cliched old "funny" designs?

Taking a cartoony design and just toning it down does not make it "serious" or "realistic". It just makes it boring and hard to animate.

My point is that there is too much recycling of the same old Disney designs. Too much animation is inbred.

Surely with all the money Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks pours into their features, they could afford real designers who don't just keep stealing old designs.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Not Madagascar!!!

Sally said...

"Disney imitations of Sullivant's designs of lions and tigers."

I don't exactly see how the Disney example is an imitation of Sullivant's examples that you have shown.

I, however, do see how the quality and expressiveness of the examples seems to decline through the ages.

Ms. Jane D'oh said...

i think some people just love to see familiar images and not feel challenged visually... especially when it comes to what they expose to the children. lol.

The Butcher said...

Oh man, you did not just make a furries refrence! BAAAARF!

The Japs are a crazy bunch, lemme tell ya.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Is that lion holding the teavup the one Mike was talking about? Chuck Jones is a genius designer.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Kali,
That's Pete Puma from a McKimson cartoon called Rabbit's Kin or something like that.

The Chuck Jones one is from an Inki cartoon.

mike f. said...

Yeah, Pete Puma from RABBIT'S KIN - thanks, Mark. I was just about to post that to Kali myself.

The Jones drawing I'm thinking of is in Steve Worth's personal collection. I'm going over to ASIFA tonight, and I'll ask him to scan it and send it to John to post.

I think it's from CAVEMAN INKI. Basically, it's the same lion as the one in another McKimson cartoon, ACROBATTY BUNNY. I thought it was an amazing drawing.

Gabriel said...

I think the design on the villain in Lion King, Scar, is getting away from the recycled stuff.

I don't know about design, but personality wise, he's Jafar, the villain of Alladin. They have the same gestures and expressions, it's appaling.

Tristan J. Shuddery said...

One Disney film which I believe is somewhat underrated is "The Emperor's New Groove", which features a somewhat less disneyish style than their more mainstream stuff. Suffice to say, where I live the film was not marketed and flopped, and that's probably why Disney decided to stay well away from any form of innovation again.

Thad K said...

J.J.,
It's indeed from "Rabbit's Kin", one of McKimson's very best films.

I'm confused at why you're using an image from a scene by Shamus Culhane though ("Inki and the Mynah Bird"). I thought that animation was horrible?

cemenTIMental said...

Oh man, you did not just make a furries refrence! BAAAARF!

The Japs are a crazy bunch, lemme tell ya.

Uh but I thought the furry phenomenon is largely American? :-? I always assumed it was due to childhood trauma caused by watching too much of this watered-down derivative Disney animal stuff...

Anyway, great post John, really depressing to see this kind of thing but good to see it explained so well at least!

JohnK said...

>>
I'm confused at why you're using an image from a scene by Shamus Culhane though ("Inki and the Mynah Bird"). I thought that animation was horrible?<<

I'm sure you know the answer to that, but I'll explain it for someone who might not.

The design and all the poses are by Chuck Jones. The sloppy, messy animation is by Shamus Culhane. To see how Culhave actually draws on his own when not tracing a great artist's work, see the commercial drawings in his book.

Thad K said...

John,
Those drawings in the Shamus Culhane book are not a great assessment of his skills. Unfortunately, Shamus was notorious for passing off drawings he did at the time of writing that book as the real thing. The best example is the "Popeye Meets William Tell" drawings - Popeye is in his white sailor suit in those, which wasn't used until a full year after that cartoon was released.

Jorge Garrido said...

>One Disney film which I believe is somewhat underrated is "The Emperor's New Groove", which features a somewhat less disneyish style than their more mainstream stuff.

That film is the epitome of the Cal Arts flat designy style.

That, Madagadscar, and Home On The Range were all designed by Craig Kellman.

JohnK said...

Well Shamus is pretty proud of those commercials- he calls them "top Disney quality", but OK, the Popeye drawings will do.

Thad K said...

Lots of artists thought that their most recent work was the pinnacle of their career. That doesn't make them right though.

Frank and Ollie waxed on about how their best work was in "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuerers" which we all know is WRONG. Bobe Cannon felt his moving graphic UPA cartoons were better than any of his Warner and MGM animation.

lastangelman said...

From an animation point of view, what bugged me about The Lion King (and Hunchback and Pocohantas and B&B) was I wasn't watching a cartoon, but an animated Broadway musical - which is great if you like that sort of thing - these films weren't about furthering cartooning, it was about saving a dying business franchise and using the old Disney technique of creating a sensorial experience for the audience and they (the audience)come away thinking they saw and heard and felt something amazing and full of wow. I blame Hal Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, but that's another post how these fellows purveyed schlock to Western Culture and are hailed as geniuses because a lot paying customers loved it and made a few people millionaires. The Disney culture promulgates stylized type of blankness, as opposed to blandness, in their animated films and theme parks that allows audiences of all creeds and classes to project themselves onto these characters or in the environments ( I think you touched upon this in an earlier post John, and this effect was noted back in 1999 by Neal Stephenson in his cultural essay/book, In The Beginning Was the Command Line). Doing anything fun and interesting like some of the genie drawings in Aladdin is an anomaly in the Disney culture. It's like they're afraid to try anything fun for the animators because it might alienate their mass lowest common denominator audiences (women, children and emasculated men). Young artists and writers shouldn't go near Disney unless they just want a steady paycheck and a soul crushing career (whoops - after Treasure Planet, artists couldn't even count on a steady paycheck from Disney, could they, just a soul destroying career?).

Kris said...

About the Emperor's New Groove, there's a story behind why it looks kind of cartoony sometimes and rather different from other Disney features around the same period.

What happened was it was initially supposed to be a huge, serious, lavish musical production like The Lion King, Aladdin, etc. The plot was intended to be "The Prince and the Pauper" set in an Incan kingdom. It was finally in production long enough for them to have some test footage done, and when they showed it to test audiences, they hated it! They hated the premise, characters, everything (except for Yzma).

So they scrapped everything except Yzma and started over with a new concept. The creative team was basically left alone and told to make an animated feature that people wouldn't hate. Their deadline wasn't extended, so they had about half the usual time to make the movie. The result: Considerably better than other Disney stuff coming out at the time, like Mulan or Treasure Planet.

Pseudonym said...

Max: I'm pretty convinced that the success of The Lion King was entirely due to the soundtrack.

That's probably why it made a much better stage show than movie.

PCUnfunny said...

"Frank and Ollie waxed on about how their best work was in "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuerers" which we all know is WRONG. Bobe Cannon felt his moving graphic UPA cartoons were better than any of his Warner and MGM animation."

That is hysterical.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Jorge, Craig Kellman did design "Madagascar", but he had little to do with how HoTR looked and had nothing to do with "Groove". The main character designer on Groove and RAnge was Joe Mosier.
Part of the problem at Disney, aside from the ever present executive interference is the fact that there is a percieved "house style", and that that "style" must be maintained. The other problem is that everytime a movie would start up, let's take "Range" as an example, someone would cover a board with horses, cows and cowboys from previous films for everyone to reference. In hindsight, they should have hidden all that stuff and pretended it didn't exist, so that the artists could go out and invent new desings for cows, pigs, and whatever.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Pure CalArts?" How so? I thought you said that the "decadent" Milt Kahl imitations were the CalArts style. No wait...You wrote before that it was the "flat, Cartoon Network, broken glass" style that is pure CalArts. Or maybe it's the Gay Pride Cabaret Weimar Republic Kristallnacht Night of Broken Glass Lion King's New Groove that's the CalArts style now. Maybe it's that third generation Ed Benedict Hanna-Barbera Spumco Ranger Smith Jim Tyer Bi/Curious N*gg*r Rape Hotel style that is really, honestly and truly the real CalArts style. (Or am I confusing tht with Sheridan?)

Make up your mind.

JohnK said...

Cal Arts includes 70s Disney, Don Bluth, Tim Burton, all the modern Disney and Pixar movies, Madagascar.

They are all slight variations and flatter less structured imitations of 101 Dalmations and that kind of stuff.

Most cartoonists in Hollywood that didn't go to Cal Arts recognize it right away.

The same eyes, the same expressions, the same gestures, the same formulas. Some are more angular, some more soft but all the same inbred source material.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"J. J. Hunsecker said...

Kali,
That's Pete Puma from a McKimson cartoon called Rabbit's Kin or something like that.

The Chuck Jones one is from an Inki cartoon.

mike f. said...

Yeah, Pete Puma from RABBIT'S KIN - thanks, Mark. I was just about to post that to Kali myself."

I had it confused! Thanks guys.

Mr. Semaj said...

From an animation point of view, what bugged me about The Lion King (and Hunchback and Pocohantas and B&B) was I wasn't watching a cartoon, but an animated Broadway musical - which is great if you like that sort of thing - these films weren't about furthering cartooning, it was about saving a dying business franchise and using the old Disney technique of creating a sensorial experience for the audience and they (the audience)come away thinking they saw and heard and felt something amazing and full of wow. I blame Hal Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, but that's another post how these fellows purveyed schlock to Western Culture and are hailed as geniuses because a lot paying customers loved it and made a few people millionaires. The Disney culture promulgates stylized type of blankness, as opposed to blandness, in their animated films and theme parks that allows audiences of all creeds and classes to project themselves onto these characters or in the environments ( I think you touched upon this in an earlier post John, and this effect was noted back in 1999 by Neal Stephenson in his cultural essay/book, In The Beginning Was the Command Line).

I fail to see exactly what's wrong with any of that. I've seen "bland", and most of what Disney came up with during the early 90's is far from it.

All it proves is that storytelling is the most important element in any film, animated or not. If the beautiful drawings are not backed by an interesting story, everybody loses.

Ian Worrel said...

CalArts also includes:


JG Quintel:

http://nethatco.com/Pages/Staff_JG.html

Pendleton Ward:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDGrNgxJDww

JJ Villard:

http://www.filmforum.org/films/son.html

http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2004/charanim/Chestnuts_Icelolly_ref.mov


Leo Matsuda:

http://leomatsuda-blog.blogspot.com/

http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2006/charanim/Thirsty_Iguana_ref.mov

Nate Wragg:

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5318/3137/1600/Witch-B%26W.jpg

http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2005/charanim/15_Catfood_ref.mov

The Parpan Brothers:

http://rparpan.blogspot.com/
http://justinpatrickparpan.blogspot.com/


Erik Favela:

http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2004/charanim/Two_Minute_Itch_ref.mov

href="http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2005/charanim/28_Fruit_ref.mov

Julian Narino:

http://film.calarts.edu/ref/2005/charanim/10_Grosse_ref.mov

Please post this for the sake of discussion

Shawn said...

Hey John,
What do you think of Frank Tashlin's cartoons?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Since, like Ren in Ren Seeks Help, I like nothing more than beating a dead horse I'll post yet again on Cal Arts and it's supposed style.

1. Several of the artists you hired for the original Ren & Stimpy show came from Cal Arts. I'm sure they didn't all draw in that Milt Kahl wannabe style or you wouldn't have hired them. Maybe you should be thankful for Cal Arts since the first 2 seasons of Ren and Stimpy are the best thing Spumco ever produced.

2. Tim Burton's style looks more like Edward Gorey or Roland Emett. I don't see many artists copying Burton's style these days. In fact, I'd say there's more people out there who copy the John K Spumco style than they do Burton's.

3. There are plenty of 70's Disney/Bluth influenced animators in the biz who never went to Cal Arts.

Before you wrote that Cal Arts was somehow responsible for the flat Cartoon Network style, when really only two Cal Art artists created that -- Gendy Tarta-something-ofsky (forgive my spelling) and Craig McCraken, who happened to be influence by Hanna-Barbera, cutesy Japanese cartoons and logos, not 70's Disney. Now your definition has changed to include the past fifty years of the Disney output.

I agree with you about the inbred quality of the Disney output these past many years. But Cal Arts can only teach the very basics of animation. Most likely, those students who draw in that Disney/Bluth way were probably fans of that style before they went to art school.

Btw, didn't Eddie Fitzgerald teach there for a few years in the early 90's?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Since, like Ren in Ren Seeks Help, I like nothing more than beating a dead horse I'll post yet again on Cal Arts and it's supposed style.

1. Several of the artists you hired for the original Ren & Stimpy show came from Cal Arts. I'm sure they didn't all draw in that Milt Kahl wannabe style or you wouldn't have hired them. Maybe you should be thankful for Cal Arts since the first 2 seasons of Ren and Stimpy are the best thing Spumco ever produced.

2. Tim Burton's style looks more like Edward Gorey or Roland Emett. I don't see many artists copying Burton's style these days. In fact, I'd say there's more people out there who copy the John K Spumco style than they do Burton's.

3. There are plenty of 70's Disney/Bluth influenced animators in the biz who never went to Cal Arts.

Before you wrote that Cal Arts was somehow responsible for the flat Cartoon Network style, when really only two Cal Art artists created that -- Gendy Tarta-something-ofsky (forgive my spelling) and Craig McCraken, who happened to be influence by Hanna-Barbera, cutesy Japanese cartoons and logos, not 70's Disney. Now your definition has changed to include the past fifty years of the Disney output.

I agree with you about the inbred quality of the Disney output these past many years. But Cal Arts can only teach the very basics of animation. Most likely, those students who draw in that Disney/Bluth way were probably fans of that style before they went to art school.

Btw, didn't Eddie Fitzgerald teach there for a few years in the early 90's?

JohnK said...

Hey Ian

thanks

a couple of those are exceptions.

that Matsuda guy is very talented!

I wish somebody would draw cartoons again.

the plummer said...

haha that baboon is drawn well because it's james baxter...someone who actually knows how to draw! ZING!

JohnK said...

To Hunsecker the heckler:

The Cal Arts guys who I hired on Ren and Stimpy mostly timed sheets. Very talented guys. Most of the key artists came from other fields.

Greg Manwaring did some great animation for me, but I did all the key poses for him in my style. Some of the Lion King guys wrote sheets for me. Good guys, but they definitely fit the Cal Arts drawing style. None of them could create new poses or expressions but they were good at moving drawings if you gave them to them.

Lots of very talented guys come from Cal Arts.

The flat style didn't come from Cal Arts. It came from UPA, through Ren and Stimpy's fake commercials. Add Frank Thomas expressions and some of mine to flat silhouettes and you get the style you are talking about.

My flat style has been mixed with the Cal Arts style.

Most Cal Arts artists that I have hired had real trouble drawing poses and expressions that didn't come from Disney and Bluth films, whether they were talented or not. It's hard to break narrow habits when no one has ever asked you to try.

Tim Burton is 90% Disney, 10% Gorey.

"Most likely, those students who draw in that Disney/Bluth way were probably fans of that style before they went to art school."

Yep and that's why they were accepted to Cal Arts.


Eddie taught there but he encouraged people to draw in lively cartoony styles. He's the first one to tell you that there is a definite Cal Arts style.

Of course there are the odd exceptions like Aaron Springer, but they aren't influencing the feature films that Disney, Pixar and Bluth (and sometimes Dreamworks) make.

Roberto González said...

I agree with Hunsucker about Burton. It's true The Corpse Bride looks a lot more like a Disney movie like 101 Dalmatians, but Nightmare Before Christmas looked very different. Incidentally, what do you think of Family Dog? I think the designs of the charactes were pretty cool, I don't know if they were Burton's or Brad Bird's.

I think the Madagascar lion has a somewhat more original and less bland designs compared to the other ones. I have to defend it cause it was made by a spanish animator. Too bad the animation of it was pretty bland.

I didn't dislike Lion King when I watched it, but it was mainly because of the story. I have always found it pretty boring to look at. Most of the cast are lions and all of them are designed in a very similar way.

Gabriel said...

Tim Burton is 90% Disney, 10% Gorey

Gorey's influence on Tim Burton is more thematic than graphic, that's for sure. I like Tim Burton, but it annoys me that he always goes for happy endings. He looks weird but is not that unconventional. I wish he'd copy Gorey more in that aspect, haha.
It's interesting that in The Corpse Bride, the most boring characters are the main guy and his bride (the living one, not the dead one). Some of the other ones are nice, but those two look dull. I assume it's fault of that Carlos Grangel (?).

Moro Rogers said...

So, um...I'm curious, if you were making a serious* lion cartoon, how would you draw the lions? Don't just describe it, I want to see it!^___^

*By which I do NOT mean unfunny, just no queer warthogs and shit like that.

lastangelman said...

mr .semanj said I fail to see exactly what's wrong with any of that. I've seen "bland", and most of what Disney came up with during the early 90's is far from it.

Spoken like a true fan of the spectacle, shock and awe that was theatrical animation in the 1990's.

All it proves is that storytelling is the most important element in any film, animated or not. If the beautiful drawings are not backed by an interesting story, everybody loses.


The Iron Giant was a great story that wasn't badly animated, and WB bent over backwards to promote the movie not once BUT twice, and it did nothing in the theaters. It only found its audience on VHS and DVD.

If you like what Disney does and you want to work there producing that kind of stuff, or buy their stuff and support it, and insist on defending it, what are you doing here? Look, Disney is known by a cartoon icon and for making cartoons but they have not been in the real cartoon business for a long time, believe it or not. Part of the business is still making the occasional animated movie, probably a musical; producing bad animated TV shows overseen and written by marketing executives; overseeing scores of other entertainment businesses that tries to be appealing across cultural, economic, class and ethnic divides while making big dividends for its shareholders and reaping maximum profit. Disney cares too much about making money than actually doing something that is just pure fun and creative and original.
But enough people like it and buy it and support it, and that's that. It's mediocre stuff surrounded by glitz and special effects, like Britney Spears and her contemporaries. Strip away all the special effects on those films, and you got nothing, no substance, no quality, just calculated, lowered expectations, barely discernible as having any real character or personality (it's the voice actor that does that heavy lifting in a Disney film for the past twenty years, not the animator - watch Lion King or Pocohontas without the sound on and compare same experience watching a Bob Clampett, Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams or Fleischer Bros. cartoon under same conditions - which is more compelling to watch and why?).

Franfou said...

Hey John do you think , only the old styles and old illusrtators was good and original ? Maybe you could try to see what is good in the new stuffs also. New digital lions from Disney are quite good too. Influenced by precedent lion ? maybe, your style too is a lot influence by great old illustrators... New characters and styles have a quality of having a polish and non sloopy style than the old time and they are now feeling a lot like real while always beeing cartoony. ..hey you can try to find what is good in the new characters and stop always disregarding the next gen like that, come on...feel like all the good stuffs belong to the past...hey come on John ! just my opinion, if this blog allow people to have opposite opinions... thanks, No hard feeling, , I still like you man :-)

David Germain said...

I think the design on the villain in Lion King, Scar, is getting away from the recycled stuff.

I don't know about design, but personality wise, he's Jafar, the villain of Alladin. They have the same gestures and expressions,


Gabriel, that's because they were animated by the same guy, Andreas Deja. And since those films were released one after the other, it's no surprise that they have similar mannerisms. If Andreas had put all too similar mannerisms into his animation of Hercules that would truly be disappointing (but I'll never find out because I refuse to sit through that movie ever again).

Hey, John, thank you for putting up that lion from what looks like Rod Scribner animation in the openning sequence of George of the Jungle. I can't WAIT until that show's on DVD. B)

Pat McMicheal said...

JohnK said...

I didn't see anything remotely cartoony in Emperor's New Groove. It was pure Cal Arts.Like watching a gay pride parade.

You're a funny son of a bitch John...This anology damn near made me piss myself! I'll have to use this one for sure!
John, I've noticed you point out alot of the SHIT product out there. Is there currently any (modern)work you admire? Are we doomed to be force-fed this garbage animation?

Roberto González said...

Incidentally, I like the look in Emperor's New Groove, Iron Giant and Lilo and Stitch. Yes, Emperor's New Groove doesn't have "new" designs, there is the Cruella De Ville type in the villain of the film, for example. But you have to admit it's more cartoony, stylized or whatever you call it than The Lion King, for example. In general the design in the films I mentioned look coherent too. In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lion King or Mulan I feel as if some characters are designed by a completely different pattern. I don't totally dislike the look of Mulan, though.

And The Lion King looks a lot more gay than Emperor's New Groove.

I get your point and I agree with it. More originality and creativity is needed. However I think the three movies I mentioned are done with skill, they are not boring to look at and they have entertaining plots, gags and acting. I would take one of those before a lot of CGI movies or 90s Disney "princess" stories anytime. If I can't have something with the look of Looney Tunes I still prefer on model "stylized" (if you don't want to use cartoony) and coherent designs, with gags based on characters reactions, to emotional stories with realistic CGI designs or "gag" movies that consist only in parodies from modern films.

Also, could you give an example of modern stuff that you think it is well done without using off model animation? Probably you could say Tartakovsky, but he uses off model every now and then I guess.

Gavin Freitas said...

Disneys 2D animation still looks really good but the designs for most of the characters are horrible! It's still amazing to me that they take horrible boring designs and animate them well. Maybe I didnt understand you well John but I think the designs look good for "Robin Hood". I mean it's no Chuck Jones or Tex Avery but it still looks like some fun. Thats horrible about the "cloud" drawings! (post above) Executives think they know about art.

JohnK said...

>>So, um...I'm curious, if you were making a serious* lion cartoon, how would you draw the lions? <<

Why would I want to make a serious cartoon? I like to have fun.

Anibator said...

Christ... why does everybody cite "Emperror's New Groove" as such a great movie?
It was an eternity of goddamn David Spade playing David Spade and John Goodman playing John Goodman and that retard Patrick Warburton playing Patrick Warburton.
ENG was a movie that was all about voices... and it NEVER STOPPED! The characters never stop jabbering with their Harvard-Lampoon-Grad-written pithy-assed dialogue.
No - I'm sorry... that movie was a disaster.
It makes me dry heave just thinking about it.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"The Cal Arts guys who I hired on Ren and Stimpy mostly timed sheets. Very talented guys. Most of the key artists came from other fields."

One last time and then I'll leave it alone.

The Cal Arts artists I know of that you hired were layout artists -- Mike Kim, Carey Yost, Jordan Reichek, Don Shank, and Joe Orrantia. I know they didn't draw in the Bluth/Disney style, and I know they didn't just time sheets.

UPA cartoons in the late 40's and early 50's weren't flat (look at Grizzly Golfer or Robin Hoodlum). Anyway, I was talking about the "broken glass" style that Gendy used (that's not really UPA).

By the way, I like the nickname you gave me. "Hunsecker the Heckler"...it has a nice ring to it.

JohnK said...

Heckler:

The main artists who contributed the most to Ren and Stimpy's "look" were Jim Smith, Bob Camp, Lynne Naylor, Vincent Waller and me.

Everyone else imitated the combination of what we invented.

Mike Kim drew in a Cal Arts style when he started at Cal Arts but then developed a really unique style of his own. He is a top talent. Jordan draws like Jordan. Carey and Don draw in pure Cal Arts style-or they did until I influenced them.

Joe did cleanups on Big House Blues if I remember correctly but didn't work on the series.

Most Cal Arts guys draw like Cal Arts. I try to hire the exceptions, like Mike, Jordan and Aaron.

Mr. Semaj said...

The Iron Giant was a great story that wasn't badly animated, and WB bent over backwards to promote the movie not once BUT twice, and it did nothing in the theaters. It only found its audience on VHS and DVD.

Actually, WB has been notorious for undermining their animated films over the past decade or so. Cat's Don't Dance was another good movie of theirs that was crippled by a poor marketing campaign.

If you like what Disney does and you want to work there producing that kind of stuff, or buy their stuff and support it, and insist on defending it, what are you doing here?

What, so Disney fans aren't allowed here? You think there are no Disney fans out there who DON'T want to learn something new? And you're totally ignoring all the news that's been coming from Disney in the past year.

Look, Disney is known by a cartoon icon and for making cartoons but they have not been in the real cartoon business for a long time, believe it or not. Part of the business is still making the occasional animated movie, probably a musical; producing bad animated TV shows overseen and written by marketing executives; overseeing scores of other entertainment businesses that tries to be appealing across cultural, economic, class and ethnic divides while making big dividends for its shareholders and reaping maximum profit. Disney cares too much about making money than actually doing something that is just pure fun and creative and original.

All of that traces back to Walt's time when he brached out of just animation. The studio today is still recovering from management that had indeed turned sour from the past decade or so. It was all the way they handled their animated products.

Aside from their TV cartoons, and the fact that they've seldom released any new theatrical shorts since 1996, none of that really means that Disney was ever out of the animation game.

But enough people like it and buy it and support it, and that's that. It's mediocre stuff surrounded by glitz and special effects, like Britney Spears and her contemporaries. Strip away all the special effects on those films, and you got nothing, no substance, no quality, just calculated, lowered expectations, barely discernible as having any real character or personality (it's the voice actor that does that heavy lifting in a Disney film for the past twenty years, not the animator - watch Lion King or Pocohontas without the sound on and compare same experience watching a Bob Clampett, Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams or Fleischer Bros. cartoon under same conditions - which is more compelling to watch and why?).

I don't know about the voice-actor thing. A lot of people love Lilo & Stitch without caring who voiced who. And you honestly can't say you've never seen or heard of a guy who never got a stiff off Ariel, or Jessica Rabbit.

John Pannozzi said...

I have to say I'm tad offended by hearing Tim Burton and Pixar being considered "CalArts style".

Oh, I plan to work for Disney/Pixar (or "Pixsney" as I like to call them now), but after I mastered Preston Blair's book, and your lessons on the ASIFA archive.

lastangelman said...

mr semaj said:I don't know

Please repeat that seventy or eighty times as your new mantra. How can you honestly read and follow this blog and still defend Disney? You do understand what John K's blog is about, don't you? I'm not saying you shouldn't be on it, nor shouldn't read it, I'm puzzled how can you read his blog and then defend what Disney does, has done and will continue to do, even with John Lasseter as head of animation (have you seen Cinderella III, I thought that type of stuff was supposed to stop under the new regime?)

mr semaj again:I don't know about the voice-actor thing. A lot of people love Lilo & Stitch without caring who voiced who. And you honestly can't say you've never seen or heard of a guy who never got a stiff off Ariel, or Jessica Rabbit.

You're missing the point by a country mile. Watch Lilo and Stich without sound, now watch without sound cartoons by aforementioned directors I mentioned under same conditions. I noticed this effect a long time ago in a family restaurant which ran 16mm cartoons for kiddies without sound inside the table/booths - the bad cartoons kids didn't pay any attention, the good funny interesting cartoons, the kids watched and payed attention.

Ariel and Belle are not sexy and are not supposed to be sexy unless you have some very unique desires and - Jessica Rabbit , pre-so-called Disney renaissance, is sexy and funny and cartoony AND is a Richard Williams creation, not a bona fide Disney per se. Disney ruined a potential Roger Rabbit franchise, but that is an entirely different story on somebody else's blog and has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Google Roger Rabbit and find out for yourself if you're interested. If we're talking masturbatory cartoon fantasies, so many cartoon artists have trumped Disney, it's not funny but that's not the argument, you're now acting like a pure troll.

Stephen Worth said...

I just posted some lion images from the archive posts from the past year or so, along with an original Chuck Jones layout drawing from Inki And The Lion.

Archive: Cartoon Lions

Thanks
Steve

Peter said...

This is a good exercise for tracing back influence. The other day I found a book illustrated by Edmund Dulac and it reminded me of some work being done today by James Jean. Thanks for the insight.

mike f. said...

Here it is - the afore-mentioned Chuck Jones lion character layout drawing, courtesy of Steve Worth at ASIFA-Hollywood:

http://www.animationarchive.org/pics/lion-big.jpg

Mr. Semaj said...

If we're talking masturbatory cartoon fantasies, so many cartoon artists have trumped Disney, it's not funny but that's not the argument, you're now acting like a pure troll.

Sorry, but you were the one making accusations about me being Disney defender. What I was getting at before was how the characters Ariel and Belle are remembered for something besides whom their voice artists are, but yes, that is a digression...

How can you honestly read and follow this blog and still defend Disney? You do understand what John K's blog is about, don't you? I'm not saying you shouldn't be on it, nor shouldn't read it, I'm puzzled how can you read his blog and then defend what Disney does, has done and will continue to do, even with John Lasseter as head of animation (have you seen Cinderella III, I thought that type of stuff was supposed to stop under the new regime?)


No, I don't agree with everything they do, which is what I just said about their TV animation. But neither does that mean I'm going to start protesting against everything they stood for during the 90's and what they stand for today. What's going on at Disney today are a lot of grays, not the black-and-white reasoning you keep using.

And from what I've read, those damn sequels should be going away fairly soon. That said, I have no plans on seeing Cinderella III.

Zaide said...

I've been watching this blog for some time and this is the first occasion I've felt moved to post. For years, there has been a disturbing trend in animation. Everyone seems to have run out of influences. I can't quite put my thumb on when this happened, but I know it was sometime in this decade. In the nineties, animators seemed to be caught in a web of confusion. After the 1991 release of Beauty & the Beast, Disney was struck with this plague. I think the Oscars were infected. The point is, although all the women did have a strange, incestual similarity, the majority of the characters were different and (I quiver in fear of the Academy to say this) special. At that point, some jealous illuminatti executive pulled an Adolf Hitler. To roughly quote Eddie Izzard, "I can't draw the fucking trees, Damn it, I will kill everyone in the world". Someone must have decided that people don't deserve entertainment because you can't find anything fresh anymore. Schools are even teaching these conventions and breaking the souls of young, talented artists between their evil and manipulative fingers. What's worse is that these students graduate with fancy degrees and have to learn their trade all over again because the tiny remnant of an artist inside of them SCREAMS for the right to exist. In all my years of watching cartoons, I have been appauled most in tis decade. Every film in the box office is a remake or a sequel, Disney is making sequels of sequels and prequels of those. I nearly struck a postman with a blunt tool when I heard that Disney was making a Tinkerbell movie. It seems to me that artists have been instilled with a paralyzing fear of creativity. I can't tell if it's the teachers, the film industry, aliens, or the damn carbon copied anime flooding the shelves, but something needs to be done. For starters, I think a lot of the problem would be solved if the Looney Tunes were brought back to television so that young people can be presented with alternative styles. Today, everything is about how redundant you can be or how much money you can save. I think all the great artists killed themselves when they made a Shrek sequel. I, for one, will be dedicating my life to bringing back plot driven entertainment and variety in characters. I may not use the cartoony approach, but no matter how bitter I become over the years, my characters WILL HAVE PERSONALITY, DAMN IT! Right now, I'll admit I'm no good. I may never be, but I refuse to become a slave to convention and to all you animators out there who find nothing wrong with the bland stools being force fed us, look back to the beginning of animation. It was created so that artists can be unique as filmmakers and do things impossible on camera. Twenty minute dialogue scenes, limited animation... just say no.

Zaide said...

Reading over some of your views on Disney, you have to look at the facts, not the rumors. The fact is, Disney has chosen to stop evolving in traditional animation. They had plans to kill off 2D animation altogether after their port of "Valient" was such a success. The plan was to eliminate 2D for the cost effective 3D keeping only enough staff to finish the current lineup of Disney television properties. It was only after Pixar saved the company that these plans would change (although I believe Eisner's replacement helped a lot). Sure, Disney has brought us classic films that we will always cherish, but starting in the nineties, they started to slip into the mainstream instead of defining it. Disney lost it's creative way and starting milking their classics for every penny of their worth. Sure, I will always defend Disney's early years, who wouldn't, but they have long lost their way. Just watch their television properties. Their either rehatched anime plotlines or animated UPN comedies. They have lost their direction and misappropriated the intention of animation; to do the impossible and make DREAMS a REALITY. Sure, once in awhile, something good will become available, something fresh and exciting, something we all long for. The sad thing is that the new content will be overshadowed by Pinocchio 6: Pinocchio Gets Wood! The talent exists, but it is not being managed properly and there's a simple explanation for that. Art has all but disappeared because the artists no longer have creative control. Executives manage talent like money, by hoarding it to themselves and locking it in a safe until it's worthless.

I still can't believe what's being taught in schools.

Yosef said...

Hi John,

I just found this blog of yours... Awesome. Anyway though...

Ever since I was a child I've been a huge fan of all your work, in style, animation and everything... You, along with one of my "Amiga heroes", Eric Schwartz, made me get into animation(took forever to find a place to learn in New Zealand) but I don't agree with a lot of the things you've said on this post.

Personally, I love the look of most Disney and Bluth movies. And this is coming from someone who loves amazingly "free" and "Fluid" animations like yours. It's all just a matter of taste, and the appropriate "look" for a story.

People like tartan... I hate it. Same with Opera Singing and many other things, but a lot of other people appreciate them for reasons I don't see.

There are huge differences in the style and compositions of the imagery you liked and the ones you said you didn't. Each have their merits and their limitations. Sometimes the seriousness of a story limits what a character can look like. Your Disney examples for instance... The stories that were attached to those character designs would never suit Bugs Bunny based purely on his appearance and exaggerated nature, and vice versa.

That's not to say that a lot of places don't take terrible shortcuts in animation today, 2D especially. Even I see it. Although, I think it's improved compared to the 90's. You saw a LOT more shows in the late 80s - early 90's where they just didn't seem to care about the art. They were feeding kids this horrible rubbish with repeated "still" pictures that were drawn horribly... Even before we started getting a lot of Japanese cartoons. That's another thing. I'm a huge Anime fan, but that doesn't mean I'll sit through the terribly animated crap they try to feed to today's kids. For all the F-Zeros and Yu-Gi-Oh crap theres a Mononoke and Steamboy. And don't try to say the latter aren't beautiful. ^_^

Like I said... Story lends it's self to design, and vice versa. I'll be sitting at my work desk and come up with a character that won't suit the story I have in my head, so I hold onto him and wait to use him for something else... He may be too cartoony or too serious, but just the opposite of that certain story dancing around my brain. Sometimes you get a story that could go for either style... That's when a personal preference will take hold. I couldn't imagine Stimpy being in Oliver & Co.

I'm sure this probably all sounds like nonsense to a skilled vet such as yourself, but like what you posted, this is just my opinion. From the posts of the other readers, it seems you have a lot of "Yes" men, which is sad because you obviously post these things here for us to read your opinion so you can hear ours.

Anyhoo, thanks for listening.

Always a fan,
~Yosef

Ian Worrel said...

Have any of you seen whats coming out of the Gobelins school in Paris?

Check it out:
Burning Safari is my favorite.
http://www.gobelins.fr/galerie/animation/

KieranM said...

I remember the movie that Disney lion was from, It was an animal adaptation of Robin Hood. What did you think of the designs of Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King? They look, sound and act like one of those Ren and Stimpy clones that are still popular today.

daveythewavey19 said...

You had to rip on the lion-king didn't you. I understand your complaints, but I think you undervalue the ability of animators to work with a constraining design and make it interesting. And as for it being a copy, well, isn't everything a copy? What artist doesn't incorporate other peoples work into their own in some fashion.

Ethan said...

John, you mentioned "furries". The internet just got a lot sadder by the mere mention of them.

Aaron said...

Well that was certain to get a lot of comments. My thoughts are, I guess it takes crappy character design to make a great animated film.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Heckler:

The main artists who contributed the most to Ren and Stimpy's "look" were Jim Smith, Bob Camp, Lynne Naylor, Vincent Waller and me.

Everyone else imitated the combination of what we invented.

Mike Kim drew in a Cal Arts style when he started at Cal Arts but then developed a really unique style of his own. He is a top talent. Jordan draws like Jordan. Carey and Don draw in pure Cal Arts style-or they did until I influenced them.

Joe did cleanups on Big House Blues if I remember correctly but didn't work on the series.

Most Cal Arts guys draw like Cal Arts. I try to hire the exceptions, like Mike, Jordan and Aaron."


(I've been away from my computer, hence the delay in my reply...)

Johnnie K,

I never meant to imply that the Cal Arts artists you hired were responsible for the "look" of Ren & Stimpy. I was just pointing out that you did hire artists from Cal Arts and that they drew character layouts. I assume they must have had some talent since I don't think you would have hired people who couldn't draw. I'm sure they all needed training to get to what you were after, but I also assume that the layout artists you hired that didn't go to Cal Arts also needed that same training.

(I also recall Joe working on the first season of the show, though I'm not sure in what capacity.)

I don't agree with you that the artists I mentioned drew in a Bluth/Disney style but I won't argue the point anymore, since it's only my opinion against yours, and we'll end up in a tit for tat debate. Plus, it is also unfair that I dragged the aforementioned artists into this debate since they are not here to defend themselves or to agree to your assessment of their skills.

"Jordan draws like Jordan" That certainly is true.

JohnK said...

D'Angelo...

By this time I am having trouble figuring out what your point is, besides just heckling for the sheer sake of it.

>> I was just pointing out that you did hire artists from Cal Arts and that they drew character layouts.<<


So? I've said a million times that I hire Cal Arts artists all the time.


>> I assume they must have had some talent since I don't think you would have hired people who couldn't draw.<<

Saying there is a "Cal Arts Style" is not saying that you don't have talent.




>>I'm sure they all needed training to get to what you were after, but I also assume that the layout artists you hired that didn't go to Cal Arts also needed that same training.
<<

People who DIDN'T go to Cal Arts are much easier to train. That's my point. I usually have to RETRAIN Cal Arts kids because they don't realize they are drawing cliched expressions and poses.

I spend a lot of money undoing the damage that Cal Arts did to them.

Schools should teach skills - not decayed versions of stylistic formulas and tricks that you see in all the animated features of the last 20 years.

I am trying through this blog to show people the difference - mainly to save myself so much trouble on my next project. I am giving away (for free) knowledge that artists can use to do more functional work for me and other studios that don't want cliches.

If you don't want it, don't read it. Stay at Nickelodeon and draw stick figures. This is for people who want to do things that use their creativity and who like challenges and specificity...and FUN.

If you are happy with what you have and the way things are, that's completely fine with me. I'm looking for people who aren't satisfied with status quo.

E said...

Its kind of unfair to post an image from the cover of a video game(Proud Family) as an example for animation. the artists who do those covers work for the video game company and not the animation studio.

Jumbiliya Studios has a really slick animation style/overrall look to their work. In the same vein as "Bebe's Kids" but ...sadly, had lost a bit of its elasticity over the years.

But still good.

E said...

I came/come to your blog whenever i felt getting myself good and mad hating what you had to say after you bashed a few of my favorite films/artists/styles a while back.... but after that last rebuttle to D'angelo...

good form. seems as if you truly love the art of animation and arent just some bitter dude with a chip on his shoulder.

preach on.

Wings of Death said...

You guys have GOT to be kidding. Robin Hood didn't start the furry movement. It's been around a lot longer than that. Try reading a book or two.

So you're saying that the drawings that make the lions look like laughable idiots are the better ones? That's ridiculous and unfounded. That alone would make the majority of any animation fans pick up and leave.

I see here that no one disagrees with you, and then I see "comments must be approved by the blog author". So I imagine that any comment disagreeing gets the ax.

By the way people, get your information right. Disney spent nearly a year drawing lions FROM LIFE, lions which were brought to our studio.

And one more thing: Your "blanderizer"? TLK was at least partly still hand drawn, and one of the biggest steps in animation, which any animator worth anything should know is that everything must be simplified!

Madagascar however, was an extreme practice in stupidity. That took simplicity way too far. You can blame most of Disney's problems on Eisner however. Anything oversimplified to cut budget was his deal.

And if you hated Madagascar, avoid Samurai Panda (later this year) at all costs.

Hans Flagon said...

Kids did not go to The Lion King in droves. Their Mom needing a hit of Elton John/Phil Collins.Light Rock whatever pablum took the kids there. Then she sat the brat in from of a TV with a Video of it while she sat in the other room gabbing on the phone drinking her latte.

And unfortunately, Disney only makes their "animated classics' available for a short period of time, so they have to watch the same crap over and over, rather than being able to choose something better.

Annie-Mae said...

Wow Old Topic but I want to bring up my two-cents. Steven Spielberg's Amblimation studio created Balto which is horrible in story, horrible in style, and an obvious attempt to steal off the popularity of Disney at the time by blatantly doing so. During the 90's, all these companies were competing ageist Disney by making tons of movies that copied Disney style. It's bad enough Disney does it but most of the time smaller studios will attempt to copy it.

In Lion King's defense I was crazy over it as a kid and I still like it XD but I can get what you're saying about clichéd style. Robin Hood is a terrible animated movie seeing how they rotoscoped almost everything from past Disney movies and their live actors they used for reference. Granted rotoscoping is ok but for Disney to reuse famous scenes from their past movies is cheep. They needed to come up with easy cliched designs to save time animating and money.

Martin Juneau said...

"I remember the movie that Disney lion was from, It was an animal adaptation of Robin Hood. What did you think of the designs of Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King? They look, sound and act like one of those Ren and Stimpy clones that are still popular today."

I liked Timon & Pumbaa as a kid but i rarely liked their TV series who was shown in syndication across Canada. I know by advance that Disney trying to cash-in with the Lion King franchise. I remember that they having also lawsuits that a old song was used in the original film.

The rest of The Lion King? Did i want to watch again today? No! I see this movie a lot of times and hearing their songs by cassettes many times in school. I'm glad that i'm not the only one who think this film was overatted at my time.

John said...

It's good to hear this because some books & websites make you feel like Disney is the be-all and end-all of animation. And I'm less jealous of those that can go to Cal Arts now.

I am working at a mini-project at the moment. I choose to design and animate a duck - mainly becasue there are pleanty of ducks close to my house. I went and sketched them and took video reference, then went home and analysed this quite in depth.

I decided not to study the great deal of duck based characters that have been done before becasue I didn't want to copy them, on purpose or not. This post confirms to me that was the right choice.

By the way - I've put my mini project on hold while I learn to draw properly using your curriculum.

Once I'm eventually done I'll compare my deigns and movement to daffy, donald and the rest. Maybe my observations will even lead to something original.

Sanek said...

Incidentally, the author of the blog in general does not understand what he says and what the real problem with the lions of TLK, and not only with the lions. On the one hand animal in Disney movies anatomically correct, but on the other face must be expressive, and it inevitably takes on human traits, under certain angles (close to the front) it becomes evident, especially if the face is relatively flat.

TParker said...

I don't like 'The Lion King' much either. I think it is over-rated, the characters are okay-ish, but something struck me about it that still made it great looking.

It was the backgrounds. Greg Drolette's backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous. It really showed that they studied from life, looked at all the different colours, and it just plain made it great to look at. Call it spectacle, I think it's amazing.