Friday, January 11, 2008

Peet and Disney's Unique Story Process

From everything I've read by anybody who worked on Disney stories and animation, it seems that Disney had a really unique way to write the stories for their cartoons. They didn't write it first and then animate it. They had a "story department" that constantly changed and revised everything.

It seems to be an ongoing process, like the story isn't finished until the animation is finished.

Here, Bill Peet talks a bit about it.

I also have a book called "Too Funny For Words" by Frank and Ollie where they say the same thing. I'll post some of that soon.

Marc Davis and The Illusion Of Life

Province: Marc Davis has personally described you to me as the best story man in the business.

Peet: Well, that’s OK, but I wish he would tell someone else. All the publicity went to those people. The biggest problem for me was that I was so creative, and other people would grab hold of my stuff. When Illusion of Life came out, I called Ollie [Johnston] and gave him hell.

I told him it seems strange to me that he never mentioned that there’s a storyman and a creative end to this thing. The public probably thinks the animators sits down and starts doing it from scratch. I did storyboards, thousands of them, and character design; I would direct the voice recordings.

The Personalities of Dalmations Were developed With Drawings

Then guys like Marc Davis, Ken Anderson and Woolie Reitherman would take credit for my Cruella deVille and all of the personalities. Those personalities were delineated in drawings, and believe me—I can draw them as well or better than any of them. Marc Davis told Charles Solomon, the animation writer for the Los Angeles Times, that he created Cruella deVille from scratch and had his picture taken with the girl who did the voice.

Peet Wrote The Screenplay for Dalmations

I wrote the screenplay and every bit of dialogue. I found the woman who did the voice and I wrote all her dialogue. I don’t have any of my Dalmatian drawings because I left the studio in a hurry, but after I was gone they took credit for everything. They might be down in their morgue, but those people made damned sure there was nothing left of mine because it would prove what I am saying. I had it all cut and dried for them. These are the types of things that drive you nuts.

How Do You Pinpoint Who “Created” What?
Storyboard Man Works The Story and Personalities Out For The Animators

Province: But in an assembly-line product like animation, where literally hundreds of hands touch it, how can you be exactly sure who did what?

Peet: There has to be a brain. The humor rarely comes from the animation. It has to be on the boards. Illusion of Life doesn’t even suggest any thought behind it. For a feature to hold together as a drama and have a continuity with personalities, it has to be very carefully worked out. Then you get the soundtrack recorded, right down to the gnat’s eyelash.

How Long To Do A Feature – The Animation Overlapped The Story!

Province: How long would it usually you to work through a typical feature?

Peet: Usually around two years. The animation would overlap because they would pick up scenes as I moved them down. In other words, the first three scenes of Sword in the Stone would be underway in animation while I was working on the next fifteen minutes of the film. Then that piece would go down to the animators until finally I was down to the last sequence and they would still be animating the first half of the film.


Eddie wrote a great post concerning the controversy that isn't a controversy: