Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Many More Decades?

How long do you think it will take before they get tired of doing this? Or do they even realize that it's the same every time?

I mean you gotta wonder, if you have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend and years on end to make a movie, surely you could come up with a new design and expression.

Why aren't they embarrassed?


Rusty said...

Certain animation companies which used to produce beautiful work have become sellouts to market to audiences that don't understand the medium very well in my opinion. Many companies recently have been more motivated to produce animated films from the merchandising aspect and less from an artistic standpoint. So yes I see the new Rapunzel movie no different from the past few Disney princess films. Their scared to innovative they just wanted to follow a proven formula of success.

Honestly I don't know what direction John Lassater is taking Disney but I guess their trying to be socially conscious to younger audiences. In the process alienating some of the older audiences that grew up with classics that Disney made from the Golden Age of animation.

Rusty said...

Its unknown how long the Tude market will last. Though then again you were not to sure how bright the future of animation was in the eighties. These travesties go in cycles. Tude definitely limits the creative aspect of character development though it doesn't stop the public from falling for these movies.

When I draw I try to make my characters as repulsive and as anti-social as possible.

stephfunny said...

I saw a post on twitter about this. And all I can do is shake my head. They apparently changed the name to Tangled, so it can appeal more to boys....*cough* wth..

Anywho, I agree.

Sidebar : I just finished Lesson One of your $100,000 Animation School.


Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge. : )

seckscab said...

Crazy ass theory: The "Disney Princess" phenomenon is purely religious/political in derivation. It has nothing to do with storytelling, art or even money. I noticed this while working at Toys R Us... the religious conservative parents bought their daughters things with "princess" themes, and the non-religious or liberal parents usually just went with the Barbie. This has more to do with "Purity Balls" and "Chastity Rings" than art... this is basically what every Rush Limbaugh Dittohead wants their daughter to be, and the kid rarely doesn't mind. And, Disney and it's desperate counterparts, as long as there's money to be made, will continue to oblige. If the market demanded Goth Hello Kitty... oh wait, go check Hot Topic...

Shannon said...

I like how she's designed after a Bratz doll.

By which I mean >:|

Dan said...

When it stops making "them" money, I assume.

So, when "their" audience stops being a bunch of retards and starts to refuse to pay for crap.

Anwyays, it was probably a rhetorical question, right?

Paul B said...


C said...


I have to wonder what Disney's last "sweet" film was before they decided everything had to be hip. If that makes any sense.

Chris said...

It really is sad... pathetic is more like it. And I am sooo SICK OF THAT F_____ING EXPRESSION!!!

I was watching The Best Son Jetsons short you guys made and am amaaazed at how many different expressions are crammed into each and every sentence!!! Each one specific to what is being said and how it is being said. Those shorts should be studied by everyone!!!

Eric Knisley said...

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it", maybe? I mean, these movies and TV shows have made huge piles of money, so perhaps they figure they'll stick with the formula. Don't get me wrong...I don't like it either. But it does help me to rest assured that I'm not missing anything by not having a TV or going to the movies.

coolhand said...

the problem isnt that the audience is retards, its that they are little kids and they dont know any better

HemlockMan said...

Maybe they'll stop doing it when people stop paying to see it. Personally, I hate that crap, but apparently lots of people dig it.

JohnK said...

even if that were true, why spend so much time and money just doing the same thing again and again?-and by the way, not very many of these movies make money.

I think it's just fear of doing anything creative at all. They substitute money, shadows,inbetweens and years of indecision for ideas, design or humanity.

Why would an assertive feminist princess or female lead appeal to anybody? Especially kids.Is that the only kind of female in cartoon movies now?

Sven Hoek said...

Does she really need that much "'tude"? What happened to the damzel in distress? Looks like she's gonna start rapping, which is probably in the movie somewhere.
I'm sure they spent more on advertising than on all of the artists who worked on this piece of garbage. Not that it's the artists fault but this corporate system has got to go.

John E. B. said...

You know its a stupid idea to begin with if you ask me for characters to have such unappealing traits but the fact that every single movie is EXACTLY the same. There is little to no difference between them.

RooniMan said...

That, Mr. K , is one of life's many questions. "When will it stop?"

Alberto said...

I'm going to remain optimistic. 10 years maybe? With things like the internet and more info being readily available people will wise up. I doubt the popularity of the "indie" film and "indie" music scenes this scene wouldn't exist without the internet. Hell, I watch 30rock online pretty much exclusively. Nick Cross I heard is having his next project funded by donations via internet.

The invention of films created great cartoons, TV then lowered the standards, let's see what the internet will do.

Calvin said...

Tude makes me wanna barf...

I feel like I'm in some steeupid dream where creativity, imagination, and comedy is non-existent.

I wonder how much traffic we can generate if we created a website for really good cartoons. That would make corporate america rethink what type of crap they put on tv and in movie theaters. Especially if their audiences are no longer watching said crap, but instead watching good cartoons on this new website.

I think this site could go viral with the advent of social networking sites, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. It would be low cost I presume.

Well, back to learning animation with Preston Blair.

Robert said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Animation is an art form, and to say that it is absolutely repulsive is merely an opinion.

JohnK said...

I don't think anyone said that.

Whether it's repulsive or beautiful is not the point. The point is that it's exactly the same as so many other characters in animated feature cartoons.

That makes it generic and insincere. and pandering to someone who probably doesn't even exist.

Martin Juneau said...

Those so-realistic characters looks you see in the 80's have a bad influence to the animated motion picture and unfortunately, comics world too.

In case you didn't know, the main characters designs from the W.I.T.C.H. magazine was remade but i think i send you a link, they are hideous besides i learn that they don't care to the art motivation, but for amazed little kids whith fancy stuffs. I know, we was influenced by products of our time, so it's our fault too.

Mykal said...

John: I remember Eddie Fitzgerald saying (with his typical infectious laugh) on a commentary track how you would never allow an animator to use the same expression twice in the same cartoon. I loved that. Whenever I watch R&S I'm always on the lookout for a second use of an expression.

Clearly, the folks from tudes-R-us figure they struck gold with little Ms. Snotface and are just going to stick with it. -- Mykal

Cameron said...

Pretty girls tend to look same-ish. It's not selling out. It's biology.

The tude, I could do without. Perhaps we can pretend it's a mask for some deeper set psychological trauma and her need to push others away out of fear of being hurt. Or perhaps we can be realistic and say she's supposed to be sassy or something.

Cristian AvendaƱo said...

I think that this happens because after seeing the same expression in thousands of cartoons you kinda get used to it, specially if you grew up or worked for a long time on stuff like this.

So after a while you stop thinking of a new way to do something (in this case, how to draw an expression) and you go to "default cartoon mode"

Hey John, thanks for the graphic design posts. I'm a graphic design student and my teachers always comment on the the same things that you do--but in the end, it looks like everyone in the market wants you to do horrible, cluttered design to "appeal to a younger demographic".
Cartoons and Graphic Design have a common enemy, I think.

Zoran Taylor said...

"Why would an assertive feminist female lead appeal to anybody?"

It could if that actually constituted a personality like it does in real life. I think the right question is why does that NOT contain any appeal? "Assertive" is the necessary state of anything that's ostensibly interesting, and "feminist" at its recognizable extreme constitutes some pretty strange behavior. Pissed-off people with an axe to grind make for entertaining characters, and if one could combine this with an element of righteous heroism in balance with the former, that could easily be a layered, funny and very REAL character.

But no. Not in 21st century moronland.

There are no bad ingredients, only people who can't cook. But now that's everyone.

Pedro Vargas said...

Yeah, I think that's exactly it, it's fear. Fear of being creative, like you said. These animation companies seem to be ridden with it and I think regular moviegoers are noticing.

It's really ridiculous what these execs are doing to their own movies thinking they'll actually make money doing it their way.

Or maybe they think because one CG movie worked for a big number of moviegoers that they'll do an exact replica of that last movie because that's what statistics and percentages told them to do.

Robert said...

I probably shouldn't have used such strong words but everyone is basically speaking in that direction.

I get what you're saying, but today's animated feature mostly deals with human characters and a sense of realism. So I think it's inevitable that characters begin having similar traits in their looks. Humans all share the same major facial features(eyes, nose, ears, mouth...) but it's the small differences and details that give us our unique appearances. Capturing those differences graphically is near impossible to do, and the results would be unappealing to the viewer.

Lebon Bon Lebon said...

Guess this is the by product of Disney/Pixar monopoly. Most of the 3D animators/designers/fans must think: "It's has worked in the past, why not now?".

As long they make money they'll keep doing the same thing over and over, till they kill the goose of the golden eggs.

People seem to forget that cartoons can be/do anything! That's why they are cartoons! If you want realism, shoot a live action movie.

I'm telling you. This new generation is going backwards and not forward. As Frank Zappa blamed sold out hippies for the fall of TV networks. I blame generation Yers for being plain lazy.

Sure, there is comfort in regurgitating stuff and follow "rules" to get your foot into a BIG? studio. But it takes real cojones to do something different and be a pioneer like Avery or Jones.

Disney and Pixar can buy Oscars but they'll never get respect.

"It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." Albert Einstein


eric said...

That expression is so stupid, the way her mouth goes up with her eyebrow. Who makes that face? I don't think my face can even move that way. Its like they can't decide if they want realistic or cartoony expressions. And the sassy "hand on my hip, I'm sooooo cool" pose is even stupider. It makes sense, their target audience is probably spoiled little brats that do that same exact pose when they don't get their way.

John, you really need to make a cartoon that makes fun of 'tude and anime, but I don't think you could bring yourself to draw such crap.

SandraRivas said...

This is I blame Pixar for. Ever since they made expensive realistic hair and realistic water, everyone has cared more about the effects than the animation. They're not embarrassed because they want to be "appealing" like Pixar. You can totally see this has Pixar written all over it.

And I hate John Lassater for this! I don't know why everyone is listening to him! I was relieved to hear that Disney would have oil painted backgrounds, and then I hear about "animating oil paints", or "traditional hand drawn in 3D" if that makes any sense. What the heck are they thinking?

Walt Disney would be embarrassed right now to see Sleeping Beauty and Snow White merged into a million dollar wasted 3D movie.

We're living in a recession right now, how can Pixar and Disney (and other companies) be so selfish wasting money like this?

I'm tired of seeing the Disney girl clones, and I'm definitely tired of the Disney Studios never being creative or going beyond. They have such talented people! Why are they wasting their talent! It's like reliving the 80s.

Robert said...

And by beauty I didn't mean pretty, I meant appeal.

SandraRivas said...

Cameron: Not exactly. Every girl is unique and pretty in their own way. Just look at Katie Rice's drawings.

The tude is overrated. My girlfriends never show the tude attitude, unless they're being rude and stupid. It's not a way to act tough at all, it's just annoying.

Niki said...

Because now that everyone has some kind of organization everybody's scared everybody else would sue them for defamation or corrupting the children.

If you make a frowny face at the happy face people, they get angry faced, and angry faced people know how to cut you and make you bleed green.

Also for my birthday this year I'm getting everything for the animation school! I can ween myself off this laptop!

Greg said...

'tude aside, I'll admit I was actually looking forward to this conceptually, because I heard it described as looking like a moving water color painting. Sadly they missed the mark. Even if the effect were more than hard light + hazy filter, the hip contemporary approach to the story makes reproducing a classical painterly style completely pointless.

I still wait for the day when there's a feature length moving Frank Frazetta painting (and I'm not talking about Fire & Ice). Something visually dazzling like that would pack the theaters if anyone could pull it off. Tell the financiers it's "the next Lord of the Ring$$$$$."

PatriS said...

People need to just stop making animation for kids. Adults can, should enjoy animation and I think we completely forgot that, that's why Disney is so boring; nothing is scary or dramatic, too much for kids. They have plenty of kiddy films, change the target audience; change the aspect of creativity.

As far as money goes I wouldn’t know, I draw, I think I have more chances learning Chinese than I have learning about numbers. Maybe there are too many suits walking around in an artist driven industry, maybe someone needs to remind them, we want their money for paper and pencils not their opinions. As long as they get their money back and some extra, why should they care?

Animators need to run the show, not some punk just out of business school in a suit, he wouldn’t recognize creative art even if you’d put on a sticky note and slapped it on his forehead. When you want a painting done do you go see an accountant or a lawyer?

When Disney started it was a gathering of artists, not business men. Apparently even Walt Disney had picked up pencil in his time…

Guy said...

But man... man... it looks a little less ugly this time, man! A little bit!

Or, actually, is that even what the movie looks like? Last time I checked people didn't know.

Check out the trailer someone linked to in the Cartoon Brew comments. It's like the winner of a contest to parody modern animation by making something that is as uninspired as is absolutely possible.


martinus said...

The worsst thing about this is how they are trumpeting it as a completely new style. I think it's Lasseter who said they are going for a painterly look inspired by The rococco painting "Then Swing"
Not that that particular painting appeals to me but at least it sounded like they were trying something different. It was just big words. All the images I've seen are the same old same old.
I'm not sure if you are familiar with the "American dog/Bolt" story.
Chris Sanders started out with an original idea, and a crazy cast of characters that included a giant radioactive rabbit, a gambling, cigar smoking dog and a cat with an eyepatch. Lasseter (Who I thought would be an important addition to Disney) stepped in and said Sanders' movie was "Too quirky for it's own good". I don't know how that term could even be applied to animation.
Just do a google image search to compare the original American dog look to Bolt.

CabelStudios said...

As someone who loves Disney movies, even I'm starting to get tired of the Princess formula. And changing the title to 'Tangled' is stupid. That's something I'd expect from Dreamworks.

Funky Al said...

I think the reason they're doing princess movie after princess movie is that in the early 200's, they tried to break away from that, but it failed miserably. Out of all the films they released, only The Emperor's New Groove and Lilo & Stich made any money. Granted, many of them were terrible, but when you can't even SELL a concept like "Treasure Island in Space," then you tend to go back to what you know makes a profit.

martinus said...

I would also just like to reply to Cameron...
There is a certain idea of a pretty girl and they do tend to look the same, but in normal human society(Not magazine covers) I think there are many many different types of beautiful girls. The girls in these movies don't just look similar, they look exactly the same.

Oscar Grillo said...

The sad/funny thing of rubbish like this is that it falls into de category of the well trodden soundbite "Illusion of Life"...I constantly repeat that I've seen more "Illusion of life" in the graffiti's of the toilets of pubs in Piccadilly circus that in the Disney output of the last forty five years!

Anonymous said...

"Why would an assertive feminist princess or female lead appeal to anybody? Especially kids.Is that the only kind of female in cartoon movies now?"

When I first saw Mulan, I liked her because she was assertive, but still rather weak in her self motivation. A bit of a paradox but rather apparent in the film. In short, she was human.

Understandable this kind of heroism wasn't present in women in ancient China... but it was something different from Disney and being the tomboy I was and am - I related to it.

This princess is "trying to hard" for a lack of better words. Mulan had attitude, not 'tude. Ariel was unique in the sense that she was defiant and curious. Those are the only two princesses that have true unique personalities in my book.

I don't know how this princess if going to fare, but looking from this art I'll say it will be a Mcdonald's meal. Ok to digest and fills the stomach, but doesn't leave much to the palate.

JLG said...


Our politics are dysfunctional because way too many people see what they want to see, or think they're supposed to be seeing, and trick themselves out of seeing what's actually there. And this blog can get like that.

An out-of-context screenshot held up as yet another example of the incestuous decay in animation? Come on. Besides, that's not 'tude. That's an expression I actually understand, and one that can make sense----it appears to have actual CONTEXT. Unlike 'tude, which exists purely for its own sake.

Everyone piles on the woes and laments without having even seen this character's expressions in context. Look before leaping.

I really want to ask this:

Yes, we know that many "pretty girl" characters are cut from similar cloth. But I submit that that's because when you're out to play a character "straight", there simply aren't many design options to choose from. Depicting the infinite sublties of difference within the human face in cartoon form quickly turns into the "itchiness" we all hate, and isn't easily animatable anyway (and it's certainly not cartoony or fun.) When you urge animators to break away from the same old same old, where are you urging them to go? I know a lot of people here aren't fond of "straight" in the first place, but straight is out there regardless, and always will be. And it doesn't have to be dull or full of 'tude, either. I, for one, LOVE feisty, assertive female leads. If done well, they're great. Artificial 'tude doesn't ALWAYS triumph over actual characterization, ya know. Give this gal a chance!

Gabriele_Gabba said...

This is a retorical post, i can tell.

Mega-galactic boss man animated film/short formula:

No risk -> Mass 'Appeal'-> Merchandising ease = Money.

This is basically the worst kind of evil.

I think the next princess villan should be a network executive.. hehehe i'd watch that.

Trevor Thompson said...

I don't know what's more pathetic: the type of person these films appeal to or the excuses said people make in defense of them.

Kyle said...

I was looking forward to this a lot. The leaked clip from back when it was stil called "unbraided" looked great to me.

Ive also heard from insiders that they were a lot of experimental stuff being shown internally that looked fantastic, they had convincing ink and paint outlines, with charcole styled shading and such.

But all that has gone out the window as we see in the final version. I wanted to see what the public had not been shown yet.

As for this version, yes, its looking pretty bland. But I'll still see the movie, and Im still trying to be optimistic, because word of mouth internally is that they are still proud of it(even though they hate the name change) so Im going to hold off judgment until I see it for myself. I don't think the promo pics are a good representation of what we'll get.

As for the topic question, infinite decades. this is something that Disney fans will always enjoy. Personally I do think they need to stop wanting so hard for Disney to recapture its Walt years, and go in a different direction.

Juz Capes said...

'Why would an assertive feminist princess or female lead appeal to anybody?'

They're not feminist, that's how they have their cake and eat it, these characters still conform to the stereo types and are man obsessed. Just because they're being a smart ass whilst their doing it doesn't mean they're progressive in any way.

Look at the woman/thing in Shrek, they still marry her off in the end and she transforms into what Shrek would consider a good wife.

It's like the 'soccer mom' thing you highlight, it's not feminist. There's nothing subversive or interesting in any of these characters, that's the problem.

Isaac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katy Lloyd said...

I want to give her a chance... there were elements in the leaked trailer that I liked (although these were mostly the storyboards... I suspect the real thing might look less exciting in comparison).
Unfortunately there seems a rather large amount of "sass" too (using bedsheets as ninja ropes?!)
As far as the design goes, I would love to see a princess who for once didn't have that tiny button nose. But it's tricky... as soon as you start adding characteristics, they stop looking like "princesses"... I guess...

Isaac said...

Almost no one notices the stock acting as long as the pacing and characterization is good.

Anonymous said...

Seems we've moved from art to empty iconography - pure kitsch. A soul-less representation of an emotion which no longer exists.

They've managed to turn misogyny into kitsch!

This article by Roger Scrutton, although i don't agree with all of it, has some interesting points about kitsch, which can easily be applied to this phenomenon.

Scrutton on Beauty

Particularly 7th paragraph.

Yowp said...

If they want to make a movie about a female character that appeals to boys, give her breasts. That usually works.


Anonymous said...


The reason they make the same crap over and over is because it requires no effort. To do something that takes thought and skill, requires thought and skill.

Here's the real kicker, people APPARENTLY do not care about thought or skill. Why is american idol such a popular show? Honestly, if people didn't like it, they wouldn't watch it. People CHOOSE to watch this crap.

I don't agree that they watch because there's nothing better on. No one stopped watching nick or cartoon network when APC was on, did they?

The reason these studios release crap after crap, is because crap is all it takes to please people nowadays. Why should the studios bother making something truly great knowing the audience won't really appreciate it?

/\/\ikeB said...

I don't know. When will parents stop trying to shut their kids up by making them watch Disney movies, and instead tell them to go outside, or just tell them to shut up?

Matt said...

"Why would an assertive feminist female lead appeal to anybody?"

I wouldn't say that an assertive female lead is inherently bad, it's just that writers (or, the ever present 'suits') never make them likeable, or at least, not obnoxious.


"Here's the real kicker, people APPARENTLY do not care about thought or skill. Why is american idol such a popular show? Honestly, if people didn't like it, they wouldn't watch it. People CHOOSE to watch this crap."

Actually, most of the people I know watch American Idol only to see the failures in the auditioning round. I'm sure if you could look at the number of viewers per each episode, you'd see a gradual drop off after the auditions.

Carmine said...

Well, this movie was suppose to usher in the new Renaissance of Disney feature animation, similar to how The Little Mermaid did. I think the chances of that happening and slim to none, especially with this crappy title change. Shows where the studio is at in terms of integrity...

As far as John Lassater, its odd to me that Disney has co-opted him after thier takeover of Pixar, which I always remember reading was something Pixar was against. Seems like he's sold his soul, but we'll have to wait and see how things turn out...

Chris Rank said...

I must say that it's clear from the first 15 comments that i read that none of you have little girls in your home.

My girls, who are 6 4 and 2 will never relate to any of the better animated and better designed Characters you design. They don't relate to anything i've ever seen you create. Promise.

To get into marketing here: The target audience isn't animation people.

Why do you think PIXAR makes such huge money? They know their audience.

JK you said these movies never make money?! Really? The Little Mermaid didn't make money?

Kawks! said...

I think that if you give a princess tude, it will help it appeal to boys. The new Alice is doing the exact same thing. I beliave creativity is stifled by PR, and marketing departments. How about the story of an ugly little fat dike, I bet marketing would love that idea.

Ross Irving said...

Well I'm not going to eat it alive just yet. But the title comes across as "we're not taking this seriously" to me. "Tangled". I may not like a lot of Disney's stuff, but at least he took himself seriously so there was some sort of merit to it.

This will be Disney's fiftieth animated feature film. Shame they're still focusing on effects. "Luscious hair in 3D" doesn't look too different from how they usually hair in 3D, so I don't care.

Martin Juneau said...

I agree with Mr. Yowp. Adding breasts to female characters is more attractive than a body in sillicone, besides it turns out more realistic.

I study recently the female anatomy to add curves, which i never noticing that before but i have lots of thing to learn to make my characters more feminine. But today's girls in animation and comics haven't even curves.

Girls from APC are real girls with actual female anatomy. Not just cartoon characters like in too much Anime.

David said...

It bothers me that with every one of these Disney CG movies they announce at the start: "we're really going for a 'hand-drawn' aesthetic , but using CG . The backgrounds and characters will have a "painterly" quality and we're just so excited to bring our great tradition of appealing hand-drawn animation into the world of CG , blah, blah, blah ..." and then all the pictures end up looking exactly the SAME. That same basic over-rendered "realistic" CG look.

It all starts out with these lofty ideas for the art direction and then gets so watered down and bland as it goes along.

I've seen some of Glen Keane's development work and animation tests for Rapunzel and if they could have followed through on his idea to basically hand animate the film with traditional drawings which would then be cleaned-up and "painted" with texture mapped brush strokes to look like animated oil paintings it would have looked amazing, but that idea seems to have gone out the window and now they'll just churn out another CG bland film.

Cartooning and caricature needs to make a comeback, but the public's taste is being molded to only appreciate "realistic" CG graphics from the time they are little kids , mostly via video games. There's no art appreciation classes in schools anymore and the general public's tastes are not sophisticated enough to appreciate good caricature and cartooning. Just look at the poster art and cartooning in the early to mid-20th century (check out Shane Gline's site and the ASIFA archive site, and this blog , of course ) to see how far our culture has fallen. The mass audience's tastes are now so low that they literally can't "see" good design and cartooning. You can't show a graphic cartoon design without over-loading it with fuzzy tone mattes and rim lighting to make it look "realistic" .

David said...

By the way, John, that image you are showing at the head of your post is a very early piece of development artwork and the character doesn't look like that anymore. I admit the 'tude in that image is hackneyed and the overall look of it is not that great, but there was some good stuff done on this movie in terms of trying to make it have a hand-crafted look. That's all gone now. It will look like the same ol' same ol' CG stuff, but with Little Mermaid-era designs. Glen Keane's rough animation has an appeal that doesn't usually survive the Disney assembly line clean-up process. They should just have Glen rough animate a whole feature and then paint his roughs so the rough "charcoal" lines show through.

I'm not saying that to excuse the lack of innovation in the character designs, but if you're going to pick on it find a more current image .

This one seems to be the "official" image that has been released by the studio:

Rapunzel/Tangled publicity image.

I think this is just a publicity still, not a finished frame from the movie , but shows more recent character designs (but not much better, I'll admit) .

That still does show some evidence of "painterly" brush strokes on the characters , but I have a feeling that will not make it to the final version. They said the same thing about "Bolt" (i.e. "painterly" ) but Bolt ended up looking just like every other CG film I've seen.

Wonkey the Monkey said...

Lasseter. Lasseter. LASSETER. It's spelled "l-a-s-s-E-t-e-r"! Not ONE commenter has spelled it right so far!

*Deep Breath*

Now I must take a few moments to compose myself.

Anonymous said...

There's a recent article in the LA Times on this movie here

One quote says, "Initially, veteran Disney animator Glen Keane, who had worked on "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid," was developing "Rapunzel" in the hand-drawn tradition. Then in 2003 Disney retooled the movie creatively and technically in response to the popularity of such computer-animated tales as "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo."

and this was in the article too:
"Disney Princesses didn't always suffer from lack of sex appeal.

Mary Costa, the actress who voiced Princess Aurora in the 1959 Disney film "Sleeping Beauty," said the animated classic continues to attract male admirers. Indeed, she recently received a letter from a 22-year-old who wrote he has loved the film since he was a young boy."

Lew said...

The whole idea of trying to make the Rapunzel story into a full length movie is so resoundingly retarded, I don't think there's anything they COULD have done to save. So it's not surprising they're going to crank out another bland "princess" . . . that's one thing I did like about Shrek, that the princess stayed a fat green ogre at the end. Disney ought to try some normal human variation, not just "this princess has slanty eyes" or "this princess is a darker shade of brown".

kurtwil said...

John Lassater was instrumental in killing Disney sequels (remember Bambi II, Cinderella III?) and in pushing Disney to do "new" product. Sidenote: in Cinderella III, the heroine approached becoming an action figure near the movie's end.

Meanwhile, the "Princess" artist training program gives extensive guidelines in drawing the girls, but those guidelines come from adapting or using past examples. Occasionally artists can experiment (some Princess products have varying style logos). Still, there's a reason they tend to look the same year after year.

And as for "3D toon", a primary advantage's the poor artist doesn't have to struggle drawing difficult poses (hands, heads from underneath, oblique angles, etc). The camera's positioned where needed, character animated or motion-captured, and renderer set for "toon" look. However, render engines have trouble figuring out exactly where toon lines and solids are supposed to come from, and as result there's often a flutter effect added to the lines.

BTW Seckscab, have you noticed how de-emphasized the Princes are within the Disney Princess universe?
And that in Disney theme parks, there are now "Princess Schools" that teach young girls how to "act" like Princesses?

PS: for a future topic, what do folks here think of the Nelvana effort,"ROCK AND RULE" (which collapsed and was followed by several 'CARE BEARS' features) ?

talkingtj said...

i just watched tim burtons version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and while i thought it was ok, not great i couldnt help but get annoyed near the end of the movie when it suddenly turned into yet another female empowerment flick for young girls. how many of these do we need? how many young boys are powerless and have no guideposts to lead them? why do major studios pretend to care? its all designed to sell tickets and try to look socially conscious while laughing all the way to the bank. this lastest rapunsil crap is of course more of the same-men/boys are clueless idiots, women need to master everything,whatever happened to equality? and why dont they make cartoon/fantasy flicks with a minority boy in the lead? yeah they the princess frog flick had a black female lead , but it didnt count,it was barely promoted and rushed into dvd, likely to be forgotten.

talkingtj said...

another point: when they do make films with minority characters in the lead they tend to disrespect the culture the lead is from and produce a story about acceptence into a homoginized gentrified=white society, produce something that reflects the positive ethnic values of this melting pot we call america, heroic characters are not always white girls or boys.

thomas said...

I wonder if Disney has done any lab studies of how audiences react to "TUDE" facial expressions.


Steve Hogan said...

Has anyone ever traced exactly when cartoon characters started getting periods? Rapunzel looks like she's having a heavy flow month.

JLG said...

"Why would an assertive feminist princess or female lead appeal to anybody? Especially kids.Is that the only kind of female in cartoon movies now?"

I don't get this sentiment at all.

Why d'ya think "Eloise" was such a hit with girls in 1955? Eloise was a three-foot badass before feminism even had a name.

murrayb said...

Folks, remember, John earlier applauded Ken Duncan's "Jane" for being a SPECIFIC pretty disney girl.
Who would play this Rapunzel in a live action movie? Scarlett Johansen? Amy Adams? Zooey Deschanel?
From the still, she doesn't seem as distinct as any of those ladies. And they could all be described as a young beautiful lead.

too bad it doesn't look more like this development art,especially the palette:

Anyhoo, the whole Disney fairytale thing spawns from Walt growing up at the turn of the century, a kid during the golden age of illustrated storybooks, aurthur rackam, kay neilsen, maxfield parrish ect. People he hired later as development artists on his first films. Seems very far removed from today's audiences.
Now we have a copy of a copy, the post-post-modern shrek-ified ironic fairytale. Blech.

Oh well,the people of walmart will no doubt love this film. It's not made for us anyway.

Edgars said...

Wall painting is pretty cool...

ca60gregory said...

I know they are attempting to make her seem "sassy, fun yet confident" but the effect of this technique when put into practice always backfires terribly and creates on insufferable smug brat that no one in their right mind would want to be friends with.

I find it interesting that Daffy Ducks personality was designed intentionally to be unpleasant, and he is still a much more likable character than any of these,.. things.

martinus said...

Murrayb: That pic is so beautiful. It's pretty much the same design, but she looks so much cuter. With technology what it is I really don't know why we don't see movies that are ACTUALLY made to look like paintings.
Hell, if a one man show like William Kentridge can make "Arty" animation I don't know why disney couldn't make a movie with "Arty" animation.

martinus said...


I find that when an aspect of a culture is used in cartoons there is almost always a lashback that it turns cultures into stereotypes and caricatures.
I think that is why the black people from Princess and Frog, are pretty white, and so are Aladdin and Jasmine.
One of my favourite cartoons ever is called Tin Pan Alley cats which is basically a nightclub scene/hallucination featuring prominent black jazz musicians as cats. I think it caricatured the jazz scene perfectly, but today people see it and call it racist.

Rusty said...

I'm sorry John but the Tude situation is worse than we thought. Practically every major animation company has abandoned character development to make their characters reflect Tude. It will take more than just decades its become a part of our culture and some group of brave innovative artists are going to have to step up and say its wrong.

Though most of them are drones these days ordered by people such as John Lassater to make feminist or tough guy characters. Little character development and more opportunities to get fast food chains to sponsor your character. Heck will see Rapunzel on the latest back to school product and video game sometime soon.

dakini kundalini underpants said...

Chris Rank: I've got a 5 year old daughter. She loves pink things and is incredibly girly.
However - I can sit her down with a DVD of The Three Stooges or an old Warner Brothers cartoon and she will watch that, and I daresay if someone picked up John K's girl cartoons, she will like that, too. That having been said, if something is not made well and entertaining, she will go and play with something else.

"Disney Princesses" only appeals to kids because in most cases, it's there, in the background.

Let your girls watch something more than the cookie-cutter Disney Princesses; they'll thank you for it later.

kurtwil said...

yup, it's Lasseter (I mispelled it too).

Murrayb, the image you linked here is pretty, but 3D rendering in that style would be insanely difficult because, in part, the lighting calculations would take hideously long even with Pixar or Dreamwork's class render farms. Also, Toon Rendering would make the objects look harder and sharper.

The render style of nearly all 3D films reminds me of George Pal PuppeToons animated digitally. Does anyone else sense this?

As for Tude, IMHO animations' older, humorous approaches are far more watchable than the stiff, stark imitations of today.

Aaron Borst said...

s will keep happening until someone decides to grow a pair and steps up to the plate with something new and different,that is also successful. Look at the cartoons on tv Before and after Ren ans Stimpy. Sure they still suck but, I think that cartoons for the most part suck about .00001% less now. I mean how many cartoons tried to copy the R&S model. The wrong parts of the model but cartoons are still trying to capture the mystique.

I think that people need to get some talented people together and start up their own studio, do it right. Start out small 5 minute shorts on the internet and work up to something better. Are there not some talented people that are willing to work from free to nothing after their day jobs to create such a thing? I think that the community on this blog and a couple of others could get together and do some magic if they put their heads together. Start small and work up big.

These bigger companies are not going to change. It is up to the creative individuals to change things. It would take a lot of time and effort but I think that things could change.

Zoran Taylor said...

@Aaron Borst - *shh!* don't look now, but Guy is standing RIGHT BEHIND YOU....

Guy said...


sup I am cool

Paul said...

Don Martin's take on Rapunzel is still (and will ALWAYS be) my favorite.

drawingtherightway said...

Hi kurtwil

I'm not sure if you knew but John posted an article on his blog about Rock n Rule a few years ago. Here's the link Rock N Rule. This past December I saw Rock N Rule for the first time and thought it was sorta boring. I was impressed by the animation on Mok though especially the lips.

J C Roberts said...

"Why aren't they embarrased?"

Do you suppose they still think it represents a crowd-pleasing character dynamic? The picture here with the 2 characters is the standard combination of tired expressions: The eager, nervous, frozen "seeking approval" face meets the cool, annoyed and incredulous one with the raised eyebrow. It can happen between two male characters, but if it's a male and female character, I don't think the roles are ever reversed.

I don't think the executives that insist on signing off on this stuff
are capable of being embarrased over a money making formula. As long as the same system of creative talent reliant on financial backers exists, this is what you're gonna get.

The only ways to get them to stop using formulas is to consistently fail with it for a while, or if a different approach is massively successful. Unfortunately that puts the responsibility back on the mass audience, and I doubt the large, undescriminating portion of the audience buying Disney two-pack DVDs at Walmart to play to the kids on their carseat headrest players will ever stop proving to them they have a successful formula.

Chris Rank said...

dakini kundalini underpants said...
"I daresay if someone picked up John K's girl cartoons, she will like that, too."

I agree with you.

kurtwil said...

Drawingtherightway, thanks for the JK "Rock And Rule" (RAR) link. The clip brought back memories: A talented Disney animator introduced me to RAR, which he thought highly of. I met one of RAR's animators while working on the THE SIXTH DAY's Canadian set - he'd painted cow guts on glass plates to create the morphing monster near RAR's end (THE SIXTH DAY benefited from his art direction).

BTW, Wikipeda has a good article on RAR, which suffered COOL WORLD's fate - its distributor jumped in mid production and messed it up.

Juxtaminute said...

I honestly think that its all the money thats attached to the project that forces them to play it safe. They have to suckup to whoever is funding the film. As technology grows and it becomes cheaper to make a feature level film we will see more diversity in the industry. Animators have to break away from the tyranny of the suites. I think we need to start producing independent films in the spirit of Ralph Bakshi. We need to shake things up and redefine the medium the way that he did.

Juxtaminute said...

Hey John do you think you could put together a tutorial on limited flash character animation? I know thats asking a lot but I would be interested to see your take on it.

kurtwil said...

building on Juxtaminutes suggestion:
why not a post as to what the best post-pencil tools are out there that will let us do FULL animation?

FYI, those that believe computers are no help should keep in mind the artist _controls_ the computer - they don't _have_ to do linear inbetweens unless we want them to!
And painting swish lines and other stuff with digital tools is a lot less messy and time consuming than with the old cel paints.

After all, doesn't animation mean a series of images that create an illusion of movement or "life"?

JLG said...


Ever seen "Superjail"? I was amazed to find out that's done in Flash. I would never have thought guessed. I would have sworn it was done traditionally.

By the way, isn't anyone around 'ere gonna talk about "The Secret of Kells?"

cemenTIMental said...

Why would an assertive feminist princess or female lead appeal to anybody?
There hasn't ever been a genuine feminist lead or any real feminist content in any mainstream US animation I can think of. Obviously a well designed and characterised one would appeal to everyone. But I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Hollywood to make this sort of film.

Guy said...

JLG: The Secret of Kells looks like minutely more advanced Butch Hartman. I think I'll pass.

JLG said...


Sigh. Come on, man. There's too much closed-mindedness around here regarding what "progressive" means. And not everything has to be "progressive" anyway. If that was the universal standard for entertainment of any kind, something would only be made about once every 15 years.
Don't shut things out because of preconceived notions about what makes something worthwhile.

I find it thrilling that an upstart outsider like Tomm Moore followed through on a personal vision, kept his integrity, and against all odds, got nominated for an OSCAR for it. I mean, how the hell likely is that? And for drawn animation, at that. No, it's not drawn animation that pushes animation's boundaries the same way Rod Scribner did, but it's not supposed to.

Open up.

Zoran Taylor said...

"If (progress) was the universal standard for entertainment of any kind, something would only be made about once every 15 years."

Someone go heat up the laser - We gotta tattoo that on some people's faces. You know who you are.

elephantmarchblog said...

I gotta a friend at Disney right now: Trust, all the talent there feels the exact same way. I think it's a combination of the money men being scared to break out of hte comfort zone, and the creative people being to scared to try anything outlandish with the expressions or posing, BECASUE they know the money men are scared of somthing new...

Guy said...

Open up to primitiveness? No.

It doesn't have anything to do with "progressiveness," it has to do with things being any good. And that is not. I can draw better than that.

Honestly... My enthusiasm for getting into dumb arguments wanes as I get better and better than the crap we have the dumb arguments over.

I find it thrilling that an upstart outsider like Tomm Moore followed through on a personal vision, kept his integrity, and against all odds, got nominated for an OSCAR for it.

Shrek won an Oscar.

I'll only be thrilled when an upstart outsider can actually carry out his personal vision WELL.

And after watching the trailer, I see that the backgrounds and composition aren't any good either, along with of course the animation. What am I supposed to do? Water my standards way down? Beyond what I, personally, can do? I can't even see people, just extreme crudeness.

This is ridiculously stupid. Stop harassing me.

JLG said...

Remember that people like John K's and Michael Barrier's serious analysis of people like Clampett, Tytla, Jones et. al. would just register a complete blank with ultra-elitists who can't see anything but "cartoons" there. But its' the exact same dynamic at work here---having narrow standards of what makes a piece of art---animation in this case---worthwhile.

MOST of us around here can draw "better" than many designs out there, including those in "Kells", if you take a very narrow definition of what "better" actually means. If people refused to open themselves up to anything that they could draw "better" than, they would have missed out on a lot of good times, indeed. (I'm not impressed by the actual animation in "Kells", for the record).

I'm just as pained about the deteriorated standards and de-evolution of the artform as everyone else around here is. It wears on the soul. But there's a difference between genuinely not liking something and *refusing* to like anything. That is all.

CJ Grebb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adan the Tiger said...

I know this comment is WAY late but it seemed moderately relevant.

I've been working with a multimedia start-up and had reworked some character designs from some of their books into more "cartoony" characters. The directors turned out to like the "Disney-esque" looking character designs, but I digress.

After pitching a 3-minute demo to a few people (who are experienced in producing children's television) their main suggestion was to make the androgynous female albatross character more "edgy" and give her more "attitude" so that she was more appealing to boys.

When the directors came back and discussed this with me, I couldn't help but laugh out loud and think of you, John K.

Pokey said...

Seckscab my friend, religious consevatives and Rush Limbaugh dittoheads [but how many of them ARE there after the Oxycontin incident, much lie the priests and Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant sex scandals?LOL] don't want the modern pricesses [who are after all, liberals-and Adam the Tiger, my faithful striped cat, I think that the Bratz tude ones will repel boys.].


Pokey said...

"Tude definitely limits the creative aspect of character development though it doesn't stop the public from falling for these movies. "

As you imply below..:
"When I draw I try to make my characters as repulsive and as anti-social as possible."

LOL And you yourself went in for f for the tude thing, going by that above statement...