I thought I’d put some of my animation talents on display for you. This is an unfinished animation test I made of Ursula from The Little Mermaid reciting the opening spiel to The Haunted Mansion. This is the first part of it which I got done in time for Halloween. The rest will be coming soon, possibly in the next week or so. The whole dialogue is about a minute and 20 seconds. Here this version is about 20 seconds. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!
Today I had the privilege of meeting a couple of master animators. The first was the great Tony Bancroft, director of Mulan, and supervising animator of Pumbaa, Kronk, among others. It was a pleasure meeting him, and he has a great book I bought about Directing for Animation. Tony is currently directing an animated feature with an idea involving Paul McCartney. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. The other was animation master Dale Baer, who has been with Disney since the 1970’s. One of my favorite Baer characters is Yzma from Emperor’s New Groove. I tried to see if I could get a drawing of Yzma Kitty from him, but unfortunately he couldn’t remember how to draw her as a cat! Oh well. But the Yzma drawing I got was pretty cool.
The biggest pleasure I had though was meeting one of Disney’s great supervising animators, Ruben Aquino.
Ruben is most well known for supervising the animation of Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and was also responsible for Adult Simba in The Lion King. It was great to sit down and talk with him about Ursula, who as a child was one of my most feared Disney Villains. During my talk with him, I said that for myself as a kid, Ursula was probably second to Stromboli in Pinocchio for being the scariest Disney Villain, to which he replied, “Thank you! That’s quite a compliment for scariest villain!” During production of The Little Mermaid, Ruben was the third supervising animator asked to tackle the character, which had been in development by two animators, Glen Keane and Rob Minkoff. One of the inspirations for Ursula was the drag queen Divine, and the animators watched the featured John Waters film for inspiration of the character. As for making her fat, Jeffrey Katzenberg originally wanted to make her skinny like Joan Collins, but it was the voices of some of the animators and the backing of Howard Ashman that making her fat also made her a bit funnier. One of the interesting things about the character is that she’s quite inconsistent when it comes to staying on model. I told Ruben it was one of the things I loved was getting to see which animators worked on Ursula based on the different styles, but Ruben mentioned that the inconsistency was one of the things that bothered him about the character, and his animation was probably the most on model. But regardless of that he also mentioned it being the most fun character he ever worked on.
Below you can see some of the inconsistencies in the model based on the different animators that worked on her. Sometimes she’s on model, sometimes her hair or teeth are too big. Some animators are more broad and over the top, such as Kathy Zelinski, who animated Ursula casting her spells, as well as the great scene where she’s transformed from Vanessa back to herself and crawls towards the camera on the boat deck. Great creepy stuff.
Although Ursula was my childhood terror, I couldn’t help but ask for a sketch of her from him, which he obliged in the drawing below.
It was a great pleasure getting to talk with these guys. Hopefully I’ll have more of these events coming up soon, and if I ever get the opportunity, I’d love to do an interview and sit down with one of these guys and talk about their careers. That would be fun.
Well, I suppose I’m over my childhood trauma that was Ursula. As I posted awhile back, she’s the one Disney villain that completely terrified me as a little kid. Took me awhile to get over that one. Maybe I’m just weird that way. Or insane. Or both. But anyhow it doesn’t matter. This is just another bit of a random post. It’s quiet again this week. I’m trying to work on a personal project in the midst of another project that’s in the works. So far this new idea…is just okay. Gonna take me some time to figure out the story and what it wants to be. Bah. I hate not knowing what a story is supposed to be. But I suppose the search for the story is all part of the fun of it. I SUPPOSE. Sheesh.
I’ve been on a Breaking Bad high as of recently. Last night’s Rian Johnson episode blew my mind at how good it was. Extraordinary. Between this and his film Looper which came out last year, this is a director to definitely keep your eye on. I’ll be watching this guy for sure. He’s phenomenal. Last nights episode was absolutely gripping, showing without having to tell. It’s the subtext and the fact that this show actually makes you think for a moment that really amazes me (although trust me, sometimes I’ve had to go on the internet afterwards to confirm certain aspects. Hey I can admit it!) The episodes end made me long to make a film where just everybody dies or is insane. And make it a cartoon. Yes, perfect! Although admittedly there are times I wonder about that. What’s my obsession with making dark cartoons. Maybe not always dark, but sometimes complicated scenarios. I long to create a masterpiece of television like Breaking Bad. Seriously that show amazes me. I want to make animation that powerful, even though Breaking Bad is not animation. Somewhere I ask myself what I’d like to be. Maybe Pixar’s dark evil twin. I had some people comparing Jellyfish Girl to a Pixar film, at least until they got to the end. That was satisfying to hear 😉
I suppose there’s not much more I can talk about. This is expected to be a quiet week unless I see a movie that blows my mind. Oh wait! I did! BLUE JASMINE! Go see it. It’s Woody Allen’s latest, and it’s a real treat. It’s as funny as it is sad. Jasmine is such a wonderful, complicated character. It’s a real genuine, honest depiction of a melt down into complete psychosis. It’s just really good. Go see it or watch it when it arrives on DVD.
I’ll see if I can find more to write about this week if I’m not to busy. Have a good week everybody.