Goldberg, Deja and Smith Talk Princess and the Frog
"…We re-watched the films that Walt Disney made, and the one that really grabbed us was Lady and the Tramp. It's the pinnacle of Walt's artistic style… With this inspiration, the lush look of Ron and John's new film evokes our fondest memories of Disney's classic fairy tales. More importantly, The Princess and the Frog gives new generations the opportunity to discover what we know: that this art form is absolutely spectacular."
-- John Lasseter (Preface to The Art of The Princess and the Frog by Jeff Kurtti, Chronicle Books)
Experiencing The Princess and the Frog (opening in LA and New York tomorrow and expanding Dec. 11) is like visiting an old friend: it's fun, nostalgic and heartwarming at first, and then you realize how much you've missed it. But then there are some new surprises that have made it worth the wait. Chatting with Eric Goldberg (Louis, the jazz-playing alligator), Andreas Deja (Mama Odie, the high priestess of the Bayou, and JuJu, her seeing-eye snake) and Bruce Smith (the devious Dr. Facilier), you not only glean the joy about returning to 2D but also its importance in re-establishing the Disney legacy and a vital art form.
"For several years, when Disney wasn't doing hand-drawn animation," Goldberg reflects, "many of us thought: 'Well, why aren't they?' I mean, this is this company's trademark, their legacy and what people most closely associate with Disney. So when John Lasseter came in and said we're doing hand-drawn again, there was great jubilation because nobody does it on this kind of a scale and with this kind of care as Disney. And to be part of the first one back is a great feeling. To a certain extent, as animators, we all feel that we have something to prove. And we do feel like we want to reinvigorate people's mindset about hand-drawn animation as well as entertain them."
And confronting the legacy head on was daunting at first, but Goldberg says they were all geeks about it. Besides, he says, the best CG films use some of the best drawn techniques anyway to make it look good.
"Making a 300-pound alligator dance is easier to do in hand-drawn than it is in CG," Goldberg chuckles. "Not that you can't do it in CG, but you can take those flights of fancy more easily in hand-drawn because you're really talking about the turn of a pencil as opposed to creating a new model and a new rig and specialized guts inside that in order to accommodate a certain movement or a certain action."