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A Day at Disney with Ed Catmull, Andreas Deja & Other Disney Artists

The conversation moved to the expansion of animation in the region, especially China. Ed said he was reluctant to get into China, because of the government hoops that doing business there entails.

The Oscar Showcase tour pulls into Walt Disney Animation. © 2008 AWN Inc.

The Oscar Showcase tour pulls into Walt Disney Animation. © 2008 AWN Inc.

The second day on the Oscar Showcase tour is a day at Disney with a screening for Walt Disney Feature Animation in the morning and Disney TV in the afternoon. Some miscommunication started the day and only the Madame Tutli-Putli team made it to Disney in time, thanks to exec producer David Verrall.

Suzie Templeton, with animator Rosto, checks out the multiplane camera on display. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Suzie Templeton, with animator Rosto, checks out the multiplane camera on display. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Our tour began looking at the shorts program, which produced the Oscar short listed film Goofy’s How to Hook Up Your Home Theater. Their next animated short Glago’s Guest, a 3D short, will premiere at Annecy this year and is now complete. Following that film will be the 2D short The Ballad of Nessie from Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers, the directors of Home Theater. Nessie has 75% of its shots sent to animation. The shorts program has four other shorts in development, including another Goofy short. Next up we saw production art, including storyboards, from Disney’s fall release Bolt. Closing our tour, we got a glimpse of top-secret production art from The Princess and the Frog, as well as heard the full premise, which we have been vowed to keep secret. The artwork paints lush sceneries from the New Orleans location that is influenced by the painterly look of Bambi, while the indoor locations are infused with the vibe of Lady and the Tramp.

The filmmakers are introduced to the Disney execs and artists at the Disney hosted lunch. © 2008 AWN Inc.

The filmmakers are introduced to the Disney execs and artists at the Disney hosted lunch. © 2008 AWN Inc.

After introducing the filmmakers to the audience, we headed off to lunch with a group of artists and execs from Disney. At my table I was joined by tour members Madame Tutli-Putli producer Marcy Page, Acme Filmworks founder Ron Diamond, Ed Catmull, Walt Disney Animation Studios EVP Andrew Millstein, Meet the Robinsons’ producer Dorothy McKim, and the Home Theater directors. Ed and Andrew are readying about their trip to India to visit one of their vendors. The conversation moved to the expansion of animation in the region, especially China. Ed said he was reluctant to get into China, because of the government hoops that doing business there entails. Earlier in the day, we learned that Pixar and Disney do not share staff and Ed informed us that the proprietary software used at Pixar is not used in Burbank, where they use Maya. This is done because Maya has Autodesk support behind it, but the Mendie software at Pixar only has an in-house support staff. As the talk turned to the tour, Kevin confessed that one of the most disappointing things about not getting nominated for his short was missing out on staying at Skywalker Ranch.

Suzie Templeton fills the handprints of one of the 9 Old Men - Ollie Johnston. © 2008 AWN Inc.

Suzie Templeton fills the handprints of one of the 9 Old Men - Ollie Johnston. © 2008 AWN Inc.

After eating, I caught up with some of the other conversations going on in the room. Madame Tutli-Putli director Chris Lavis was talking with The Princess and the Frog co-director John Musker about his upcoming projects. Peter and the Wolf producer Hugh Welchman came over with his iPod and shared his ironically titled short, The Princess and the Frog, with John. Disney animator Andreas Deja was chatting with I Met the Walrus director Josh Raskin and Walrus illustrator James Braithwaite, talking about his work on Princess and the Frog. He is keeping to drawing on paper, fighting the move to computer tablets. He promised to take Josh and James to see the Disney art archive in Glendale the next time they are in town. Later Andreas struck up a conversation with Peter and the Wolf director Suzie Templeton about the sculpting of the puppets in her film. She said they auditioned the role to the artists at the Polish studio Se-Ma-For, where one woman instinctually understood what Suzie wanted even though they could not communicate verbally. Suzie added that the project really touched the artist, who said the film was the best collaborative artistic experience of her life. As thanks, the woman wants to sculpt Suzie. Another fact we learned is that Suzie’s mother is cousins with Disney legend Ollie Johnston, who Suzie has actually never met.

The nominees answer questions from the Disney crowd. © 2008 AWN Inc.

The nominees answer questions from the Disney crowd. © 2008 AWN Inc.

When it came to the Q&A the questions were the usual questions about how Madame Tutli-Putli was produced and how long each project took to make. With an hour gap before the screening, the group parted ways until the second Q&A. Some of us checked out the Disney archives, which features original art from Disney shorts like The Old Mill and costumes from films like The Rocketeer and 1001 Dalmatians.

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