(From left to right) Ron Diamond, ARL expert guide Fox Carney, Tim Reckart, Fonhdla Cronin O'Reilly and me.
By Dan Sarto
We met up Tuesday morning at Disney’s Animation Research Library, known as the ARL. Located in a non-descript building that housed Disney Feature Animation until unit moved to the current Burbank studio space, the ARL houses over 65 million pieces of original production artwork, from pencil sketches on napkins to painted glass panels used in the giant two-story multi-plane cameras. Everything animation art-related that can be found is brought here for cataloging, digitizing, databasing, storing and in some cases, restoring. Our host, Mary Walsh quickly turned us over to Fox Carney, resident historian, archivist and librarian, who took us through the facility, sharing stories and history on some of Disney’s oldest, dearest and most amazing work.
Our first stop was a long table playing host to a selection of works Fox pulled on behalf of Tim and Fondhla. This included watercolors, pencil drawn character designs, storyboards, rough animation drawings, and concept art from films like Snow White, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp. I was particularly taken with two background paintings, one from Sleeping Beauty, one from Peter Pan, as well as some concept art sketches of Scar from The Lion King. It must be nice to have talent. Sadly, I’ll never know.