Written by Dan Sarto
The final day of the 2011 Oscar tour was the busiest of all – morning at the Disney ARL, lunch, 2 screenings and several tours throughout the afternoon, followed by the AWN-Acme Oscar party Friday evening. You could sense the animators were getting a bit antsy, greeting the same questions with the same answers for the umpteenth time, their smiling faces showing traces of exhaustion and anxiety as they silently counted down to the Oscars on Sunday. No rest for the weary however as things really were just getting started.
Deb Stone, who marshaled us around the ARL, took over again when we reconvened at the Feature Animation building. We knew the schedule by heart – introduce a lunchtime screening, tour the studio during the screening, take photos of forbidden concept art, circle back to the screening for Q&A, eat, continue the tour, get a VIP glimpse of something cool (in this case, crowding into Eric Goldberg’s office for a personal screening of some finished Winnie The Pooh feature footage on his computer) and then soldier on to the next studio.
However, the tour stop at Disney is always enjoyable and this year was no different. 2 screenings, not just 1, were scheduled – for feature animation as well as for Disney TV. We bumped into and got a chance to talk a bit with Ed Catmull, who sack lunch in hand sat in on the first screening. We talked a bit with Andy Hendrickson, the CTO, who I met last May at FMX in Stuttgart. I met Dan Candela, Disney’s Director, Technology, who works for Andy – we talked at length during lunch about Open Source cg production software and some of the challenges faced in managing and planning ahead for the requisite infrastructure and support needed for feature animation. Later in the afternoon we met up with Eric Coleman, head of TV animation, who I met years ago when he was at Nickelodeon.
Of course, we met up with Dawn Rivera-Ernster, Disney’s Director of Talent Development, one of the truly nicest and helpful people I’ve met in 15 years in this business. She’s been a big supporter of the Oscar Showcase Tour as well as the annual Animation Show of Shows and this year is no different.
Our tour took us all through the feature animation studio, the Frank Wells building, some of the backlot, the Disney Legends Plaza, steam-pipe filled underground halls which lead to the old Disney archives, nicknamed “The Morgue” and a number of other stops.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the main production offices, but not everything was verboten. Take a look…