Glen Keane. In a November 22nd, 2010 interview, animator Glen Keane talked about showing one of his heroes, animator Ollie Johnston, a scene from Tangled (2010) back in 2005 when the Nine Old Man was 92 years old and had to be wheeled in to the studio.
Keane said, “I was pointing it out. I said ‘Ollie, look’, and it was a little scene of her (Rapunzel) holding a squirrel, that was in the movie at this point. I said ‘Look, freckles! We’ve never had freckles on a character before! Look at the satin on her dress; we’ve never been able to do that, the light reflecting on it’.
“Ollie said, ‘Well, Glen. What I was wondering is, what is she thinking about?’
“It was like, ‘gah, yes’. Who cares about all of the icing on the cake, if the cake isn’t tasty, if it doesn’t have butter and eggs? No one’s going to want to eat it. That was the drive throughout this whole process. Have a goal that’s worth fighting for. If you don’t, the computer is like a used car salesman. It’ll always make you walk off the lot with something you don’t want.
“The thing that happens with the computer is that it’s always seducing you to buy into ‘less than’. It’s seducing you to fall in love with a nicely rendered form. And the shading that is done so nicely on that shoulder. But who cares that the shoulder is pushed here and it’s anatomically impossible? Look at the way the wrinkle falls on that dress! It’s like, grrrr! See, the computer always tries to do everything symmetrical. Asymmetry is beauty. Symmetry is cold, and lifeless.”
Hinged Plywood. From The Comics Journal April 1991, The Simpsons’ Matt Groening said, “I guess I take my cue from Jay Ward’s cartoons, Rocky and Bullwinkle, very low-budget animation and some of the old Warners cartoons. Animators these days want to imitate Tex Avery but you don’t have to have jaws drop to the ground and eyeballs fly out of the skull in order to indicate surprise. You can do less rubbery, ‘boing-y’ type things and still indicate emotion. Most of my notes in the storyboard phase of the show are ‘less cartoony, less cartoony’.
“Classic Disney cartoons are very spongy, very rubbery. Classic Warner Brothers cartoons are like hinged rubber. Hanna-Barbera cartoons are like plywood. And The Simpsons is like hinged plywood.”
Tell Tale Heart. Bill Scott told Paul Etcheverry on November 24th, 1981: “One of the happiest experiences I had as a writer was doing the adaptation for (UPA’s) Tell Tale Heart (1953). I had a marvelous time with it. I wrote some stuff in there that people swear Poe wrote. And much of it isn’t Poe at all. That’s just me writing like Edgar Allen Poe and that was delightful for me. But then, I was very happy to get back on some rock ‘em, sock ‘em Magoo stuff.”
Bakshi 1987. In 1987, Ralph Bakshi was trying to pitch an animated Mighty Mouse feature and developing two theatrical films with Richard Pryor (one would have been all live action and the other would blend live-action segments with animation). “Live isn’t new ground for me,” said Bakshi. “New ground is working with a star like Pryor. I feel his range is enormous.”
Bakshi had also acquired the animated rights to the Harrison Ford film Blade Runner (1982) and with co-producer John Hyde, he was planning to develop it as a prime-time television series. Bud Yorkin would serve as executive producer. While the characters would be animated, the backgrounds would incorporate live-action elements. “I have a special technique I’ve designed that encompasses all my techniques in a different way that I’d use on Blade Runner,” said Bakshi.
Dexter’s Laboratory. From The Hollywood Reporter November 6, 1997, composers Thomas Jones Chase and Steve Rucker did the music for Dexter’s Laboratory working with MIDI technology and a Euphonix console to create an orchestral simulation by painstakingly tweaking and layering their electronically produced sounds for a nearly perfect approximation of real instrument ensembles.
Rucker said, “Music counts now. It’s recognized as being important. Nobody says, ‘Just give us some plain old cartoon music’. People are sophisticated listeners. Home audio systems are better. The animation itself is more interesting. It’s not worth being cheap with the music.
“The brain gets an incredible workout working on animation. When I’m working on a live-action feature, I never feel like I’m working as hard as I am with animation.”
Cats Don’t Dance. In Los Angeles Times June 1st, 1997, producer David Kirschner said, “Cats Don’t Dance (1997) was supervised by no less than eight executives in its lifetime, several of whom would have rather ironed Chris Farley’s underwear than make an animated movie. Turner Pictures President Amy Pascal told me, ‘I don’t care for animation in any way, shape or form’. Those were her exact words. I asked and asked about the merchandise campaign and they kept saying ‘We’ll get to it’. They never did. When you do a film like this, you better damn well make sure you have support across the board. Launching these films takes a year and a half of planning.”
Don Bluth. From Los Angeles Times June 1st, 1997, producer and animator Don Bluth said, “Any independent animated feature can’t make it any more. I saw Cats Don’t Dance (1997) and thought it was really good. But nobody knew it was out there. I don’t think you can make an animated film by yourself. Even if it’s the best animated film in history, no one will see it if there’s no awareness.
“In Anastasia (1997), the dog Pooka was created to give kids access to the story because it’s in many ways and adult story. What we set out to do is tell a great story – no one has the exclusivity in telling great stories in this medium. Are there marketing challenges in communicating that Fox has made a great animated film? Yes, there are great challenges. But when you step back and look at the overall risk, it’s similar to the risk you take with any film. If you succeed, people will come. If you fail, people will not come. Of the players in the ring, not everyone is going to make it. Somebody is going to get hurt and lose a lot of money.”