Saturday, March 22, 2014

Disney Animation Florida is Still Closed

Roller Coaster Rabbit, produced at Disney Feature Animation Florida.

This month marks the the tenth anniversary of the closing of Disney Feature Animation Florida; not that anyone is celebrating.

Florida based animator Hugo Giraud recalled his days at the studio:

"I worked on Brother Bear as in-house freelancer, and was let go right after it. I was hoping to come back on My Peoples (or A Few Good Ghosts as it was renamed) since I'd seen some 2D development character art done by Andreas Deja, director Barry Cook, and animator Paul Kashuk.  I had friends at the studio and some of them were starting CG training because My Peoples was going to be a 2D/3D hybrid. 

Just as they were supposed to start production on the movie, the plug was pulled. David Stainton was seen as the culprit, since the direction of the studio was going strictly CG. There were people that were in that studio for 10 years and more - that was their life and all they knew. They'd grown up together, like a family, and not only shared work time together but been through houses, partners, marriages, kids born and grow up, divorces, etc... It was a really somber vibe, a lot of people didn't know what they were going to do. 

Pixar and Dreamworks came down to recruit but they couldn't take everybody.  Equipment was sold off, some people bought their desks. "

Now I once again put forward an idea I first wrote about in the old format FLiP seven years ago (yikes!).  This is how I think the Florida studio could be an awesome attraction.....

True, the animation industry in real Hollywood has gone computer.   Traditional, hand drawn craftsmanship was shown the door.    But as a tourist buying a high priced ticket to experience  an idealized, classic Hollywood, I'd really enjoy seeing how cartoons were made in Walt's era.   

Imagine a tour where artists are working on the next Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck short, story boarding gags,   flipping animation drawings, painting cels and backgrounds, and filming scenes on a gigantic Oxberry camera, just as it was done in Walt's time.  Visitors would see a work-in-progress reel, and leave feeling satisfied that they experienced Disney Magic, something for which some traveled thousands of miles.  

The shorts, produced as part of the attraction, could then be distributed in front of Disney movies, and later packaged onto DVDs which I could watch with my kids and say, "Hey kids, remember how we saw that cartoon being made at the Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida?"  

"Yeah Dad, that was the best trip ever, and I want to be an animator too!   Disney rules!"

"Ditto that!   You're the best Dad ever!   Can I buy an Oxberry?"

"Heh, heh, you betcha, son."

And the artwork could be sold in the gift shop.  Authentic cel setups!

I still believe this could be a really cool attraction.   I'll pitch it again in another seven years.  

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