Biography * August 22, 1990 Interview * May 2, 1997 Interview * Why Animate?
When he started his career at The Walt Disney Studios in 1974, Glen Keane probably had no idea that he would someday be considered among the best artists the Studio ever had. A leading force of the "new generation", he is one of the few people who can be credited as being at the origin of the animation Renaissance.
The "mind-blowing" Bear fight scene in The Fox and the Hound is his. Ratigan, Sykes, Fagin, Ariel, Marahute, the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas and Tarzan would be totally different without his mastery.
But Glen also worked on some less known but crucial projects like The Wild Things, a computer animated experience that he initiated with John Lasseter in the early '80s, more than 15 years before Toy Story and that was at the origin of the current animation revolutions.
Glen decided in 1995 to settle in France for what was to be a one year
sabbatical. His leave from Burbank has become longer than expected as he
started working on Tarzan in Montreuil
in early 1997.
Biography * August 22, 1990 Interview * May 2, 1997 Interview * Why Animate?
22, 1990 INTERVIEW WITH GLEN KEANE
Q: Please give a brief description of your career, including studios that you've worked at and specific productions you've worked on.
Well, actually I never really planned to be in animation. It was something that just sort of happened by accident to me. I wanted to go into painting or illustrating. I just knew that I wanted to draw. I didn't know anything about animation. My portfolio went to California Institute of the Arts to get into their school of painting and somehow or another it got sent to the School of Animation and I was accepted into that. I thought, "Oh well, I'll give that a try." And then I found out about animation. It was a combination of all the arts together. And there was always this sort of ham side of me that wanted to act and I found out that animation was really answering that desire. I love to draw figures, and realized that animation requires a good understanding of anatomy, figure drawing, and I could use all of that information in animation, plus acting. I worked for a summer at Filmation where I thought that I learned animation. The next summer I came with my portfolio to Disney to show them what I had learned about (chuckling) animation at Filmation. Eric Larson [one of Disney's nine old men] looked through the portfolio. He paged through all the stuff really quickly; all the animation drawings that I'd labored over. He then said there was really nothing there except one little scribbly sketch that he liked. It had some motion and life to it. He said, "Do more of this kind of thing and just basically forget all the stuff that you thought you knew when you were at Filmation. We don't really look at that as a benefit for coming here to Disney. We want you to really come in with a clean slate where we can teach you." So I just sort of stepped back and went to the beach and did a lot of quick sketch drawings. I brought them in and they liked them. I started on a two-month training period with other guys at the studio, Ron Clements and Andy Gaskill and John Pomeroy. We just sort of tried to soak in everything that they wanted to teach us. That was in 1974 when I started. It was on the film The Rescuers. Now we've just finished the sequel, The Rescuers Down Under. Sort of gone full circle for me. Actually, I've never thought of myself, really, as and animator. I have always thought of myself as an artist who will animate just as long as it challenges me artistically. And whenever it stops really challenging me then I would leave animation. I've also done some commercial animation. My favorite was working for Bob Kurtz on a "Burge 'n Bones" dog food commercial.
Q: You've worked on all the Disney features between The Rescuers and Rescuers Down Under?
Just about. I can say I worked on all of them but I can't say that all my work is on the screen. I did work in The Small One that never got to the screen. I did work in The Black Cauldron that never got to the screen, but then so did Tim Burton, John Musker and others. It was like two different pictures that we were approaching.
Q: Can you name some of the characters you did animate in some of the features?
Well let's see, in Rescuers, the first scene I did was Bernard and then I animated Penny mostly with Ollie Johnson. Then after that I guess we went on and did Elliott in Pete's Dragon and then it was The Fox and the Hound. I did Todd and Vixie and the bear and the badger. From that I went and worked on Cauldron. Nothing I did got in the picture. Next I did Mickey's Christmas Carol where I animated the giant plus some Scrooge and Mickey. Then I did a little computer, Where the Wild Things Are. We animated a section to Maurice Sendak's book with Magi, the people had done the computer graphics in Tron. It combined computer –generated backgrounds with hand-drawn animation. I did that with John Lassiter. And then after that went on and did The Great Mouse Detective. Worked on Ratigan, and did some Basil. Actually I had left the studio at that time. During Great Mouse I worked freelance for Disney at home. Then after Great Mouse there was a lull in production so I went over to Chipmunks and did some work with Ross Bagdasarian on The Chipmunk Adventure. Did "The Girls of Rock 'n Roll" section in that and then I came back [to Disney] onto Oliver and Company and worked on Fagan and Sykes and Georgette on the Georgette song ["Perfect isn't Easy"] After Oliver was Mermaid which is why I came back. I worked on Ariel in that picture and some of Eric. That, to me, was a challenge because they had originally asked me to do Ursula the villain. I felt like "No, I want to do something different." I needed a challenge and wanted to do something more subtle and Ariel was what really attracted me. After that I started working on Beauty and the Beast; going to London and working with a director there. We ended up not going in that direction so I came back to work on Rescuers Down Under where I animated this gigantic eagle, Marihoute, with a kid named Cody riding on her back. I just finished that and am starting on Beauty and the Beast, designing Beast and animating him.
Q: What does an animator do?
Let's see what does an animator do? (Pause) There's so many different ways one can approach that question. Primarily I guess and animator's job in a film is he's the actor. I mean, it just really comes down to, a film is a story and the animator, he's one of the characters in it. He crawls inside to the brain and the personality of that character. He is that character on the screen. Not unlike regular actors. The only difference is that an actor in theater, TV or in movies gets to use his own body; his hands and expressions. The animator feels those things but the audience doesn't look at him. They look at his drawing, so it's a matter of how well can you draw how you feel? That's really the gift of an animator, is taking his feelings and putting it through his hand and being able to project himself onto the paper. I guess the challenge that an animator has is mentally get past the point where he's drawing. He's no longer drawing on the paper. It's not an act of drawing. It's more of a crawling into that page and living in that space that is now a three-dimensional world. So then you can start to draw a character walking away in space and you're not thinking so much of perspectives and all those technical things. Instead you're thinking, how does it feel? How do I feel walking down this meadow and back behind that tree back there and then sliding along the trunk of the tree and resting, looking up at the leaves? How do I feel? Hopefully you get into it, otherwise the animation has a very technical and studied look and it doesn't ring true. But an animator that can really live in the character that he's drawing, his stuff sparks with life. People believe him.
Q: Can you give an example of films that showcase good animation and possibly bad animation?
Can I do it tactfully? That's another question. For one thing I feel that there should be another term used for Saturday morning animation, the kind that you see on TV. It's a whole different thing. It's more formula. These sort of expressions we plug in at this time in the story and it's a formula story told and it's formula drawings and it's not a personal experience of an animator living in that character. I don't consider that the same as what I do. There's different limitations to that and I think it's almost unfair to criticize them too harshly for the restraints that they're under. I think that as we got into some of the later animated features in the Seventies at Disney, I didn't feel that the animation was being pushed out to new fronts. It was becoming very formularized. They knew how to do certain things and they did it well. They stuck to that. I think of The Little Mermaid and Duncan Marjorbank's animation of Sebastian [the crab]. Here's a guy that his own expressions and his own personality come out in that character. You could ask Duncan to make an expression on his own face and you saw it was the exact same thing that the crab was doing. I mean, his whole way of thinking was translating from his head through his hand and into that character. The timing, his thought, everything, he transferred into that character. I thought that the character was completely Duncan. You get another animator and the character would've been completely different. There was no formula to it, and that's a good sign. The best thing about Disney animation, I feel, is that we try to encourage animators to be themselves in their animation. Sometimes in other animated features, there's a formularized look and each character almost acts the same. You can plug any animator into animating that character, and they're gonna look the same. It shouldn't work that way. Each animator should come up with something completely new, different and personal.
Q: How do you approach animating a new character when you start?
You get done with one feature and you're getting started on a new one and there's sort of a lull. That's exactly what's happening here now. Just trying to relax a little bit from the last picture where you're running a hundred miles an hour trying to get the thing done. Suddenly, now you've got all this time. I take advantage of it to just be free and not let myself get under too much pressure to perform. My job is now to design the Beast for Beauty and the Beast. This is my time for allowing myself to just get inspired. I'll look at films, and go to places where I think that I might get inspired. Like we're going to the zoo tomorrow just to draw. So we have this buffalo head and this thing [a wild boar's head] up in here. Hopefully something's going to rub off. And I put pictures around myself, or read different things. I'm just allowing myself any input from any direction. Giving myself as much of a change as possible to come up with something new and different. I know I could sit down if I had to and design a Beast. I could do that and it would be fine. It would work and it would animate, but I keep wondering well, am I cheating the audience somehow? Eric Larson was always saying that to me. When I was animating something and he was going over it with me he'd say, "You know, I think you're cheating the audience here," meaning you could've done more. An animator should never cheat the audience. You're the only on that knows that you didn't do everything you could've with it and the audience doesn't know they've been cheated. I just want to make sure I'm not cheating anybody by taking an easy out. So I'm looking at a lot of art and getting inspiration from as many angles as possible. It's my first step. Then once I surround myself with that I'll start to draw. I'll come up with some designs and at first the designs are usually very complex and overly analyzed and worked out and they're not too animatable. Then I start moving it around a little bit and the shapes become simpler just because when you constantly have to draw something over and over again you're naturally going to come up with a simpler way of drawing a complex shape, unless, you're insane and you like pencil mileage that much. So just through that process it simplifies itself. You try to get a voice to a character that's going to inspire you, too. And that has a lot to do with it. Once you match the voice with the design quite a bit. Like with Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective. Ratigan was a very skinny little character. He was a rat and we had him kind of as a weasly-looking guy. But in design he was too similar to Basil. I was thinking maybe we should be really bigger with him. At that time we were also looking at a film with Vincent Price. It was "Champagne for Caesar" and listening to his [Vincent's] dialogue, I realized that's the voice for me. He just had this sharp, quick way of speaking and the timing was great. You could tell he enjoyed being a rotten guy. And like Ratigan, he also felt like he was justified in doing whatever he did. Like he was unjustly treated, which is important for a villain. The villain isn't bad just because he's bad, but he's justified. He feels like he's right. I started doing drawings based on that with a much larger, huge rat character and it fit. So then we started heading in that direction; we brought Vincent Price in. With Ariel, the little mermaid, I started surrounding myself with pictures of different girls who were about that right age. Teen magazines and then also Sherry Stoner, who was doing the live action reference for Ariel and, a picture of my own wife who I had been drawing ever since we've been married. It's really natural to draw her. And all these things just sort of came together to come up with a design that was Ariel. I worked closely with Mark Henn and Philo Barnhart in zeroing in on the final design.
Q: On an average daily routine what do you do in the studio?
Okay, let's go past the point where we've already done our design and we've gotten out layouts and are going ahead and animating. I get in about nine o'clock in the morning and get a cup of coffee and sit down and usually, at the beginning of the week, figure out what it is that I want to get done. I'll take a scene and think it should take about a day and half to animate this scene. I know that by the end of that day and half or that second day I'd better be done with this thing. Usually at that time that's when the telephone rings and there's some meeting that's called. That goes to about 10 o'clock, then at 10 o'clock I decide I better get to work and start to draw and then there's a knock at the door. It's a trainee who wants to show me their work. So I go over their work. And then we have lunch. Then around one o'clock I better get working and I spend about 15 minutes and the directors call. There's a meeting over the layouts. About three o'clock I get to start drawing on the scene and then it gets to be 5:30, 6:00 and I have a decision to make. Is my family more important than my animation? So I leave to go home. I come back the next day and I know this is the day I said I was going to have my scene done. Same thing starts off. Finally I just skip lunch and I stay in. I know I can get a good unbroken hour of work in at lunch time. I animate through the thing as fast as I possibly can. I use a fat, thick pencil and this actually works out well because the speed that I fell like I'm forced to animate makes me not become overly analytical in my work. I just sort of dive into it and draw it as fast as I can. I try not to get caught up in the details. I dash through the scene and rough it out in what I call a scribble test. If I can just get it scribbled, by that deadline I've given myself, then I'll feel good. It's really just getting it moving. And any one of those drawings may look terrible to somebody else; to me they look nice because they capture the feeling that I'm looking for. An audience would not necessarily relate to those drawings much but in motion on the screen you get an acting a scene across. I shoot it and I'll show it to the directors, and get their input on it. Usually they feel pretty good about it, and I'll send it out and go on to my next scene for the next day and try to do the same thing and the same cycle goes over again. Get a couple scenes animated in a week or a long scene, whatever. Then after that, eventually, I've got to go back into those really quick little scribbles and tie them down into something my assistants can follow to do the inbetweens and the clean up. I've got to make it very decisive. What exactly do I want those eyes to be doing there? I can't just scribble it like this, I've got to make it more clear. What I like to do, if I'm working on a sequence where there's a whole lot of scenes, is try to rough through as much of it as I possibly can. Scribble 'em all down so I can tell the continuity and the acting in the scenes. Then we can judge it by stepping back and see if it's all working together as a whole rather than getting caught up in one little tiny part of it and spending all my energy on a three-foot scene when there's 200 feet to do around it. And then we can make some changes on it it's too slow at this point or too fast, and go back and adjust it. Anyway, that's kind of my approach.
Q: How much freedom are you usually given on a production, as an animator?
I guess it depends on how confident the director is on the sequence that you're working on. If the director feels really confident that this is just what he wants then you're not given that much freedom, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because instead of freedom you're given direction. In other cases the director doesn't really know exactly what he wants. You're given a lot of freedom but, that means sometimes you're not given much direction either. And you're required to come up with that yourself. Most of the time for me personally, I get a lot of freedom on what I do. I'll often storyboard it myself. Something will have already been storyboarded, but I'll look at it and I'll listen to the soundtrack and think "Gee, what if we did it this way" or "maybe we're missing something here." I'll run it past the directors and they'll agree or they'll disagree. If they say "no," I'll go with it the way it's boarded and approach it the same way. If they agree with what I'm saying then I'll go through and I'll board it out and take it from there and start working with the layout guys. It all depends.
Q: What has been one of your favorite characters to animate, and why?
Usually the last character that I just animated has always been my favorite one. I've always felt that way on everything I've worked on. But if I step back a little bit and look at it, each character has got a unique thing. The eagle, in Rescuers Down Under has taught me that real life is as entertaining as anything that I can think of in my imagination. Capturing how an eagle flies is really rewarding if you can make it feel real. Ariel is really rewarding in that I got to capture subtle expressions and feelings on her. I'd have to say that is what I liked the most about her. Ratigan, I just loved to hate that guy. He's such a jerk, and so much personality that it kind of screamed to come out. A villain, to me, always has this power that's just demanding to come out and you want to animate it out of there. And the bear in "The Fox and the Hound." There's this fierce rage that you wanted to animate. I couldn't draw it big enough, mean enough. Willie the Giant, in Mikey's Christmas Carol, to me, was my son, and 18-month-old baby with a big giant body that I really enjoyed doing. Just this real naive, innocent big guy. My favorite, I don't know.
Q: Have you had a character that you did not really enjoy animating?
Well, I guess Elliot the dragon, in Pete's Dragon. I never really got into him as a character. Fargan, I enjoyed him but I always has a basic disagreement with the approach on design. I wanted him to be a short, fat little guy and instead he was a tall skinny guy. I enjoyed animating him but I don't think I ever got into that character as much as I would've like to, not that I didn't try. Eric in Mermaid. I would've liked him to have more depth of character. Instead he was kind of a standard prince. I wanted to do more with him. But the decision was made that you don't want to start building the story around Eric; the story was really Ariel's. It's difficult to come up with somebody really interesting and unique when you don't want to expand that character.
Q: Which project do you feel most proud to have been associated with?
Well, it's probably Little Mermaid. I think that was because it was the first time that I thought we were doing a project that we were potentially breaking through the barrier where we had just never gotten past before. It was the first picture I think we got the monkey off our back; the stigma of trying to live up to a tradition. We really broke out into something of our own.
Q: Is there a film that you've worked on that you weren't really pleased with the final results. Even though it may have been successful, you personally felt it didn't life up to expectations?
Each film will fall short of its potential to one degree or another. I've got to focus on my part of that picture. Did I do my best? Even if a picture turns out to be a dog, if I did my best, I can still feel proud.
Q: If you were to be starting today trying to become an animator, what do you think you would need to do?
Well, if I was just starting as an animator I would take drawing really
seriously. A lot more seriously than probably a lot of other animators
would say, but that's me; that's how I approach it. I guess there's different
schools to animation. There's maybe a school that says if you just animate
very simple shapes then it's more the acting involved and you don't need
to get involved in the anatomy. To me, I feel like if you're going to really
push into where I think acting needs to go, and we're going to really compete
with live action, then our acting needs to got to levels where you're really
dealing with subtle, deeper human emotions. The only way you can really
capture that, besides being in touch with your own heart in your acting,
is to be able to draw how you feel. It requires a real understanding of
anatomy and to be able to draw really well, to communicate. So I would
draw and draw and draw as much as I can the people around me, capturing
attitudes, look for the subtle things that interest you and draw those.
The way a little girl sits with the legs crossed is really entertaining.
It doesn't need to be a gag or a joke, it's just looking for those real
things, developing an eye for observation. Seeing it and being able to
draw it. Get a lot of sketch books. Do quick sketch trying to capture action.
Study live action films. I'd say learn the techniques that the old animators
did but don't approach it as a formula. Don't get fooled into thinking
this is the way to do a walk; this is the way to do a run, a take. Study
and discover a new way. I remember we were up at Cal Arts on time when
somebody asked me, how many different takes are there in animation? And
I was thinking, "how many different takes are there?" I stopped and said
"where is this question coming from?" I mean, how many different takes
are there? "What is a take," I asked? The student said, "I don't know?
What do you mean?" I answered, "What is a take? It's just an animation
term. We assume it means something, but what does it mean?" A take is a
reaction. As many emotions as there are in human nature, that's as many
takes as you can have, and how each person is, they're going to react a
little different. There is no limit to the number of takes. You just need
to analyze it. Get into that unique character and animate that. Animation
people, especially students, are constantly trying to compartmentalize
it and break it down into "there are this many approaches to doing things."
That is very limiting. We have a world of life to discover. Every person
and living thing is unique. An animator needs to see that uniqueness and
reflect it back to the audience in his work.
Biography * August 22, 1990 Interview * May 2, 1997 Interview * Why Animate?
2, 1997 INTERVIEW WITH GLEN KEANE
The following interview was conducted by Didier
Ghez on May 2, 1997 at the Walt Disney Feature Animation in Montreuil,
Q: Have you been working on your own project during this sabbatical;, as it has been rumoured ?
GK: No. I did this sculpture over there (Glen points toward a beautiful woman statue), but actually I found out that my project was... trying to rest (laughter).
I wrote down a lot of ideas for my project but I never started working on anything resembling a deadline.
Q: Can you tell us more about that project ?
GK: I have not completely focused on really what I want to do, except that it would be involving much more of a figurative approach to drawing.
I would like to do it probably in a style with charcoal and possibly using the computer too to keep the hand-drawn look, instead of using the computer to make it look like nobody touched it. I would like to use the computer to duplicate the effect of smudging with your thumb, similar to the scene in Pocahontas where she is being formed by the wind. I animated that scene in charcoal, then we put colour into it. It had a very ethereal tactile feel to it that I would like to keep. I would like to try and do a film that way, a short piece.
Q: So it's more the technique that you would use than the subject itself that interests you ?
GK: Oh no. The subject of my personal project is very important, that's why I have not done it. It is to animate to the 9th symphony of Beethoven. I have been wanting to animate to Beethoven's 9th since I heard it. But it's such an incredibly amazing piece of music that I think I am intimidated by it.
So, I just want to make sure that I am ready to dive into it. The problem for me too is that I was going to do this personal film instead of doing Beauty and the Beast, but Beauty and the Beast came along and it was just too tempting to do that, so I did it. Then I was supposed to do this film and Aladdin came along and I could not resist working with Ron [Clements] and John [Musker] (1) and doing it.
Then I said: "Now I am going to do it". But Mike Gabriel came along suggesting Pocahontas and it seemed such an interesting character for me to explore and I loved the idea of that subtle animation. So I said: "OK, I'll do that!" But after I'll take a year of to do my film.
And then I arrived in Paris and it was like: "Wow! Life is so different! I don't have time to do a personal film! It's just enough to be here with my family, to help them adjust. It's so different than the Californian way of life." So I thought: "Well maybe after my sabbatical I will have time to do that."
Then Tarzan was presented and it just felt like this is what you are born to do. So now I am doing Tarzan. I am afraid that when Tarzan is done there will be an other movie coming along that I will feel that I was born to do. Some of these days it will be the right time. I do not know when.
Q: Why do you want to achieve that project ?
GK: It is just something that I have to do. There is something inside of me that has to come out, that will someday happen.
It's like me being here in France. People keep saying: "Why are you going to Paris, why are you doing that ?" I don't know. I just feel as if that's where I need to be. When I stated studying French, I did not have any plans of being here at the Disney Studio. Way back when I started coming to Paris for a year off, it was before Disney had the Studio here, it was to really get away from Disney. Then when I got here, there was a Disney here. Things just all worked out.
I look at my life and I see that there was God's design working things out. So I trust that it's going to all fit together here one of these days.
Q: Before we talk about the future, let's talk a bit about the past and what you did before entering Disney.
GK: I don't even know if there was anything before (laughter)!
I started when I was twenty at the Studio. Before that I was raised in a family where dad is a cartoonist (2). I'd always wanted to draw ever since I remember. I grew up in Arizona, out in the desert. There are five kids in the family. Living in the desert, you tend to have plenty of time on your hands and I would spend a lot of time drawing and making stories and doing different things for my brothers. I was always drawing. But then I also fell in love with football - American football. By the time I was eighteen I had a choice to go play football for University or to go to an art school. That was a tough choice for me, because I really enjoyed playing football. That was something that made me feel like I was accomplishing something.
Art was a much quieter voice calling me, but it was a lot deeper.
I felt that football was something I would love to do, my art was something that I couldn't not do. So I sent my portfolio to CalArts (3) to get in the school of painting. I had never heard of animation. My portfolio was paintings and I wanted to be a fine artist. I wanted to be an artist. Even now, I think that the biggest compliment you can give somebody is to call him an artist. When I sent my portfolio, it arrived by accident to the school of animation and I was accepted into the school of film graphics which was a fancy way of saying animation or cartoons.
When I got there I discovered that animation was a combination of all the arts together and it just felt so natural. I loved the idea of drawing things that would move.
Q: And then you entered Disney.
GK: Yes. It was at a time where animation was really kind of limping along. There was some really lousy stuff being done on TV. As a matter of fact, after my first year I had heard that Disney was a completely closed door.
There was very little communication between Disney and CalArts at that time. Disney had pretty much written off CalArts, as a place that was not turning out artists who had the classical training that they needed. And I had thought: "Oh great! I will be at CalArts and then I'll enter Disney!" And then I heard that no, they were not interested.
So I went over to a place called Filmation where they had done Fat Albert and really limited animation, Saturday morning stuff. I worked there for three months. I just struggled, really struggled. I was 19.
You would go in and there was this test where you would draw Fat Albert. I saw the model sheet and I did these drawings and the guy who was the head of the Studio said: "Oh! These are great! Wow!" He took me around, introduced me to everybody, praised me as if I was going to be some fantastic addition to the studio.
It was fine as long as I could have a free hand to draw this character. But then I realised that that was not what my job was. It was to do walk cycles or do planes and very limited, restricted kind of movements and... I was lost. I did not know what I was doing. After the third month the head of the studio said: "You know Glen, you draw like a three year old and if you were not going back to school I would fire you!"
So I left and went back to school. I was really wondering "What am I doing?" This guy's words were ringing in my ears and I wondered if he was right. I saw other people that seemed to know much more about animation than I did and I was really intimidated by all the other students at CalArts. You just really wonder about yourself, about where you are going to land and question your own abilities.
Then, there was one day at CalArts, when a group from Disney came up (4). It was the young guys: Don Bluth, John Pomeroy (5), Andy Gaskill (6) and I think even Ron Clements who had just started at that time. They showed rough animation tests. It was the first time I had ever seen real rough animation. I had only seen limited finished stuff. When I saw how loose it was...! It was like "gribouillis". That was the way they drew: scribbles and fun and life. I thought: "That's exactly how I draw! I know I can do this!"
As soon as June came I started working on my portfolio, submitted it to Disney and fortunately I was accepted and started training there. That was in September 1974.
Q: There is one project that always intrigued me, which is the one you started with John Lasseter (director of Toy Story), called The Wild Things. Can you tell us more about that project ?
GK: John and I had just seen the film Tron. We were working on Mickey's Christmas Carol at the time. John had just become an animator there. We both came back from the theatre right across the street really questioning what we were doing with animation. I remembered coming back to my office and being kind of depressed. I felt like they were doing what was really exciting and we were doing dumb, flat drawings. There the computer was moving in three dimensions, you could go in the world, it was all so real and motorcycles were moving around and it was just... wow! It was eye-candy!
John and I talked the same way. We were saying: "I just wished we could do something where the background was giving us the opportunity to bring the cartoon character into that world. That would really be cool." So we started thinking about an idea for doing that.
John had read this story Brave Little Toaster. He showed me this book and he said: "Wouldn't this be a great project to do for an animated film all using computer?" I said: "Wow! This is really cool! Maybe we can do the backgrounds and then we can animate the characters and solid kind of shapes..."
We figured we better do a test first and we came up with this idea of Where the Wild Things Are. We both liked that story by Maurice Sendak.
We did a little test where the kid Max is drawing his name on the wall and the dog is watching him. Actually the dog is under the bed and when Max finishes drawing on the wall, the camera follows him as he looks under the bed at this little dog upside down.
The dog raises towards the camera, looks at you. The camera lifts up as the dog runs down the hall and he runs after the dog and there is this chase of the little boy and the dog down this staircase. We were just willing to try and explore how we would do all this and to try and colour it, to try and put shading, so that it would look like these characters were fitting into this world. Nobody had ever done that before. That was the first time computer backgrounds had been combined with animation.
And we went to that company in New York who had worked on Tron and it worked. It was just a nice little short piece, a wonderful film (7). After that we started to develop Brave Little Toaster and John really went on to work much more in depth on that and I started to work on Great Mouse Detective. That was the first time when we actually brought the computer into our film, at the end in the big chase up in Big Ben.
John, meanwhile went on and left Disney. By that point, his interests went completely into computers and he ran off in that direction. Disney at that time was also really struggling financially and Brave Little Toaster became a project that was sacrificed. There were a lot of political problems at the time. I am not going to go into all of that.
So John left to develop computer animation and I kept focusing more and more on hand drawn animation. I guess it was at a time when I had explored enough with the computer to know where my heart was. It was in drawing. I loved the feel of the graphite on the paper (8).
For John, drawing was always a frustrating thing. It was a necessary evil. For me it's the greatest joy. Animation is never as good as when I am sitting at that desk drawing. That's the best. Even when it's up on the screen, it's never as wonderful as the moments when it was drawn, to me.
Q: How was The Wild Things received by the Studio ?
GK: We showed it to the Studio executives and everybody and they were all very excited. They thought it was really cool and interesting. But animation was at such a point there, and there was not much of foresight in management at the time to see how to implement it at Disney.
Today, with a whole different spirit in animation, here, a test of that magnitude and a discovery like that would just be eaten up and incorporated into a film. In that days, it took a lot longer. Still, it was the beginning of it. The clockwork stuff was beginning to develop in The Great Mouse Detective and on from there. It planted the seed. It took a while to get it going.
Q: Was there anything from The Little Toaster that was actually animated or did the project stop with concept art?
GK: I think I did a little test of the toaster hopping around. I did some design on that and then we did a lot of story board work on it. I did not do any of the story board work: Joe Grant and John did. But then, that was it, at Disney. Jerry Rees actually ended up doing Brave Little Toaster in Japan but not with computer animation. It would still be a good project for a computer animated movie someday.
Q: When you arrived at the Studio in the mid-'70s you worked with a lot of the old timers, from Frank and Ollie to Wollie Reitherman (9). Can you tell us about your work with them?
GK: They had a lot of energy. That was my first feeling. They loved what they did. It was not simply a thing that they had learned how to do and that they were blasé about. They had passion for it. And you could not help but be caught up in that when you were talked to by Eric [Larson] (10) who had this ability to believe in the character and to communicate that constantly. He was always telling me: "Glen, you have to animate with sincerity." OK. What is it? How do you animate with sincerity? What does that mean? You push harder on your pencil or what?
My first scene that I got then, on Rescuers, was this little tiny scene of Bernard, where Bernard is just a speck in the scene and he is sweeping the floor.
But I wanted to make it a great moment. I was struggling with the mechanics of how do you draw a sweeping action. Bernard's hands on the broom and pushing the broom. I was struggling with it during a whole week and a half and then I finally went to Eric and said: "Eric, can you show me how to do this?" I figured that he would show me some technical secrets, some principles or formula of animation on how to move a broom convincingly.
And he said: "OK. What kind of guy do you think Bernard is?" I said: "I don't know what you mean." "He thinks he must do a good job, don't you think?" I said: "Yes, yes..." "He puts his whole heart in everything he does doesn't he?" "Yeah, I guess so..." "That's the kind of a guy he is, he really loves his job..." and he started talking about Bernard and you could see this light in his eyes.
This is a speck, no one will see in the film, but he got caught up into the character Bernard and he became this little guy. I could just see what he was talking about: sincerity. He believed in the character. He did not tell me any secrets about drawing or animating, but he showed me how to feel.
So I came back to my desk and the scene just popped out. It was easy. It seemed to me that this was always the point that I had to get to when I was struggling: to believe in the characters and to make them really personal for me. Every character I am working on, that's the first step: find something that you can almost touch about that character. I mean, sometimes it is a really physical thing: I have to actually go and... Like with Pocahontas, when I went to Virginia and stood on the ground where she was. When I was doing the Beast, it was going to the zoo to draw gorillas and buffaloes and really feeling all of that (11).
With Tarzan, I went to Uganda and studied the mountain gorillas, hacking my way through the jungle with machetes. And there was this family of thirteen gorillas closer to me than me to you. I was next to them. You can animate with conviction once you felt that.
For Little Mermaid, it was thinking of my wife as I was drawing her. It was just a natural thing to draw Linda. So, when I was drawing Ariel, I was actually drawing somebody I already knew.
So you caught this sense from those guys, when you walked down the hall and saw them. From the way they talked, you understood that this was not a job, it was a passion and it was contagious.
Q: Who was your biggest influence at the time within Disney?
First it was Eric. Eric will always be the one that opened up the door for animation to me. His patience and constant encouragement! He explained things so simply, he was always available.
He was in the room next to us: myself, Ron Clements, Andy Gaskill and several other guys. We were all sitting in a room together and Eric was in the room next to us. Any time I needed help I could just go in and show him my scenes, he would correct them and we had a mentor/menti relationship.
Then Ollie was the one that really started to show me how to take the things that Eric had been teaching and apply them to a film, put them into a production situation where you got to convince the director of it, you have to animate towards a very given goal. You have one idea to get across the scene and say it clearly. Eric taught me a lot of things about doing some things from my heart and Ollie really had me focused on communicating ideas simply and clearly in the context of a film.
Q: And outside Disney, whose art, most influenced yours?
GK: It's constantly changing, because I am constantly changing myself. Right now, there is a French comic artist, Janry, who does Spirou, I've got every book of his stuff and I just look at his work and I think about what he is doing. He draws with a sense of fun and anatomy and there is this solidity, this tri-dimensional feeling that he has got in his drawings... But it's mainly the fun.
I want Tarzan to have that fun. So last night I went to bed and before going to bed I looked at a book of Spirou and Fantasio and was thinking of Janry's hand and all the drawing he does. Right now, he is a big influence for me.
In terms of a classical artist, though, there is a guy named Augustus John, an English artist, who has such a sense of dimension and sensitivity in the way he puts the lines down. I just love it.
I have always loved animation, but I've never felt like this is really what I am supposed to be doing. My portfolio was sent to the wrong place and I have always animated, but I also always wanted to do something that allows you to express yourself very personally.
I always figure out to make all the characters I animate a real personal artistic expression, because I always wished that my portfolio hadn't been sent out to animation and that I had become a fine artist.
But maybe, in these days, animation is the only place where someone who loves the classical arts can really express himself. I am becoming more and more convinced that that's true.
But I would love to see us do a thing that wouldn't be necessarily just for entertainment, to really explore and say something that has a lot of passion to it and not necessarily designed to sell products. Not that we do that. We do not design our films to sell our products, but it is never going to get the green light, if it is not going to be a commercial success.
There are things that I would like to say in my work and someday, I plan to do that.
Q: Do you have other "side-projects" like this film or that sculpture here that you undertake in your free time?
GK: There are those little sketchbooks that I always keep of my family. Wherever I go I am constantly just drawing people. I guess that's what my side-project would be: always to keep my sketchbooks alive. I would like to do a book of drawings that would have nothing to do with Disney, about my personal artwork (12). The biggest part of my time, when I am not at the Studio is really spent with my wife and kids. Raising an 18 year old daughter and a 16 year old son takes absolutely every bit of creative energy that I can muster and more. When I am home, work is definitely second place.
Someday, I might have some more time. Keeping a good marriage is number one. That's the source for my work too. Having a wife, outside of Disney animation. Because if I don't have that, it is hard for me to draw upon. It's amazing how many things I draw from my family.
When I was searching to see how Tarzan would move, I noticed what my son was watching. He is really in all these skateboarding and snowboarding and extreme sport videos. Max is jumping and doing those wild things on the skateboard. And I say to myself: "He is going to kill himself. Why would people want to do that?"
So I started thinking of Tarzan as this kind of person. What if, instead of jumping on vines, he was a kind of surfer, surfing on the branches. This idea of him as a surfing guy, a surfer in the trees came and started animating him as if he was a snowboarder and he was sliding down the branches. It really opened it up.
And at one point I animated this part where Tarzan grabs this vine with his feet. He uses his feet like hands. I was sitting at home, my wife was sitting on a couch. I was massaging her feet and she says: "So what have you animated today?" and I said: "Well, the scene where Tarzan is grabbing this vine with his toes, but I don't know, maybe I am pushing the idea too far. People are not going to believe that." And then I looked down at her feet and said: "Wait a second! You've got Tarzan's feet. You could shake somebody's hand with these toes." So I grabbed the camera and started taking some pictures of her feet. Here are some on the wall here. And I made her move her feet, so that I could get different angles.
There is so much that I have been able to draw from life outside Disney here. I guess that was what those guys were teaching us too: that you've got to find you expression in the world around you and you are not going to find it in the Morgue of the old things done by Disney. You find a lot about drawing techniques and formula for doing things, but I really try to break away from formula things.
One would break animation into those formulas so easily, and students learn those formulas and they forget that somebody once observed something. Everything that works is based on real life. It's not because Frank and Ollie's book says it.
If you learn it because you have observed it, you can animate with conviction and it's a spark of life in your drawings. If you animated it because you had studied it and took a formulaic principle and put it in there, it's hollow. Like the difference between Mozart playing his piece and somebody who would have programmed it into a computer.
Q: How did your goals evolve since you entered Disney. What were they at the time? What are they now ?
GK: Back then, when I started, my goal was... not to get fired (laughter) for doing lousy drawings. The next was to draw exactly like Ollie so that he couldn't tell the difference between my in-betweens and his extremes. And once I started to do that, I got really used to his style, then I was beginning to get enough confidence to think that maybe I could animate.
My goal then was to become an animator. If I could just become an animator, I thought I would be happy for the rest of my life. I mean a Disney animator. After two years at Disney I became an animator on The Rescuers. That was just like... wow! ... what an incredible thing!
Then, my idea was to become what today you would call a directing animator (we referred to it as supervising animator at the time). I did not ever think that I would become like them. My position just grew in a very natural kind of way.
We were on The Fox and the Hound and I had some sequences to animate and I wanted to convince the director that this was the way to do it. The way I saw Frank and Ollie do it was to thumb nail up this whole sequence. So I did that, suggested it. He liked it and said "that's good". Gee, I've got way more than I could animate.
I'd seen those new guys from CalArt that had just come in: Chris Buck, Henry Selick [director of Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach], John Lasseter, Tim Burton, John Musker. I said: "Hey, why don't you go ahead and animate some of these scenes and get this thing done." So I started giving those other guys - they were not yet animators, only in-betweeners - scenes to animate. I never checked this with management or anything. I just started giving them scenes to animate. I did not know there was a protocol.
Then management called me in and said: "What are you trying to do? Are you trying to build your own kingdom or something?" I said: "I don't know, I am just doing what Frank and Ollie taught me to do. You know: find out what you have to get done. You give some to other people and it just sort of happened very naturally." (13) And those guys did great work and they could not deny the fact that the film was looking better. So they left them as animators.
Pretty soon Don Bluth left the studio and we were down to a very very small core group of us and more responsibility was thrown on our shoulders.
So, anyway, the idea of wanting to become a supervising animator was a very natural thing and happened very naturally.
As I said, what I had always wanted to do was to become an artist as well. The world in general does not give to animation the credit that a serious artist would get.
Andreas Deja went to the Musée d'Orsay here one day and went to the entrance where you get a discount if you are an artist. He went there and showed them his Disney ID. And they laughed like: "Who do you think you are? This is for artists. you work in cartoon, you know." That really is hard, when you consider that people here in animation have studied anatomy and went to the same path that Michael Angelo and Leonardo Da Vinci followed. I mean in terms of observation and study and the disciplines of art. So much greater in fact for animation. People don't really see that.
So my aspiration, what I would still like to do is to create something in animation that would say to other people that this has as much credibility as any other art form possible in the world.
Q: What is your favourite scene? The one you animated best in your whole career?
GK: Probably the moment when Beast transforms, because that was so much an expression of my own art and what I felt spiritually is important in my life: a transformation from the inside out and by animating that, I really felt that I was expressing everything about myself.
Q: Did you feel like you were transforming at the time?
GK: Yes and I still feel that. I think that my goal in life is to become the person that I was created to become. It's not something that just happens in an instant. But it's frustrating. You want to see yourself be that person.
Then there was the Mermaid scene where she is singing. But probably also the moment where Pocahontas is first seen by John Smith and she is looking at him and her hair is blowing. It was just that the girl in the scene was difficult and I think that it succeeded in what it had to do. To say that this girl... there was a depth to her... something incredibly intriguing about her, but you could not move her (14).
I've always been telling people that animation is not about moving drawings, it's about drawings that move people. In that scene, the movement of her head is just so incredibly delicate and tiny. She just drops her head slightly and the head and the movement of her hair is describing her spirit. There were just these very very difficult things to put across and it worked. I was just so happy with what happened.
Q: Today, with Tarzan what are you trying to achieve?
GK: A couple of different things.
One is that I want Tarzan to be like Edgar Rice Burroughs imagined him. The way he imagined him in his mind is unlike anything you have ever seen.
As a baby he learned to move as a gorilla, to move like a panther. All of his muscles have grown in a special way. He is more flexible than any human being that ever lived. And he also got no fear. How is he going to move, to act, what are going to be his gestures? He is not going to point. We can't do gestures like that. You really have to go back and rethink everything about why he does what he does. If we can communicate a whole new character like that, I mean... that's my goal right now (15). The other part is just being here in Montreuil with the artists.
I was talking to them today about Frank and Ollie. Because I have invited Frank and Ollie to come here as they have never been here. The studio is like children that they have never met. All of these animators know their work so well and they need to shake their hands and have some contact with them. In some sense I am trying to do that in a way here. Maybe it is just to say: "You guys are incredible here!" The level of the animators - the artists - here is second to none. They have every right to go on and animate their own feature. Everything that they need in terms of skills is here.
An other goal is to help the studio here become a full fledged animation studio.
Because the talent is here and I am just awed by the fact of working with people as talented. And I thought that to learn French would be nice too at the same time.
Q: You worked with Tim Burton. How was work with him?
Tim was an incredibly creative guy. He had sketchbooks like this one, except that his drawings were very bizarre, weird people and... Oh gosh, they were just the funniest strangest things: people he would see in the street, big fat fat fat people, skinny skinny people. Everything was sort of dark and twisted.
He was working with me on The Fox and the Hound, animating Vixey, this little female fox and he was having a nightmare trying to animate this character. He was struggling. He was not meant to do Disney character animation. So he was constantly depressed.
Chris Buck was in a room next to me. Tim and Chris were good friends. I would come in and open up the closet - it was just like a little wardrobe, big enough to hang up your coat - and Tim would be standing there. He would just stare at me and I would shut the door. I would come back to my office and work, come back later, open the door to check and: "Yes. Tim's still there!", shut the door do some more work, come back in and Tim would be sitting up on Chris' desk, facing Chris, just staring at him, just staring for hours. I would come back and Tim would still be there. It was absolutely crazy (16).
He is an inspiring guy. His ideas were just the most refreshing, wonderful things. He drew ideas for Black Cauldron that were so far beyond the director to use. The film would have been an amazing film had Tim's ideas been given a chance but he ended up being kicked out of the film as were myself and also Ron Clements and John Musker.
Q: So you originally worked on The Black Cauldron?
GK: Yes, we were developing character designs and different things. We were trying to push it, to make it go and explore horizons that Disney was not willing to stretch to yet. Tim was a very frustrated guy at that point.
Q: Can you tell me about this work on The Black Cauldron that you did?
GK: John Musker was working on a sequence which was in the witches house. He was designing it so that all the backgrounds were optical illusions like M.C. Escher.
Now, Tim was doing these character designs, a lot like Nightmare Before Christmas type characters. At what point he designed the gwythaints. The gwythaints were like pterodactyls, which is what they look like in the film now, pterodactyls. But Tim designed them so that their heads were really hands and he put their eye right there between the thumb and the forefinger. So they looked like, you know, when you make little silhouette figures on the wall. These things would come flying at you, but then could also grab and they had a snake-like tail and wings. Wild, great ideas!
The Horned King was more of a psychotic, schizoid guy. You heard his two different personalities by puppets. He would have these two different puppets and he was a ventriloquist. One puppet would say... like if he was considering killing somebody, one puppet that was like a psycho clown would say (loud, crazy voice): "Get him! Get him! Yes! Yes! Get his head off! Get his head off!" and the other head puppet would go (soft, squeaking voice): "No! No! let him live! let him live!". The Horned King was just a completely twisted, bizarre character. Now, he is just what we call the Evil Bonehead (laughter).
Q: What were the scenes that you worked on?
GK: I was doing some animation of fairies. I designed a lot of different characters on the thing. I did some animation of Gurgi, Eilonwy and did some experimental animation on them. This is a scene of Eilonwy, where she is picking things out of Gurgi's hair. She is talking.
I loved the voice of this character. I came upon a whole different kind of design on her, but the director did not want something that was so cartoony. Everything I did was being thrown out. They just did not like anything I was doing. Eventually the directors asked me if I would just leave the film and go do something different.
So I did Mickey's Christmas Carol. I worked on the Giant. Ron [Clements] And John [Musker] were also being kicked out of the film and they went to work on The Great Mouse Detective.
Q: What is the animation you admire most?
GK: To me it's: The Man Who Planted Trees by Frederic Back. He is doing what I want to do. He is saying something personal, because he believes it and his drawing is a passion for him. You look at his work and it's a moving impressionist painting with the light dappling across characters.
This is what I want to do. I would like to be him. The only thing is: he works by himself and I have not quite figured out how can you be that. How can you still enjoy this incredible relationship you have with all these artists - it's like a family, it's a great inspiration to be here with other animators - how can you still do that and then go off and do something on your own. That's probably why I have never done my personal film. You can't replace other people. That's the most exciting thing of animation. It's a group effort. You do some things bigger than anyone could do by themselves.
Q: You should create your own studio.
GK: Why should I create my own studio when I have got all these great
people here? I would not do that at least for the next several years anyway.
(1) John Musker and Ron Clements are two of the most talented artists of the new era. Among their most prominent achievements, they are credited with writing the screenplay of The Little Mermaid and directing both Aladdin and Hercules.
(2) "Indeed, in Br'er Rabbit's terminology, Glen Keane the cartoonist was "born and bred in the briar patch." His father, Bill Keane, created and still draws the comic panel, "The Family Circus", and is a winner of the Reuben, the Oscar of Cartooning, awarded annually by the National Cartoonists' Society. In the spring of 1992, Glen received the award, presented by his father.
Keane grew up in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where his father exposed him from early childhood to the best examples of art of all kinds." (from Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 68)
(3) The California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1962 by Walt Disney with the merger of Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to train artists in all art fields.
(4) "During the production of "Robin Hood" Disney finally began to recruit new animators. For more than two decades, the studio had been relying on a small corps of experimented artists. The Disney staff was generally acknowledged as the best in the world, and there was little impetus to search for new talent. (Disney was not the only studio that failed to recruit young animators; very few artists entered the field between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s.)
Even the death of Walt failed to shake the comfortable assumption that this skilled team would continue working indefinitely. But as members of the group began to retire and die, it became necessary to find and train new artists to replace them.
Disney hired twenty-five new artists between 1970 and 1977, including Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, Glen Keane and Don Bluth. "The Rescuers" (1977) represented the first real collaboration between the two groups of animators." (from The History of Animation, Enchanted Drawings by Charles Solomon; 1989; page 268)
(5) Don Bluth and John Pomeroy left the Walt Disney Studio in 1979 with about a dozen colleagues to create their own studio that produced among other things The Secret of Nimh and an American Tale. In the early '90s, John Pomeroy rejoined Disney.
To quote The History of Animation by Charles Solomon: " Bluth had been an assistant animator on "Sleeping Beauty" for two years during the mid-'50s. He left the studio to pursue other interests, then returned in 1971. After working on "The Rescuers", he served as director of animation on "Pete's Dragon" (1977) [...]. He also produced and directed the saccharine Christmas featurette "The Small One" (1978).
In September 1979, Bluth resigned from Disney; Goldman and Pomeroy went with him to found their own studio. Fourteen other animators and assistants - a substantial portion of the new Disney artists - also left to join the nascent studio. The split reflected the divisions within the animation department, and the parting was not without recrimination on both sides. Bluth compared the situation to the gentlemanly rivalry that might exist between two baseball teams. In fact, it was more personal and more bitter." (from The History of Animation, Enchanted Drawings by Charles Solomon; 1989; page 269)
(6) Andy Gaskill joined Disney in 1973, worked on The Rescuers, The Fox and The Hound and Pete’s Dragon. He then left the company and rejoined it in 1992, when he became art director for The Lion King and then Hercules.
(7) "Lasseter constructed a model of Max's bedroom and the adjoining hall in the computer's memory. After the artists calculated the rates of movements for Max and his dog, the computer produced simple models, showing where the characters would be in each frame. Keane animated the characters, using the computer printouts as guides. When his drawings were entered into the computer and colored, the characters were placed in the computer-generated environment.
In the resulting footage, the camera seemed to follow Max as he chased the hapless dog around the bedroom and through the hall, jumped over the banister and pursued his pet down the stairs. Keane's animation captured the personalities of the characters, and made them seem alive. The computer made it possible to use the complex tracking shot, which would be virtually impossible to do in convetional animation, as it would be too difficult to draw everything in perspective. This experiment helped lead to the use of a computer-generated environment for the climax of The Great Mouse Detective." (from The History of Animation, Enchanted Drawings by Charles Solomon; 1989; page 295)
(8) "In 1983 [Keane] animated an experimental film based on Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which combined hand-drawn animation with computer generated backgrounds and camera movemants for the first time. Then he left the studio. "I worked at home, just freelance, but I was no longer an employee of Disney." he said.
Keane's freelance credits during this time included numerous remunerative animated television commercials, but his heart was in the fifteen-book series of Christian allegories which he continues to write and illustrate.
He came back to Disney to do The Little Mermaid." (from Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 69)
(9) Three of the Nine Old Men.
(10) Eric Larson, one of the Nine Old Men, was instrumental in setting up the training program that started in the early '70s to teach to those artists that would replace the "old school" (composed of Walt's Men).
(11) "The scene with the bear is the most dramatic moment of the film, and is powerfully rendered by Glen Keane. While the other animators used live-action footage and ball-and-socket models in order to help them capture the motions of the various animals in the movie, Keane went as far as to have a scale model of the bear's skeleton standing by his easel! His attention to detail was worth it." (from Encyclopædia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters, From Mickey Mouse to Aladdin by John Grant; 1993; page 302)
(12) "I always have my sketchbook with me, and wherever I go, I draw. I may not remember what they wore - but I remember something about a person that my wife, Linda, will never remember. Linda will remember what the lady wore, what her shoes were, what color eyes she had - but I'll remember what her body attitude was, the tilt of her head - I'll remember her air of security, of confidence, of insecurity, of fear, or nervousness. Those things I notice.
I watch people in the mall when Linda's shopping, or at airports while we're waiting. There are times when I can sit in the backseat of a car and sketch.
I think I've really learned from Hirschfeld. He said he'd draw little sketches and then write words next to those drawings - you know like "chicken fricasse" for somebody's flabby arm, or spaghetti" next to the hair. Then, months later, he can do a drawing based on that little sketch and the words that bring him back to the impression that this image gave him at the time." (Glen Keane in Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 66)
(13) "Keane assisted Johnston in animating the little orphan girl [in The Rescuers], Penny, as Johnston had long before assisted Freddy Moore in animating the Dwarf Dopey.
Keane learned fast and moved up fast. After animating on Pete's Dragon, a combination of animation and live action starring Mickey Rooney, he became a supervising animator himself on The Fox and The Hound. Keane's animation of the climatic fight in which the fox saves the hound from a grizzly bear was widely regarded as the most memorable animation anyone in the new generation at Disney had yet produced. When New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art held its milestone retrospective "Disney Animation and Animators" in 1981, the sequence was shown continuously on a small screen in one of the galleries." (from Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 68)
(14) "A lot of times, the scenes that are the most difficult to do are the ones where there's the least amount of action, where the internal struggles are going on, and where the animator has to animate from the heart. The people who animate from the heart can usually do the broad as well as the subtle. They can usually do anything.
The danger for an animator is the trap of your animation becoming an intellectual exercise of just moving drawings across the screen. You become a puppeteer, moving marionettes with strings. The effect for the audience is that somebody's controlling the character on the screen.
But with the guy who animates from the heart, it's him up there. It's not a puppet; it's him. He's up on the screen, and he's alive and it sparks." (Glen Keane in Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 72)
(15) "If you can time the way they move in one scene, every other scene can relate to that, even if the movements are much different. [...] For example, how does Aladdin run around a corner? What is the timing when he turns his head? What is the attitude of his shoulders? Is his chest pushed out far enough? If you get the right flavour to that scene, you can have that for a comparison in all the other scenes." (Glen Keane in Disney's Aladdin, The Making of an Animated Film by John Culhane; 1992; page 72)
(16) ""It was a weird time at Disney,
and some things slipped through the cracks", Burton notes [...]. Burton
admits that "it was nice for a couple of years to just sit in a room and
draw whatever you wanted." It gave him a chance to explore and play with
some ideas. But, he adds, "After a period of time, it felt like I was locked
in the room." (from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas by Frank
Thompson; 1993; page 169)
Biography * August 22, 1990 Interview * May 2, 1997 Interview * Why Animate?
- WHY ANIMATE?
Handouts from animation teacher Glen Keane having to do with communicating
with your audience.
Entertainment- What is it?
Or can the audience take it or leave it?
Definition: (1) Look forward to, expect, (2) realize in advace, foresee, foretaste.
It will cause the audience to expect and look forward to the pay off.
Milk the moment. As long as you have not released the tension the audience is with you, don't waste the moment but milk it for all it's worth.
Avoid running ahead- Make sure the audience is with you. Don't lose them.
Anticipation is built by clarity-
a simple, clear idea that communicates and captures an audience is your goal.