Disney v. Other

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

January 6, 2011

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Categories: One a Day, Post a Day 2011

A drawing of the Simba character from The Lion...
Image via Wikipedia

Cinderella. Snow White. Bambi. Peter Pan. The Little Mermaid. Aladdin. Sleeping Beauty.

The list, it seems, goes on. I don’t recall any cartoon-movies from my youth that were not from Disney.

I love to draw. Always have. The art displayed in our home is mostly art I’ve done, Levi’s created, or photos we’ve taken. I studied art, created art, and I’ve studied art history. This is the lens in which I approach animated films. And, Disney has always seemed to make the movie come a live more than other producers.

I saw a few “behind the scenes” Disney blurbs for the Lion King and Pocahontas. They showed how the artists would sketch the live objects talking, acting, doing what they would do before they committed the drawings to the final film. So, when you watch Jasmine sing in Aladdin, it’s clear her hand gestures match up with that of an actual person. It has always seemed that something was off in these non-Disney films – normal hand gestures and lip movement don’t really match up with how the character should be talking. Sure, they have good grasp of line or decent rendering or another concept of art – but the overall look is missing something.

Kind of like Toy Story I. (I haven’t seen the other two.) Having a three year old kind of throws me into the realm of Pixar and family friendly movies. Watching Toy Story compared to later Pixar films, it’s neat to see the evolution. In the first Toy Story, they captured the rendering that was from a single light source only. When you look at an object, there is a light shadow, usually, underneath the entire bottom – along with appropriate reflections if on a wood surface, for example. These renderings were missing from the first Toy Story – and often from these non-Disney animations.

We got several Pixar movies from the library – including the Pixar shorts. The shorts collection allows you to monitor the artistic evolution of Pixar, beginning with rudimentary experiments in moving shapes with a computer, to highly entertaining, beautifully drawn and rendered stories about courage (Bounding) and shame (For the Birds).

Cars is, for me, the epitome of beautiful, near perfect story telling and artistic designs. The car reflections, the rendering, the story – all move quickly, vibrantly – a perfect cacophony of talent. If you accept that Disney has mastered animated film, then it’s no wonder they acquired them in 2006.

So all that rambling is really about watching Despicable Me tonight. I laughed. It was cute. It touched my heart. There was some super fantastic animation and it was a cute, quirky story – but it was off. The hand gestures didn’t match, the faces were too round, the mouths didn’t move with actual words.

It seems sad to me to consider that Disney may take the cake, and every time someone makes an animated film – more times than not, it comes off as trying to lamely copy a master and get money out of it instead of practice to improve.

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