I worked as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation from 1993 to 2002. I have lots of memories from that period, but the one I would like to recount is the unforgettable (although very brief) time that I spent as an intern in the CGI department with Tina Price. I can’t remember whether it was for one or 2 weeks, but it was definitely during a school break. Here is what I remember in no particular order…
I was going to the now defunct Rowland Animation program at the time – I believe it was in 1990. Bill Matthews came to our class and picked two interns to job shadow at Disney during a school break. Syd Birkner (I don’t know where he is now) was picked for 2d and I was picked for CGI. I arrived on Monday on 1420 Flower where I was greeted by Dee at reception. Bill Matthews came by and drove us around the various warehouse buildings. I remember being in awe as we were toured around Airway as Beauty and the Beast was in production. Bill took us into Glen Keane’s office. Glen had just finished roughing out the Beast yelling at Bell for refusing his dinner invite. Glen flipped the seemingly huge 16 field Beast drawings in time with the sound playing on an audio cassette. Next was a tour of the Hart building where Alladin was in pre-production. I saw Eric Goldberg’s amazing storyboards pinned up. I had no idea at the time that I would eventually spend 15 years working with him (9 at Disney and 6 on the outside after both of us left the studio).
I was then introduced to Tina Price, in the small CGI department on Flower. I cannot remember who the other people in the room were-maybe you can fill me in. (Tom Cardone, Linda Bell, Steve Goldberg, James Tooley) . She showed me a video demo on 3/4 inch tape of all the work that the small team had done on Basil, Oliver, and Mermaid. I remember a wireframe of the ballroom from Beauty on a monitor. I also remember the sculpture of the tiger’s head for the cave of wonders (if I remember accurately, it was only half of a head that was sculpted and the rest would be flopped). Tina Price then showed me the first magic carpet test. She told me how you would go back and hand animate the tassels on the carpet. I thought to myself, if all I ever did on one of these movies was draw a single tassel, I would have been happy. I think on the second day, you set me up with an Alias work station (SGI hardware running Alias Power Animator) and coached me through modeling a sphere. I brought my little Amiga computer in and set it up in CG area. I was in the middle of animating one of my films using the Disney Animation Studio software. At the time, I drew better with a mouse than I did with a pencil. In the middle of this, Bruno Bozetto came through on a tour.
On one of the days, I was set up on a workstation which was running an early paint program (which one was it?) (Either Deluxe Paint or Studio Paint). I was in awe when a Prince and the Pauper BG was brought into the display window. I spent a little time messing around with it when it was time to go to a lunchbox lecture given by Nick Park in the 1420 Flower St. Theater (A Grand Day Out was up for the Oscar that year). He brought in some of the clay figures to check out up close. After the lecture, I was talking to Tom Sito (who I met at Rowland) and walked with him across Flower St. over to Airway (I wanted to see more of Beauty). I was so occupied asking Tom questions that I wasn’t watching where I was going. I stepped into the street without looking when Tom pulled me back out of harms way of a speeding car. Thanks for saving my life Tom! Tom showed me around some more when I saw a 3/4 lyon lamb pencil test in progress of being shot(back in those days, the tape rewound and played back the last 2 seconds of what had been previously filmed every time a frame was exposed). It was a clean-up test of Belle and I remember being in awe watching the drawings come to life.
Back at the CGI department, I remember how Tina had life drawings on the wall of her workstation. It made an impression on me to always draw whether you did CGI or traditional. As the grand finale , I attended a Walt Stanchfield gesture drawing class on my last day. The whole experience was astounding. Not only did I spend my school break interning at Disney, but it was during that truly special time you are capturing in this blog. When I worked at the studio, it was as a traditional animator from 1993 through Treasure Planet(animating on Long John Silver with Glen Keane). I spent my last year at Disney as a CGI animator on Mickey’s Philharmagic (a theme park show still playing at ). Shortly after that I was the first 2d/CGI crossover animator chosen to do the initial test animation for . Little did I know that this assignment would lead to the end of my time at Disney, but that is another story.
Bert (Feb 8.2008)