Category: Disney

Floyd Norman – An Animated Life – Teaser

Photo Credit Mr. Fun’s Journal

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life is a feature-length look the prolific animator and story artist’s life from growing up in Santa Barbara, CA to his years working as an animator at Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Pixar and more. The undisputed “Forrest Gump” of the animation world, Norman was hired as the first African-American at Disney in 1956. He would later be hand-picked by Walt Disney himself to join the story team on the Jungle Book. After Disney’s death, Norman left the studio to start his own company to produce black history films for high schools. He and his partners would later work with Hanna-Barbera, and animate the original Fat Albert Special, as well as the titles to TV mainstay Soul Train.

Norman returned to Disney in the 1980s to work in their Publishing department. And in 1998, he returned to Disney Animation to work in the story department on Mulan. But an invite to the Bay area in the late 90s became a career highlight. Norman was now working with another emerging great: Pixar and Steve Jobs, on Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc.

Life as an animator is a nomadic one, but Norman spent the majority of his career at Disney, and views it as his “home.” Retired by Disney at age 65 in 2000, the documentary focuses on Norman’s difficulty with a retirement he was not ready for. Not one to quit, Norman chose to occupy an empty cubicle at Disney Publishing for the last 15 years. As he puts it, “[He] just won’t leave.” A term has been coined by Disney employees — “Floydering.” While not on staff, his proximity to other Disney personnel has led him to pick up freelance work, and he continues to have an impact on animation as both an artist and mentor.

Source: Michael Fiore Films

Floyd Norman – An Animated Life – Teaser 1 from Michael Fiore Films on Vimeo.


Find out more about Floyd Norman at his blog.
Floyd Norman’s Blog

More at the links below.

Floyd Norman on His Days as a “Lowly Assistant”

Talking An “Animated Life” with Floyd Norman

Disney Celebrates Animation Legend Floyd Norman’s 80th Birthday

60 Years Ago: Operation Disneyland

Photo courtesy Chuck Pharis

Two of my favorite things are Disneyland and Television. In celebration of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary I decided to post the behind the scenes ABC video showing the technical preparations. Below is the actual show from opening day itself. You can see how far TV and Disneyland have come over the years. Thanks to Eyes Of A Generation and Chuck Pharis for the photos and videos.

Photo of Walt Disney from Disney Parks Blog. Copyright Disney

The ABC television network filmed this documentary about the preparation for Disneyland’s opening day broadcast for an audience of ABC affiliates. It was shown to them over closed circuit (not broadcast) television. Now the public can see it as part of this DVD set. It’s fun to see how primitive television technology was in 1955, and how ABC and Disney, then separate companies, managed the ambitious live broadcast of July 17, 1955.

Here is a clip about Walt and Disneyland from the upcoming American Experience special on him.

 

Development of a Bipedal Robot that Walks Like an Animation Character

From Disney Research.

Authors
Seungmoon Song (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Joohyung Kim (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Katsu Yamane (Disney Research Pittsburgh)

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2015

May 26, 2015

Our goal is to bring animation characters to life in the real world. We present a bipedal robot that looks like and walks like an animation character. We start from animation data of a character walking. We develop a bipedal robot which corresponds to lower part of the character following its kinematic structure. The links are 3D printed and the joints are actuated by servo motors. Using trajectory optimization, we generate an open-loop walking trajectory that mimics the character’s walking motion by modifying the motion such that the Zero Moment Point stays in the contact convex hull. The walking is tested on the developed hardware system.

Download File “Development of a Bipedal Robot that Walks Like an Animation Character-Paper”
[PDF, 1.42 MB]

Gary Owens Interview

Gary Owens performs in a skit at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards with Lilly Tomlin as Ernestine.

Here is a very good interview from the Laugh-In DVD collection with Gary Owens.

He talks about how he got his start in radio and then television. Gary also goes into depth about his animation voice work, meeting Walt Disney, as well as his connection to Mel Blanc.

I remember running into him at the Howard Lowery Gallery in Burbank. He was very nice and told all these great stories.

Since the original video has been removed, I have replaced it with these.

Walt Before Mickey – Exclusive Trailer

From our friends over at DisneybyMark.

Walt Before Mickey, is a big screen movie about the life of a simple man with a big dream: Walt Disney. Set in the early 1900′s, the film is based on the book Walt Before Mickey that chronicles Walt’s early years and his rise to success. This feature film is being produced by Armando Gutierrez (Henry & Me), Jeff Rice (Executive Producer of End Before Watch, 2 GUNS, Broken City, Lone Survivor), Christian Vogeler (Silver Linings Playbook), Arthur Bernstein (Hitters Anonymous), Ben Everard (Keeping Time), and directed by Ari Taub (Last Letters of Monte Rosa).

The hardcover book Walt Before Mickey, written by Timothy Susanin, and its forward written by Diane Disney Miller, was the only book ever supported by the Disney family. “Walt remains a 20th century icon, and I am happy Armando is bringing his incredible story to the big screen,” says Timothy Susanin. “‘Walt Before Mickey’ is a fresh take on a classic American ideal, exploring a part of Walt Disney’s life that little is known about,” says Armando Gutierrez. A release date has not been set.

The film’s website is http://waltbeforemickey.com/index.html

Walt Before Mickey is a feature film production of The Dreamer Movie, llc. and is based on the book Walt Before Mickey by Timothy Susanin with foreword by Diane Disney Miller. This company is not associated with the Walt Disney Company

A second Biopic of Walt Disney is out. From Cartoon Brew.

As Dreamers Do, directed by Logan Sekulow (God Bless Vegas) and written by Wendy Ott, is described as “an art film for families.”

“This movie is a passion project for me,” Sekulow said in a recent press release. “Since before I went into film school, I dreamed of telling a story like this. Walt has been a lifelong inspiration, and I hope to share this often-untold adventure in a unique, creative and entertaining way. I’m a hardcore Walt fan, and we will not disappoint.”

It stars Olan Rogers as Walt Disney, Mark Stuart and Tyler Hayes as his parents Elias and Flora Disney, Ryan Dunlap as his brother Roy and William Haynes as Disney’s friend/business partner Ub Iwerks. Country crooner Travis Tritt narrates the film. Filming began earlier this month in Franklin, Tennessee, with a spring release date planned. The production is being documented on the official Facebook and Twitter pages.

Disney Research Automatic Editing of Footage from Multiple Social Cameras

Disney Research demonstrated Automatic Editing of Footage from Multiple Social Cameras at SIGGRAPH.

Video cameras that people wear to record daily activities are creating a novel form of
creative and informative media. But this footage also poses a challenge: how to expeditiously
edit hours of raw video into something watchable. One solution, according to Disney researchers,
is to automate the editing process by leveraging the first-person viewpoints of multiple cameras
to find the areas of greatest interest in the scene.

The method they developed can automatically combine footage of a single event shot by
several such “social cameras” into a coherent, condensed video. The algorithm selects footage
based both on its understanding of the most interesting content in the scene and on established
rules of cinematography.

“The resulting videos might not have the same narrative or technical complexity that a
human editor could achieve, but they capture the essential action and, in our experiments, were
often similar in spirit to those produced by professionals,” said Ariel Shamir, an associate
professor of computer science at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, and a member of
the Disney Research Pittsburgh team.

Whether attached to clothing, embedded in eyeglasses or held in hand, social cameras
capture a view of daily life that is highly personal but also frequently rough and shaky. As more
– more –eople begin using these cameras, however, videos from multiple points of view will be
available of parties, sporting events, recreational activities, performances and other encounters.

“Though each individual has a different view of the event, everyone is typically looking
at, and therefore recording, the same activity – the most interesting activity,” said Yaser Sheikh,
an associate research professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. “By determining the
orientation of each camera, we can calculate the gaze concurrence, or 3D joint attention, of the
group. Our automated editing method uses this as a signal indicating what action is most
significant at any given time.”

In a basketball game, for instance, players spend much of their time with their eyes on the
ball. So if each player is wearing a head-mounted social camera, editing based on the gaze
concurrence of the players will tend to follow the ball as well, including long passes and shots to
the basket.

The algorithm chooses which camera view to use based on which has the best quality
view of the action, but also on standard cinematographic guidelines. These include the 180-
degree rule – shooting the subject from the same side, so as not to confuse the viewer by the
abrupt reversals of action that occur when switching views between opposite sides.

Avoiding jump cuts between cameras with similar views of the action and avoiding very
short-duration shots are among the other rules the algorithm obeys to produce an aesthetically
pleasing video.
The computation necessary to achieve these results can take several hours. By contrast,
professional editors using the same raw camera feeds took an average of more than 20 hours to
create a few minutes of video.

The algorithm also can be used to assist professional editors tasked with editing large
amounts of footage.

Other methods available for automatically or semi-automatically combining footage from
multiple cameras appear limited to choosing the most stable or best lit views and periodically
switching between them, the researchers observed. Such methods can fail to follow the action
and, because they do not know the spatial relationship of the cameras, cannot take into
consideration cinematographic guidelines such as the 180-degree rule and jump cuts.

Automatic Editing of Footage from Multiple Social Cameras
Arik Shamir (DR Boston), Ido Arev (Efi Arazi School of Computer Science), Hyun Soo Park (CMU), Yaser Sheikh (DR Pittsburgh/CMU), Jessica Hodgins (DR Pittsburgh)
ACM Conference on Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) 2014 – August 10-14, 2014
Paper [PDF, 25MB]

Robin Williams in Back to Neverland

Robin Williams, Walter Cronkite and Jerry Rees prepare for the opening scene.

From JerryRees.com Go there for more great photos and information. I worked with Jerry Rees when I was at Walt Disney Imagineering. His is a very talented guy and is best known for the delightful Brave Little Toaster. He went to Cal Arts.

Written & Directed by Jerry Rees

Starring Robin Williams & Walter Cronkite

This award winning short film, combining live action and animation, played in the main theater at Disney/MGM Studios’ Animation Pavilion. Walter Cronkite, in his familiar role of trusted newscaster, set out to reveal the secrets behind Disney animation. Robin, in the role of Disney World tourist, volunteered to help with Walter’s show-and-tell. With a twinkle in his eye, Walter called on his assistant Tinkerbell to transport them to a magical limbo where anything could happen.

Step by step, Robin was transformed into an animated character – a Little Lost Boy from the classic film Peter Pan. Robin suddenly found himself facing the notorious Captain Hook. Experiencing everything from utter fear, to total joy, Robin learned that strong and believable emotions have always been at the heart of the Disney animation.

Rees, who began his career as a Disney Feature Animator, sums it up this way; “It’s not how you move the drawings, it’s how the drawings move the audience.”

Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, and devoted keeper of the family legacy, discusses storyboards for the Captain Hook showdown with “Back to Neverland” Director Jerry Rees.

 

Lucid Dreams of Gabriel – Teaser

From Variety,

Disney and Swiss pubcaster SRF unveil experimental short at Locarno fest.

At the Locarno Film Festival, the Disney lab and SRF jointly unveiled an impressive experimental short titled “Lucid Dreams of Gabriel” (see teaser) which for the first time displayed local frame variation, local pixel timing, super slow motion effects, and a variety of artistic shutter functions showcasing this “The Flow-of-Time” technique.

The project was created by the Disney Research lab in tandem with the formidable computer graphics lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) with SRF providing studio space, personnel, and other resources.

“We wanted to control the perception of motion that is influenced by the frame rate (how many images are shown per second) as well as by the exposure time,” said Markus Gross, who is Vice President Research, Disney Research and director of Disney Research, Zurich, at the presentation.

Use of the new technologies in the short, which is a surreal non-linear story about a mother achieving immortality in her son’s eyes after an accident in the spectacular Engadin Alpine valley, allowed director Sasha A. Schriber to avoid using green screen and to make the transition from reality (at 24 frames per second) to a supernatural world (at 48 frames per second).

“Lucid Dreams Of Gabriel,” an experimental short film created by Disney Research in collaboration with ETH, Zurich, was shot at 120fps/RAW with all effects invented and applied in-house at Disney Research Zurich. We sought to produce a visual effects framework that would support the film’s story in a novel way. Our technique, called “The Flow-Of-Time,” includes local frame rate variation, local pixel timing and a variety of artistic shutter functions.

Effects include:
•High dynamic range imaging
•Strobe and rainbow shutters
•Global and local framerate variations
•Flow motion effects
•Super slow motion
•Temporal video compositing

The following scenes of the teaser, indicated by the timecode, demonstrate different components of our new technology:

Shots with a dark corridor and a window (0:08); a man sitting on a bed (0:16):
Our new HDR tone-mapping technique makes use of the full 14 bit native dynamic range of the camera to produce an image featuring details in very dark as well as very bright areas at the same time. While previous approaches have been mostly limited to still photography or resulted in artifacts such as flickering, we present a robust solution for moving pictures.

A hand holding a string of beads (0:14):
As we experimented with novel computational shutters, the classic Harris-shutter was extended to make use of the full rainbow spectrum instead of the traditional limitation to just red, green, and blue. For this scene, the input was rate converted using our custom technology, temporally split and colored, then merged back into the final result.

The double swings scene (0:20):
Extending on our experiments with computational shutters, this scene shows a variety of new techniques composed into a single shot. Fully facilitating the original footage shot in 120 fps, the boy has been resampled at a higher frame rate (30fps) and a short shutter, resulting an ultra crisp, almost hyper-real appearance, while the woman was drastically resampled at a lower frame rate (6fps) featuring an extreme shutter which is physically not possible and adding a strong motion blur to make her appear more surreal.

Car driving backwards and a flower (0:30); a train (0:36),
For these scenes, we were experimenting with extreme computational shutters. The theoretical motion blur for the scenes was extended with a buoyancy component and modified through a physical fluid simulation, resulting in physically impossible motion blur. As shown, it is possible to apply this effect selectively on specific parts of the frame, as well as varying the physical forces.

Super slow motion closeup of the boy (0:44); a handkerchief with motion blur and super slow motion (0:47); an hourglass (0:50):
These shots show the classical application of optical flow – slow motion. However, with our new technology we have been able to achieve extremely smooth pictures with virtually no artifacts, equivalent of a shutter speed at 1000 fps. At the same time, artificial motion blur equivalent of a shutter of far more than 360 degrees can be added to achieve a distinct “stroby” look, if desired, while maintaining very fluent motion in all cases. We are also able to speed up or slow down parts of the scene, e.g. to play the background in slow-motion while the foreground runs at normal speed. All of these effects can be applied on a per-pixel basis, thus giving full freedom to the artist.

Additional info on the film:

“Lucid Dreams Of Gabriel” is a surrealistic and non-linear story about a mother achieving immortality through her son, unconditional love, and the fluidity of time.

Producer: Markus Gross
DOP: Marco Barberi
Script & Director: Sasha A. Schriber
Camera & lenses: Arri Alexa XT with Zeiss prime lenses
Original language: English
Length: 11 minutes

Only Known Footage of Union Station Opening, Shot by Ward Kimball

From The Academy Collection,

THE OPENING OF UNION STATION

In honor of Union Station‘s 75th Anniversary, Metro and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in cooperation with the family of Ward Kimball, have restored the only known footage of the historic opening. Documented in the home movie, the parade drew half a million spectators to downtown Los Angeles.

The silent 6-minute color film clip features train engines, vintage automobiles, and spectators from the parade, which took place on May 3, 1939. The home movie was shot by legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball, creator of numerous classic Disney characters, including Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland, and Lucifer the Cat in CinderellaIn 1970, Kimball received an Academy Award® for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for “It’s Tough to be a Bird.” 

Kimball was an avid railway enthusiast and collector of old railroad memorabilia. His personal film collection at the Academy Film Archive includes footage of Kimball’s own Grizzly Flats Railroad and documentation of a range of transportation technologies.

MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair at The Walt Disney Family Museum

muralblair

Mary Blair stands before her Tomorrowland mural design.

Click on her AT&T CircleVision 360 ad below to enlarge.

blair_original

The Walt Disney Family Museum is pleased to present MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair. On view from March 13 to September 7, 2014, this comprehensive exhibition explores the artistic process and development of one of Walt Disney’s most original, beloved, and influential designer and art directors, Mary Blair (1911–1978). Blair’s joyful creativity―her eye-appealing designs and exuberant color palette―endure in numerous media, including classic Disney animated films, such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, and theme park attractions at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, most notably “it’s a small world.” – See more at: http://www.waltdisney.org/mary-blair#sthash.sLQAMn2G.dpuf