Sunday, July 2, 2017

Tinkerbell Reference

Disney Studios went to great lengths to shoot photo reference for Tinker Bell in their 1953 feature Peter Pan.

Animator Marc Davis brought in pantomime actor Margaret Kerry to pose with larger than life props.

Footage of her kicking a feather pillow informed a scene where she kicked a dandelion. Animators put reference films into a frame-by-frame viewer to study timing, spacing, and action.

While the reference helped make the action more believable, Marc Davis kept the look of the character aligned with his imagination.

The Disney Studios were using filmed reference in their earliest features, such as Snow White and Pinocchio. (Link to video on YouTube) But the impression they usually gave in their behind-the-scenes marketing was that they merely sketched from living models. They did that, too, but it's only fairly recently that the photos of the early video reference have come to light. 


Matt Dicke said...

Do you know if they rotoscoped any of the aniamtion? Or was it all reference and in the end hand drawn and exaggerated as animation should be imo.

James Gurney said...

Matt, I'm not a super expert on this, but I believe it depends on the character and the animator you're talking about. Eric Larson was often assigned the realistic human characters, and for some of the later films, like Cinderella, the human characters followed the live action shoots pretty closely. Sometimes it was frame for frame, pose for pose, and in other cases the animation followed at least in basic timing. Milt Kahl would study the reference footage on the Movieola, put that all away, and then draw the character out of his memory and imagination. For some characters like Jiminy Cricket they shot Vaudeville actors hamming it up and Ward Kimball just mined the footage for general gags, which they stylized quite a bit. Most of the good animators used what they could of the ref and hand-drew and stylized the rest.

Warren JB said...

Matt, Andreas Deja's latest blog post is about an instance where Disney animators used a technique similar to rotoscoping:

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Warren. Also, I added a link at the end of the post to a previous post on how and why the Disney animators used live action reference on Cinderella.