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. 
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8 comments:

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:

andreasdeja.blogspot.co.uk

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.

M. Johnson said...

Hi -- an interesting series of images, but you might want to check out my book -- 'Tinker Bell - An Evolution.' Longtime Ink & Paint artist, Ginni Mack was the original model for Tinker Bell. Ginni posed for Marc Davis' first rough model sheet for the character. Tink's signature hair-style was how Ginni frequently work her blonde locks - with a knot top and side-swept bangs. As a young girl, Kathryn Beaumont did original movement reference for the animators (while on contract performing the voice of Wendy for Peter Pan), and because lead animator Marc Davis defined Tink as a little girl from the waste-up and a woman from the waste down, several adult models were brought in for movement study as well. Margaret Kerry was one of these adult models. Because a few images from her footage survived, many wrongly assumed that Margaret was the only model, when actually, there were several ladies who provided movement reference. Ginni is in fact the actual face and original model for defining the final form of Tinker Bell. Ginni also worked for many years as a noted artist within the Studio's Ink & Paint Dept. Her artistry and contributions were a major part of so many Disney animated classics, in addition to her memorable impact on everyone's favorite fairy! Sadly, we just lost Ginni Mack, but she enjoyed some overdue notoriety in her final years. -- All best!

M. Johnson said...

Interesting images, but just to clarify - several women were referenced, but Ginni Mack was in fact, the original model for Tinker Bell. Ginni is the model for Marc Davis' model sheet for the character's design and key poses. Tink's signature hair color and style was how Ginni frequently wore her blonde hair - with a knot top and side-swept bangs. Kathryn Beaumont did original movement reference for the animators as a young girl, while on contract performing the voice of Wendy for Peter Pan, and because lead animator Marc Davis defined Tink as a little girl from the waste-up and a woman from the waste down, several adult models were brought in for movement study as well. Margaret was one of these adult models. Because a few images from her footage survived, many wrongly assumed that Margaret was the only model, when actually, there were several ladies who provided movement reference. Ginni also worked for many years as a noted artist within the Studio's Ink & Paint Dept. Her artistry and contributions were a major part of so many Disney animated classics, in addition to her memorable impact on everyone's favorite fairy! Sadly, we've just lost Ginni, but her remarkable artistry and contributions to animation live on! Check out the books: Tinker Bell - An Evolution & Ink & Paint - The Women of Walt Disney's Animation!

M. Johnson said...

Interesting post, but regarding Tinker Bell's models - several women were referenced! Ink & Paint artist, Ginni Mack was in fact, the original model for Tinker Bell. Ginni posed for Marc Davis' first rough model sheet for the character. Tink's signature hair-style was how Ginni frequently work her blonde locks - with a knot top and side-swept bangs. Kathryn Beaumont did original movement reference for the animators, while on contract performing the voice of Wendy for Peter Pan, and because lead animator Marc Davis defined Tink as a little girl from the waste-up and a woman from the waste down, several adult models were brought in for movement study as well. Margaret was one of these adult models. Because a few images from her footage survived, many wrongly assumed that Margaret was the only model, when actually, there were several ladies who provided movement reference. Ginni is in fact the actual face and original model for defining the final form of Tinker Bell. Ginni also worked for many years as a noted artist within the Studio's Ink & Paint Dept. Her artistry and contributions were a major part of so many Disney animated classics, in addition to her memorable impact on everyone's favorite fairy! Check out the books: Tinker Bell - An Evolution & Ink & Paint - the Women of Walt Disney's Animation!

James Gurney said...

M. Johnson, thanks so much for the added information. Glad to have it included in case someone is researching this topic.