Friday, March 2, 2012

1950's and 1960's Animation Background Influences

Recently I've been laid up and recovering from surgery (sleeping a lot and watching films).  I revisited a couple of animated films I hadn't seen in years.  As a kid I was heavily influenced by Disney animation (still am).  Two films that I find absolutely stunning visually also came out consecutively.  Sleeping Beauty (1959) and 101 Dalmatians (1961) stand out for many reasons.  Both films are stylistically unique compared to every film prior to that.  Sleeping Beauty was in production from 1953-1958 and was the last Disney film to use hand inked cells.  The film was made to look like a Pre-Renaissance, Gothic illustrated book with sophisticated, elaborate and highly detailed environments and they also did away with the softer, more rounded look of previous films in favor of a more angular and stylized look.  Production manager Ken Anderson orchestrated the films overall look along with chief background designer and colorist Eyvind Earle.  He was given a significant amount of freedom in designing the settings, selecting colors and hand painted the majority of the exquisite and ornate backgrounds.  Today the film is still hailed as being one of the greatest and most innovative animated features ever made.  To view some of the stunning backgrounds for this film and many other animated films click here.

Similarities of the angular and more graphic style of the film Sleeping Beauty are also found in 101 Dalmatians and most subsequent films.  Dalmatians ushered in the new Xerox process in which the animators pencil drawings were transferred directly to the cells.  This is a very contemporary film with a contemporary London setting and is heavily influenced by Picasso's cubist movement and graphic design of the 1950's.  To view some of the stunning backgrounds for this film and many other animated films click here.

If this animation background website is of interest to you, I also highly recommend checking out the book Layout & Background from Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series.  This book is a treasure trove of stunning environment renderings from their earliest films to the most recent releases.  

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