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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mickey Mouse Watch Blog

If you are interested in the history of the Mickey Mouse watches, please check out THIS SITE.

Claudio has done a fine job of presenting information and has used a number of photos to support the text....

Great job, Claudio!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Working On Other Blogs

I'm going to take a break from animation and post some new material to my other blogs in comic art and aerospace.

See 'ya later...


Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Victory Thru Air Power" (1943) - Concept & Storyboards

Historically, an interesting piece of work. The period from 1935 to 1945 was when Disney started to become involved in a number of activities beyond pure film making. And his decision to produce certain films goes along with a broadening of his world view.

There are various odds and ends from the film that seem to surface from time to time. Here are a few examples that include aviation items (as a pilot, I do tend to collect flight related material).

Bombardier Concept

From “Victory Thru Air Power” (1943). Pastel concept drawing of Bombardier getting ready to drop a bomb. Note at bottom: “Victory Thru Airpower - Original By Walt Disney - ‘The Bombadier’” SeqID-1203 7/30/2005

Here are two great storyboard pieces...

Sequential Storyboard Pages

From “Victory Thru Air Power” (1943). Two storyboard images. (Top) Airplane. NOTE: “High overhead an allied patrol bomber flies through the interminable fog. The Nazi warship has not been sighted for almost two days and hopes are waning.” (Bottom) Submarine. NOTE: “But the Varanger is not alone. Beneath the glassy water -- coldly calculating eyes.” New frame, no dimensions. SeqID 0276 7/30/2005

If you're interested in some of the historical perspective, this is a reading I found on Wikipedia four years ago...

Victory Through Air Power is a 1942 book by Alexander P. de Seversky, and a 1943 Walt Disney animated feature film movie based on the book.

The book was extremely popular, influential, and controversial. Seversky advocated the formation of an independent air force, the development of long-range bombers (meaning a intercontinental range of 3,000 miles or more) and a commitment to strategic use of air power (as opposed to its then-traditional use as cover or support for ground-based operations). His plans implicitly involved diversion of resources away from current war operations.

Seversky argued that:

1. "The rapid expansion of the range and striking power of military aviation makes it certain that the United States will be as exposed to destruction from the air, within a predictable period, as are the British Isles today;"
2. those who deny this possibility are exhibiting something like a "Maginot line mentality;"
3. The U. S. must begin preparing immediately for "an inter-hemispheric war direct across oceans;"
4. The U. S. must become the dominant air-power nation, "even as England in its prime was the dominant sea-power nation of the world."

On May 3, 1942, Fletcher Pratt reviewed the book, saying:

"No one has produced a more intelligent and comprehensive analysis of any feature of the world struggle. Probably nobody has written anything more truly prophetic; and no one is more wrongheaded."

On May 4, 1942 it appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. In the May 10 "Speaking of Books" column, J. D. A. bracketed it with "Mein Kampf" and Lieut. Col. Kernan's "Defense Will Not Win the War" to illustrate his point that:

"In no other war have books played such an important part... Books are not only supplying information. They are furnishing weapons for the successful prosecution of the war."

Walt Disney read the book and felt that its message was so important that he decided to finance the production of a film version himself. Movie critic Richard Schickel says that Disney "pushed the film out in a hurry, even setting aside his distrust of limited animation under the impulses of urgency." The only obvious use of limited animation, however, is in diagrammatic illustrations of Seversky's talking points. These illustrations often feature continuous flowing streams of iconic aircraft, forming bridges or shields, or war materiel moving continuously along assembly lines.

On July 11, 1943 the Times devoted a half page, "Victory from the Air," to a feature consisting of pictures of scenes from the film with short captions.

This was possibly the first time that such skilled use of visual description had been placed at the service of an abstract political argument. (This was fifty years before the emergence of PowerPoint—and the animator's visualizations of Seversky's argument were far more skilful than today's average PowerPoint presentation). It is one thing to hear someone say that against modern bombers, "bristling with armament...small single-seater fighters will find themselves helpless, for their guns are not maneuverable—they are fixed and can only fire forward." It is quite another to have this accompanied by vivid animations of swastika-tailed fighters jockeying for position and being shot down by beam-like animated blasts of fire from a bomber whose guns are "always in firing position."

One of the counter-arguments to air-power advocacy was the vastly inferior firepower of aircraft compared with, say, battleships. Seversky implicitly counters this by predicting the appearance of, or advocating the development of a number of advanced weapons that would make air-based weaponry as effective as land- or sea-based weaponry. His depiction how bombs could be used to destroy dams was either prophetic or well-informed. In general, Seversky asserts that bombs carried by aircraft will increase rapidly in size and destructive power. One diagram shows a man standing next to a 2000-pound bomb; they are about equally tall. As the narrator talks, the field of view widens to show 4000, 6000, 8000, and 10000-pound bombs, each taller than the last, ultimately dwarfing the human. (However, if Seversky had any inkling of the possibility of nuclear weapons, he did not reveal it).

Schickel quotes film critic James Agee as hoping that

"Major de Seversky and Walt Disney know that they are talking about, for I suspect that an awful lot of people who see Victory Through Air Power are going to think they do... I had the feeling I was sold something under pretty high pressure, which I don't enjoy, and I am staggered at the ease with which such self-confidence, on matters of such importance, can be blared all over the nation, without cross-questioning."

Among the notables who decided after seeing the film that Seversky and Disney knew what they were talking about were Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Disney studio sent a print for them to view when they were attending a conference in Quebec. According to Leonard Maltin, "it changed FDR's way of thinking—he agreed that Seversky was right."

The closing sequence of the film contains some technically impressive animation sequences of airmen scrambling their intercontinental bombers from an Alaskan airfield. They take off under a darkened sky in pouring rain; their landing gear splashes through puddles. A Tlingit totem pole that is (somehow) in the foreground seems to resemble an American eagle. A map shows the destination to be Japan, airmen are seen using navigational instruments, the streets of a city pass beneath the bomb bay doors, and bombs are dropped. There are scenes of dramatic explosions destroying industrial buildings and machines, but, as James Agee commented, no human beings are shown, even in close views of the interiors of levelled factories. The scene then fades into images of globe of the world with an eagle repeatedly plunging its talons into an octopus, whose body centered on Japan and whose tentacles reach out across nearby territory. After a struggle, the sky clears, the music softens, and the light of a beautiful sunrise shows us a dead octopus and an eagle soaring gracefully. The eagle lands on top of a mast bearing a forty-eight-star American flag, waving realistically in the wind as the movie ends.

After its release and re-release in 1943 and 1944, the film received no theatrical releases for sixty years, perhaps because it was blatant propaganda, or perhaps because it was deemed offensive to Germans and Japanese. (It was, however, available in 16mm prints and occasionally screened in film history retrospectives). In 2004 the Disney Studios released it on DVD.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Check It Out: The Art of Hand Drawn Animation

I'm sure many are aware of the Academy Exhibit going on now thru August 24th in Los Angeles.

I received a note from Pete Merolo that he is exhibiting:

I have 16 pieces hanging there. 10 Blairs, 2 large Earles and 4 'Sleeping Beauty' Setup (1 of Maleficent on an 80'' production background).

Pete has a number of excellent items and I'm sure they are fantastic pieces.