September 14, 2011

My visit to Disney Studios in Los Angeles

Part of my prize for winning the Annecy youtube competition was getting a trip to Los Angeles with a tour of the Walt Disney studios.

I spent 3 days at Walt Disney studio where i had a full schedule every day, meeting many directors and animators on Disney films that are in pre-production and production. I even had my own desk in the studio :) although i never used it :(

One of the many surreal experiences there was having my short film 'Sidewalk Scribble' screened in front of the Disney employees at the studio, right outside John Lasseters Disney office. Not a bad place to have a screening!!
I mean HOLY SHMOLY#%@!

Stephanie Morse was my tour host at Disney and she did a amazing job at showing me around and introducing me to everyone. I cant thank her enough.

One of the amazing places she took me was to the Disney archives where they keep all the original drawings, cells, background art for every Disney animated film.
The place isn't even on the map for security reasons.

One of the highlights was having lunch with Eric Goldberg, who is famous for animating and character designing the genie in Aladdin, he directed and animated the Rhapsody in blue short in Fantasia 2000 and animated Louis in The princess and the frog. Ive been a fan of his work since i was very young.

Disney animator Eric Goldberg and me outside the Disney animation building

I spent time in Erics personal office where he showed me animation he has been working on lately. Unfortunately a lot of the amazing 2d animation he showed me wont even be seen in public, but will be used as pre-production reference work for the 3d animators. Times are changing at Disney.

Today there is only 25 2D animators left at Disney, compared to the hundreds they must have had in the 90s

Another great animator i chatted with was Randy Hancock who worked on Princess and the frog.
His animation is really amazing.

I also had the pleasure of spending time with Bill Perkins (art director on Aladdin and Space Jam) He is a fantastic guy, extremely nice.

The Disney people and me having dinner, Bill Perkins is on my left

Bill and me were meant to go animal sketching at the zoo but when we drove to the zoo it was closed, so we ended up going for drinks at a restaurant and sketching people out the window. We chatted for hours and he gave me lots of valuable advise.

I also attended a brief life drawing class at the studio.

Inking and painting building at the old Disney building.

Across the road from the current Disney animation building that was built in 1995, sits the original Disney animation building that was used when Walt was alive.
Animation production later moved out of the building in the late 1980s and it now longer is used for animation anymore. It felt like a ghost town around and inside the building, but you could really feel the historical significance when walking through the hallways.

This is the window to what used to be Walt Disneys office. Walt had his office window facing the car park so that he could see which Disney workers came to work on time and which didn't.
Not a bad idea.

I felt very validated finding out that Disney studios never use scripts when developing their films, they always use the storyboard system (which is how i've always thought animated films should be made.) They only make scripts later so the voice actors can use it.

To summarize ......L.A ROCKS!


  1. wow man!! Peter!! sounds like you had a crazy awesome time in LA!!! meeting Eric Goldberg and just hanging out there at disney for days!! man I bet you came back all inspired!!! awesome!! looks like all is going really good!! we should all catch up soon!! happy you liked Marooned on Watango Island trailer, I'll put up the whole thing soon!

  2. Eric Goldberg? Must have been amazing talking with him!
    And seeing all the old archives, brutal!
    Bill Perkins is a very nice teacher ( i met him in Angoulême for an workshop of Outside Painting, and he was just amazing!)
    Your experience and story are very excited!

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