Thursday, October 9, 2014

Things animators say at Disney


Animators are always talking: we trade tips, talk art, make each other laugh.
We're family behind the scenes
  I think the best kind of advice and life lessons come candidly. Sometimes the things people say when the mic isn't on, get right to the point and is more truthful than any prepared speech can ever be. These quotes below are some I found on the internet. If you are looking for more: Andreas Deja has tons of quotes on his sight and so do a whole bunch of other blogs. So this is a short list of some things the 9 old men use to say. (who were the 9 old men? -They set the bar and raised animation's status in art. They were Master Animators that worked at Disney a long time ago.) I have to remind myself that not everyone knows who these guys are! If you're an animator and you say, who's Ollie? You might get stoned. haha

     Seeing this list makes me think of all the things animators say today here in the studio about computer animation and the films we work on now. I mean I'm not sure how much substance our quotes might have, we can be a bit silly when we talk to each other in our offices... like really, really off topic, nsfw, 2 oclock in-the-morning-rants-about-nothing silly! But I think I will start to write things down when someone says something of note. Who knows, maybe you guys might want to know what we talked about behind the scenes 20 years from now! 

This quote is a fundamental step when starting to animate a character. Every movement, decision, and pose MUST have a purpose in our animation. This keeps a performance believable and natural. 

1970 book, "Composing pictures" is a book that gets as close as ever to the teaching style of Don Graham

Poses Matter = Appeal

When you observe life, you are mentally building a library of reference in your mind that soon will become second nature in your animation. 

subtext > action


We all know artist from different studios, and we all respect each other's films, but sometimes you just have to call it what it is. Even if it's not politically a great choice, speaking your mind with your friends is a way to observe, criticize and ask yourselves, "How would I do it better? What is it that is missing from their film/work so that we can add that x factor to our films?"


       I hope this list was a unique insight or at least entertaining. You underestimate how much you learn by talking to your friends and colleagues. You can't learn everything by studying animation. sometimes you must dig and hear what the artist is thinking to understand how they reached their final product.


  1. I love this stuff! thanks for sharing Dani! :)

  2. Great selection of sayings from the best in tthe field!

  3. Saw you on the Twitters, and since I'm a fellow artist that loves Disney, I had to do a little google-stalking. Love that you've taken the time to post thoughts and behind-the-scene type stuff. Very interesting to us on the outside.

    These are great quotes! So much solid wisdom comes from the guys at Disney. But about the Lion King comment -- what are your thoughts on it? To me, that squishy-plushy look is a generally pleasant expression of extreme "squash / stretch" and rhythm. It emphasized the fluidity of lions and their prowess. Bambi on the other hand was an awkward young deer, i.e. a clumsy kid on stilts. Is there more to it? As it applies to the other characters, it seems like the more dynamic and fluid Lion King style is more entertaining for kids to look at, generally speaking, while the "feel the bones" approach should be intentionally applied as a character-specific trait instead of a baseline for characters to work out from. What are your thoughts? Am I over-simplifying or over-thinking it?

    In the spirit of over-thinking, I'll propose a standard bone-to-squish ratio of 30-60-x. Where X is trailing hair or cloth or loose algebra notes. :)

  4. Thank you for sharing! This is so interesting :D