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Thursday Treasures

March 31, 2011 by Kelvin Cedeno

If you're an animation fan, you know how arduous the process of making moving images really is. If you're an animation fan and don't know that, then please retire your membership badge and watch the bonus features on a Disney DVD or Blu-ray. Perhaps you have and you're still craving more. If that's the case, then the Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series is just for you. This series collects production artwork from the Walt Disney Archives in handsome coffee table books.

Having released the first volume, Story, back in 2008, Disney realized, as any animation fan should know, that there are a great many steps and layers to making an animation feature. Creating the story is just the first step. So, naturally, they decided to devote a second volume to what's perhaps the most difficult aspect of production - the animation process itself.

In Animation, we see a great deal of beautifully-scanned sketches that were later cleaned up, inked, and painted for their respective films. Animators have often bemoaned the fact that their original drawings (24 per second) don't usually end up directly on the screen since technically the on screen product is a clean tracing done by someone else. Here, though, we get to see these works of art in their original, and often rough, state.

32 feature films and 18 short subjects are covered chronologically in this collection starting with 1928's 'Sagebrush Sadie' (a rare Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short) all the way through 2009's The Princess and the Frog. While the Story volume had a few fold-out pages that revealed more artwork, this Animation volume has quite a few more. They include Pluto's attempts at trying to get flypaper off of him (from 1934's 'Playful Pluto'), Dumbo being cradled in Mrs. Jumbo's trunk, Maleficent transforming into a dragon, the Beast's transformation into a human, the Genie's wild introduction, and Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation: Cinderella's ball gown transformation.

While the format matches Story nicely (including another introduction by Disney and Pixar creative chief officer), there are slight changes that offer both positives and negatives. On the negative side, there's no film index in the back of the book like there was with Story. There's an index for characters and objects, but not films and shorts. Also, less films are covered in this volume than in the previous one. However, this has the pleasing effect of devoting more images per film in the 262-page book, especially for the Walt-era ones. Another nice touch is that, instead of lumping all of the artist credits at the end, they appear as captions throughout the pages for convenience. As with the previous book, the last few pages feature photos of the legendary animators whose work you're witnessing.

Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series - Animation is another pleasing volume in an impressive roster of books. Despite what Disney's marketing attempts may like you to believe, animation isn't just a babysitting tool. It's a pure art form. To be able to see the raw work of such masters as Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, and Eric Goldberg collected together is like having a personal museum. The hard work these and many other animators poured into their characters is evident here. To you animation fans who appreciate such efforts, this book comes highly recommended. To the rest of you fans who haven't appreciated them until now, you may pick up your membership badge again as soon as you've perused through this series.

This article is a follow up to Kelvin's February 3rd article about the Story book in the same series!


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