By Cory Doctorow at 11:49 pm Mon, Apr 13, 2009
Ren sez, "This is a smashing video that remixes scenes from Disney movies that appear to be traced from one another. The effect is super-bizarre, but it explains why I was never able to tell those princesses apart!"
Robin Hood really did steal from the rich and give to the poor. I expect this kind of corner-cutting from Hanna Barbara, but I’m surprised Disney allowed it.
Using the same rotoscoping studies is common in all animation from this era (animating over live footage of actors). This shows that Disney likely simply went even further and just did new final overlays over entire sequences to save time and money(i.e set new top layer sheets over old scenes to save about 90% of the work on more complicated sequences). If you look at the Elmer Fudd chases in WB’s Looney Tunes you’ll see recycling of his running actions over several different episodes. This can be done now via the “traveling mat” software that allows you to impose someone else’s body image over footage of a different person. They used this in Byran Singer’s Superman film to create new footage of Brando’s Jor-El by mixing footage with audio from script readings and tweaking the mouth to match the new words. The only area where “recycling” is worse is in sound design, where every retarded sound guy HAS to use the “Mannheim Scream” and every door, gun being cocked and car chase sounds the same, because they all use the same stock sounds. Granted, the studios are equally at fault since they’re too cheap to pay for original sounds to be made. The thing with Disney is watching the quality of the animation drop and drop from the 40’s to the end of the 70’s until Don Bluth told Disney to kiss his ass and went off on his own to do The Secret of Nimh.
Wow, that’s really terrible. I wonder if that’s easier or harder to pull off with CGI movies…
Easier, I would think. With skeletal animation, I think you could apply the same animation to a different model, as long as their anatomy was approximately similar. I’m not a modeller or an animator though, so I don’t know.
anyone know what that song is?
this is probably more to do with internal tributes than templates
dssstrkl @1 Wow, that’s really terrible. I wonder if that’s easier or harder to pull off with CGI movies…
I have some limited experience with 3D modeling and animation, and I’m with 13tales: it’s easier. With 3D animation, the movements are a separate object from the character, so you can literally copy-paste one character’s movements onto another character. I’ve noticed instances of this in 3D animated Disney TV shows, like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (ugh!). I can usually spot when one character is moving in a way that is typical of a different character.
Another interesting thing is that characters tend to take on the movements typical of the animator, because the animators often observe their movements and use them as a reference for how the characters should move. As a result, different characters animated by the same animator may move in a similar way.
It is a combination of a couple of things. If you have the animation roughs and the dope sheet stored from Snow White then it is a lot easier to get an animator to make new keys on the Maid Marion character.
Secondly the Aristocats , Robin Hood, The Jungle book all date from the period when Disney got their first Xerox machines capable of copying onto acetates. So from original cells they could generate new cells at the press of a button. So the elephants march in from either direction at a fraction of the cost simply by flipping the acetates before sending them to paint.
CGI 3D animation is easier to reuse, the mesh rig and set up that is, the rendering will still take forever.
You can set up several character animations and interpolate between them varying the attack/fairing between the moves. This is how modern games respond so fluidly BTW.
Oh and I am a 3D modeller/animator and come from feature hand animation before that.
I actually think this sort of stuff is really REALLY smart.
At the time these films were made no one anticipated the advent of VHS or DVD or Blue Ray so as well as there being a lot of scene reuse there is also the endless number of dicks drawn onto characters that had to be combed out for DVD release.
I know I drew a few.
Rip off? Well, seeing as its within the same company, I’d say this qualifies as either an homage, or a simple re-use of past movement sketches, saving time/money on having to come up with new dance moves. It helps lower costs, and get the film out more quickly. Lazy perhaps.
I’m kind of sad that my favourite reused animation of Mogwli/Christopher Robin log sequence wasn’t included. The Disney reuse of animation kind of ties the films in closer to each other, you can see that the Disney action lines and their beats work even when included in such disparite stories.
Ofcourse, the Belle/Cinderella dance was a purposfully done call back and reference to the then unparraleled great age of Disney animation, intended to strengthen its claim to being a modern part of the Disney cannon, so it was a reuse with a politic.
Yeah, I’ve spent too much time studying film.
I addition to some of the technical comments the above, another reason for the repeats is that the original choreographers where able to copy from memory the routines of European vaudeville slapstick acts, where a lot of fast paced action took place within the stage area. These semi-aerobatic moves and stylized dances are straight copies. So are the exaggerated endearing looks and other expressions, that can be seen even from the expensive seats at the back of the theatre. These acts practised and refined each detail and timing over years (some of the best set pieces in the Marx Brother films were perfected whilst performing them in vaudeville). After Snow White, such choreographers who could produce work to this standard must have become as common as hens teeth. Although, perhaps in today’s climate of international copyright this would end up in court.
Cartoons have also copied, where the stage action suddenly stops, because a performer has ended up getting tossed from the stage and into the audience, a ‘sub-routine’ then gets performed before rejoining the other performers and the action starting again where it left off, or whatever. In the cartoon equivalent, the cartoon caricature is then shown climbing back into the frame (which has been shrunk to show it for what it is).
The noticeable absence in Disney’s renditions is the heavy peppering of ‘double entendre’ in the dialogue.
I suspect they’d probably already paid for some Eadweard Muybridge-style photography of the choreography they’d paid for, and worked from those life models repeatedly.
While it’s surprising that they’ve done SO much of this (the composition of the video exposing it is quite artful in itself), I find myself not feeling let down at all. Just seems efficient, really.
Of course, if you’re someone who memorises Disney dance sequences you’d be bothered, but if you’re someone who memorises Disney dance sequences, you’re already dealing with some challenges.
Also, it’s no surprise they reused so much of the Jungle Book in Robin Hood… it has a lot of the same actors, same writers, same animators, etc. Plus Robin Hood is pretty close to the bottom of the post-Walt quality slump.
And I’d guess that the Cinderella/Beauty and the Beast comparison was trying to be an homage, not a rip-off.
iirc didn’t Disney famously use tracings of live-action for some things, like ladies dancing? At the time the “copies” were done, I don’t think Disney had copped to it yet (they were still getting kudos for their amazingly realistic and graceful etc.), so why not re-use what worked so well before (and that would be expensive to do again)?
Was there a single original frame in Robin Hood? Jeez.
Wow, this is pretty bad. I disagree with Ocker3 that this just counts a “homage.” Plagiarism of your own work is still plagiarism. I remember a pretty scathing review of one of Umberto Eco’s latest huge tomes on language, that accused Eco of plagiarizing his own work. Likewise, in college you can’t submit the same essay twice, or even paragraphs lifted from older essays (how much they really care, I don’t know).
That said, it’s pretty smart. That way you can get cheap artists who have learned how to draw the basic character, but know nothing about animating, and have them just trace over the old animations.
It’s called rotoscoping. Disney had a library of footage, people dancing, that sort of thing and they used it to get the basic motion of their characters. After many years of animation I guess they just re-used the same videos over and over, makes you wonder why such a large studio doesn’t just acquire new videos.
Ralph Bakshi is another famous rotoscoper. His films aren’t quite at the level of disney but at least he didn’t reuse footage as much… well, except for his army scenes which were taken straight off of the Alexander Nevsky ( a royalty free Russian cinematic masterpiece that later inspired Starwars and Conan ). I guess this was some of the first creative commons art works.
i don’t know which is worse – that this is true, or that i apparently fell for it time after time.
Hey, what’s the song playing in the background of the video?
I am a little surprised that anyone found this surprising. Considering the expense of hand drawn animation during the era represented, it was the most efficient course. Disney was not alone. Look at Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons from the same period. Indeed, the masters of economical animation, Hanna/Barbara, started out doing Tom & Jerry cartoons for MGM. From an entertainment perspective, if audiences liked it the first time, why mess with it?
I’m surprised anyone is shocked, I thought this was common knowledge. This sort of thing is fairly standard in animation in general, and as far as Disney goes:
When I was about 3 or 4 (so late 80’s), I actually got in an argument. He was convinced Little John was actually supposed to be Baloo. I was of the opinion that they just drew the same bear, sort of like an animated version of using the same cast. I pointed out several other repeated animals. But he was convinced they had actually intended it to be Baloo, and Little John had been written out.
My Uncle shows up and tells us that “the entire” movie is traced from some past Disney Flick. And proves it by showing us a bunch of flicks back to back.
I wonder if there are any conspiracy theories about this.
It seems like this would help make a new movie feel like an old favorite instantly. I don’t think that was they intended (to brainwash people into loving the new film by using scenes from an older one) I just think it was an easy way of completing the animation.
I think it’s almost sadder in a way that Disney no longer animates like this. I know that for me, real Disney movies are the ones that come in the giant plastic VHS box. If it’s not in that giant white box, it doesn’t officially count, in my book.
I went to school for traditional (hand drawn) animation and this isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. Animation takes a lot of time and money to create. Reusing or repurposing sequences is normal. A character walking for example, is the same sequence again and again – they’re called “walk cycles” for a reason, you’re cycling through the same sequence over and over.
There should be no surprise that Disney did this – not because they were the best, but because so many of their films were opening new doors in animation and exploring new techniques and mastery in other ways.
Disney often even re-used the same animation sequences in the same movie (Robin Hood has many examples of this) especially when budgets were tight. This is different than rotoscoping (or “tracing/interpreting” from live action films) which Disney and most animation companies use from time to time, particularly to get movement correct.
There’s actually a spot in the famous animation book “The Illusion of Life” by two of the Nine Old Men where they advance the possibility of reusing animation to save time and money. So it’s not like this is a big secret.
Animation historian Michael Barrier has some insight into this practice:
+1 vote for homage and intelligent re-use of well done physical sequences. The beauty and the beast one is a very blatant and, in my opinion, appropriate homage. I can’t help but see the parallels to programming – why reinvent what you can reuse?
Nothing sinister or unusual about this. Disney Studios produced the original models through enormous effort and time, so it makes sense that they’d try to recover that investment by reusing certain movements and sequences that “worked”.
They used live-action models to more precisely capture the fluidity of movement (which they then could exaggerate for comic effect). Walt Disney himself is said to have acted out all the parts of “Snow White” many, many times, to the point where it might be said that his self is as much represented on the screen as if he had drawn the cells by his own hand. Disney was always defying the odds and economies of animation. What company today, would risk as much, sink as much time and effort into development, as Disney did to get animation off the novelty ground?
One aspect of WDC that persisted up through the Eisner years, was their proprietary sense of the value and worth of their properties. Not merely as cash cows, but of creations of real and lasting merit. There is a dividing line between development and exploitation, and Eisner lost sight of the boundry and started to carelessly liquidate properties. So this mining of their own backyard by Disney is in the company’s DNA. Also, working comics always recycled material.
It’s neither homage nor plagiarism. It’s an early version of single-sourcing content.
But My God, the spare time whoever put this together must have.
Disney animators freely admit that in works after Walt’s death in 1966, such as the Aristocats, Robin Hood, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, they were instructed to reuse dance routines to save time/money. The princess dance routines were rotoscoped from the same source.
How about this for a title? “Disney Pioneers in Recycling Animation!” Considering how common this technique is today do we really need to act so shocked that Disney decided to reuse animation from old movies to tell a new story? I was just watching an old Peanuts movie the other day, and there was animation being recycled in the same movie! Snoopy bought the same exact birdhouse twice in a row in the exact same way. Oh, the horror!!!!
There are many reasons for the so called reusing of animation. It should be noted that all the films that reuse cycles/character designs etc. are from the same era in disney history. Starting with the sword in the stone in 63 and getting progressively worse until Robin hood in 73.
As some other people on here have noted it was a money saver but the plain truth of it was that disney’s key animators, the nine old men were getting OLD. The older animators could no longer handle huge amounts of work and young animators had not been trained yet. If you look at the timeline of disney animated movies the cycling stops when fresh blood was brought in (early eighties round bout with the great mouse detective)
Animation depends heavily on the talent at hand Disney film production has gone through ebb and flow periods depending on three things. Time talent and funding.
Disney has rotoscoped since its first film, Snow White. For Snow White and for almost every film produced in the ‘Golden Age’, there exists a shot-for-shot live-action version. Every Disney book and scholar will tell you that these were used for reference only. However, if you look at the human-proportioned characters in Snow White and Cinderella as well as the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio you will notice some very true-to-life movement and expressions.
After the Golden Age and when Walt became less obsessed with animation, and more with Disneyland and television, animators used these shortcuts that existed in their Reseach Library. They also re-used rain effects from “Dumbo” in “The Little Mermaid”. A lot of character animation in the Toontown sequence of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is traced directly from the Disney source material. Personally, the films released in the years after Walt’s death -Jungle Book, Aristocats, Robin Hood- up until the Eisner era are poor. At least discovering things like this within them keep them interesting.
What’s the song playing in the background?
It’s also interesting how some scenes in these movies that show two identical animals (e.g. the two crocodiles in The Rescuers) have one animal moving just a little bit later than the other, but in the same way, i.e. using the same cells but a couple of frames behind, so they were only drawn once.
I know that if I made animation drawings by hand, I’d take all the shortcuts I could find!
And it’s not hard to look around CGI “crowd” scenes in the Star Wars prequels (ground battle at Naboo at the end of Episode 1, most of the scenes with clone troopers in Ep.2 and 3) and find characters doing identical motions, one a split second after the other.
Actually, it just seems like it was the Robin Hood movie that copied off of older films.
FTR, the lady who performed the live-action Snow White and Blue Fairy is Marge Champion.
I wonder if they recycled any Little John/Baloo animation when they made that Jungle Book spinoff “Tailspin.”
Most of the lack of originality was in Robin Hood. This isn’t all that surprising; the Aristocats and Robin Hood were the studio trying to figure out how to do animated features without Walt’s heavy hand. It would be natural for them to go back to previous work that Walt had approved.
The song is:
“Bluddle-uddle-um-dum (Dwarfs’ Washing and Yodel Song)”
Music by Frank Churchill
Lyrics by Larry Morey
Sung by the dwarfs
The song is from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it’s called ‘The Silly Song’.
Obviously it’s not in the original English, French, maybe?
The English lyrics are:
I’d like to dance and tap my feet
But they won’t keep in rhythm
You see, I washed them both today
And I can’t do nothing with ’em
Ho hum the tune is dumb
The words don’t mean a thing
Isn’t this a silly song
For anyone to sing?
I chased a polecat up a tree
Way out on upon a limb
And when he got the best of me
I got the worst of him
Since so many have asked, the song appears to be from the French version of Snow White (“Blanche Neige”). It’s called “Le tyrolienne des nains” or “The yodeling of the dwarfs”
It was their translation of “The Silly Song”:
Not surprising since this video appears to be compiled by a Francophone (since the text at the beginning is all in French: “Ressemblenses dans les films Disney”)
Damn, someone beat me to it.
@ #39: Robin Hood was also a victim of the budget cutting measures that hampered Disney’s animated feature films for years to come.
I remember watching “The Sword in the Stone” as a kid, and even then I had a “what the hell” moment when they clearly used the same animation snippet showing dogs fighting over the same bone three times over. It wasn’t until “The Little Mermaid” that Disney Animation really got its groove back.
A similar post was on boingboing in 2007 linking to still photos of some of these same scenes and some others.
Boingboing entry at http://www.boingboing.net/2007/07/05/disney-animators-swi.html
links to example photos at http://www.hemmy.net/2006/04/26/disney-animation-reuse/
They forgot to put in the “Heffalumps and Woozles” number from “Winnie the Pooh” that steals directly from the “Pink Elephants” number from “Dumbo.”
I already knew that Snow White was a total fox.
#2 – The “Mannheim” Scream? That’s definitely the sound I make whenever my parents throw on some “Wilhelm Steamroller” during the holidays.
Oh wow, that’s absolutely brilliant.
“Another interesting thing is that characters tend to take on the movements typical of the animator, because the animators often observe their movements and use them as a reference for how the characters should move. As a result, different characters animated by the same animator may move in a similar way.”
Yep. You can see this if you pay attention to animation style and character design. If you watch Timon in “The Lion King” and then watch Clopin in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” it becomes blatantly obvious that the two characters were animated by the same person–same way of drawing, same character movement, extremely similar gestures.
I remember noticing this as a child. It freaked my parents out that I knew the movies well enough to not only find the movements familiar, but that I could identify the source movie as well.
Interesting comments about the animators’ creations taking on their movement characteristics.
“there is also the endless number of dicks drawn onto characters that had to be combed out for DVD release.
I know I drew a few.”
I am now fascinated. How is it that no-one else has commented on this? Pics?
And what does a “Mannheim scream” sound like? Examples?
Hey naysayers, have you any idea how hard it is to do cell animation? If the use of templates is to be frowned upon these movies which already take 4-6 years to make would be 10 or more years. Another thing to bring into it is style, many artists have movements they adore and thus like to include them wherever they are appropriate. Walk in anothers shoes before you judge. I’m just saying to have an open mind.
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