The Art of Zootopia – A fantastic companion book to a fantastic movie

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I got my hands on a copy of The Art of Zootopia last week, days before the movie opened, and was so enamored with the fresh yet classic Disney-inspired art that I was already set on reviewing the book. Then over the weekend I watched the movie with my 12-year-old daughter and friends, and wow! What a brilliantly humorous and moving winner of a movie it was. Bravo to directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore! But this is Wink, so back to the book…

The Art of Zootopia is such a treat in the way that it not only revisits the movie’s delightfully heartwarming characters and fantastic art, but gives us an engaging look at what went into the making of Zootopia. The book starts with author Jessica Julius describing the movie’s original story pitch – a 1960s spy story – and how it evolved over four years into the modern day tale of underdogs, prejudice, and fighting for justice for all. She gives us the scoop on how the characters were developed (balancing a feminine yet tough, naïve yet sharp, optimistic yet challenged bunny cop isn’t so easy!), shows us amazing “sets” I don’t even remember in the fast-moving film, and she lets us in on all kinds of fun details, like the fact that it took eight months to get the various animals’ fur just right (color, texture, and direction of fur growth takes more contemplation than I realized). We are also privy to many sketches and scenes that were eventually cut from the film. Read the rest

4 artists 1 tree

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4 Artists Paint 1 Tree is a short documentary released by Disney in 1958, in which four of its best animators (then working on Sleeping Beauty) each paint the same old oak tree. An illustration of the depth of artistic brilliance and individuality informing the technical uniformity of an animated feature, it's well worth 15 minutes of your day.

They're all great, but my favorite is Eyvind Earle's, top, closely followed by Josh Meador's on the left. To the right, Walt Peregoy ("Walt Disney was a shit. We made Walt. Walt didn’t make Walt. Walt was an asshole.") holds his modernist rendering. At bottom is Mark Davis, whose technique seems delightfully contemporary. [Thanks, Wendy!] Read the rest

Red Queen's Race: Disney parks are rolling out surge pricing with 20% premiums on busy days

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Two key decisions in the history of Disney parks have put them in an eternal war to balance capacity and pricing: deciding not to close the parks to new entrants on crowded days, and doing away with ticket books for rides. Read the rest

Disney offers to deduct contributions to its PAC from employees' paychecks, to lobby for TPP

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In a mass mailing to employees, CEO Bob Iger asked Disney people to make a regular contribution to Disney PAC to help the company lobby for expanded copyright laws, and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Read the rest

Alice in Wonderland shoes

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Irregular Choice make pretty gloriously crazy shoes, and they've teamed up with Disney to make crazy, flamboyant heels and flats themed after 1951's Alice in Wonderland, which will premiere at their Carnaby Street location in London. Read the rest

Hacker suspected in Anon raid on Boston hospital rescued at sea by Disney cruise ship, then arrested

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Martin Gottesfeld and his family were rescued at sea, near Cuba, by a Disney cruise ship, then Gottesfeld was arrested by FBI agents dispatched from a Bahamian field office. Read the rest

Watch this beautiful ballet of drones (also, Disneyland Drones!)

"Working with Daito Manabe, Motoi Ishibashi and their team at Rhizomatiks Research in Tokyo, the goal is to create an intimate and artistic interaction between man and machine," says Marco Tempest of MagicLab.

Related, Disney recently filed a patent for what they call "Flixels" (floating pixels), drones that will be used in performances at their theme parks. (NBC News)

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Disneyland-scented candles

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Rheney Williams, a former attorney from Charleston, SC, sells a line of unofficial Disneyland-scented candles themed after the rides, food, and environments of the park. Read the rest

Anaheim: the happiest surveillance state on earth

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Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest

Disney's prized theme-park no-fly zone means it can't use drones in its firework shows

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Disney won its war on overflights by planes towing advertising banners in 2003, winning the only no-fly zone over a theme-park in the USA. Read the rest

We'll probably never "Free Mickey"

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It's Copyright Week, and I've kicked it off with a post at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deep Links explaining why, regardless of copyright term extension, Mickey Mouse will probably never be "free" -- but that doesn't mean that Disney is acting irrationally in its fight as hard as they are for eternal copyrights. Read the rest

Worried about Chinese spies, the FBI freaked out about Epcot Center

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Muckrock has secured the FBI's files on Epcot Center, revealing the panicked thrash that the prospect of a semi-circle of international pavilions around a toy artificial lake set off in Cold War atmosphere of 1981. Read the rest

WATCH: documentary on Walt Disney, the futurist

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John Frost writes, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney new documentary captures a side of Walt Disney that other recent documentaries miss. He was a lover of technology, innovation, and a futurist with an eye toward improving humanity. The whole documentary has been released online to be viewed for free by CM Films." Read the rest

Video: All the classic movie references hidden in Pixar's animated films

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Okay, this may not in fact be ALL of the classic movie references in animated films from Pixar, but it's a whole lot of 'em.

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Mickey Rat: lovable vermin tee-shirt

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He's the creation of Firebeard, and is available on a solid-blue tee through Neatorama. Read the rest

High-rez trip through Florida's Haunted Mansion with a low-light filter

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The Socal Attractions 360 folks crossed over to the east coast and rode the Walt Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion with a 4K camera, equipped with a extreme low-light filter. The resulting footage is spectacular, the best I've seen. Read the rest

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' overtakes 'Avatar' as highest-grossing film in US history

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” just pushed James Cameron's “Avatar” aside as the top-grossing film in North America. In just 20 days of release, the seventh installment in the space opera saga has earned more than “Avatar’s” $760.5 million lifetime gross.

From Variety:

One important caveat is that this massive haul does not account for inflation. When pricing increases are factored in, “Gone With the Wind” remains the highest-grossing film in history with $1.7 billion and the first “Star Wars” is runner-up with $1.5 billion. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in 21st place behind classics such as “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”

Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the fourth highest-grossing pic in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It opens this weekend in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.

Read the rest

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