ILLUSION OF LIFE Plugged on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life is a book by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two Disney Legends of animation counted among the famous group of Walt Disney’s  Nine Old Men. The book topped the list of “best animation books of all time” in a poll at AWN, and is still used as a reference for inspiration on character animation.

I have this book and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants to better understand the animation process. After reading it, my own drawing skills improved noticeably!

In 1980, they appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to plug the book and chat about animation. Here they are on stage:

During the interview, Carson mentions that they are almost unknown, despite the fact that they had worked on some of the most famous animated films of all time. They replied that they liked it that way!

Frank Thomas

They mentioned that when they would sit in a theatre to watch their films with children, they would almost die. Why? Because children could be so cruel! No wonder they preferred to hide back in the studio.

Ollie Johnston

Carson asked about the rumors that Walt Disney was a cold man and hard to work for, among other things. Both men answered that he was all of those things. However, they clarified that it was also a great pleasure to work for Walt because he was so inspiring, albeit awfully tough! Perfection was expected at all times.

Carson next marvels at how animators are able to give life to even inanimate objects, so Frank and Ollie pulled out the following drawings to illustrate the point:

And last but not least:

Who Wouldn’t Be?

It was great to see these Disney Legends chat about their passion for animation. But it almost wasn’t to be! Frank wanted to be a landscape artist and Ollie was heading towards a career in magazine illustration. But Disney put out a casting call and both answered, arriving at the studio to become lowly In-betweeners before rising in the ranks to full-fledged animators.

The Interview Ends

Look to the left in the above picture and you’ll notice another Disney Alumni, Suzanne Pleshette (January 31, 1937 – January 19, 2008). You may remember her for her roles in The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard’s Ghost, and The Shaggy D.A.

Also, if you look to the far right in the above picture, you can see Carson holding up the book in question (blurry though it is).

For the full interview (5:54), please take a listen. It’s well worth it:

Frank and Ollie on Carson

Walt Disney’s Cinderella Special Edition DVD Gift Set

I’d like to start by saying that the promises of Blu-ray have been overstated and under-realized. The claim of better picture quality and sound along with increased storage capacity were supposed to bring a whole new world to home entertainment.

The reality has been a marginal increase in presentation quality and, in most cases, less extras than we previously enjoyed on DVD. Much less if you compare today’s Blu-ray releases with yesterday’s Platinum 2-disc DVD Editions! And as you will see in this post, there simply is no comparison when you look at the Collector’s DVD Gift Sets:

Cinderella Collector’s DVD Gift Set

  • 2-disc Special Edition DVD (Platinum Edition)
  • 8 Exclusive Character Portraits
  • Collector Book
  • Film Frame from the movie

I have three of these Disney collectible DVD sets and I continue to be amazed at the value they yield. Let’s start with the Platinum Edition DVD:

Remember when the DVD case came in a cardboard sleeve with an opening cover? Remember that once you opened the DVD, you found a booklet inside describing what was on the discs, with navigational flow charts? Remember when ‘hours of extras’ meant hours of extras, not just 2 hours, if you were lucky? Then you remember the Platinum series of DVD’s!

The gift sets gave you this version of the DVD along with exclusive extras, like:

    

A Dream Come True ‘making of’ Storybook

As you can see from the picture above right, the illustrations in this publication are amazing! You’ll also find behind-the-scenes pictures and stories of production.

Next, this set has something truly special:

Film Frame: Cinderella on the staircase

But wait, that’s not all! You also get:

 

 

 

 

8 Exclusive Character Portraits by:

Ollie Johnston and Andre Deja

This set sold for upwards of $50.00 CAN when it first came out, and they are hard to find today, even on eBay. And when you do, the price is usually quite high. I’m glad I picked this up when I did!

So the next time you hear a commercial extolling the virtues of Blu-ray, remember this post, and the great Platinum DVD and Collector’s Gift Sets of yesterday.

Les Clark

#DisneyTrivia – Les Clark

Les Clark

Image ©disney.wikia.com

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Disney Trivia post!  I’m joined by my friends Heidi from Heidi’s Head and Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, and this month I’m focusing on some great trivia related to the collection of animators known as Walt’s Nine Old Men.  Today we are talking about Les Clark, the first of Walt’s Nine Old Men.

Did you know…that Les Clark was hired by Walt Disney just days after he graduated from high school? Les started work on February 23, 1927, in what Walt warned “might be a temporary job”.  Well, that “temporary job” lasted until Les retired from Walt Disney Productions on September 30, 1975 — the longest continuously employed member of Walt Disney Productions!

The image above shows some of the characters that Les Clark worked on during his career at Disney — and Les Clark was also the only of Walt’s Nine Old Men that did any work in the early days of Mickey Mouse!

To sum it all up about the makeup and determination of Les Clark, I’m leaving you with a quote from two other members of Walt’s Nine Old Men — Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston:

“Les quietly went ahead perfecting what he did best, constantly at art class working hard to improve and learn. There was much admiration for this quiet, thoughtful man, who came in with no art background yet through sheer determination and desire not only kept up, but helped advance the art with his refinements of many fundamentals.” -Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Thank you for stopping by today, now, please check out the rest of the entries for this week!

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#DisneyTrivia – Ollie’s Pencil Sharpener

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s #DisneyTrivia post!  I’m joined by my friends Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and Heidi from Heidi’s Head, and this week I’m taking a trip in the wayback machine as we take a look at two of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men.  I say that I’m talking about two of them, and their names, by the way, are Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, but truly, in reality I’m taking a look at Ollie Johnston.

The reason I’m sharing a picture of both of them is because they were such good friends that they actually both retired on the same day!  Not only that, there is a movie about the two of them, and let’s face it, Frank and Ollie rolls off the tongue as easily as the phrase Peanut Butter and Jelly!

Today, though, I’m not writing so much about Frank and Ollie as much as I’m writing about Ollie’s Pencil Sharpener — or rather, the effect that it had on the next animator to occupy that desk.

His name was Brad Bird, and he had the distinct honor — and, some would say, challenge, terror, etc. — of sitting at Ollie’s desk on the Monday following Frank and Ollie’s retirement the previous Friday.  As he was sitting there, getting used to the feel, exploring a bit around that work surface, he came across something — something that I am going to let him describe in his own words:

“When Frank and Ollie retired from production on the same Friday I was the next animator on Ollie’s desk the following Monday; the very desk he had used for decades to create so many indelible animated moments. I was properly awed as I sat down in Ollie’s chair, at his desk. As I was checking it out and getting the feel of it I noticed the pencil sharpener was full of shavings. Instead of throwing them out I poured them into a glass jar, labeled it and set it atop the desk. Good luck shavings … a simple reminder of the hard work required to create magic. My own jar of real Disney dust. The last jar.” -Brad Bird

When I read that quote from one of my favorite Disney sites, This Day in Disney History, I absolutely knew that I had my trivia for this week!  Thank you for stopping by today, and please, make sure you check out Jodi’s post and Heidi’s post, and all the rest of the posts that we have for you this week!  Just click on their images below, and thanks!

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Remembering Disney Legends – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johonston

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Of Walt’s Nine Old Men, perhaps the two that you hear the most about — if you know of the nine old men at all — are Frank and Ollie.  Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston are both Disney Legends, and were born within a month of each other in 1912.  Frank’s birthday was September 5, 1912, one day after and one year before my grandpa was born.  Ollie was born on Halloween in 1912.  The two would meet at Stanford when they were in college, and a lifelong friendship was struck.

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