In part one of our coverage of Disney D23’s Destination D event, we were given an in-depth look at the history of Disney animation, so naturally the next presentation on the program was entitled “Inside Walt Disney Animation Today.” Hosted by lively Disney animator, Darrin Butters, the first clip shown was Tangled Ever After. Although this was much more than just a clip, it was the full 6 minute short! The story is centered around the mishaps of Rapunzel & Flynn Rider’s wedding ceremony, and was originally shown in theaters with Beauty and the Beast 3D earlier this year. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it. The entire audience was in stitches!
Clark Spencer, one of the producers of Wreck-It Ralph, was next out onto the stage and shared a very entertaining video message from the film’s director, Rich Moore. Rich talked about the great lengths of research it took to create the world of Sugar Rush, one of the games that Ralph visits in the film, and the vast amounts of candy they were required to consume.
BACKSTAGE PASS: In the interview sessions backstage, Producer Clark Spencer revealed there are roughly 35-40 game character cameos in the film. While some can be seen in the trailers, others have remained a secret to surprise movie-goers. Take note, some will come across the screen pretty quickly and others are strategically placed throughout the film, so be sure to keep an open-eye out for familiar faces.
Accompanying Wreck-It Ralph is the new short, Paperman. The audience was able to preview the entire film and I can say that it’s beautifully animated, and a very sweet, yet very simple story.
BACKSTAGE PASS: Producer Kristina Reed and animation supervisor Patrick Osborne shared the backstory for Paperman and how it came to fruition. Kristina relayed that director, John Kahrs, was living in New York and found when he was in a crowded place (i.e. Grand Central Station), he would lock eyes with a random woman and wonder to himself, “Is that the girl for me?” Then she’d get lost in the crowd, and he’d never see her again. This story goes into that, and takes it a step further. Even more interesting is the animation. Paperman was all done in CG, and then a hand drawn overlay was added to the more intricate elements, mainly the faces. This helped give the film a warmer feeling with more depth – even in black & white.
The Destination D presentation ended with a look at Frozen, a new animated feature based on Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tale “The Snow Queen.” Scheduled for a November 2013 release, this is a film that Walt Disney wanted to make for years and is finally becoming a reality. Presented by the film’s director Chris Buck, and producer Peter Del Vecho, they revealed the two main characters will be voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. They also noted that Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez will be composing the music for the film, with past song credits from Broadway’s Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, and the Disney film Winnie the Pooh.
The presentation closed with a live performance of one of the songs written for Frozen, set to animated stills overhead (unfortunately, no photos were allowed). We were also given another freebie; a lithograph featuring artwork from Wreck-It Ralph, Paperman, and Tangled Ever After.
Next was a panel titled “The Greatest Disney Animation You Never Saw,” hosted by Don Hahn and Dave Bossert. They showed clips from long lost commercials, the intro to Cranium Command, and Return to Neverland featuring Robin Williams and Walter Kronkite.
After a quick break, we were treated to “Animating the Disney Parks.” A fascinating panel, and personally, one of my favorite presentations. Hosted by D23’s Becky Cline and Tim O’Day, the panel consisted of current and former Walt Disney Imagineers Tony Baxter, Tom Morris and Eddie Sotto. They talked about working firsthand with Disney Legends while they were young “up & comers” in Imagineering, and shared what they learned from their mentors.
Tony Baxter had a great story about his mentor, Claude Coats from when he first started working at Disneyland as a teenager. Wearing his red striped costume, the then ice cream scooper was on a break during his shift. Curious, he was peeking in on the construction of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction when Claude spotted him and offered to give him a walking tour of the site! The personal tour made Tony late in getting back to his ice cream stand, but he says that personal tour was definitely worth getting in trouble. Little did they know, in just a few years they’d be working side-by-side, and its clear the gesture made by Claude still means so much to Tony, all of these years later.
If you ask me, this panel could’ve lasted a lot longer, but alas, it was time for our dinner break. The nightcap for this evening was a performance by Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix, and everyone was buzzing with excitement. If you attended the 2011 D23 Expo, then you probably already know how difficult it was to get into the performance there, so when we saw his name on the bill for Destination D, there was no question, we were going!
In between songs, the group talked about how they met (at a Starbucks in Malibu!), or why they decided to sing the following song. Their playlist was a mix of Disney songs, gospel standards, classic barbershop tunes, with plenty of Mary Poppins music thrown in for good measure. One of the highlights was when they were singing “Bare Necessities” from the Jungle Book and Dick had some trouble with the lyrics. Afterward, he went into his own version of the song, called “That Old Senility.” Hilarious!
Stay tuned for the next installment where we review Day 2 of Destination D, including more fun with Disney animators, a panel dedicated to Tinker Bell, and a special performance by Alan Menken!
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