As a life-long animation fan, I fear that the Disney studio is currently stuck in some kind of creative lull. With each new feature I find myself less and less engaged, and have come to the conclusion that it’s all the fault of the homogenizing effect of CGI. While films like Brave and Wreck It Ralph are certainly technical feats (nor without any visual merit) to my old-fashioned 2D sensibilities they are lacking a sense of independence in their design that made Disney’s early output so beautiful and ultimately timeless.
Which is why, when I first saw the impressive concept art contained within The Art of Frozen, I was encouraged to see the return to some of that magic. A return to traditional storytelling routes with a fairy tale based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and a design ethos that (to me anyway) clearly references the incredible work of Eyvind Earle in Sleeping Beauty. It’s colour theory, folk art references, bold geometric landscapes and fantastic character designs from Bill Schwab all give promise of a particularly good-looking film to come. Michael Giaimo and Brittney Lee also feature with stand out with work that shares my taste for classic Disney. But as the shots from the finished film reveal, much of the charm is lost in their computer equivalent, leaving characters and ultimately a film without a visual language of its own.
I have faith that Disney will return to more experimental visuals once the current trend changes (you can see something brewing in the great Paperman short) and viewing the brilliant work in The Art of Frozen only encourages me further. For what ever might be lost in the film i’m glad this book exists to allow a chance for this otherwise unseen work to shine.
The Art of Disney’s Frozen by Charles Solomon
Hardback 168 pages
Creating the Filmation Generation tells the story of the famous animation studio that coloured the airwaves of the 1980s with its classic Saturday morning cartoons such as Batman, Star Trek, Archie, Flash Gordon and my personal childhood favourite He-Man and the Masters of the Universe! Told by its co-creator Lou Scheimer, the book covers in detail the […]
The Art of Wreck-It Ralph is the next in Chronicle Book’s excellent behind the scenes series, this time taking a look at Disney’s latest video game inspired feature. Maggie Malone and Jennifer Lee Monn introduce us to Wreck-It Ralph, a Donkey Kong like figure and baddy of the 8-bit era, on a journey to prove himself through all […]
Classic Disney fans should feel grateful toward film historian J. B. Kaufman who brings us not one, but two beautiful books on Disney’s groundbreaking animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The first, The Fairest of them All: The Making of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is a large format coffee […]
Eyvind Earle (April 1916 – July 2000) was an artist and designer whose work at the Disney Studios during the 1950s contributed to some their best-loved features including two of my favourites, Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp. His unmistakable style is particularly evident in Sleeping Beauty with his beautifully designed backgrounds, characters and colour […]
To accompany the release of Disney Pixar’s 13th animated feature, Chronicle Books have released the next in their excellent series of behind the scenes titles, The Art of Brave. Written by Jenny Lerew (story artist on How To Train Your Dragon), readers are offered an in-depth look at a darker take on what could otherwise […]
I don’t recall being much of a science fiction reader when I was a kid. I certainly wouldn’t have attempted to tackle the complexities of an Isaac Asimov or Arthur C.Clarke novel back in those days as I’d have much better things to do like play Nintendo or try to teach myself karate in the […]
It’s hard to imagine any other area of work for the Graphic Designer that’s subject to as much scrutiny as their skill with type. It’s basic fundamentals are understood the world over, and effective type can suggest a brand ethos, an advertising message or hint at a movie’s plot before you’re even conscious of reading […]