Tag Archives: Glen Keane
The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure opens to guests on June 3, 2011, at Disney California Adventure park. This whimsical underwater adventure begins when guests board pastel-colored clamshell vehicles and head “under the sea” to visit Ariel and her friends in a musical retelling of the classic motion picture. During this immersive experience, guests will see the Little Mermaid falling in love, getting her legs, losing her voice and winning the prince as the best-loved musical numbers bring the attraction to life all around them.
- This is the first Disney ride-through attraction that takes you “under the sea” with Ariel, Prince Eric, Sebastian and Ursula, with music and scenes from “The Little Mermaid” film.
- Nearly 200 Audio-Animatronics figures perform in the attraction. The Under the Sea scene alone has 128 figures, including 50 spinning starfish.
- Ursula is the largest Audio-Animatronics figure in the show at 7½-feet tall and 12-feet wide. She also has a squash-and-stretch function in her torso and flexible materials so she can bounce along with the music.
- An 86-foot long, hand-painted mural greets guests in the loading area of the attraction. The mural depicts many of the characters guests will see within the attraction including Prince Eric, King Triton, Sebastian, Flounder and, of course, Ariel.
- The attraction was created by a team of talented Imagineers and consultants including Senior Show Producer Lisa Girolami, Creative Director/Show Designer Larry Nikolai, and Frank Antonides, director of project management – all from Walt Disney Imagineering – along with Chris Crump, production and show designer, and Danny Troob, musical arranger and orchestrator.
- The attraction building was inspired by the Dragon Gorge scenic railway at the long-gone Ocean Park amusement zone in Southern California.
- The building’s façade features a statue of King Triton and relief carvings of six frolicking mermaids. The mermaids are Ariel’s older sisters: Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana.
- The Palace of Fine Arts rotunda, originally the entrance to the former “Golden Dreams” attraction, has been incorporated into The Little Mermaid attraction architecture and is now part of the entrance façade.
- A special skin technology had to be incorporated into the Audio-Animatronics figures for Ariel, King Triton and Ursula since they have so much skin exposed.
- The attraction features an Omnimover ride system pioneered by Walt Disney Imagineers in the 1960s and used for the “Doom Buggies” of the Haunted Mansion, as well as in Adventures Through Inner Space, formerly in Tomorrowland.
- Attraction vehicles are sculpted multi-colored, pastel clamshells.
- The attraction experience is approximately 5½ minutes from the time guests load the clamshell to the time they exit the clamshell.
- Music in the queue features an orchestral medley of songs from the film.
- Songs from the original film written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken are featured in the attraction: “Part of Your World,” “Kiss the Girl,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and the Academy Award winning “Under the Sea.” Guests will recognize the voices of Jodi Benson (Ariel) and Pat Carroll (Ursula).
- The Little Mermaid feature film debuted November 15, 1989, and the film won Academy Awards for Best Song, “Under the Sea,” and Best Original Score.
- The Little Mermaid was the first Disney film based on a classic fairy tale since Sleeping Beauty three decades earlier.
- Imagineers working on the attraction consulted with Ariel’s animator in the film, Glen Keane, who recommended that her hair be treated as a character all its own.
- Each scene of the attraction was first built as a one-quarter-inch scale model and then as a one?inch scale model, so Imagineers could “ride” through the attraction scene-by-scene before full construction began.
- The attraction concludes with a surprise ending that takes us beyond the ending of the film.
- A similar version of the attraction is scheduled to open in the new Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Guests will enter the enchanting story of “The Little Mermaid,” complete with characters and songs from the Academy Award-winning Disney animated motion picture, when they board The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, premiering Friday, June 3, in Disney California Adventure park at the Disneyland Resort.
Set in and around Ariel’s underwater world and located inside a new space on Paradise Pier, the new attraction combines the enduring appeal of a classic Disney “dark ride” with wonderful technological innovations to offer guests a personal journey into the scenes of the film. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure adds to the excitement of Disney Soundsational Summer, June 3 through Sept 5, a season that offers guests even more ways to make special memories at the Disneyland Resort.
Adventurers on the attraction will feel as if they are descending below the ocean’s surface, one of the special effects that take this “dark ride” to a new level of sophistication. Once “under the sea,” guests will find themselves immersed in the classic story of “The Little Mermaid,” sharing Ariel’s adventure through advanced Audio-Animatronics technology, a magical cast of characters and a captivating musical score that will entice everyone to sing along.
“Being involved in this attraction is a dream come true for me,” said Lisa Girolami, Walt Disney Imagineer and Senior Show Producer for The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. “I watched the movie when it first came out and I’ve seen it many, many times since. To be able to create Ariel’s world and bring it to our guests, and then get to watch the faces of the kids and parents as they come through here, is just going to be the best thing ever.”
‘Out of the sea … Wish I could be … Part of that world’
The fun begins outside the attraction, where the building housing The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a new landmark along Paradise Pier. Its Victorian Exposition-style exterior, including a statue of King Triton and relief carvings of frolicking mermaids (Ariel’s sisters), was inspired by the spectacular pavilions found in the classic seaside amusement parks of the early 20th century.
The ride loading area features an 86-foot hand-painted mural depicting the characters from “The Little Mermaid.” By night, the building will be outlined in thousands of lights, serving as a gateway to Paradise Pier.
Guests begin their journey by boarding their own colorful “clamshell” ride vehicles, part of the Omnimover ride system that is familiar to fans of the “Doom Buggies” in the Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland park. The Omnimover, a Walt Disney Imagineering design, gives passengers a point-of-view experience, directing their attention to the key scenes in the attraction.
Scuttle, the tale-spinning seagull, welcomes guests as they embark on their adventure, doing his best to tell the story of Ariel’s ambition to leave her ocean home and become part of the human world.
‘I wanna be …Walking around on those – what do you call ‘em? Oh – feet!’
To meet Ariel and participate in her adventure, guests must first head “under the sea.” A combination of special effects creates a sense of descending to the ocean floor, all without leaving the clamshell vehicle.
The first locale on the underwater journey is Ariel’s grotto, where she keeps the treasures she has found on land – whozits, whatzits and thingamabobs – and sings “Part of Your World.” The Audio-Animatronics figure of Ariel features some remarkable magic touches, including an underwater “floating” red hair effect.
Next, in a dazzling musical extravaganza with an underwater party atmosphere, dozens of singing and playing marine creatures (“the carp with the harp, the newt with the flute”) try to encourage Ariel to remain “Under the Sea.” The conductor, of course, is Sebastian the crab.
‘It won’t cost much … Just your voice! … You poor unfortunate soul’
Despite the warnings, Ariel is determined to visit the Sea Witch to find a way to become human. Ursula’s lair is another stunning scene, featuring her slithering henchmen Flotsam and Jetsam and Ursula herself – 7½-feet tall and 12-feet wide, from tentacle tip to tentacle tip. Ursula sings her signature piece, “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
Next, as Ariel’s wish to be human is granted, guests follow her up to the ocean surface, where they witness Ariel’s friends encouraging Prince Eric to “Kiss the Girl.” This inspires a stormy response from the villainous Ursula and leads to the finale, which holds some surprises – even for those who know and love the motion picture.
Created by Walt Disney Imagineering, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure features the characters from the beloved motion picture, including many of the original voice talents, and is enhanced with the iconic award-winning songs of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Glen Keane, supervising animator and character designer for Ariel in the film, was a creative consultant in the attraction’s development.
“Many times I’ve thought, ‘Why didn’t we have a Mermaid attraction sooner?’“ Keane said. “But now I’m glad we didn’t. They’ve done this one so well.”
- Goofy’s Sky School, New Shops and Restaurants Will Complete Transformation of Paradise Pier in Disneyland (chipandco.com)
- A Disneyland Resort Summer Ticket Deal for Southern California Residents: 3 Days for $139 (1 Park per Day) (chipandco.com)
The summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine hits stands May 3, filled with features that will take readers from the depths of the sea to the edges of outer space. In the swashbuckling cover story on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, director Rob Marshall and actors Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane and Richard Griffiths take D23: The Official Disney Fan Club into the action-packed world of the highly anticipated film.
The piece gives readers the inside scoop on Captain Jack Sparrow’s latest adventure with an eight-page spread of gorgeous images from the film and fascinating nuggets from the set. Readers will discover what select cast and crew have to say about Johnny Depp returning to his iconic role; learn what inspired the screenwriting team behind the earlier Pirates films as they reunited to lace together legends of the fearsome Blackbeard, the Fountain of Youth and sirens of the sea; and uncover why director Rob Marshall says of the 106 days of shooting: “You’re undergoing your own adventure as you’re filming one.”
Disney twenty-three’s summer issue also includes an exclusive interview with George Lucas, the force behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones, discussing his participation in the various park attractions inspired by his films. Readers can expect to be immersed in the creative process as Disney twenty-three reveals multiple concepts for rides that were never made. More specifically, readers will be privy to the unique brainstorm that brewed the new Star Tours ride and learn about a distinctive new twist in the experience.
In “What a MARVELous World!,” Stan Lee talks about his excitement to be working with Disney Imagineers. “It’s great for Marvel to have access to Disney’s brains, because they’re pretty smart, and it’s great for Disney to have all these characters, with their built-in audience. It’s one of the wisest things that either company could have done.” Readers will also find a comprehensive look at Stan’s history that might well serve as a Marvel 101 class. The article’s glimpse into future plans for this historic team-up shows why Disney, Marvel and fans alike are looking forward to super hero-sized results.
Just in time for summer road trips, John Lasseter introduces readers to Cars 2, in which Lightning McQueen, Mater, and a whole fleet of new characters race across the country on an international adventure. In true Pixar fashion, Cars 2 will zoom to the big screen alongside the brand new animated short Hawaiian Vacation featuring characters from the Toy Story films. This issue also celebrates Walt Disney’s own motor mania with a look back at some of Walt’s personal cars as well as a few favorites that have played special roles in Disney history.
There’s much more in the summer issue of Disney twenty-three, including:
- THAT WILLY NILLY SILLY NEW BEAR: Voice actor extraordinaire Jim Cummings is a natural when it comes to voicing Winnie the Pooh. He’s been doing it ever since he was a kid and is adding to his resume with the upcoming Winnie the Pooh movie.
- JUSTICE FOR ALL: Disney Legend Bill Justice, who passed away in February, left a big imprint at Disney working on projects ranging from Bambi and Mary Poppins to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
- ARIEL’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN: Legendary Disney animators Glen Keane, Mark Henn and Andreas Deja see their characters come to life in 3D at The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, coming soon to Disney California Adventure.
- PASSING THE TIKI TORCH: From the Enchanted Tiki Room to the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean films, the work of two laid-back Southern California craftsmen is carved into Disney lore.
- A WALK WITH WALT 1940: WISHING UPON A STAR: The first year of the new decade saw creative and celebrated breakthroughs, including the release of Fantasia. But there were storm clouds on the horizon.
- D SOCIETY: Disney President and CEO Bob Iger takes to the skies to photograph the Disney Dream, John Stamos and the Massey brothers get onboard, and Super Bowl champ Aaron Rodgers visits Walt Disney World.
- PHOTOfiles: Disney twenty-three’s 10th installment of rare pictures from the Disney Photo Library shows Walt embracing Audio-Animatronics® at the Enchanted Tiki Room, Sean Connery “bonding” with Autopia, and Daryl Hannah making a big splash!
- GOOD MOUSEKEEPING: Now in each issue of Disney twenty-three, this new column features classic Disney comics originally published in the 1930s and early 1940s in Good Housekeeping magazine. This month’s featured cartoon is from July 1937 and portrays the trio that sailed off in a wooden shoe: Wynken, Blynken and Nod.
And there’s even more for Disney fans to explore. As with every issue of Disney twenty-three, Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club receive an added bonus. This issue comes with one of two scented Cars 2 air fresheners featuring either racing star Lightning McQueen or his devoted best pal Mater. These limited-edition gifts will be sent only to members. To become a D23 Member, and learn more about membership and the spring issue of Disney twenty-three, visit www.disney.com/D23.
Beginning May 3, Disney twenty-three is available at select retail locations for $15.99
Glen Keane was born on April 13, 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of the The Family Circus, and Thelma “Thel” Carne Keane. He was raised in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Keane’s interest in art developed as a child by observing his father’s work as a cartoonist. (Glen’s younger self is represented in his father’s comic strip as the character of “Billy”). In his early attempts to draw, his dad gave him a copy of Burne Hogarth’s Dynamic Anatomy, and instructed him to analyze the body forms and the creative approach to life drawing. After high school, Glen applied to the California Institute of the Arts-School of Art, opting out of accepting a football scholarship from another college. In a lucky twist of fate, his application was accidentally sent to the Program in Experimental Animation (then called Film Graphics), where he was mentored under the now-renowned animation teacher, Jules Engel.
Keane left CalArts in 1974 and joined Disney the same year. His debut work was featured in The Rescuers as an animator for the characters of Bernard and Penny, alongside the famed Ollie Johnston. He then went on to animate Elliott the Dragon in Pete’s Dragon. Keane animated the climactic bear showdown in The Fox and the Hound. In 1982, after being inspired by the groundbreaking film Tron, he worked with director John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2) on Where the Wild Things Are (available at YouTube), a 30-second test greenlighted by Tom Willhite that integrated traditional character animation and computer-generated backgrounds. This test, which like Tron was a cooperation with MAGI, was also Disney’s first experimenting with digital inked and painted characters. But the project turned out to be too expensive, and the studio was unwilling to invest further in the planned featurette. Where the Wild Things Are was revolutionary for its time, and a predecessor to the famous ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast.
In 1983 Keane left Disney as a contracted employee and worked as a freelance artist. During this time he worked on the character of Professor Ratigan in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. He also did some work on The Chipmunk Adventure. He returned to Disney to work on the characters of Fagin, Sykes and Georgette for Oliver & Company. Keane rose to lead character animator, becoming one of the group sometimes referred to as the “Nine New Men”. In this post he was responsible for animating some of Disney’s most memorable characters in what has been referred to as the “New “Golden Age” of Disney Animation. Keane designed and animated the character of Ariel in the 1989 film The Little Mermaid. Then the eagle Marahute in The Rescuers Down Under. Subsequently, Keane worked as the supervising animator on the title characters for three Disney hit features: Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.
While living with his family in Paris, France for three years, Keane completed work on Disney’s 1999 Tarzan for which he drew the eponymous character. Keane then returned to Disney’s Burbank studio as the lead animator for Long John Silver in Treasure Planet. In 2003 Keane began work as the director of Disney’s CGI animated film, Tangled (Rapunzel), slated for release in 2010. In Tangled, Glen and his team hoped to bring the unique style and warmth of traditional cel animation to computer animation. In October 2008, due to some “non-life threatening health issues”, Keane stepped back as director of Tangled, but remained the film’s executive producer and an animating director.
In addition to his work as an animator, Keane is the author and illustrator of a series of children’s Bible parable books featuring Adam Raccoon and King Aren the Lion.
Keane married Linda Hesselroth in 1975, and they are the parents of design artist Claire Keane, and computer graphics artist Max Keane.
Was it strange — after being a pencil & notebook guy for all those years — to suddenly be drawing on a tablet?
Glen Keane / : The syntec tablet at first was very slippery with the stylus pen on glass and it took a couple of weeks to get used to that but I quickly found that there were benefits to it. I could animate very quickly moving from one frame to the next and have my drawings projected up onto the screen in our dailies screening room. All the animators would watch my drawings form and I could talk and actually give animation lessons to the young animators on our crew. I saw this as an opportunity to pass on the baton that had been given to me by Walt’s “Nine Old Men.”
Is there a sequence you’re most proud of, and why?
Glen Keane / : The sequence where Flynn is dying in Rapunzel’s arms. It was the most difficult and the most rewarding because the acting was so extremely subtle. The expressions of someone crying are inherently ugly. All the muscles in the face fight each other. No one wants a camera in their face at that moment. But we challenged the animators to go for the ugly face and as Rapunzel fights and holds back tears, the emotions are so real and so true. Andit’s so effective because when that tear comes from Rapunzel’s eye and heals Flynn, you believe there is enormous pain in Rapunzel’s heart. If you don’t believe that tear comes from a heart of love the movie doesn’t work. It was successful and emotionally gripping. I was never more proud of our animators then at that moment.
Why was it decided to make Tangled a musical? It seems every Disney animated theatrical release is a musical; why is this?
Glen Keane / : Music brings an enormous amount of freedom in storytelling. You can advance a story in fun ways and also in extremely emotional, dramatic ways. Howard Ashman used to say, when you have tried to say something through acting, through dialogue, in every way you possibly can and there is nothing left to do to communicate those feelings, your character has to sing. And there is something about music in fairytales that go together like peanut butter and jelly. It just seems to taste better.
You go to work closely with your daughter Claire on this animated feature - to the point that your granddaughter Matisse was the model for baby Rapunzel. What was it like to work on such a family-based project?
Glen Keane / : I guess the idea of using your family in your work comes from my dad. He created a comic called The Family Circus based on his own family; I was the character Billy in dad’s comic. So when it came time for me to animate I have always used my own family as models. Ariel was my wife, Tarzan was my son, I was Beast and my daughter Claire was very much the inspiration for Rapunzel. I remember when Claire was 7 years olds she wanted to paint her bedroom walls and ceiling. My wife said no, but when Claire was 21 as an art student, I realized she was the perfect choice to create the look and style of Rapunzel’s paintings. So when you see Rapunzel paint you are seeing my daughter Claire’s paintings. During the making of the film she gave birth to our first grandchild, a little girl named Matisse. I used Matisse as an inspiration for designing little baby Rapunzel. It all goes back to taking what you know and using that as a source for inspiration. I believe the audience connects to the sincerity that inspired those characters.
Given that you worked on the Disney Princess movie that helped kick start Disney’s Second Golden Age of Animation (i.e.”The Little Mermaid”), how does it feel to have been so involved in the creation of “Tangled,” the Disney Princess movie that proved that WDAS can make truly great films in the CG format?
Glen Keane / : It seems that a fairytale launches every important era of Disney animation. Snow White launched the golden age, Little Mermaid a renaissance, and now it’s my hope that Tangled can launch this third golden age of Disney animation. I think the key is finding the synthesis between a new technology, CG and the roots of our heritage, hand drawn.
How are Ariel and Rapunzel alike and different?
Glen Keane / : Ariel and Rapunzel both are being kept from living their dreams by a barrier. For Rapunzel it’s a tower wall and for Ariel it’s the ocean surface. They both share this irrepressible spirit . The joy in these characters is to watch them overcome impossible odds in attaining their dream.
What is some memorable advice you received from Ollie Johnston?
Glen Keane / : My mentor was Ollie Johnston. When I was 20 years old he taught me things like the key to Disney animation is sincerity or don’t draw what the character is doing, draw what the character is thinking. These ideas I repeated again and again to our crew during the making of Tangled. For me it was really an occasion to pass on the baton to this new generation.
What advice would you give to people who want to break into the entertainment industry?
Glen Keane / : I would say be yourself. The temptation is to give the audience what you think they want instead of opening up and being vulnerable and sharing who you are with them. It seems that every time someone takes that step of vulnerability they discover an audience ready to embrace them.
What was it like working with Nathan & Byron on this feature?
Glen Keane / : Nathan and Byron are great actors. They would issue the scenes to the animators by relating moments in their own lives to what they were asking the animators to do. They would act and express very deep emotions, sometimes even with tears. The animators would watch and take notes; I would do drawings on the cintiq tablet, all in an effort to capture Nathan and Byron’s performance. They were an engine for driving the subtlety, humor and drama in this film.
“We are receiving your questions, keep them coming, we’ll get to as many as we can in the next 40 minutes. Great questions! ”
I’m told that you took a run at developing an animated version in the mid-1990s, before you started work on “Tarzan.” What was it about this Grimm’s fairy tale that grabbed and then held your attention?
Glen Keane / : While I was working on Tarzan I was simultaneously developing Rapunzel. This story captured my desire to animate characters that have this burning desire inside of them to do what seems impossible. I was attracted to the story because of what I imagined to be Rapunzel’s irrepressible nature. And so I developed it with that idea and I believed with all my heart that Disney had to make this fairytale. It went through many changes of management and often times great doubts and efforts to change the story into something other then what I believed. Ultimately it was a joy to work with John Lasseter and Nathan and Byron who caught the original vision and allowed me to focus my efforts into bringing hand drawn into CG.
What do you believe is the most important part of creating a character?
Glen Keane / : I have an odd belief that the character exists before they are designed, similar to Michelangelo seeing a figure incased in marble. His task was to set it free. So for me the joy of creating a character that I believe is real is at the heart of creating a memorable character. I use people I know as inspiration. It’s a very intimate personal process and I will do hundreds, sometimes thousands, of drawings in finding that design. There is a great “aha” moment when I finally recognize the character on my paper as someone I know. And that happened with Rapunzel. I look at her and I can say with confidence that’s her.
Rapunzel is such a “real” teenage girl, especially when it comes to that sequence in the film where her emotions whipsaw back and forth (i.e. where she’s thrilled to be out of the tower one moment and then deeply depressed that she’s betrayed her mother’s trust the next). Given that Disney Princesses tend to be so optimistic and upbeat, was it hard to convince the Studio that a Disney Princess whose emotions were kind of all over the place would play better with today’s audiences?
Glen Keane / : There was a time when Disney princesses were neatly packaged and always pristine and pretty. Arial was the first to break from that box. I remember my mentors Frank (Thomas) and Ollie (Johnson) said after the opening of The Little Mermaid that they would never have animated Arial that way. I said, why? Because you drew her face with ugly expressions at times when we were very careful to only draw our princesses with prettiest of expressions. And at that time I realized that this was a new generation of acting. Anytime we had a choice to choose pretty or real we would always chose real. The authentic emotion is our goal.
How did you get your start in the entertainment industry? Was animation always you passion?
Glen Keane / : I sent my portfolio when I was 18 to CalArts to the school of painting. I wanted to be a fine artist. My porfilotio was sent by accident to the school of film graphics, an artsy way of saying animation. I was very disappointed but ultimately discovered animation as the ultimate art form. I liked to think that if DaVinci or Rodin was alive today they would chose animation as their metier.
What do you prefer 2D traditionally hand drawn animation or 3D computer generated animation?
Glen Keane / : I love to live in the skin of the characters I animate. I find the pencil the most intimate connection to my heart in terms of communicating what is inside. There are artists today who don’t draw with the traditional pencil. Instead they express themselves with a much more expensive pencil, a computer. One of our top animators on Tangled used to be a plumber and discovered that animation was his true calling. So I have to say I have enormous respect for the pencil and the computer. Personally I prefer to draw with the pencil but I chose to stand in the middle of the computer world and use everything in my power to make the computer more artist friendly. Tangled is a result of those efforts.
Which character has been your favorite to animate?
Glen Keane / : Every character has touched on some real part of my life. I suppose Arial really was that character that opened up my heart, that connection in me to animate characters who believe that the impossible is possible. I am a guy who sees life as a glass half full and I relate to a characters optimism.
Do you plan to do more computer animation, or do you see yourself returning to traditional hand-drawn?
Glen Keane / : I see myself continuing on the path of bringing more of hand drawn influence into CG. However, this project has been a long, long journey. I can’t wait to get back into animating in 2D. So I suppose I will be running down both paths at the same time.
“Tangled” is a film that often surprises (EX: The fairy tale version of “Rapunzel” is mostly about this girl locked away in a tower. Whereas “Tangled” spends much of its time outside of that tower, as Rapunzel goes out into the world to discover herself; The clichéd movie bad guys — the thugs at the Snuggly Duckling — actually turn out to be the good guys, helping Flynn & Rapunzel escape from the guards and then again helping Flynn escape from prison). Was this a deliberate choice while you guys were working on “Tangled” ? That you’d take the audience’s expectations and then flip them?
Glen Keane / : Have you ever been on a dark ride at Disneyland? The goal is to make the audience think they are heading one direction and then surprising them with a 90 degree turn in a new direction. Suddenly a black wall opens and what once seemed to be a lovely forest turns into a scary witch and you are delighted and scared at the same time. Tangled is like a dark ride in that sense. We are constantly surprising the audience with a twist by playing with their expectations on stereotypes. Really underneath it all is the theme of following your dreams. Even the toughest thugs have dreams.
Can you talk about the difficulties in drawing Rapunzels hair and how you overcome these?
Glen Keane / : Rapuznel’s hair was 70 ft long. 140,000 individual hairs animating and controlling thousands of hairs was at times like herding a thousand cats. The hair would often explode into a chaotic mess of strong willed pixels bouncing against one another and heading off in their own direction. The real miracle in this movie was Kelly Ward a software engineer who had a PhD in computer generated hair. She wrote software for 6 years on how to control this gigantic beast. We really thought of the hair as another character. I did many drawings to describe the aesthetic look of the hair, the rhythm, twist, volume ,etc .that needed to be incorporated into the animating of the hair. Drawing once again became the best tool for communicating ideas. A picture is worth a thousand words. But I discovered that creativity is not limited to pencils. Kelly proved that the domain of numbers and equations can be just as creative.
How has your impression of computer animation changed over the years?
Glen Keane / : In the early 80′s John Lasseter and I animated the first blend of hand drawn and CG in the Wild Things test. John eventually left Disney and started that obscure little company, Pixar. I continued down the path of hand drawn but anytime the computer crossed my path I embraced it. Tarzan surfing down the branches, thanks to deep Canvas, created a wonderful synthesis between 2D and CG. In Treasure Planet, Long John Silver was a combo of hand drawn and CG in the same character thanks to his cyborg body parts. So it was not a big stretch to move towards computer animation for Tangled. The upward path of computer animation continues to approach the beauty and intuitive feel of hand drawn. Eventually there will be a seamless marriage between the two.
Who are your inspirations as far as family, friends, or even other artists go?
Glen Keane / : Frederic Back is my favorite animator – a French Canadian artist in his 80′s now who created The Man Who Planted Trees. It is a tour de force of personal expression. I dream of doing something so beautiful someday.
How do you keep the creative ideas flowing? How do you fight back against creative blocks?
Glen Keane / : I find that when I hit a creative block I see it differently now than I did when I was younger. I used to think of a creative block as proof that my creative journey had come to an end. That I just never really had it. Then I discovered it was not the end but a wall to climb, that really I had come to an end of a plateau and there were new ideas to discover and eventually another creative block to confront. So the way out of a block is to open yourself up to something new. The way I do that is escape from Disney, go to a library and randomly search through books of artists or writers and find some new wind of inspiration. Sometimes I head down the street not far from Disney to the Norton Simon Museum and I always am reminded that this is my time to be an artist and to make the most of the opportunity like these artists before me did i.e. Degas, Renoir, Rodin.
What was the hardest sequence to deal with in this movie and why?
Glen Keane / : The difficulty of animating crowds is monumental. When Rapunzel enters the kingdom and sees a world filled with people it put the fear of God into all of us at the studio. How in the world could we animate this crowd and maintain the integrity of everything we wanted in Rapunzel herself? The heroes of that sequence were John Kahrs and Clay Kaytis, my fellow animation supervisors . Typically animation supervisors give the task of animating crowds to the newest animators as quote, “dirty work”. Instead John and Clay took it upon themselves to organize, oversee and animate those crowds. Those guys are awesome.
What was your favorite part of working on the masterpiece that is “Tangled”?
Glen Keane / : The very best moments for me were working with the animators in helping them dig down deep and find something real inside their own hearts to put into their characters they were animating. It was so rewarding to see people genuinely responds with laughter and tears and to know I had a small part in encouraging this new generation of animators to enjoy what I have enjoyed over my own career. Amen!
What castle inspired you when drawing this one in TANGLED?
Glen Keane / : Mont St. Michel in Normandy, France inspired our castle in Tangled. It sits out in the bay surrounded by water and feels so very fairytale like. When I visited it I knew this has to be the kingdom that Rapunzel will someday be Queen of.
Any final thoughts on TANGLED?
Glen Keane / : Disney animation has been a home for me for 37 years and I have learned an enormous amount from the artists who I have worked with and the creative challenges in the characters I have animated. I have told the animators many times on this film that they are artists and had they been born five hundred years before, we would be talking about building a cathedral or painting on wet plaster and creating frescoes. But we are born at this time and our cathedral is animated filmmaking. This is their time on the planet to be artists and to be make it count. Open up what is inside of them and put all of their heart into moving this art form forward. That is the future for this art form of animation and Disney studios.
Tangled, The Walt Disney Studios blockbuster animated feature that takes a modern twist on the famous hair-raising fable Rapunzel, debuts as the ultimate 4-Disc Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack (3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy in a single package) on March 29, 2011.
- A Chat with Tangled Directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno Part 2 (chipandco.com)
- A Chat with Tangled Directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno Part 1 (chipandco.com)