Floyd Norman began working at the Disney studios in as a young animation inbetweener. Today he works at his own pace — including writing this book. Norman tells, in conversational style, his experiences and opinions on the various aspects of animation; many of which are applicable to filmmaking in general.
Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, and Stories from an Animation Legend
The autobiographical section is both a personal reminiscence and a history of the animation industry in general and the Disney studio in particular from to today. He tells what it was like to work with Walt Disney directly; and incidentally disproves the current picture of Disney as an anti-Semite and a racist. Disney was a tough boss and demanded that his employees be talented men and women , but otherwise showed no prejudice against Jews or African-Americans. Where he does not have photos, Norman has plenty of cartoon sketches of the Disney people, characters, and projects that he worked with and on.
Norman will talk about his almost 50 years as an animation artist and storyteller beginning at a time when African Americans were rare in the field. He will also talk about the future of animation. Norman has said that this is the most exciting time this art form has ever seen. Norman, who is a consummate storyteller, to Atlanta. Your email address will not be published.
We had these marvelous characters and so it was just a great opportunity for a story guys. Our work could not have been more fun to take these great characters and then just put them through their paces.
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In many ways it made our job a lot easier. The silver thing is like a Lazy Susan turntable?
That is exactly it. So it was very practical.
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It made sense. Tell me a little bit about what you think the good and bad elements are of the changes in technology and animation. Well you know that has been a debate that has been going on now for some time. I think it popped up again this morning.
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A bunch of animation fans — we call them animation geeks — started an argument over a statement made by our creative officer John Lasseter and it had to do with hand drawn animation and digital animation. This debate has been going on for the past few years and it is not going to stop any time soon. Pixar really pushed animation in a whole new direction. Technology changed animation and I think it changed it forever. This is like today ancient history.
This is not to denigrate that process because that process gave us Disney classics but now we have moved on to a new way of making films. Technology has moved in and some might say encroached on the process but I think Walt Disney would have welcomed it because Walt Disney was always pushing towards the future and not looking back at the past. You just move forward, that is all you can do and take advantage of the great new tools that the technology has given us.
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I could always say my sequence! The song where the snake sings a lullaby to Mowgli. Well I knew that I could not have the boy just stand there and fall asleep, I wanted to make it fun. I wanted to make it entertaining and funny.
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So what I had Kaa the snake do was sing a lullaby to Mowgli but have him do things in his coils like the coils form a hammock and the kid rocks back and forth in the hammock. The coils form steps and the kid sleepwalks down the steps and he does other things that are just fun and funny.
Oh yea, we had Kaa fall of the tree twice. Each time complaining about his sacroiliac. Hanks managed to capture the essence of Walt Disney so I thought it was simply a great performance and I loved the film.
I like it every time I see it. When you were growing up what were the images that really excited you?