Sunday, May 3, 2009

There's no Business but it's Show Business

There is a lot of uproar about this video over on many animation forums, mostly to the effect "how dare Disney use shortcuts!" and "oh how the high and mighty have fallen". Unfortunately, it's a tempest in a teapot.

First of all, the video is hardly all encompassing. It appears clearly that primarily two films (Robin Hood and The Aristocats) where involved, and only a few sequences. It should surprise no one that these two films were made in the 70's, shortly after Walt's death, when cost cutting measures were needed at the studios similar to today's economy is causing such procedures in all businesses.

But even if this practice was more widespread, it doesn't negate in any respect the work that Disney has done. Rotoscoping (copying of film or video by drawing over it -- usually of live action but, as here, even of previous animation) is a common industry practice and all the studios do it all the time. Some, like Warner Brothers (with the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner series) carry it to extreme, reusing whole sequences. So what?

The fact remains that animation is business, and as long as the final product is worthy of attention it really doesn't matter how it got there. And I doubt seriously, given how diverse Disney animation is, and the hundreds of hours that have been drawn, that this whole thing is more than a few minutes of reuse.

The bottom line -- Disney artists were just that, but they worked within a system that needed to make money to survive. So do we all. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand show business.

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