Friday, February 29, 2008

Grumpy's Pipe Organ

Another brief respite from Poppins...

I was doing some research tonight. I always find myself drawn back to SNOW WHITE. Today I had a revelation... and finally figured out a way to digitally clear this incredible background of Grumpy's pipe organ.

What a marvelous piece this is... you can almost hear "The Silly Song!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

MARY POPPINS: Trees Background

In yesterday's post, these trees were in the background... of the background! Here's a completely different rendition from the next edit of the film. These are behind Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke as they sing, right after crossing the pond. We barely notice this artwork, it lasts for only a sentence or two of the song.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SNOW WHITE: Dwarfs' Cottage

OK, a brief break from POPPINS. Ever been to a fragrance counter, and the salesperson had you sniff coffee beans to clear your head?

Same idea here.

With the incredible intensity of color in the POPPINS backgrounds, seeing this SNOW WHITE view of the dwarfs cottage is refreshing.

The muted earth tones of this background were mirrored by a rainbow of subtleties in the animation color palettes.

Both great films, both wondrous artistic achievements, but realized through very different stylistic approaches.

Heigh ho!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MARY POPPINS: Across The Pond

Originally, hospitable animated turtles ferry a wobbly Bert and the always composed Mary Poppins across the pond.

It's another amazing treat for the eyes. The rich greens of the trees are beautifully played against the aquamarine water. Note the texture of the stones, and wildflowers in the grass and along the water's edge.

Just wonderful!

Monday, February 18, 2008


This scene takes us through the forest to the river's edge.

As the deer remain in the entire first shot, they remain here, as well as a couple smaller woodland animals. It took some patience to digitally extract all those animated butterflies too! But most of the artwork is seen here, revealed for the first time. Note the extravagant use of color and richness of detail. Gorgeous!

The "river's edge" is the B/G where the turtles meet Mary Poppins and Bert to transport them acoss the river. They are in the whole scene, so they've stayed. But ths rest of this glorious B/G is revealed. The marsh-ey flora is a nice touch, and the chalk drawing texture continues with aplomb!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

JOLLY HOLIDAY: Umbrellas In Flight

This first B/G is the farm gate where the "umbrella flight" begins.

The second B/G is a partially reconstructed pan B/G. It took most of Saturday afternoon to assemble. As the umbrellas fly through the sky, the hue/tint of the sky changes, which made it very difficult to piece together. But, so far so good. This is about one/third of the entire pan B/G which includes a bit with an animated squirrel. One day I'll come back and work on completing this.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Another highlight of the JOLLY HOLIDAY sequence is the visit to the farm with animated singing animals!

In the first re-created background, I was able to digitally remove all the animals except the cute little pig on the right.

The second B/G is a real knockout. The gate with umbrellas is real, as is the footpath. The rest is a beautifully rendered matte painting.

Down on the farm!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Happy Valentine's Day!

I am posting the POPPINS B/Gs in consecutive order as they appeared in the film. Since today is all about love, including movies we love, I am sharing three new POPPINS B/Gs. While they are all impressive, the last is one of my very favorites.

Looking at these re-created B/Gs, it dawns on me that there is a radiant, Technicolor "Wizard Of Oz" vibe about them. Did you know Walt Disney acquired the film rights to the Oz stories? Maybe there was some direct inspiration from the 1939 MGM "Wizard" in this artwork.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're off on our Jolly Holiday: Landscape #1

Right after Jane and Michael jump into the chalk drawings, they go in search of the carousel. This is my first of an entire new set of digitally re-created MARY POPPINS backgrounds. This is one of my all-time favorite Disney films, and sequences. Seeing the artwork revealed for the first time is a revelation. These backgrounds took the songs and animation to a whole new level of "personality."

What fun!

BTW... it appears the paths in these are real, with the backgrounds dropped in via Ub Iwerks brilliant special effects. Any experts out there have more information on this process?

Also, the JOLLY HOLIDAY backgrounds are a very different stylistically from the Ellenshaw matte paintings. Anyone know the artist(s) responsible?

Trivia: Frank Thomas' wife told me recently that Ward Kimball animated the Pearlies for the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" sequence.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are You Ready for a JOLLY HOLIDAY?

Even when a day goes by that I don't post, you can bet I am at work digitally replicating background art!

I have some real treats coming up for you. I had reason to take a look at MARY POPPINS again this week. What an amazing movie. Practically perfect in every way!

I started in at the very beginning of the animated JOLLY HOLIDAY segment. Way at the beginning... in the park!

Technically, these do qualify as animation backgrounds. Remember the spectacularly colored dust when the POPPINS entourage jumps into the chalk drawings?

Here are two views of the park sets. Magnificent aren't they? We've never seen these without the cast... until now. I digitally removed the actors so we could see the impeccable designs. Take special note of the painted backdrops.

And if you think these are fun.... just wait 'til you see what's coming next.

Let's just say it will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


This bird's eye view is actually a "squirrel's eye view" from THE SWORD IN THE STONE.

Beautiful texture and amazing perspective!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Here's the title card and a digitally recontructed pan background from IN A NUTSHELL (1949).

Disney sure makes perfection look easy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Here's the opening title and utopian suburbian CA neighborhood that opens DONALD'S HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Love this layout, especially the threehouse!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Don't miss SHERE KHAN on CELS and SETUPS!

Dealing with Life

Hey gang, I am in South Dakota at the moment. My 87 year old Mom had a close call, in and out of the hospital. She is currently in a senior rehab facility. Finally quit smoking after 60+ years. Had to. Now on oxygen 24 hours a day. I am happy to report she is doing amazingly well.

All this is to say I have a lot on my plate while here, helping her get re-settled. I may or may not have time to post, we'll see.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, I'll be back in L.A. by Monday, and posting near daily as usual.

GOOFY: Hold That Pose, Part Two

This wild jungle background is so vividly rendered you can almost hear Arthur Lyman music in the background. (Look that up, weedhoppers!)

Another amazing B/G from the shorts...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

GOOFY: Hold That Pose

Here's a digitally reconstructed pan B/G from the Gooft short HOLD THAT POSE.

It shows how a even simple B/G can be charming and effective.

GOOFY:Father's Weekend (1953)

Friday, February 1, 2008


Here, artwork from PIGS IS PIGS. It is so interesting to see Disney go modern... they do it very well. Refreshing and stylish!

Eyvind Earle (Sleeping Beauty) was a background stylist along with Al Dempster.

Be sure and "click to enlarge," especially with digitally re-created pan B/G, so you can enjoy the details.

IN THE BAG (1956)

These wonderful modern backgrounds were created for IN THE BAG. This starring vehicle for Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore and Humphrey the Bear featured a snazzy musical number by staff composer and former theatre organist Oliver Wallace.

Even the backgrounds have a certain humor about them!