31 10 2008

manfred schatz was born in 1925 in the eastern part of germany. he became one of the most respected wildlife painters and his work is in exhibitions in numerous museums around the world. in 2004 he died near duesseldorf. The magic in manfred schatz’ paintings lies in his uncanny ability to capture movement. his brush strokes are bold and are set to canvas with a certainty that many artists never acquire. he does not lose himself in the details of the marginal things, but forces the viewer’s attention on the main motif as he proposes to express it.
when I first saw his work I thought that he is somehow connected to film design, because his paintings look like moments captured from a nature documentary. they look like they are alive, you expect the frozen movement to continue. and I felt reminded of tyrus wong’s work for BAMBI, very similar, giving you the feel of a moment. I was able to find two of manfred schatz’ books, they are long out of print. and I treasure them. to me he is the ultimate artist, a film designer and storyteller.


up in the sky…

31 10 2008

the animated SUPERMAN series were produced by the
FLEISCHER studios in florida, 17 shorts, from sept.1941
until july 1943. they are unusually well done, really well
developed stories for mini-8min-features. some of the
animation is not bad, some of the backgrounds as well.
but what I like the most about them is their staging, the 
editing. very nice character compositions and camera-
angles. a very well translated comic strip series into
animation. and we all know how difficult that is!
the above recreated beautiful pan is from the 1942

you can see in these few scenes from the first 4 SUPERMAN
shorts how well planned they were. camera angles borrowed
from live-action films, dramatic staging supported by the 
right light and dark values, as well as a tasteful choice of color,
all that created interesting short adventures. these films are so
well timed, the stories edited so well that you forgive the not
top standard animation. it is good entertainment and compared 
to most of the crap my eyes are suffering from today – pure gold!

© paramount


29 10 2008

– once upon a time, or maybe twice, there was a place called pepperland… that’s how one of the most unusual feature films ever produced began. YELLOW SUBMARINE – 1967. produced by GEORGE DUNNING’s british TV-CARTOONS studio. everything in this film is different, the story is completely crazy, the style of the characters and the settings are pop-art and never seen before, and the music of course – THE BEATLES, pop-music, never used in an animated feature film before.
I just had started my studies at the university and the film blew me away. HEINZ EDELMANN, a german top illustrator and designer was responsible for the look. you have to see it yourself. IT IS A MASTERPIECE. so unique with unusual visual ideas, crazy animation, perfect translation of the music into pictures. as far as I remember it changed everything at least in europe in the animation field. but as well in commercial art and illustration. and it opened the doors for a lot more musical adventures afterwards. one of them was PINK FLOYD’s – THE WALL. I will post some of that masterpiece later.
I only wanted to show you some of the atmosphere of YELLOW SUBMARINE in these few screen-captures. I guess somewhere a lot of that artwork still exists. so no need to restore some of it. and – I would not know where to start! what a movie!

© United Artists/King Features Syndicate


27 10 2008

here some official notes about the color GREEN – kermit thefrog once said ‘it ain’t easy being green’. green is life. abundant in nature, green signifies growth, renewal, health, and environment. on the flip side, green is jealousy or envy and inexperience. green is a restful color with some of the same calming attributes of blue. it is the national color of ireland and is strongly associated with that country, green also has close associations with islam. because of all the green in nature the color is reminiscent of spring, coupled with red it’s a christmas color. green has long been a symbol of fertility and was once the preferred color choice for wedding gowns in the 15th-century. with both a warming and cooling effect, the color green denotes balance, harmony, and stability.

the designs are from – own prod., BG for commercial uli meyer studio, just so stories, own prod., own prod., lion king, just so stories, own style test, hercules, own prod.

© disney enterprises, inc
© AMBLIN/universal pictures


26 10 2008

these are some of my sketches I did during WALT STANCHFIELD’s gesture drawing classes. it’s incredible how big the interest from your side is in these lectures. can’t wait myself until the book will be on the market…

historic CG

25 10 2008

in the upper groupshot you see the very small visual development team that worked in 1989 on disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. the picture below shows jean gilmore, mel shaw, daan jippes and don hahn discussing some designs during the same time.
CG in those ‘ancient’ days was in the very beginning. disney had done some scenes in OLIVER AND COMPANY and THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE in CG, tina price and randy cartright had worked on that. but in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST don hahn, the producer, wanted to go a step further – add textures to the CG-environment and make it look more realistic. in the final version of the film the ballroom sequence is done that way. that came much later. in the beginning a longer scene was planned that showed a pretty complex cameramove starting with beauty entering her room in the castle, following her sitting on the bed and then moving behind her towards the mirror, where she looks at herself and the whole room mirrored in it. the whole camera move was done in wireframe, I remember it looked very impressive. then andreas deja animated the keyposes of beauty for the whole move. I wonder if some of that stuff is left somewhere.
they gave me three key-frames of the camera move, I choose two and painted them with felt pen and gouache. unfortunately the originals have ‘disappeared’, so what you see here are some bad quality xerox copies. the next planned step was to hire someone with a lot of patience and some great painting skills to paint every single surface flat following my color-designs. I remember, that was where the experiment stopped. it might have been a bit too work-intense and costly. times have changed – today it would be a fun job for a weekend.


22 10 2008

here some official definitions of the color –
red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye. longer wavelengths than this are called infrared, or below red and cannot be seen by the naked human eye. red is used as one of the additive primary colors of light, complementary to cyan, in RGB color systems.
red is hot. it’s a strong color that conjures up a range of seemingly conflicting emotions from passionate love to violence and warfare. red is cupid and the devil. red is power, hence the red power tie for business people and the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs. flashing red lights denote danger or emergency. stop signs and stop lights are red to get the drivers’ attention and alert them to the dangers of the intersection.
in some cultures, red denotes purity, joy, and celebration. red is the color of happiness and prosperity in china and may be used to attract good luck. red is often the color worn by brides in the east while it is the color of mourning in south africa. in russia the bolsheviks used a red flag when they overthrew the tsar, thus red became associated with communism. many national flags use red.

I designed them for – disney’s LION KING, a manila environment project, a shelved disney short I AM from 1999, an early logo design for elton john’s broadway musical AIDA, a stage design, disney’s HERCULES ( with gay/ventura ), one more LION KING, the same manila project and another I AM.

© disney enterprises, inc

more cats

19 10 2008

a small team, the two directors SIMON WELLS and PHIL NIBBELINK together with SHELLEY PAGE, had been working on the animated adaptation of the musical CATS for a few months when I joined the group. the plan was somehow to combine built miniature models together with traditional animation. CG was at that time, 1991, in the very early beginnings. simon had designed an environment and shelley had supervised the model building. I only saw pictures and was very impressed, it looked very real with a lot of detail and had a convincing atmosphere. here are some of the pictures…

but steven spielberg wanted to see a more destroyed environment during the ‘blitz’, so I started fresh with my designs. following are a few I developed together with andrew lloyd webber’s stage designer for the musical CATS, john napier. we even toured the ugliest areas in london, I did hundreds of reference photos to make the BG studies as real as possible. it was amazing, behind all the sightseeing tourist areas there were these ‘backyards’, a hidden world of trash and destruction. I still have a map of ‘my real london’ where I marked this reference world. I am sure nothing exists anymore, after 17 years!

and we needed to test the 3-D look with a new model. unfortunately the last model-set had been pretty expensive, there was nothing left in the budget. so I improvised and built the whole thing myself. we found a very expensive model car from the forties and I had to destroy it with a big hammer, very sad! otherwise it was just styrofoam, some small toy pieces and plaster. we tested it on an oxberry stand, was not exactly what I had in mind – but it looked ok. here are some pictures…

©AMBLIN, universal pictures

walt stanchfield

18 10 2008

during the production time of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT I met WALT STANCHFIELD for the first time in london. it must have been 1987, don hahn had brought him over from los angeles to conduct drawing classes for the animators, better – ‘gesture drawing classes’. the poses were very short and you were supposed only to draw the most important ‘gesture’ of the pose, no details at all. that was something my german art teachers had never taught me. walts explanations and the classes were pure gold and I learned more than during all my life drawing classes. a bit later in 1989 when I worked on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, I joined walt’s classes in L.A, and continued that for many years. he prepared handout notes for every class, with useful instructions and drawing samples from the previous class. apparently walt collected that way about 800 pages of notes. I guess I have most of them, he was so kind and gave me the missing ones when I showed him a thick bound volume. walt died 2000, he was 81 years old. now don hahn is helping walt’s widow dee stanchfield with the publication of all the 800 pages in a book. it should be out later this year or in spring 2009. can’t wait! following are some memories from one class during roger rabbit. the model was more beautiful than walt, but he was the better model!

tom codrick

18 10 2008

accidentally I found a photo of TOM CODRICK, one of the art directors and background painters of disney’s BAMBI. the picture shows him painting the above BG, I posted a short while ago. I am gonna add some beautiful layouts I collected from various publications below.

© disney enterprises, inc


16 10 2008

when I started to work on the visual designs for the animated adaptation of the musical CATS 1991 in london, the two directors assigned to that project, SIMON WELLS and PHIL NIBBELINK, had already worked on the storyboards for a while. it was all pretty dark and taking place in ruins of buildings. STEVEN SPIELBERG had given them the idea that the story could take place in london during the time of the ‘blitz’, the time when hitler’s rockets destroyed parts of london. he had also mentioned the visual style of the film should be ‘brechtian’. the directors had no idea what that might be.
it took me a bit to figure it out – BERTHOLD BRECHT, the famous german writer, was well known for his expressionistic, politically critical theaterpieces. he probably was very close to some of the expressionistic artists of his time in germany, after the first worldwar. I knew, that one group of the german expressionists, the artists of DIE BRUECKE ( the bridge ), led by ERICH HECKEL, ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER, MAX PECHSTEIN, EMIL NOLDE and KARL SCHMITT ROTTLUFF were trying to create during that time an artform that linked german artists of the renaissance, especially DUERER with his masterful woodcuts, with a new renaissance of german art. KAETHE KOLLWITZ and ERNST BARLACH predated that movement, but were politically and artistically in the same direction. one of my favorite films of the silent era DAS CABINETT DES DR.CALIGARI, 1919, was an expressionistic styled masterpiece.

I was pretty sure that it was that what mr.spielberg had in mind. so I started to find the right reference about all these artists. the most impressive were their woodcuts. I imagined the ‘blitz’-world pretty much black/white and similar to that look. the problem was, how to translate it into animated backgrounds. I did not want to do woodcuts, it was easier to come up with designs in a similar look. white on black looked pretty good, so I started to paint my destructed world with white correction fluid on black cardboard, and added finer detail with a special black feltpen. the next step was, to paint the same motif in gouache with a very limited color palette and copying the reduced high-contrast look. following are some of the paintings.

©AMBLIN, universal pictures


15 10 2008

september 1991 I joined AMBLIMATION in london to work on ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S animated musical adaptation ‘CATS’. the studio was part of STEVEN SPIELBERG’S AMBLIN and had produced FIEVEL GOES WEST. when I came in, the animated feature film WE’RE BACK was in full production. most of the animators were from france, but in general it was talent from all over europe, a few from L.A. incredible artists, you can still check today – a good part of DREAMWORKS is the former amblimation studio.
it was a very creative time, being in one of my favorite cities – london, and having a chance to meet spielberg, lloyd webber and the CATS stage designer JOHN NAPIER. unfortunately things did not go too well with the story. the project was stopped after 6 months work and I started the designs on four planned feature films, RUDYARD KIPLING’S ‘JUST SO STORIES’, another musical CARNIVAL, a wild west story CRAZY DOG and an alaskan dog story – codenamed SNOWBALLS, what became BALTO.
it was quite a challenge to work simultaneously on these very different ideas. the just so stories were interesting visually, because it was india. but the stories were incredibly boring. carnival was a bit too realistic and I did not care that much about the wild west idea, but the snow adventure got me hooked. the story was promising too. and after several presentations steven spielberg choose that story as the next production. his only problem was the snow. the audience will feel cold and will not develop sympathies for the characters, he warned us. too much snow! so we decided to make the snow as colorful and different as possible. not just white and blues. another challenge was, we decided to paint all the BG’s in oil! the first time in animation history since BAMBI in the forties. it was the only way to paint convincing bigger snow areas. later we found painfully out, that oil painting is not the best technique for animation, we had major problems with the shiny surface and with the colors themselves under the camera. so we switched and did a lot of BG’s in gouache as well. especially a lot of the wood textured interiors.
the background painters were very good, some of the best I ever worked with and the BG’s looked terrific. another reason for that was the layout department with some top talent. and – the director, SIMON WELLS, who rough-thumbnailed the whole story in tiny sketches himself. the whole film was truly his vision, he came up with the most amazing shots.
I have a lot of artwork from that time and will post some of it. here first one of my very first designs for CATS, all painted with white correction fluid on black cardboard, then feltpen color on a xerox. the second pan BG is painted in oil by the art director/head of BG – COLIN STIMPSON.

© AMBLIN/universal pictures


13 10 2008

after 2 weeks in taipei, taiwan, I am back in manila. thank you everybody at SOFA animation studios for two well spent weeks. the lectures gave me a lot of new ideas, I met very talented artists and enjoyed the time with all of you…
back to disney’s BAMBI. today I have recreated three backgrounds from the same sequence. the layout- and BG-artists had to match all the details in these backgrounds, they are all pretty close to each other. again, look at how well organized details and soft painted areas are. you get the feeling that something is missing, – the actors. it feels like a theatre stage.

© disney enterprises, inc


2 10 2008

these two recreated backgrounds are from disney’s BAMBI, from the chase towards the end when bambi gets shot. the colors are depressing, the composition chaotic – even expressionistic, exactly like what you need for this sequence. it is a completely different look here, different from all the other parts of the film.

© disney enterprises, inc

The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Hidden History of Oz

Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World is the best place for your personal blog or business site.