the april 7, 1939, released disney SILLY SYMPHONY – THE UGLY DUCKLING, directed by JACK CUTTING, was a remake of a 1931 black/white SILLY SYMPHONY. only eight years apart the second version is a masterpiece in animation and styling. it is the last of the silly symphonies, musical shorts without dialogue, that showed how much the artists in the studio improved during these few years. there were big changes in the production leading towards disney’s first animated feature film SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, especially the start of an effects department, responsible for all the visual effects like water-drops, rain, snow, water-ripples, fire, smoke and so on. they were done in the earlier years by the character animators themselves. the MULTIPLANE-camera was developed by UB IWERKS, that made backgrounds with much more depth possible. and the water-effects with reflections as well, as can be seen in THE UGLY DUCKLING. the background painters with their multi-layer watercolor technique were at the height of their craft, as were the animators in their field. everything looks so easy in this short, because it was a team of MASTERS, animation film-making at it’s best. but – WWII started and this incredible development slowed down, then nearly came to a stop.
as I mentioned in some earlier posts, there are not too many backgrounds left from that ‘golden era’. in this case, THE UGLY DUCKLING, I remember I saw only two in the disney-archives ARL. I started to recreate whatever is possible from this film. fortunately I found a very good quality print on a french DVD-release. but it is still a challenge and time consuming. it is not just stitching the different ‘mosaic’ pieces together, a lot has to be added, painted the same way the background was painted. following are the first in a series.
© disney enterprises, inc
… HAPPY EASTER …