mel shaw ( 1914 – 2012 )

25 11 2012

MEL SHAW, one of the last DISNEY-LEGENDS, has passed away at the age of 97.

the picture shows him working on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in london, september 1989.

more information here
and here

mel shaw

29 08 2012

MEL SHAW, born december 19, 1914, in brooklyn moved to L.A. in 1928. after an art education at the otis art institute he joined the HARMAN-ISING studios as an animator, character designer, story man and director. during that time he had a chance to work with ORSON WELLES storyboarding a live action/animation version of THE LITTLE PRINCE. WALT DISNEY hired mel personally after he saw him play in a polo match. before WWII interrupted mel’s career he worked on FANTASIA, BAMBI and WIND IN THE WILLOWS. after the war he started the ALLEN-SHAW productions together with former MGM animator BOB ALLEN, where he created toys and architectural masterplans like century city in california, as well as the illustrations for the first BAMBI children book for disney. mel told me the story where he was involved in the ( stone by stone ) move of the 1831 built LONDON BRIDGE from london to LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZONA, in 1968. the bridge was dismantled, every stone numbered and then shipped and trucked via long beach to arizona. what a project! in 1974 mel shaw returned to the disney studios where he helped the new artists on productions like RESCUERS, FOX AND THE HOUND, GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LION KING. I met mel during our pre-production work for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in london in the fall of 1989 and had a chance to witness ( and videotape ) his incredible charcoal technique and the birth of dozens of beautiful paintings.

© disney enterprises, inc / mel shaw

beauty and the beast documentary 1989 part 1

24 03 2015


thank you, patrick and mario, for your help. I think it works now and the result shows in this post.
I chose a 6 1/2 min short compilation from my 5 hour video documentary during the DISNEY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST storyreel development time in london and the research trip to the loire in france. it happened during august 1989 in the PURDUM animation studio in london. you might recognize in the order of appearance – myself, MEL SHAW, JEAN GILMORE, DEREK GOGOL, TOM SITO, GLEN+LINDA+CLAIRE KEANE. at the party – DON HAHN, ANDREAS DEJA, DICK+JILL PURDUM, MEL SHAW and wife FLORENCE. I included a short clip of the finished story-reel in color.

beauty+beast london 1989 A from hans bacher on Vimeo.

© disney enterprises, inc

beauty and the beast 1989

24 08 2014

around this time of the year, 25 years ago, a small team of artists from california and europe started to work on their version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. you can read more about the story behind the scenes in several of my earlier posts ( here, here, here ) there was DON HAHN, the producer. ANDREAS DEJA and GLEN KEANE from animation, TOM SITO story, JEAN GILMORE visual development, DEREK GOGOL from london for production design, MICHAEL DUDOC DE WITT from london as well for storyboard, and me for storyboard, color and design, working in the animation studio of JILL and DICK PURDUM, in london. for a short time veterans MEL SHAW and WALT STANCHFIELD joined the team.

B+B 001
glen keane’s board
B+B 006
michael dudok de witt
B+B 37
derek gogol’s castle version with my colr additions
B+B 009
glen keane
B+B 015
B+B b
glen’s board
B+B 010
the team discussing storyboards
B+B 17
mel shaw and his pastel paintings
B+B 019
mel shaw
B+B 36
glen’s early beast version
B+B 10cc
part of glen’s boards
B+B bb
derek’s castle
B+B 9
glen’s board
B+B 014
derek gogol and jean gilmore
B+B 27
opening sequence by dick purdum
B+B 012
tom sito pitching
B+B 037
andreas deja’s character design and my color
B+B 38
glen’s action scenes
B+B 29
glen’s beauty and the beast

© disney enterprises, inc

beauty nr.1

2 06 2010

christmas 1988 I spent with my wife in california, mostly visiting friends in L.A. ANDREAS DEJA, one of the leading animators in the disney studio, had told me about a new project he was working on – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. in the studio he showed me some of the visual development work that he and MEL SHAW had done. MEL SHAW, who had worked at MGM and with ORSON WELLES before he joined disney to work on FANTASIA, BAMBI and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, came after years back to the studio to help with his skills and knowledge on RESCUERS and THE FOX AND THE HOUND, where he created numerous beautiful color-charcoal paintings for the visualization of that film and all the following productions. as production designer he was the first artist in the studio to get involved in new projects, a lot of them were never produced. he showed me hundreds of his masterpieces, for THE FOX AND THE HOUND and THE BLACK CAULDRON, as well as for MUSICANA and THE LITTLE BROOMSTICK. here now for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST he created the first visuals of the eighteenth century fairy tale world. ANDREAS DEJA concentrated first on ‘beauty’. his early version was much closer to the women of PETER PAUL RUBENS and TITIAN, a bit more full-figured than the usual heroines, getting much closer to the real look of that period of time. a beautiful character-design! needless to say – I was excited about the new story and a chance to have the paintings of FRAGONARD and WATTEAU come alive.

I remember the story was a lot different then. DON HAHN, the producer, described to me how he saw beauty’s father riding from the black forest ( in southern germany ), where they lived, to a small harbour town in the normandy ( northern france ), where he was supposed to pick up some goods they were arriving with a ship. well, I tried to explain some minor geographical distance problems. in his typical ‘don-hahn-humor’ he calmed me down, that these little details didn’t really matter, I was just too german accurate. I understood what he meant when I finally saw the film. anyway, during my stay we exchanged a lot of story ideas, like the opening of the film and the ‘magic rose’.

back home in germany I started researching, everything about the art of that time, collected reference photos and books, and did hundreds of photographs myself in the snowy forests of southern germany. paralell I sketched medieval villages, castles, forest scenes. just for fun, for myself, officially I had nothing to do with the disney project. based on the sketches I created several small color designs in my usual technique at that time, feltpen and gouache. I kept them pretty small, 18 x 12 cm, that way I could finish about three a day. the end of february 1989 I sent color xeroxes to andreas in the disney studio. he was excited to see them and showed them to DON HAHN. he called me the next day and asked me to book a flight to L.A. immediately. that’s how it all started…

these were some of the first color designs.

© disney enterprises, inc

tale as old as time

23 02 2010

with the following ‘historic’ photographs from 1989 I want to make reference to the post about disney’s WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY and the release of an upcoming book in august this year. the photos were done in london and L.A. during the preproduction of disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. there is my workdesk with colored storyboard pictures, the 9-picture composition was drawn by DICK PURDUM, who was supposed to direct the film together with his wife JILL. on some of the others is MEL SHAW at work on his beautiful charcoal illustrations. the book I mentioned is TALE AS OLD AS TIME: THE ART AND MAKING OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST written by CHARLES SOLOMON. there will be a lot more pictures in the book from my collection and other sources.

© disney enterprises, inc

creative workspaces 1

7 05 2009

TEOH YI CHIE ( online alias – PARKA ), who I met in singapore during a lecture, had this idea to show all different artists workspace. you can see it at his blog. in my never ending archives I found a lot more ‘historic’ workspaces and I wanna show you some.


ANDREAS DEJA, who had started in aug. 1980 at disney, is here animating on THE BLACK CAULDRON in dec. 1980.


in 1981 I met ART BABBITT in the hollywood QUARTETT film studio, where he was animating on THE THIEF for RICHARD WILLIAMS.

BARRIE NELSON, who animated WINDY DAY for JOHN HUBLEY, at his desk in 1981 in his malibu home.

ELFRIEDE FISCHINGER, widow of german abstract filmmaker OSCAR FISCHINGER, in her hollywood hills home in 1981.

myself in summer 1987 at amblin, working on WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.

and at the same time at amblin in a story-meeting with the director BOB ZEMECKIS and the writers JEFFREY PRICE and PETER SEAMAN.

downshot from the roof of the FORUM in london-camdentown in 1987 with RICHARD WILLIAMS working in his room on WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.

RICHARD WILLIAMS playing the trumpet, while I am doing an inbetween test at his desk in his home in hampstead 1986 for ROGER RABBIT.

MEL SHAW in 1989 in the purdum studio in london working on some production designs for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

RUSSELL HALL animating jessica rabbitt in the london FORUM studio in 1988.

in front of one of his layouts for richard williams’ THE THIEF is ROY NESBITT in the williams studio nr.13 soho square london feb. 1987.

1988 ULI MEYER started his first studio in london. here he is animating at his desk.

my room and workdesk in the disney feature animation studio in burbank 1998.

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.

The Hidden History of Oz

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The Hidden History of Oz

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