the emperor’s new clothes

27 05 2020

looking through some old artwork I found this poster design I created in the early days around february 2002 for a very new project FRAIDY CAT, that went into visual development.

in the past years I published several posts about FRAIDY CAT and I still like one from 2009 a lot, that’s why I republish it, with a few additions.

it is funny to read all different articles and speculations why apparently such interesting looking projects in the past at disney were shelved. well, – it was pure incompetence, believe me. let’s just look at FRAIDY CAT, not the FRAIDY CAT that JOHN MUSKER and RON CLEMENTS restarted in 2004. I am talking about the very first version that was offered to me late in 2000 as a 3 page treatment. I started with a lot of environmental and a few character designs and after I showed the story to ANDREAS DEJA he wanted to contribute some character explorations. he loved the treatment as well.

let me explain the reasons why a project like that could fail. one major reason – because the management at that time was for some never explained reasons convinced that a good final story develops out of over and over destroyed story-versions. I remember a meeting after a screening of some major sequences of another project, where TOM SCHUMACHER, at that time sr.vice president and head of feature animation, answered a statement of a storyboard artist that it looked great and worked well, ‘then let’s do it all over again, because it only can get better’. – I don’t think so!

to be frank, I always thought that this procedure was completely stupid and had only one effect – immense costs and a lot of wasted trees. I remember on MULAN were in the end about 10 different writers involved. coming back to FRAIDY CAT – the poor writer who had come up with this stunning treatment would have never had a chance to write the final script. unfortunately he was not too well known, but more important – he was the first one and to continue you need to throw dollars after a second one. after story-discussions in a team of vice presidents in development ( I always thought they were there for decoration and to fill some luxury offices ) the story had to move to another writer and that could happen several times.

but that was not really the main reason for the systematic destruction of a good idea. that reason was obvious in another department, but nobody else apparently saw it. usually a script ends up first in the storyboard department. one storyboard artist takes care of a sequence. as far as I remember in FRAIDY CAT’S case about 6 or 7 were involved. now there is a major problem – all the top talent in storyboard is busy to fix the disasters in the running production(s). that’s why usually only ‘apprentices’ are thrown into a starting new project. I don’t want to say that there couldn’t be a major hidden talent in such a fresh team, well, usually that is not the case. that means that, what this team comes up with as an interpretation of a third generation script, is not the best of possible versions. in a presentation to the highly competent jury of vice presidents this interpretation must look like a story that needs to be fixed, – back to another writer, and the game starts all over. you can imagine, after several redo’s there is nothing left of an original and once charming story. unfortunately nobody ever had the idea to at least look what others might have done in earlier versions. FRAIDY CAT is not the only project where I saw this happen, it was the same with MY PEOPLES, RAPUNZEL ( inclusive other major problems ), WILD LIFE ( with a ton of more and very serious other problems and directors too arrogant to listen to warnings ) and SNOW QUEEN ( OMG ). the FRAIDY CAT affair ended after I left in 2003 and ron and john tried to fix it afterwards with major artistic talent like CARTER GOODRICH and PAUL FELIX. apparently it did not help because some of the ’emperor’s new clothes’ guys thought it was not a good idea afterall. after 5 yaers and probably 50 million dollars, not to talk about thousands of pieces of art – down the drain.

usually it’s not my style to write that much, but – this had to be said

© walt disney enterprises


toontown 1987

2 06 2018

see as well here, here, here and here

no parachute?

29 07 2016

from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT a sketch HARALD SIEPERMANN created, of eddie valiant falling and in discussion with some good friends, for the storyboard from the TOONTOWN sequence. june 1987.

roger rabbit-Eddie falling



© disney enterprise / amblin / universal

corny cole

14 11 2014

unfortunately I never met CORNY COLE, I know though some of his work, especially what he did for RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY. RICHARD WILLIAMS worked very often with CORNY, he described to me his crazy style, doing most of his sketches with a simple ballpoint pen and never using any reference. DICK described him as a genius. the illustrations below might have been for a personal project, CORNY had in mind, or it was one of those collaborations with DICK WILLIAMS, anyway, DICK gave me these xeroxes about 30 years ago.


© corny cole

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


24 02 2014

I recently found the ‘finale’ for the TOONTOWN-sequence in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, a part of a storyboard that HARALD SIEPERMANN and I created in the summer of 1987 in the AMBLIN-studio on the UNIVERSAL-lot. it was never used in the film, – since our boards summed up to about 15 min of film the director, BOB ZEMECKIS, cut the sequence down to 45 seconds.


© amblin entertainment / universal pictures / disney enterprises, inc


21 12 2013

photokina st.b

storyboard for a planned commercial 1986 for PHOTOKINA COLOGNE. it was supposed to combine ‘monty python’-like cut out animation, traditional 2D animation and claymation. of course they chose something cheaper.

mulan findings 7

10 08 2013

the REFLECTION-song in disney’s MULAN was much longer in an early version what was storyboarded by DEAN DEBLOIS. the shorter and final version as it is in the film was boarded by CHRIS SANDERS. below are DEAN’S boards.


© disney enterprises, inc

denis rich

5 12 2011

during the pre-production of disney’s MULAN I had a chance to work with some amazing talent. like DENIS RICH (1930 – 2007), who did visual development and storyboard work. his drawing style was very precise, with a knowledge of costume design and props. with his vast experience from numerous films he had worked on (supermann 1978, three musketeers 1993, son of the pink panther 1993, return to oz 1985, dark crystal 1982, for your eyes only 1981) he immediately understood what we needed for our film and he came up with incredible atmospheric and rich in detail scenes during the hun attack sequence. we talked once in a while about his work in the pinewood studios in england with some legendary filmmakers, he had some stories to tell. after his mulan work he went back to england and storyboarded on a lot more live action films, some were – harry potter and the order of the phoenix 2007, harry potter and the goblet of fire 2005, harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban 2004, finding neverland 2004, anna and the king 1999, the avengers 1998. below is some of his work on the hun attack in MULAN.

© disney enterprises, inc

the fantastic film

18 11 2010

DER PHANTASTISCHE FILM ( the fantastic film ) was a series of science fiction- / fantasy- and horror-films on the air monthly from 1970 on in the 2.german tv-program ZDF. some of the shown treasures were THE TIME MACHINE, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, THE INNOCENTS, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and KING KONG. the title of the series was designed by HEINZ EDELMANN. below some EDELMANN storyboard sketches and captured scenes from the trailer.

© edelmann/ZDF

storyboard 1

21 10 2010

below a storyboard example for a part of BALTO, drawn by DAAN JIPPES and SIMON WELLS in 1993.



9 06 2010

good memories from june 1987, amblin, universal lot L.A., – storyboard-work on TOONTOWN-sequence, part of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, together with HARALD SIEPERMANN.

© disney enterprises, inc / amblin entertainment / universal pictures


18 12 2009

already 25 years ago! incredible. beginning of 1984, the GEORGE ORWELL year, I had been one of the designers of the new logo for the first german tv-station, ARD 1. the general opening logos and titles for all different program sections were done in CG, at that time a very time consuming and extremely expensive adventure. I was several times in COLUMBUS, ohio, where the CRANSTON-SCURI computer animation production was located, on the campus of the ohio state university. the founder and head of the school and COMPUTER GRAPHICS RESEARCH GROUP was prof. CHARLES SCURI, considered the pioneer of computer art. I was supposed to supervise the production of the first animated logos for the german tv-station, since I had done all the storyboards. following are two of many boards from that year, and 2 pictures from cranston-csuri.



12 10 2009

JOHN WATKISS did a lot of designwork inclusive storyboards on the 2004 released SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. recently he worked on the new version of SHERLOCK HOLMES and you can see some of the artwork after the film comes out. john moved back to brighton about a year and a half back. he’s currently working on a lot of personal stuff, a DAVY CROCKET- project for WB, and a very large project for the Estate of Robert E. Howard. there is a lot more to see on his website.
following some of his ‘sky captain’ storyboards.


© Brooklyn Films II/Paramount Pictures/john watkiss

The Hidden History of Oz

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