Took some time off and watched Sleeping Beauty this morning(I swear, the best thing about these "out-of-the-vault! editions" are the special features/making-of documentaries). I used to think that this movie was boring when I was a kid, but it's pretty much one of my favorites now. It's just absolutely gorgeous, truly a "moving illustration" as Walt wanted. I'm especially in love with Eyvind Earle's backgrounds. I can't imagine how long they took, they are so complex and lovingly crafted.
Influences from gothic tapestries, van eyck landscapes
Ghent altarpiece and detail
I think, for me, it's a lot easier to appreciate this kind of work these days. Technology may have simplified things, but I think it also removed some of the need? to develop this kind of skill. There is still incredible work being produced today, but I hardly ever see anything like this on film anymore (at least, not that I know of).
I guess it's just the change in medium. The backgrounds in, say, Cars and Ratatouille are no less impressive--they are so well done that the audience is immersed in the environment--but I really admire the insane research and traditional skills that go into creating those old backgrounds.
Watching the commentary on certain scenes also reminds me why I love animating (despite the fact that I actually do not like animating). I wish I were much better at it (yeah, lots of commitment and endless practice, i know) because I'd love to create stuff like this. As much as others howl about Disney cliches and the cookie-cutter "Disney" type characters/animation, there's something about classic Disney that really appeals to me. Maybe I'm blinded by my childhood, but I prefer it to much of the cartoon animation on TV these days. No offense to the Spumco/Kricfalusi crowd.
all artwork (c) Disney
several images taken from http://animationbackgrounds.blogspot.com/
extra! Earle's color work in:
5 years ago