Sunday, December 30, 2007

Don't miss CHIP-n-DALE on "Cels and Setups!"

The first post is up on our new companion blog, CELS AND SETUPS.
Be among the first to have a look!

Here, in honor of CELS AND SETUPS debut, the "set" for the scampering antics of Chip-N-Dale... Walt Disney's desktop!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

We're back!

Due to a tremendous wind storm in the Hollywood hills, we lost all power (and internet connectivity), temporarily disrupting the daily blogging schedule.

Everything is now back to normal... and posts should once again appear daily, as per usual.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


"From All of Us to All of You" was a 1958 Christmas special of the Disneyland TV show.

The show has re-aired infrequently in the US, but in the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) the show has been broadcast every year since 1959, and has become a holiday classic. Ratings has shown as much as 40% of all Swedes watch it on December 24.

I wish we could see it here. But until then, from it... here is a magnificent painting of a Christmas setting as only Disney artists could do it.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2007

CHRISTMAS EVE: The Star Of Bethlehem

Here, the final re-created background from my "THE SMALL ONE" archives.

Evocative and lovely....

have a beautiful Christmas Eve.

THE SMALL ONE continued

Here, a set of beautifully rendered backgrounds from Disney's THE SMALL ONE (1977).

I'd highly recommend getting out your "Classic Holiday Stories" Disney DVD tonight. Cuddle up with your loved ones, and share watching this wonderful, heartfelt film.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Here, the title card and more digitally recreated backgrounds from MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Magic is in the air!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

GIFT WRAPPED (Warner Bros., 1952)


Our yuletide animation art excursion just HAD to include Warner Bros. GIFT WRAPPED. Sylvester, Tweetie & Grannie celebrate the Holidays in hilarious fashion.

These backgrounds contain the requisite elements; a Christmas tree, presents and toys. The simple backdrops are clean, stylish, colorful and unpretentious. These B/Gs embrace their own cartooney-ness!

I included the Title Card and credits, a newly recreated pan background, and several non-pan B/Gs as well.

BTW, as is usually the case, this Warner Bros. cartoon is laugh-out-loud funny. Look it up, you'll have a great time!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mickey's Orphans (1931)

Re-creating this delightful background was a bit tricky! Mickey, Minnie, moving drapes, candle light effects and swarms of kitten orphans had to be digitally eliminated.

But the result?

An incredibly charming early Disney black & white background.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

From All Of Us, To All Of You

This 1958 production was a Disney gift offered via television. This special yuletide installment of "The Wonderful World of Disney" included new animation segments, as well as theatrical cartoons ("Toy Tinkerers") and non-Holiday segments from Disney classics: Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Bambi and Snow White.

"From All Of Us, To All Of You" was also the show's memorable theme song.

While the lovely holly and berries serves as the background, the star of this setup is the magical unfolding Christmas card. Perfect artwork to savor this time of year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More TOY TINKERERS: and more presents!

Donald has his hands full, waging war against Chip and Dale. Here are two wonderful recreated B/Gs.

The first B/G, his present barricade, shows an orderly stack of gifts leading all the way to the Christmas tree.

The second B/G shows the shattered remnants of the presents after an explosion. Donald's foot and hand (included) remain stationary throughout this scene. These bodyparts are either included in the B/G or on a non-animated cel layer. Donald's face and other arm are animated, but were digitally removed to reveal the B/G.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Animation Backgrounds Named BLOG OF NOTE!

ANIMATION BACKGROUNDS has received the honor of being named a "BLOG OF NOTE," today, December 18th, 2007.

I've gotta tell you, I am really knocked out!

Many thanks to the good folks at Blogspot and Google. Of the umpteen zillion blogs out there, it is amazing to have mine acknowledged this way.

My career is as a professional musician. But my passion for music is matched by my admiration of the animation art form. Since I can barely hold a pencil, animating is out of the question.

But I know how to manipulate images in Photoshop! Digitally re-creating classic backgrounds is my way of participating in the animation art form, and my way of paying tribute to the artists who created the cartoon landscape in which characters come to life.

Piecing these backgrounds together is incredibly rewarding. It is fascinating to see a background revealed, and to study the B/Gs as pieces of art in their own right.

I'm planning on a long run here. We'll continue the holiday and winter theme through New Year's Day. Then, we'll return to the usual potpourri of diverse artwork from various films.

Thanks again, Blogspot and Google.

And many thanks to my readers, and loyal animation fans worldwide!


From MGM's "Night Before Christmas"

Tutoring w/ Stephen Gregory week 7

I felt a little apprehensive picking such a low key audio clip. But Stephen liked that it was such a subtle shot, with a lot of great opportunities for acting. And save for a some continuity and staging tweaks, he liked where the acting was for this one was going so far. Which was big for me and really instilled me with the confidence I needed, because I wasn't so sure if this was any good.

Here Stephen is illustrating the concept of keeping the focal character's expressions open to the other character. Emphasizing a triangle composition to each shot.

-Acting: Ideas & Choices - Somewheres along the line we were talking about acting choices based on the character & story vs. choices made for movement sake. And he told me about an instance last year where a student reel they got for the summer internship , had a character do a little acting bit idly playing with a bottle cap or something, and it just felt right and completely natural. And even though the rest of the reel didnt have the most "polished" animation in it. They were sold on strength of the ideas and choices for that one clip, and that person was picked up for the summer internship. And that alot of times people get hired into the studio on the strength of one shot, one moment from their reel. He mentioned again that someone can come in, sit down with the animators, and be taught how to polish and finish a shot well. But the acting instincts and choices an animator makes is hard to teach. So work to be extremely selective about those acting choices! Clarify if its ambiguous, and remember to simplfy! Make acting choices and not movement choices!

I know I know, easier said than done, what do I know I'm just the messenger!

So since next monday is Christmas Eve, and the monday after that is New Years Eve, we wont have our next session until Jan 7. So that gives me alot of time to work on this one! I can still send him work-in-progresses if I need to, which is great. I'll be posting progress on this shot here. Until then, Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007

THE SMALL ONE: The Marketplace

This is an interesting image. I actually own several cels from the movie (a personal favorite). The most recent acquisition was a two cel setup from the musical number with a trio of swarthy characters. My setup has the three singers, and a cel with the top part of the "goods" to the right and the left. So it appears there was a background, a character layer, and two layers of cels with the "goods."

Here's a look at the B/G with the characters digitally eliminated, the other cel elements intact.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The tree's the thing..

Tom (the cat) is all over the pan background in this scene. As a matter of fact, it was virtually impossible to completely eliminate him. The animators never revealed the entire bike. Similiarly, the red gift box on the far right is animated on a cel, and while it bounces around a bit, it never moves out of the way completely.

So... here's the entire pan shot, re-created with Tom and the red box remaining!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


These dazzling (digitally recreated) B/Gs by Disney artist Thelma Wittmer exude oodles of Yuletide cheer!

Is your tree up and decorated yet?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Under The Christmas Tree

More digitally re-created bacground art from MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS... including two pan B/Gs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers



Here's one of our rare excursions into non-Disney artwork!

Tom and Jerry celebrated Christmas together in MGM's NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1941).

The level of artistry at MGM was tremendous, as evidenced by this lavish recreated pan background.

(And the character animation of Tom and Jerry was stylish, entertaining and endearing.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Presents Are Wrapped...

...and serving as a barricade in TOY TINKERERS.

Tutoring w/ Stephen Gregory week 6.5

I was out of town last Monday so we had to postpone our week 6 session until this coming Monday. Here's where I'm going for my dialogue exercise. I wouldnt even call it rough blocking really. Its more layout/blocking, just enough information the idea across. It makes me chuckle, but maybe only because I can relate to it. Haha, I think I've been in this guy's situation about 3 times in my life. Maybe not the exact circumstances, but I definitely know what he's feeling. Method acting I guess!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

DALMATIANS at Christmas!

Here's a view you've never seen, a screenful of sooty Dalmatian puppies in this recreated pan of Roger and Anita's living room, complete with Christmas tree!

OK, I couldn't eliminate all the animated pups from this background. But many of the puppies were "fixed position" and only a few were animated anyway. (The effect worked very well.)

So, forgive me the minor indiscretion of a few foreground (animated) pups remaining?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Tutoring w/ Stephen Gregory week 5

Quick recap of the week 5 session w/ Stephen. We're going to call this one done for now and move on to another assignment. But before we do that Stephen had some notes on this piece. The pose the boy student gets into from about frames 140-155ish wasnt reading clearly. And the expression could be presented clearer if it wasnt in profile but more turned towards camera.
The perpetrator pose in question. Stephen's suggestion for a clearer read. His draw-overs on the frames. My fixes according to his critiques.Here are the results with Stephens feedback implemented.

Hm. I'll have to step away from this one & not look at it for a while before I could go in and polish again. So hopefully the mistakes and such will be more apparent. This was supposed to be a simpler, more physical, 200 frame-ish assignment, but somehow it grew into this beast! Its insane how much time I end up spending in the polish phase. I feel like my workflow could be improved in that area. And also acting. And moving holds. Mechanics. and everything else....

So heres to the next assignment! A dialogue shot! Only a few more weeks left of the tutorship!