by Matthew Malach
In 1923 two brothers opened a cartoon studio, stuffed into a tiny garage in southern California. What followed was an entertainment empire. Today, stuffed into something even smaller than that garage is a stunning I-pad app that’s sure to wow Disney animation fans everywhere.
Disney’s I-pad Application, “Animation” is everything you want to know about Disney Animation, including hands on animation exercises.
The program opens with a series of “Chapters” whose large icon screens animate with moving images and sound – some familiar, such as Mickey Mouse and Sleeping Beauty — and others less so. That mixing of classic Disney fare and some of the newer productions is a slightly awkward distraction that we’ll touch on again later.
But the heart of this app is in its “chapters”:
“Art in Motion” takes you through the beginnings of the Disney studio, with early photos and Mickey Mouse’s first appearance in a rare silent clean up animation, which in fact was never picked up by a distributor. In the chapter called “Story” Walt himself explains this critical phase of production, including a look at a storyboard from One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Disney’s Bill Peet. Other chapters include “Visual Development”, a look at the artwork that was used to set the mood for the actual animation teams. And of course, there’s a chapter on “Character”, the backbone of the Disney studio technique. And the chapters continue with a perfect mix of written word, visuals and sound, touching on “Layout and Background”, “Animation,” “Visual Effects”, “Sound Design and Music”, and a chapter that brings it all together with a look at the very basics such as Ink and Paint, The Multiplane camera and a nod to the more recent process of CG animation.
Below the chapter headings, is a chance to dive in and make your own animation, starting with a basic bouncing ball. You can also change the moods of “Maximus” (the horse from Tangled) and you can create your own animation using “Vanellope” from Wreck-it Ralph. You can even direct tendrils of snow as mastered by “Elsa” from the yet to be released Frozen. If the app has any drawbacks, it’s here in this section, at least if you’re an animation professional. These are the most basic of animation engines and they make use only of the latest Disney characters. While the rest of the app spreads the wealth from the Disney library, this section feels like a half-hearted attempt to keep alive of some of the recent and perhaps less memorable Disney outings.
Nuts and Bolts
It took a while to download this Beauty of a Beast, which with a 1.78 gig size, you might have to dump a few things to make space. Also make sure to hook the mini output to a stereo or at least a good set of headphones. The sound design on the application is superb.
At $13.99 this is a must have for Disney fanatics. More than just an homage to the art of Disney, this is a breathing, talking animation school at your fingertips.