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WonderCon: Quint has a brief report on a few tidbits from Disney's 2D animated THE PRINCESS & THE FROG!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a small kick-off to my WonderCon coverage. Today was the first day and fairly light on the movie programming. In fact it was pretty light on most things. The exhibitor hall was only 3/4ths full, with a quarter of the hall just vacant. Guess it’s a sign of the times. The attendance doesn’t seem very high, either, but I’m sure that’ll change tomorrow when we have a day full of big profile movies and celebrities. So, it was a rather relaxing introduction. I wandered the hall, checked up on some original comic art and found some really nice pieces, but horribly out of my price range. We’ll wait for Sunday when everybody’s in their “Oh, fuck… this thing’s over and now I need to pack all this up” sale phase. The only movie related panel today was a panel on 2D animation which featured some clips from Disney’s upcoming return to classic hand-drawn animation THE PRINCESS & THE FROG. A guy by the name of Marlon West ran the panel. He has worked at Disney since THE LION KING, working on effects animation… which is basically everything that isn’t the characters and architecture. For instance, he did all the dust clouds in LION KING.

He started essentially telling us that he had to adapt when the decision was made to kill Disney’s feature animation department and learned how to do his job on a computer for films like CHICKEN LITTLE and MEET THE ROBINSONS. He gave us some examples on the screen, befores and afters on both films… water effects, the spaceship from Chicken Little causing clouds and dust storms, lightning, etc. Then he said about 3 years ago John Lasseter came in and he said he felt like Helen Hunt in CASTAWAY when Lasseter wanted to bring back traditional animation. “I thought you were dead… I have a new wife. Her name is Maya.” The joke, of course, being that Maya is the name of the CG animation program. Anyway, the footage wasn’t much. It was essentially three shots from the movie at different stages. The scene is the Prince going to visit the villain, a Voodoo priest named Dr. Facilier. Three shots: -Prince POV on Facilier behind his desk, doing card tricks with his tarot deck. - Angle on the Prince as Facilier’s magic is worked, the chair’s arms turning into snakes and his transformation to being a frog begins. - Prince POV on Facilier as the evil man seems to grow huge (of course, the prince is shrinking as he turns into a frog). We saw many versions of these shots, from the rough storyboards to the rough, but instantly classic Disney pencils of the characters going through their motions, then the close to final versions. Of the examples given, the one I liked the most was the Prince’s transformation, which is hidden in a cloud of swirling green smoke. It looked like it had it’s own light source because we could see flashes of the Prince’s silhouette as he fought with the snakes binding him to the chair. It reminded me a little bit of the magic stuff from SLEEPING BEAUTY and SWORD IN THE STONE. He also mentioned that Disney’s animation plan is to have a digital animation film out every 18 months and a traditional hand-drawn animation film out every 2 ½ years. I expected a bit more, but that was all there was to it. I guess it’s better than sitting on my thumb all day. Every other online guy I know that’s covering WonderCon, like Edward Douglas from, El Guapo from LatinoReview, Peter from Slashfilm and Alex Billington from FirstShowing.Net were there as well. Just nothing else going. Tomorrow is different, though. We got Watchmen, Trek, Terminator, 9, UP and more, plus interviews. So tomorrow’s the big day. Stay tuned for more interesting reports! -Quint

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