A Fairy's Debut

Illustrator Roy Best's interpretation of Peter & Tink On the crisp evening of December 27th, 1904, at the Duke of York Theatre in London, the world was introduced to a darting flash of light as the cantankerous sidekick of a boy who wouldn't grow up. Tinker Bell, the world's most famous fairy debuted in J.M. Barrie's timeless play, Peter Pan. Originally called "Tippytoe," her name was inspired by the habit of young Michael Llewelyn-Davies' waiving his foot. Thanks to the constant cue-ing of a tin tinker's bell as the primary 'voice' of the tiny character, Peter's fairy friend was renamed to Tinker Bell. Since the first performance of the play, the name "Jenny" or "Jane Wren" appears in the p

Christmas Traditions, Surprises & Gifts

There are sure signs of the season—carols, lights, brightly decorated trees, the shopping hustle and bustle, friends and family gatherings—warm traditions that we treasure along with the sweet surprises that define this time of year. I'll admit, I'm a softie for these unexpected joys and for the vibrant magic of the holidays. It's a most wonderful time. Fleischer Studios' 1936 Christmas Party The annual traditions of the Christmas season are a large part of the history of animation. Customized greeting cards, spirited holiday parties, and colorful seasonal revelry, were some of the traditions kept within various animation houses over the years. From the elegant dining and raucous skits of th

Animated Movement Before Celluloid

McLean's Optical Illusions or Panorama disc (1833) Many early inventions paved the way to modern animation. One of the first devices to feature rapid "successive substitution" or a sense of motion within sequential pictures, is the Phenakistoscope. This early predecessor was invented in December 1932 by physicist Joseph Plateau, of Belgium—and almost simultaneously—in Austria by geometry professor Simon von Stampfer. The Phenakistoscope featured successive images placed across a disc with slots. The disc's slots would be matched to a device which rotated. The device holding the disc would be placed in front of a mirror and when spun, achieved the effects of motion. Joseph Plateau's first dis

Preserving Our Cinematic Heritage

The American Film Registry announced their 2017 list of 25 films to be preserved for their "cultural, social, historic and/or aesthetic importance." Two distinct animation additions made it to this prestigious list: Walt Disney's Dumbo (1941) — the timeless tale of the little elephant whose oversized ears become the key to big things — with the help of a tiny mouse. Production was completed on a tight budget, with limited supplies due to the pending war, and during the throes of a divisive strike. This beloved and inspiring little story saved the studio during some challenging times, and over the years, Walt Disney's big-eared elephant continues to be embraced by audiences around the world.

Defining Fantasy With Color

Georges Melies was born December 8th, 1861 in Paris France. The Father of Visual Effects, Melies' film fantasies expanded imaginations with magical visual experiences while taking audiences to entirely new worlds – including "A Trip to the Moon!" Audiences were enthralled with the trick photography, vibrant colors and delightful scenarios that unfolded with each reel and clamored for more! Emphasizing spectacle and effects, Melies' early trick and fairy films were enhanced by color to punctuate and heighten the audiences belief in his fantasies. Melies shot his stories on sets designed and painted in monochromatic gray tones ranging from nearly white to almost black. Vibrant color dyes were

"It was all started by..."

There's a Walt Disney quote that many are familiar with: "I hope we don't lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse!" Over the years, as the tiny company grew into a diversified global enterprise, this quote served as a constant reminder for its founder to always stay grounded in the notion that Mickey was simply, as Walt put it: "...a little fellow trying to do the best he could." Walt Disney clearly identified with his Mouse. "It is understandable that I should have sentimental attachment for the little personage who played so big a part in the course of Disney Productions and has been so happily accepted as an amusing friend wherever films are shown around the world." Tod

What's in a Name?

December 2nd, 1935, Marc Davis began working at Walt Disney Studios. Starting as an Inbetweener, Marc quickly advanced to assist Grim Natwick on his animation of Snow White for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Marc's superior draftsmanship led him to become one of Walt Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men" of Animation, designing and animating many of the studio's leading ladies including: Snow White, Cinderella, Alice, Tinker Bell, Aurora, Maleficent, Cruella DeVil...and more! Shortly before his father passed, he took Marc to see a Disney animated short and told Marc this was what he should be doing with his talent. By 1933, at just 20 years old, Marc was already a superior artist. At the heigh

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