Disney Animation: Story and Technology
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Walt Disney is described variously as an American entrepreneur, a film producer, a pioneer of the American animation industry, the founder of the theme park industry. Public perception of him is of a filmmaker with an uncanny ability to create entertaining family oriented animated films and experiences. More than that Walt Disney was a visionary who believed technology should be pushed to its limits to realize stories, provide experiences, and build worlds. That a technology did not exist or was not yet ready to solve a problem was not an obstacle – his answer was always – build it. "Disney Stories: Getting to Digital" (Lee & Madej, 2012) discusses how Walt Disney and then the Walt Disney Company narratives evolved from traditional animation to computer games and online narrative experiences. In the upcoming second edition (January 2020) I look at technology as it has been used to enhance story from the first feature animation "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" to the first VR short "Cycles". This talk first provides an overview of the technological innovation that has driven the many arms of the Disney empire, most recently the animatronics for the new Star Wars worlds at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This is followed by a presentation of Disney advances in technology made in the genre of animated films from the 1940s to today as Disney moved from the traditional methods of integrating animation and live action in "Song of the South" and later "Mary Poppins", to CGI assisted films beginning with "Tron", through many iterations to "Big Hero Six", and finally to VR and its use in shorts such as "Styles".