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Wonderland – In Color by Technicolor
For Nearly Two Decades Walt Disney and Technicolor Together Have Brought Untold Pleasure to Millions
"There never was a time in our own work when we were not conscious that we needed color to achieve maximum entertainment in our pictures. For too long it was unavailable to films – and then came TECHNICOLOR.” These words, spoken by Walt Disney, keynoted the conversation which took place at the “Wonderland” Disney film plant in Burbank when the creator of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a host of other elfin cartoon characters was visited by Dr. Herbert T. Kalmus, President and General Manager of TECHNICOLOR MOTION PICTURE CORPORATION. In that simple phraseology Disney described the happy wedding of the two complex processes whose end result is a delight in charm and simplicity – the Disney productions in Color by TECHNICOLOR which have won the heart of the world. [img]Walt Disney (left) and Dr. Herbert T. Kalmus pause before the Disney Studio "story board" on which key scenes of all Disney pictures are outlined in color sketches before actual production begins. Dr. Kalmus recently paid a visit to the master cartoonist at his huge animation plant in Burbank, California.[/img] In his office in the sprawling, 51-acre Burbank studio wherein hundreds of men and women dedicate their lives to fantasy, the elaborated on his initial statement. “We think of animated cartoons as story books in motion,” he told Dr. Kalmus. “A story book in color is a better book – so naturally a cartoon in color is a better cartoon.” Disney’s recollection of the day in 1932 when he first saw TECHNICOLOR’s then-new three-strip process is still very clear. After witnessing the remarkable demonstration, he called in the late Sid Grauman, master showman whose business acumen even then was legendary in Hollywood. Grauman took one look at the new TECHNICOLOR film sample and fairly erupted with excitement. [img]Dr. Kalmus inspects the vast "color lab," wherein thousands of jars of paint reflect every hue of the rainbow. More than 1000 shades are maintained in stock.[/img] [img]A Disney laboratory worker mixes dry pigment in the preparation of paint. He will add liquid compounded from a "secret formula" which causes the paint to adhere firmly to celluloid and prevents cracking.[/img] “Walt, if you make ‘Flowers and Trees’ in the TECHNICOLOR process, you’ve got a booking at the Chinese,” he said. “The picture and technicolor are made for each other!” This was Disney’s opinion, too – but there was one obstacle. “Flowers and Trees,” a Silly Symphony, was already half completed in black and white. “I started on the greatest campaign of persuasion in my life,” Disney said. “There were plenty of our associates – including sales and financial – who thought I was crazy. Cartoons sold well in black and white, they argued. Why change?” Whatever the arguments in the negative, Disney’s must have been better. The monotone version of “Flowers and Trees” was scrapped, and the venture begun anew in Color by TECHNICOLOR. Its reception by the public afforded the greatest testimonial to the Disney personal judgment that it has ever received. That particular Silly Symphony broke all existing records. [img]A girl places "color key" letters and numbers on model sheets as guides for Disney artists. Coloring on individual "cells" (frames) is then done according to numbered areas on the master model sheet.[/img] From then on, the hand-in-glove future of Disney and technicolor was clear. “The Three Little Pigs” constituted another sweeping triumph of color for the Disney studio. In 1935, Disney turned to full-scale TECHNICOLOR, and has worked exclusively in the medium ever since, except for a few official government films connected with the war effort. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” begun in 1935 and completed in late 1937, was the first feature-length Disney film. It brought the fullest acclaim of critics and public to the shy, modest man who possesses an uncanny knack of imbuing tiny brush-and-ink creatures with full-grown, immensely appealing personalities. Counting productions currently on the drawing boards, exactly 19 feature-length pictures in Color by TECHNICOLOR have been essayed by Disney over the 16-year period since the first. “Alice in Wonderland” is the film the world is eagerly awaiting at this moment – and it will be released through RKO shortly. With “Alice,” Disney and his staff feel they have achieved a new peak in artistry and TECHNICOLOR excellence. “Perhaps it’s not the greatest picture we’ll ever make,” Disney commented, “for I hope never to stop improving our product. But, up to now, ‘Alice’ is our top. There were no problems of technique to solve, no ‘bugs’ to work out. We knew where we were going, every single minute of the time, and I think we got there.” Slated for the future is “Peter Pan” and “The Story of Robin Hood,” the latter to be filmed in England entirely in live action. Disney experimented with this more orthodox medium in some of his earlier films, inserting live-action sequences in “Saludos Amigos” (1942), “The Three Caballeros” (1945), “Song of the South” (1946) – in which latter two films animated and live figures performed together – “Fun and Fancy Free” (1947) and “Melody Time” (1948). The success of the all-live “So Dear To My Heart,” followed by the recent “Treasure Island,” has convinced Disney that he can transfer to human drama the same whimsical imagery and appeal which characterizes his cartoon fables. [img]A laboratory worker mixes paint to match the "standard color chart." So accurate are these values that a Disney artist can use a color by number, perfectly assured that the superimposition of the clear plastic of a "cell" – which alters the color fractionally – will bring it exactly up to a desired matching shade.[/img] [img]Cameraman photographs completed individual "cells" superimposed on background. "Cell" is replaced with another, advancing action, with each frame of film.[/img] During World War II, Disney training films were in use by every branch of the Armed Forces. “In some of the technical subjects we were obliged to deal with, adequate representtion would have been impossible without TECHNICOLOR,” Disney said to Dr. Kalmus. “Weather maps, for instance, became enormously more readable by use of color. Again, when we had to simulate the flare patterns of a bombing run for an RAF training film for pilots and bombardiers, TECHNICOLOR was invaluable.” Among the many official government films made by the Disney studio during the war were four educational pictures which quickly became rated as classics in their fields: “Aerology” (depicting the “inside” of storms, for Navy pilots) , “Education for Death,” “Reason and Emotion” and “Chicken Little.” In January, 1943, 94% of the Disney product bore the label of governmental agencies. In that month, 30,000 feet of negative was exposed – the same amount as had constituted the output of the Disney plant’s “biggest year” only a short time before. Disney’s impudent, debunking “Der Fuehrer’s Face” won for its creator an Academy Award at a time when the cartoon’s prototype was strutting arrogantly through stricken Europe. The effect of this spirited and colorful assault on Nazi ideology perhaps could not be measured precisely in terms of its uplift of American morale, but it was great. The Disney plant of today is a veritable fairyland to visitors fortunate enough to see the inner workings of the mammoth studio. On the “story board” can be seen key sketches in color, which outline the major action of the latest Disney production. Moving along the “production line,” the visitors penetrate the color laboratory (pictured on page two) where, as one astonished viewer commented, “it looks as if a rainbow had exploded.” Here the myriad colors necessary to cartoon production are mixed from raw pigments. Here, row upon row of jars of paint line shelves which extend from floor to ceiling, the colors covering every shade of the spectrum. Disney artists work with more than 1000 tones, all carefully numbered, so the matching of shades becomes a mechanical matter. In connection with the requirements of his everyday work in the animated cartoon field, Disney summed up technicolor by describing it simply as “an ideal commercial product.” “It gives us everything we paint,” said the Wizard of Wonderland, “and that’s all any artist can ask.” It is quite obviously all that his public asks, too: the privilege of seeing, faithfully reflected in Color by TECHNICOLOR, the sprightly wit, the elfin whimsicality and the superb artistry of Walt Disney on the nation’s theatre screens.




Source type Magazine
Volume 13.2
Language en
Document type Interview
Media type text
Page count 3
Pages pp. 1-2,8


Id 2902
Availability Free
Inserted 2016-10-26