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There is nothing Mickey Mouse about the Walt Disney Company's efforts at SIGGRAPH 2005.
Photo by Nancy Stadler
As you tour the main exhibition hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center, there's no way you can miss Walt Disney Feature Animation's booth. Easily one of the more impressive exhibits on the floor at this year's CG & emerging technologies conference, Booth No. 1724 not only hypes the studio's upcoming release (I.E. "Chicken Little," which is due to debut in theaters on November 4th), it also displays a significant amount of concept art for WDFA's next four animated films: "American Dog," "A Day with Wilbur Robinson," "Rapunzel Unbraided" and "Toy Story III."
In addition to this artwork, Disney has also included brief plot descriptions of the four films the Mouse currently has in the works:
: Henry, a famous TV dog, finds himself stranded in the Nevada desert. Out in the world for the first time, Henry's tidy life of scripted triumph has come to an end, and his 2,000 mile trek through the real world is just beginning.
"A Day with Wilbur Robinson"
: When Lewis, a 12 year-old genius inventor, meets a mysterious boy from the future, the two travel forward in time and spend the day with Wilbur's eccentric family -- a day that will change Wilbur's life forever.
: Sick to death of storybook endings where true love conquers all, a frustrated witch brings two romantically-challenged teenagers from the real world into the classic fairytale, and transforms them into the legendary long-haired heroine and her gallant prince.
"Toy Story III" : After a major malfunction, Buzz Lightyear is recalled to a toy factory in Taiwan. Woody and the gang have to hightail it halfway around the world to save Buzz before he disassembled forever.
Of all the productions being promoted at Booth 1724, "Toy Story III" has to be the most controversial. Given that the Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios have recently reportedly renewed negotiations (In an effort to find some way to extend their current co-production / distribution agreement), having the Mouse so prominently announce its intentions to go forward with a "Toy Story" sequel ... Well, I can't help but think that this display was meant to send a message.
Particularly when you take into consideration that Pixar's own SIGGRAPH booth ( No. 1946) is located just an aisle or so away. More to the point, as one walks down the aisle heading from Pixar Animation Studios to Walt Disney Feature Animation, the very first display you see at the WDFA's booth is for "Toy Story III." Co-incidence? I don't think so.
Anyway ... The Walt Disney Company will be using this booth in the main exhibition hall at this year's SIGGRAPH convention as this week's headquarters for WDFA's ongoing effort to recruit new CG artists & animators to come work for WDFA. Mind you, a big part of this year's recruitment push comes tomorrow morning with its "The Legacy of Disney Animation" presentation in West Hall A.
This is when the Mouse is expected to put on its full-court press. Putting legendary animators like Glen Keane on stage during a two hour long "special session" in an effort to sell SIGGRAPH conventioneers on the idea that WDFA -- NOT Pixar -- is the place that talented CG artists should really want to work in the coming years.
Will this effort ultimately succeed? Come back to JHM on Thursday and we'll give you a full report on what happened in West Hall A Wednesday.