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Another form of animation: Now at the Walt Disney Family Museum

Another form of animation: Now at the Walt Disney Family Museum

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It's no secret that animation played a big role in the life of Walt Disney and the company that bears his name. A visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum offers guests the opportunity to learn about it. And usually, the process of two-dimensional, such as hand-drawn animation, is how the story unfolds.

That is, until this new exhibit at the WDFM. "Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation" offers museum visitors a bit of a look into the process.

Now oddly enough, stop motion animation was one of the first things Walt Disney did on film. Way back in his earliest days doing shorts for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Walt made use of some of the simple forms of the art as it existed then. Plenty of paper cut-outs became animations using the technique of stop motion. But he changed to the more popular form of cel animation with the Laugh-O-Gram films.

This new exhibit takes a look at the practice from its earliest days right up to the latest and greatest uses in film making. For example, the display includes a replica of the armature used in one of the best known stop-motion creations of film, 1933's "King Kong." It was this film that has inspired many artists to move further into animation. New mediums of stop motion such as television got into the act.

A favorite of many stop motion fans. Art Clokey's "Gumby."

On the recent end of the scale, you'll see a figure used in the Laika production of "Coraline." Recent Disney tales such as "James and The Giant Peach" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" join in too.

Even though the use of stop motion animation may not normally come to mind when thinking of the Disney studio, it has been a part of a number of films throughout its history. Ever hear of this one?

From 1962, "Symposium on Popular Songs" features Ludwig
Von Drake and an amusing stop-motion sequence. You
can find it on the Disney Rarities DVD set.

Or how about the wooden soldiers in "Babes in Toyland"? Or "Mary Poppins"? Who can forget the song "A Spoonful of Sugar" with its clever scene in the nursery? Great use of stop motion animation. Even the Pixar short subject, "Your Friend The Rat" used this as part of the story telling method in bringing this animated film to us.

I'm not giving away all of the surprises on hand in this exhibit, but there really are some special items worth a visit to see if this form of animation is near and dear to you. The WDFM has gathered a fine selection to show what artists have accomplished using this technique.

You really won't want to miss an upcoming special program at the Museum on Saturday, October 20th. A quartet of folks with a world of stop motion experience will be on hand to discuss the art. Moderator Hal Hickel will join Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Tom St. Amand, and Jon Berg as they share tales of the art along with a secret or two. It promises to be a wonderful afternoon.

The Museum also will be screening "The Nightmare Before Christmas" between Friday, October 25th through Wednesday, October 31st (excluding the 30th when the Museum is closed).

For more information about "Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation," tickets to the special event and films as well as the Walt Disney Family Museum, visit www.waltdisney.org.

Did you enjoy today's article by Roger Colton? If so, please be aware that are a number of Colton columns to be found in JHM's archives. Or -- if you'd prefer to read Roger's more recent writings -- then you really want to head on to (or -- better yet -- bookmark) his personal website, The Blue Parrot.

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