Quotes from Animation Greats Part 2

Here are some more quotes that I’ve discovered from my research. I hope you enjoy them and are inspired by the words from the people who made the magic come to life.


Frank Thomas: “You would enclose yourself in this, it was a high-class escapism to be able to go into this magic land with this character, whoever he was, and spend a couple, three hours, creating something there between him and you.”

Frank Thomas: “You were always looking for some ways of making the character come to life, enriching himself, making him a little different.”

Frank Thomas (on sad scene with dwarfs): “Now if you can think of some kind of movement, not much because this is sad and you want minimum movement but in sincere animation you find out if you don’t move the character he goes flat and kills it, and you can’t make your point. In doing a sincere thing, in order to believe this guy is real, he’s up there feeling this part, you have to keep him moving. Essentially it’s what drawings you can get that will sett it, ‘cause you’re going to have minimum action to begin with. When something’s very sad that way they don’t act.”

Frank Thomas (on Pinocchio: “You had to always watch out that he moved and acted in a very innocent, unskilled way. Every movement had to be as if he was born today and had no history. I felt very strongly that it ought to be very amateurish. He’s never rehearsed this. The puppet doesn’t know what he’s going to do. He’s making it up as he goes along. I’m going to have him be late on his sync on some of the words.”

Frank Thomas(on Cinderella): “While the Stepmother was very difficult to do and not much fan, the thing made the picture work.”

Frank Thomas(on Lady and the Tramp): “A couple of dogs eating spaghetti doesn’t sound real attractive and yet I saw real Chaplin and Harold Lloyd symbols of things.”

Frank Thomas (on Jungle Book): “You never knew where it came from but you had a feeling of strong friendship which we wanted and needed so badly for the picture. It also tested our ability as animators.”

Ollie Johnston (on Jungle Book): “Without these sequences coming off properly all this character work we had done wouldn’t pay off.”

Frank Thomas (on Disney career): “This place was too unique, too wonderful, too different. I wouldn’t be happy if I had missed out on this experience.”

Ollie Johnston: “It’s surprising what an effect touching can have on an animated cartoon. You expect it in a live-action picture or in your daily life but to have two pencil drawings touching each other, you wouldn’t think wouldn’t have much of an impact but it does.”

Ollie Johnston: “You’re not supposed to animate drawings. You’re supposed to animate feelings.”

Ollie Johnston: “I seem to have kind of reservoir of feelings about how people feel in certain situations. And while someone else might be more interested in the drawing of the character in that situation I was particularly interested in how the character actually feel.”

Ollie Johnston: “From Fred Moore I learned how important expressions are. You can’t show it unless you stage it right and give the audience time to see it. Same with acting and attitudes.”

Ollie Johnston: “Everybody knows what a real girl looks like. If you get the eyes off a little bit or the nose, it really spoils the looks of it.”

Ollie Johnston: “You have to make it sincere, so that the audience will believe everything they do, all their emotions. Ask yourself: What is the character thinking and why does he feel this way?”

John Lounsbery: “I think animation has advanced technically but I don’t think that they display or stage the gags much better than Snow White. Milt’s done a lot of change to this new style of highly skilled draftsmanship, like live action. Fergy didn’t draw well. He really wasn’t interested in drawing well. But he could sure tell a story in staging, timing, and the personality he got in there. And that’s the difference between a fine artist and a damn fine animator.”

John Lounsbery: “What I enjoy the most is broader action- I like heavies. I don’t like subtler things- the princes and the queens.”

Marc Davis: “To be an animator you have to have a sense of the dramatic, a feel for acting. You have to be a storyteller.”

Marc Davis (on the magic of connecting to an audience through animation for the first time): It’s true. It only happens once.”

Marc Davis: “The whole thing with creativity is there’s something new to do out there. Why not give it a try?”

Walt Disney (in Snow White story meeting): “Grumpy’s remarks are a great source of irritation for Doc. Doc can be in the happiest mood, but one look at Grumpy brings a complete change over him and a sort of determination to show his authority.”

Bill Tylta: “Finding the sweatbox was a revelation. After all if you do a piece of animation over enough times you must see what is wrong with it.”

Ward Kimball: “Animation is very slow. When you’re an actor, you depend on spontaneity in a scene and it’s hard to work up spontaneity when you’re doing separate drawings. The faster you work, the more spontaneity, and that was one of the secrets of the earlyFerguson animation drawings. He could draw almost as fast as he could think.”

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston: “Walt was so immersed in the characters that at times, as he talked and acted out the roles as he saw them, he forgot we were there. We loved to watch him; his feelings about the characters were contagious… The most stimulating part of all this to the animators was that everything Walt was suggesting could be animated. It was not awkward continuity or realistic illustrations but actions that were familiar to everyone.”

Wilfred Jackson: “On Dumbo we were trying every way we could not to spend so much money making the pictures as we had been doing. Quite often Bill (Tytla) would knock out a few poses to get them started and would supervise what they did, very carefully.”

Howard Swift: “I animated pink elephants straight ahead, on twos- just as straight ahead as you could do it. I didn’t make any key poses. I put down a piece of paper and made the next move.”

Bill Tytla: “It’s almost a physical pain to rough out one character and space it a certain way and try to get his attitude a certain way, then go on to another character.”

Bill Tytla: “I don’t know a damned thing about elephants. It wasn’t that. I was thinking in terms of humans and I saw a chance to do a character without using any cheap theatrics. Most of the expressions and mannerisms I got from my own kid. There’s nothing theatrical about a two year old kid. They’re real and sincere- like when they damn near wet their pants from excitement when you come home at night.”

Richard Boleslavsky (not in animation but wrote Acting the Six Steps which inspired Tytla greatly): “If you are a sensitive and normal human being, all life is open and familiar to you.”

Walt Disney: “Ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs I have been eager to make a full length all-cartoon feature which would possess all that picture’s entertainment qualities and have the same worldwide appeal. I think we have this picture presently in work. It is Cinderella.”  

Ward Kimball: “Lots of times if you weren’t familiar with music or dance, you didn’t know what the leg did. I was given so many musical numbers to do because I liked these things.”

Ward Kimball: “I thought Pinocchio was harder for everybody than Snow White. We finished Snow White and we said ‘Ha. We can do features!’ And everybody went into Pinocchio with this great load of confidence. Boy, six months later we found out, and Walt found out, that what you learn in one picture doesn’t necessarily work in the next picture.”

Ward Kimball: “The story needed something to bounce Pinocchio’s problems off of. See, the Cricket has educated Pinocchio and you get a kick off of Pinocchio’s mistakes and naivete, his unworldly approach.”

Ward Kimball: “In order to get the sequence together, so Walt could kind of get a feeling of it before it was entirely animated, he would ask the animators to pull pose reels.”

Ward Kimball: “So as animation became more of a movie illustration, we got away from the rubber hose arbitrary way of drawing. Fred (Moore) deviated from the rubber hose round circle school. Fred was just right for the time. He was the first one to escape from the rubber-hose school. He began adding counter movements; counter thrusts, in the way he drew. More drawings. He decided to make Mickey’s cheeks move with his mouth, which had never been done before when you drew everything inside a circle. He squashed and stretched him more. Fred would hit a pose and freeze there while we were already loosening those things up and putting in the subtle things that would keep alive a long time.”

Wilfred Jackson: “Animation was probably the one end of it where Walt had to depend on the animators themselves more than he did on the other functions. Walt was a better storyman than any storyman he could hire, he was a better director than any director he could hire but he wasn’t a better animator than any of the animators he could hire. At that point the direction was largely a matter of trying hard to get on the screen what you understood Walt wanted on the screen.”

Wilfred Jackson: “Walt expected changes that would improve it but he expected to get what he wanted that was on the storyboard. The development of personalities in characters is something that Walt worked on hard right from the start. Right from the start Walt didn’t want them to be just something moving around on the screen doing funny things. He wanted the audience to care what happened to the characters, and to believe in them as real beings, not just a bunch of funny drawings.”

Ken Anderson: “I think that Walt was always impatient with the restrictions of a cartoon. He strived for more and more realism, more naturalism in the features. All these things are tied together, particularly character development and story because they go hand in hand with making a picture. And all those things have to be synthesized- story, color, music, characters- to make an entertaining whole.”

Ken O’Connor: “we did an immense amount of research for Pinocchio, researching houses and carving and everything else.”

Ken O’Connor: “In the features we tried to give a rounded feeling to the characters to pull them to close to the backgrounds.”

Milt Kahl: “I think that the trouble with a group effort is if you work hard enough you find yourself all alone.”

Milt Kahl: “The notes on the exposure sheet were to remind the animator of points covered in his discussions with the director. Then I will put notes on the X-sheet and I’ll go through it with a stopwatch and time it overall. For a dialogue scene I’d do it through thumbnails. My procedures are thoughtful and analytical. I’ll explore all the possibilities and try to do it the best way.”

Milt Kahl: “You have to do business, so they’ll see it and be sold on putting it in the picture. I’ve often said that if there’s anything good about our pictures it’s the richness of character.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: