From Snow White to Wreck-it Ralph: A look back at Disney animation

Disney is letting go of nine of its animators from the company’s hand drawn animation team, a month after it announced it has no further plans to work in the traditional 2D format. That’s despite the success of the Oscar winning short Paperman, a hybrid of hand drawn and computer animation. So how did Disney go from Snow White to Wreck-It Ralph?

In 1908 Émile Cohl debuted what is widely considered to be the first animated film ever, Fantasmagorie.

Emile Cohl - Fantasmagorie 1908

20 years later Walt Disney released its own animated short, this time with sound.It was called Steamboat Willie, and it features a black and white mouse named Mickey.

Steamboat Willie - 1928

But the process of drawing individual animation cells was time consuming. When Disney released his first feature film Snow White in in 1937, it had taken 3 years to complete.

"He had to keep hiring animators because he realized, 'Oh my god, I’m never going to get this project done in time, says Dana Hawkes is an animation arts consultant at Bonams. "So now it doesn’t take quite as long, probably half that time."

Heigh Ho - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Movie goers don’t seem to miss hand drawn animation though. Disney’s recent hand drawn features The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh both made significantly less money than Disney’s latest computer animated feature Wreck it Ralph which grossed nearly $200 million at the box office.

Wreck-It Ralph Trailer

 

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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