Timeless Winnie the Pooh Still Charms
- Friday, July 15, 2011
Describe the type of animation in Winnie the Pooh that’s different than what moviegoers may be seeing in other animated films in theaters right now.
Well, an obvious difference is the fact that this is hand-drawn, what we call a traditional animated film where the animators and the artwork is all generated by hand. The animation is done with paper and pencil as opposed to a lot of the animated films today which are computer generated the way the artists are manipulating kind of a CG design that models characters with a computer—whereas I sit down and start with a blank piece of paper and a pencil and make the drawing of the particular character that I’m working on.
Are there any differences between what’s going on visually in Winnie the Pooh of today as opposed to what we may have seen on-screen in the ‘60s and ‘70s?
Well, in terms of technology certainly there are some of the tools that have changed that we use, arguably the less creative areas. You know they were animating with paper and pencil just as we did on this film today, but there’s certainly some tools that have changed. But the idea and the effect that we wanted was to look and build upon what was done in the past . . . and like yourself, you said, grew up watching these films at the theater and they’re beloved characters and films to us. So we wanted to recapture the charm of the Hundred Acre Wood and the way that Disney created that world of Pooh. So you know that’s what we did. That was our goal.
Do you feel that what we’re seeing in Winnie the Pooh is faithful to the illustrations of the actual books?
Well, it’s faithful as much as what Disney has always done. It’s not exactly the way [E.H.] Sheperd drew Pooh. I mean if you put Disney’s version next to what Sheperd did there’s obvious differences. But then there’s a lot of similarities really. It’s surprising how much the characters actually do look a lot like Sheperd’s. I think some more than others. Pooh’s probably one of those that had a greater change than others, but Eeyore looks very much like the way Sheperd drew him. Piglet, Owl, I mean a lot of the characters are very similar. I used Sheperd’s work primarily as an inspiration in terms of I wanted to see the kind of poses and attitudes that he put Winnie the Pooh in and that was an inspiration to me as I was going through my animation to help come up with appropriate poses and attitudes that reflected the spirit of Shepherd’s illustrations but may not have looked exactly like them.
Several of the filmmakers traveled to England to see the actual locations where Milne wrote the books and where the real Christopher Robin spent his summer vacations. Did you get to go? And why do you think it’s important that research like this was done?
Well, I got to go but after the fact. We had a European press junket and that was held just a few miles from the Hundred Acre Wood, and so I went kind of after the fact. But what has happened now actually for many of our films, they do these research trips and it’s really important I think in terms of building a level of authenticity in our films that helps put across the believability. You know we don’t deal in realism in the sense that what you’re seeing is real, obviously, but it should be believable. And so the worlds that we try to create need to be authentic and believable and that comes from doing your research, doing your homework and that’s a very big part. And I’ve had the opportunity on other films to do a couple of those research trips and it does … to stand where Christopher Robin played and to see what he saw, you know it does give you a better idea. And there’s a lot of details and things that you know that the background painters, the layout artists, the story artists might learn on a trip like that and then they can bring back and it helps lay a foundation of authenticity that we can build on as the story develops and the artwork develops for a particular film.
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