RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Technique

April 2

April 2, 1899 – Sound and Camera Pioneer and Disney Legend Bill Garity is Born

“With his pioneering efforts in sound and camera techniques, he helped set Disney Studios apart from others, while his planning and supervisory expertise resulted in the building of a highly efficient Studio in Burbank.” – Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus, Dave Smith

On April 2, 1899, Bill Garity was born in Brooklyn, New York. After attending the Pratt Institute of Art in New York, he served with the Radio Research and Development sector of the U.S. Signal Corps during World War I. His work in radio continued to flourish when, after the war, he met and worked with Lee DeForest, a pioneer in the field of radio. The pair would work on the development of sound for the earliest films. As Garity was working on the Cinephone motion picture recording system in 1928, he met a young Walt Disney, who was hoping to elevate the animated art form. With Garity’s help, Steamboat Willie became a hit for the fledgling Disney Studios, and Disney bought the Cinephone system with an offer for Garity to come out to Hollywood to install it and train a technician to operate it. Garity officially joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1929 and stayed with the company for over 13 years, leading a department of 18 engineers. At Disney, Garity was instrumental in creating such innovations such as the multiplane camera, which earned the studio an Academy Award in the Scientific and Technical category; the team also invented Fantasound, a unique stereo system that was installed in theaters specifically for the animated feature film Fantasia. Garity left the studio in 1940 to pursue other technical ventures, and ended up serving as the vice president and production manager for the Walter Lantz Studios. He passed away on September 16, 1971, in Los Angeles California. For his groundbreaking technical expertise and ability to help Walt achieve his dream of the elevated animated film, Garity was posthumously honored as a Disney Legend in 1999.

February 3

February 3, 2014 – Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story Premieres at the El Capitan Theatre

“When you are born blank in a painted world, love can give you color.”

On February 3, 2014, the stop-motion short film Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The film would be released on the Google Play platform on February 10, and would continue to play at the El Capitan alongside a limited-time showing of Lady and the Tramp to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It was produced by Disney Interactive Entertainment, and was directed by Greg Shewchuk, Paul Foyder, Michael Ambs, Whitfield Scheidegger, and Regina Roy.

The short begins with the character Blank being released into the painted world, and soon spotting Bow, a similarly blank Vinyl. Bow gives Blank a bow tie, and the two watch the sunrise together, with Blank giving Bow a flower. The mood quickly changes when a strange creature arrives and takes Blank Minnie away on a train. Not wanting to lose his love, Blank Mickey hops on the top of the train as it rolls along, and sets off on an adventure to find her, making unlikely friendships, traveling through the woods at night, and doing whatever it takes to find her.

April 10

April 10, 1972 – Bedknobs and Broomsticks Wins Academy Award for Special Visual Effects


“Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum Satis Dee.”

On April 10, 1972, the 44th Academy Awards were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. Nominated for five Academy Awards, the live-action feature Bedknobs and Broomsticks managed to go home with one for Best Visual Effects, beating out the film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth by Hammer Films, distributed by Warner Brothers. One of the effects used included the sodium screen vapor process (originally developed by Ub Iwerks), which was used mostly for the flying bed scenes and involved a three-strip Technicolor camera that removed the sodium light by use of a prism. The sodium process has since been replaced by green screens and blue screens, as well as compositing via computers.

March 25

March 25, 1996 – John Lasseter is Awarded a Special Academy Award for Toy Story

John Lasseter Award

“Now we take you to the world of computer animation, where director John Lasseter has proved that a boy with a hard drive can go a long way.” – Presenter Robin Williams

On March 25, 1996, the 68th Academy Awards were held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. At this ceremony, John Lasseter was awarded a special Academy Award for the creation of the first fully computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, calling its creation a milestone in the achievement of motion pictures. The film had been a long time in the making, going back to Lasseter’s aspirations after starting at Disney decades earlier. Lasseter showed up on stage to receive the award, bringing with him a Woody and a Buzz Lightyear toy. Lasseter thanked the Academy for its longtime support of student filmmakers, as well as everyone at Pixar and Disney for their support and effort into making the film.

February 14

February 14, 2004 – John Lasseter is Honored by the Art Directors Guild


“In 2004, Lasseter was honored by the Art Directors Guild with its prestigious ‘Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery’…”

On February 14, 2004, the 8th annual Art Directors Guild Awards were held in California. Amongst the winners for best in film and television for 2003, John Lasseter from Pixar was honored by the guild with a special award for “Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery” thanks to his work in groundbreaking computer animation.

February 7

February 7, 2009 – Ed Catmull is Awarded the Gordon E. Sawyer Award


“…for his lifetime of technical contributions and leadership in the field of computer graphics for the motion picture industry.”

On February 7, 2009, President of the Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios was honored with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award at the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The award, first presented in 1981, is presented to those whose technological advances have helped the industry. Catmull was instrumental in creating the fundamentals of what would become computer animation, with his film A Computer Animated Hand being hailed as groundbreaking. He would go on to found three computer graphics research centers at New York Institute of Technology, Lucasfilm Ltd., and Pixar. Catmull had previously received two Scientific and Engineering Awards for his work in the film industry, winning as part of a team for RenderMan software in 1992 and part of a team for Digital Image Compositing in 1995.

February 4

February 4, 1999 – Pixar Announces PixarVision


“[David DiFrancesco] recently led our team of scientists in developing PixarVision, which uses solid state lasers to record on multiple film formats with more quality and speed than ever before.” – Ed Catmull

On February 4, 1999, Pixar Animation Studios announced the creation of PixarVision, a new proprietary laser recording system that converts computer animation data onto motion picture film stock. The process was tested on the studio’s second animated feature A Bug’s Life, and was announced to be used on all Pixar animated features, starting with Toy Story 2. The process itself replaces the cathode ray tubes used to create the images that expose the filmstock with laser beams that are carefully controlled. The new process boasts higher quality color reproduction, sharper images, and faster recording. PixarVision, headed up by David DiFrancesco, was awarded by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences with a Scientific and Technical Academy Award on February 27, 1999.