Disney Animated: 75 Years of Animation History Literally in Palm of Your Hand

'Disney Animated' provides unprecedented access such as this Pinocchio maquette which had been lost for decades. Photo by Kiki LevinImagine if there was a way to explore every single frame of every single production from Walt Disney Feature Animation, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through Wreck-It Ralph and beyond. Imagine if you could have the ability to take a CG model of Vanellope von Schweetz based on an import of the real one and not only easily animate her with more than a hundred points of articulation but save and share your creation with your friends and even allow them to collaborate on your animation (app required). Imagine if you could harness the power of Elsa’s magic snow from Frozen and control its every move and appearance using the same software principles as the film’s animators used.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Only you don’t have to imagine — it’s already here and you can have all of that and much, much more today thanks to a special collaboration between Disney Interactive and Walt Disney Animation Studios, called ‘Disney Animated‘ available exclusively for the Apple iPad 2 and newer generations (including iPad Mini).

At a cost of $13.99 and a file size reaching nearly 1.7GB, it’s easily Disney Interactive’s most ambitious and extensive projects to date. Developed in partnership with Touch Press, at the heart of the app is an eight chapter, heavily interactive text that delves into the animation process from concept to screen. In addition to the text which was co-authored by Theodore Gray, Chief Creative Officer of Touch Press, and Dave Bossert, Producer/Creative Director for WDAS, it also includes an unabridged version of the ‘Principles of Animation’ chapter from the iconic work The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. And — unlike in the print edition — all the illustrations move when touched.

In addition to the text are several activities which allow you to perform the tasks mentioned at the top of this article, and even more. Using the Mood Shifter, for example, you’ll be able to manipulate just a few points of articulation on Tangled’s Maximus to demonstrate how his face can convey a wide range of emotions without saying (neighing?) a word. An interactive timeline provides direct access to the entire history of Disney animation films and additional information including original theatrical posters and more — even the ability to transition between various stages from pencil sketches to the final scene all at your own will.

And perhaps most impressive of all is the Color Map — a single full-screen image that shows every scene from every Walt Disney Animation Studios animated feature film in thumbnail form. Never before has Disney’s complete catalog been presented like this.

If all this weren’t more than enough already, ‘Disney Animated’ also provides unprecedented access to the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and allows fans to explore items that even many inside the company have yet to see. One such treasure is a Pinocchio maquette which now resides inside the Walt Disney Studio Archives but spent more than five decades hidden away in a locked storage cabinet in the basement of the old Animation building. While very few people will have the opportunity to see it in person, let alone touch it, ‘Disney Animated’ brings it to fans in a way that not only lets them view it in a full 360 degree format, but also zoom in on the high resolution scan.

All in all, dozens of top animators, artists, technicians, and designers contributed to making ‘Disney Animated‘ an unprecedented hands-on experience. ‘Disney Animated’ gives you access to an astonishing amount of material from all eras of Walt Disney Animation Studios, beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and continuing through an exclusive first look at concept art, animation tests, and visual effects from the upcoming film Frozen.

For those attending D23 Expo in Anaheim this week, there will be a special ‘Disney Animated’ presentation on Saturday at 3:30 pm in Stage 28. The panel will feature co-author Dave Bossert along with Disney animators Eric Goldberg, Amy Smeed, Mike Kaschalk, Brittany Lee and Darin Hollings who will discuss the art form, legacy and future of animation. Attendees will also have the opportunity to leave with exclusive limited-edition giveaways.

Portions of this article contributed by Kiki Levin. Kiki Levin is the founder and editor of MaisonMouse.com, a place where Disney meets fashion.

‘Disney Animated’ screens courtesy Disney Interactive

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