Monday, May 18, 2015

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Care That Disney Reused Images

By Lindsey Allmon

It’s been going around recently that Disney “borrowed” animation sequences from older movies and reused them instead of completely reimagining the new scenes. I’ve read a lot of these articles, and I sense a lot of hatred towards Disney for being “lazy” and essentially making the same film over and over. I’ve known about the copied frames for years and yet my opinion of Disney has never diminished. Continue after the page break for five very good reasons why everyone needs to cut Disney some slack...

1) Rotoscoping is a Thing, and it’s Used ALL the Time

I’ve talked about rotoscoping here on Disney Avenue in a previous article but I’ll go ahead and rehash the process. Disney would hire actors to film a live action version of the scenes they would be animating. They would break the film down frame by frame and trace over the actors to get realistic movement of the characters. It makes sense. It’s why animators keep mirrors at their drawing stands. You animate people based on real people. So if you have frames of real people acting out the exact scenes you want to animate, why would you not use them? Which brings me to my next point...

2) Why Waste Money?

If you already have film for the exact scene you want to do, why would you hire an entirely new set of actors to come in and perform it again? I know that Disney has a lot of money, but they have that money because they don’t waste it redoing things that don’t need to be redone. They already have the frames in storage, it makes sense to use them.

3) Animators Don’t Disappear

Fred Hellmich, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Hal King, Eric Larson, Bill Layne, John Lounsbery, and Sylvia Roemer. These are the Disney animators who worked on Robin Hood, The Jungle Book, and The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, three of the films at the center of this pseudo scandal. When a good portion of your animation team stays constant, the films are going to look awfully similar. It’s why you can always tell when something is Pixar versus standard Disney, it’s why the films in the 1990’s look different from those in the 1940’s. Animators have their own techniques, their own styles, so films that share animators will often have a similar look and feel to them. Does it really shock you that these scenes are so similar?

4) Less Reinventing, More Movies

In addition to saving money, Disney also saved time by reusing old scenes. It was already mapped out, requiring just a few tweaks. For example, the forest that both Mowgli and Christopher Robin walk through the background is the same, just repainted. Already having something to work off of meant the animators didn’t need to wait for background art to be complete before they started working on cels. This potentially shaved weeks off production time, allowing for earlier release dates and more movies than we may have had in such a short time frame.

5) If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

When a scene works, when it flows right and captures your audience, when it evokes emotions of joy or sorrow, why would you change it? Yes, animation must adapt and grow, just as storytelling should. But when you create a scene and it just looks right, you keep it the way it is. You tweak and edit it until it's exactly what you need, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely change everything about it.

We need to step back and realize that this isn’t a cop out. It makes sense for Disney to reuse what they can, especially in the incredibly tedious world of classic animation. If they copied an entire movie frame for frame, slapped a new name on it and ask us to pay ten dollars to see it, then yes, be up in arms and go picket the studios, whatever floats your boat. But as it stands, Disney is outrageously creative, innovative and resourceful, and people need to see that.


Lindsey Allmon is a great lover of all things Disney and has been from the moment she was born. Lindsey is eager to share her knowledge of Disney with all of you. She is twenty one years old and hails from a suburb just southwest of Columbus, Ohio. Recently Lindsey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Ohio State University with hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Her hobbies include reading, baking, singing obnoxiously loud in her car and shower, perfecting her Pinterest boards, and watching movies. In addition to that, she is planning her Tangled and Paperman themed wedding to her wonderful fiancé, Colby. As far as her Disney history goes, Lindsey's first trip was before she was a year old and she has made a trip nearly every year since, both as a basic family vacation and as a performer during Magic Music Days and the Magic Kingdom parade prior to the fireworks spectacular Wishes. She has been through countless park changes and stayed at approximately 10 different Disney Hotels. Her favorite character of all time is Maleficent. As a general rule Lindsey tends to love villains the most as she thinks they have some of the best lines, and who can resist a diabolical laugh? Her favorite Disney movie is easily Mary Poppins. When Lindsey was little all she wanted to watch was Mary Poppins over and over again, and as she grew older she realized the perfection that is Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Lindsey's favorite Disney Park is the World Showcase section of Epcot. She loves traveling and the World Showcase is a great way to experience so many different cultures at once. Fun Fact: Every year her parents buy her an oyster at the Japan Pavilion. The pearls from these oysters have all been saved and will be strung into a necklace that Lindsey will wear on her wedding day. Her favorite ride is Splash Mountain. Lindsey's articles will focus on navigating Disney World as well as providing some great insider info about the history of the company and the parks.

You can find all of Lindsey's articles here.

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