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Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists Hardcover – November 15, 1996

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (November 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786861525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786861521
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

For the first time ever, noted animation historian and animator John Canemaker documents the lives and works of Disney's "inspirational sketch artists" from the 1930s to the present. These are the people who visualize all the details surrounding each character in the initial creative period before the grueling labor of animation begins. "Through daydreams and doodles, they attempt to 'find' the film." The happy result of these flights of fancy are dancing ostriches and personality-rich broomsticks. Drawings and paintings of Disney characters leap right off the pages of this lush book, where you'll find pastels from Fantasia, faux wood-cuts of the Seven Dwarfs, paintings of Alice in Wonderland, and hundreds of other delightful, rarely seen images.

The stories of artists such as Ty Wong, who created Bambi, and Bianca Majolie, the first woman to join the story department at Walt Disney (in 1935), are as provocative as their art. Canemaker does a fine job of placing the artists' lives and interactions with Disney studios in the historical context of modern art. Before the Animation Begins is a beautiful book.

From Library Journal

Both of these heavily illustrated books look at two less celebrated sections of the Disney empire, and the rare artwork that both contain is their strongest asset. Canemaker's book is on the people who created preliminary sketches "that explore the visual possibilities in a literary property." These possibilities for any proposed cartoon include the visual style of the film, how the characters will look, the way a major scene could be portrayed, and so on. Specific sketch artists have put their individual stamp on the entire look of the finished film in such cases as Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, and Night on Bald Mountain. In addition, they have created memorable minor characters, such as Pocahontas's raccoon pal and Beauty and the Beast's Mrs. Potts. Canemaker primarily concentrates on the feature-length cartoons, and he gives special attention to Fantasia. By chronologically examining the life and work of the significant sketch artists, he ably demonstrates their contributions. An interesting look at a neglected aspect of the Disney films. With a combination of imagination and engineering skill, the Imagineers create all elements of the Disney theme parks, from the rides, attractions, shops, and restaurants to the signs, light fixtures, trash cans, and landscaping. Starting with Disneyland and continuing up to the present day, this book attempts to show how "imagineering" created so many memorable experiences. Even with the aid of copious illustrations-never-before-seen artwork from the Imagineering Division's own files-the act of imaginative creation is difficult to re-create, and this work doesn't completely succeed in showing how the Imagineers brought their creations into being. It is further hampered by a once-over-lightly writing style. But that is a minor quibble in what for the most part is a fascinating before-the-curtain-rises look at the Disney theme parks. Both books are highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
Marianne Cawley, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pamela J. Martin on April 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
John Canemaker is the best animation author in the business, and I own all of his books to date. Before the Animation Begins is beautifully illustrated and so informative--it is a book I pick up again and again. It is a must have for all Disney animation fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas B. Barr on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have you ever dreamed of approaching Walt Disney Studios with your own idea for a story they should make into a feature? A great story, but how could you get them to see that it was good for them? This is a book about people who can do that. If a story were 'perfect' for Disney, these are the artists who will get the studio to understand that it is perfect. These artists share Walt Disneys greatest skill: the ability to get others excited about something wonderfull, and they are able to do it thru artwork. Usually this work is never appreaciated by the public, as beautifull as it might be. This is beautifull artwork that is meant only for other artists to appreaciate and be inspired by.
Canemakers book allows us to appreaciate them as well for once, and also allows us to get to know what kind of people are able to do it. Awesome
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must read for Disney enthusiasts. Preproduction sketches are the most fascinating artwork to look at of the Disney art. This book is a series of short bios on the various sketch artists who worked at the Disney studio throughout the years. It's great that info has been published about these people, because I reckon there isnt much out there about some of these artists.
Here you'll find bios and art from people such as Albert Hurter, Gustaf Tengren, Joe Grant, David Hall, Mary Blair, Kay Nielsen. The Archive Editions Design book is a great supplement to this book. I hope this will get rereleased in the future.
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