Dale and Robin Hood

I’ll be speaking at California Institure of the Arts this evening. I’ll be joining my old pal, Dale Baer in the classroom. In case you don’t know this amazing Disney animator, I can tell you that he began his Disney career in the seventies and in the years that followed, Dale managed to become an exceptional animator. When I returned to Walt Disney Animation in the early seventies I shared an office with Dale. He was a kid with long hair and full of ambition. Though new to Disney, he had finally been accepted into Disney’s animation training program and was making great progess. By the time I arrived, Dale was already an animator on the current feature film in production. That film, in case you’re wondering, was “Robin Hood.” I would be doing clean-up work on the film even though I had returned to Disney hoping for a shot at animation. Alas, this 38 year old was simply too damn old to be accepted into Disney’s animation training program. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know. But, without Walt, few things at the seventies Disney Studio made sense.

As I’ve often said, had the Disney Company not shut down traditional hand drawn animation, Disney’s hallowed “Nine Old Men” would have had some serious competition. Think I’m joking? I can honestly say that the new generation of animation professionals at the Disney Company was pushing animation to a whole new level. Working from the foundation established by the Disney Masters, these new, young animators were just hitting their stride. Given a few more years, they could have eventually achieved the level of Disney’s Masters. A few more years - they might have even surpassed it. We’ll never know that, of course. The company began by marginalizing hand drawn animation before completely destroying it. Naturally, they knew what they were doing. Some might say that Disney traditional hand drawn animation simply died on its own. Perhaps that’s true. However, I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t “Brutus” acting alone. There were many others wielding daggers when it was time for the “assasination.”

In time, Dale Baer like many of his Disney colleagues learned to manipulate the cyper puppet and he did it quite well. If you’ll pardon me for saying so, I’d prefer watching Dale’s hand drawn animation any day over his work on what I often call, “the digital puppet show.” Perhaps we’ll talk a bit about this tonight. I’ll give fair warning. This animation old timer is pretty outspoken and opinionated. Of course, you already knew that, didn’t you?

Back in the seventies, Dale Baer and I worked on this Disney feature film. People seem to like the film despite its lackluster story. I had left story for a shot at animation. Clearly, that was a mistake.

Back in the seventies, Dale Baer and I worked on this Disney feature film. People seem to like the film despite its lackluster story. I had left story for a shot at animation. Clearly, that was a mistake.