Friday, March 23, 2012

Glen Keane Leaves Disney

It is a sad day in the animation world. Animator Glen Keane has left Disney. His work is unlike any other. He has a way with the pencil that is so unique. I remember looking through the "art of" book for Tangled and being able to point out Glen's drawings every single time.

Originally posted on Cartoon Brew:

March 23, 2012

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio,

After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.

I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.

Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.

Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.

I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you.

With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,


For me the one scene that defines Glen Keane is the Beast's transformation sequence in "Beauty and the Beast". You see him changing from this creature back into a human and it seems so effortlessly. Every line has a purpose. When "Beauty and the Beast" first came out in 1991, I saw it in the theater about seven times. I could not get enough of it. Not only was it a great story but the animation just blew me away. It was the Beast that kept drawing me in. It was like no other animated character I had ever seen. When I got my "art of" book for this movie I studied it and started drawing the Beast in my sketchbook over and over again. Such an amazing character. Such amazing animation.

The following year "Aladdin" was released and Glen Keane struck gold again! This time he was the supervising animator for Aladdin. I saw this movie about seven times in theater, too!! I saw it so many times that after each screening I would rush home and listen to the soundtrack. I would then storyboard out the musical numbers from memory. I sketched out the opening number all the way up to the Cave of Wonder, the "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali" sequences and a few others. All in all I would say I had storyboarded about 20 minutes of the film. This was great because now I could "watch" the movie any time I wanted! Disney aired a "making of" special on TV during this time. I recorded it on VHS and watched it over and over and over. Then over and over again on video and again on DVD.

But the one that really blew me away was in 1999 when he did the title character in Disney's "Tarzan". His work on this film was unbelievable! This character was the most complicated because it was the most human. When it came out on DVD I made sure to get the collector's edition for the second disc of nothing but behind-the-scenes. Again, I watched it over and over and over, especially this scene:

But I cannot leave out THE film that really pushed me into studying animation, "The Little Mermaid". I couldn't find many videos of Glen's work on this film. This is the best one I could find.

And finally the first part of a lecture series that is definitely worth watching.

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