Good versus Evil

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by dorselanpher

It was one day in the past, a day during one of those many years as I was working for Walt Disney, I was meandering down the hallway of the Walt Disney Flower Street animation building in Glendale. The building which animation had been exiled to after Roy had brought in Eisner and the gang and before the new animation building was constructed for animation on Riverside Drive in Burbank. On the walls were displayed a series of some black and white photos of Disney history. They were photos of story meetings which Walt was having with his story men. For some reason, (I’ll spare you the details here but there was the mustache), the picture of Walt reminded me of Adolf Hitler. Now before you allow yourself to mentally fumble through a frightening conspiratorial avalanche of crazy conclusions hear me out. Seeing those photos began a cascade of curious thoughts cavorting through my brain. I was filled with thoughts of how it could be that those two men, who, as young men, had aspirations as artists, and eventually had such a different, opposite, and enormous impact on the world. To align just some of their history makes an interesting study in the curious world of happenstance and reminds us to be protective of good and vigilant of the malevolent forces in the world.

Walt Disney’s was born in 1901. As a youngster he had an early interest in art which inspired him to sell drawings to neighbors. His parents moved to Chicago when he was a teen and in 1917 he began art classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and continued living with his parents. Adolf Hitler was born in 1889. It was about the time Disney was selling drawings to his neighbors that Hitler, in 1907, hoping to establish his career in art, applied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He was severely thwarted when he was rejected. He continued to live in Vienna and apparently had no desire to find employment. His life there was unproductive and he became homeless when his savings ran out. He then discovered he could earn a meager living selling pictures of famous Vienna landmarks which he copied from postcards.

WWI began in 1914 and Hitler, to avoid being drafted into the Austrian Army went back to Germany and joined the German military. He was wounded in 1917 and was sent to Berlin. Disney, in 1918, rejected by the military, joined the Red Cross to help in the war effort. He was sent to France to be an ambulance driver.

At the end of WWI, Hitler, very disappointed in Germany’s humiliating defeat, became a noticeable participant in Germany’s politics; he had been an avid reader through those years in Vienna and politically inclined. In 1921 Hitler, after much promoting, politicking, and speech making, was appointed leader of the Nazi party, he was 32 years old. Disney, 13 years younger than Hitler, had moved to Kansas City Missouri, to become a political cartoonist.

Two years after Hitler became head of the Nazi party the Disney brothers, Walt and Roy, already selling films of their cartoons, had moved to Los Angeles, California, to find gold in them there Hollywood hills. By 1925 their Disney Brother’s Studio was becoming more successful. They changed their name to Walt Disney Company and was now in a larger studio in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.

By 1932 the Disney brothers were being noticed for their work. The Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences honored Walt Disney with a special award for the creation of Mickey Mouse. The Academy also gave Disney two Oscars for the Best Short Subject, Mickey’s Orphans and Flowers and Trees.

A year later, January, 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and in March of that year he became dictator of Germany. In 1934 Disney won a best Short Subject for Three Little Pigs. Between 1932 and 1939 the Walt Disney Company had won six Oscars and Hitler was beginning to implement his plan for taking over the world.

Hitler, in 1938, moved his troops into Austria and in 1939 by force, occupied Poland. Walt Disney was planning a new, bigger better, home for his artists.

In 1940, Disney’s Los Angeles Hyperion Avenue studio had out grown its space and Hitler thought he had out grown his. He invaded, and took control of France that year as Disney moved his people into the new studio built on 51 acres on Riverside Drive in Burbank, California. Land purchased with the profits from what had been called Disney’s folly, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

As time moved on, Hitler’s downfall was in the making as he underestimated the weather and his resources. Russia was going to be a prize for him but it turned out to be the beginning of the end. When the war ended in 1945 and Hitler was defeated. Untold millions of people had had their homes, their lives and their love ones destroyed in the most malicious ways by Hitler’s puzzling evil.

Walt Disney was 44 years old when the war was over. Disney continued in his role as an up lifter of the world’s spirits and a positive contributor to the world of entertainment. The studio he established in his 65 years continues as a powerful force in the field of entertainment. It has won many Oscars and awards and brought joy to untold millions with his art, his movies and his theme parks. His memory and his contribution to good has become an irremovable part of the world’s history.

Two young men, artists, who both inhabited the world at the same time. One, Adolf, represented an ugly, violent, malevolent evil and the other, Walt, was a messenger of enormous good will and a deliverer to the world a celebration of beauty and joy.

Dorse’s Handbook of Hand Drawn Animated Special Effects

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2011 by dorselanpher

Things you’ve thought about that you didn’t’ know you’ve thought about.

A beginning….

Drawing is an activity that many people enjoy. Children, usually at an early age, began to express themselves in drawings, the act of putting pencil to paper in an effort to graphically describe an object or creature in their surroundings. Drawing puts a person in a relaxed, peaceful frame of mind, as playing a musical instrument does, Albert Einstein, one of the great, if not the greatest scientist of all time played the violin for relaxation. Many artists I know also play musical instruments and many of these artists are animators. Music and art seem to occupy the same area of the brain. This place in the mind where the artist goes when drawing or playing music is a place where the artist wants to go back to, for the reward is a sense of peace when there, and an end result hopefully to be enjoyed by others.

Animators are artists who create a series of related drawings, adding the dimension of time to their illustrations, much like the musician who, with varied notes and silent spaces, creates a audible collection of sounds which occur over a period of time, the animator creates a series of pictures illustrating an visual idea over a period of time. The artist’s drawings, when viewed in sequence over time, bring the drawn ideas to life. The animator is born!  A “cartoon” lives!

There are character animators, who are very good at animating creatures. Their animation requires acting skills so as to make their creature seem motivated by their very own brain and of course a sense of timing. In a sense, it is an experience of inner self discovery. The effects animators are those who enjoy animating occurrences of natural phenomenon and the environment in the outside world. An effects animator seems more interested in abstract design, invention and the mysteries of the universe, the what, why and how things move.

We’ve concerned ourselves here with the artist’s who want to create animation with their drawings, rather than animate a pre-constructed puppet or a visual effect in the computer. Artists who enjoy expressing their ideas by drawing their animation have fewer professional opportunities today because of the successful use of the computer technology, but we’ll leave that for future discussion.

To be continued….

Preparation fails opportunity

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 by dorselanpher

Kids are curious and adventurous and sometimes unprepared for the adventures they may undertake. One day my neighborhood friends and I had learned how to climb up to the top of my father’s garage. I must have been about eight years old and thought high places were always fun because it’s a whole different view of the everyday neighborhood. We all moved to the edge of the roof overlooking the driveway peering down at the great distance to the ground, maybe eight feet. One of us wondered, out loud, how it would be to jump off the roof. I thought I was tough enough to survive that trip, and win the adulation of my friends, so I said I would jump. With a few anticipatory nods, off I went. The force of gravity saw to it that I would hit the cement below with enough force to sprain my ankle. Fortunately it was only a sprained ankle for it could have been much more serious. I could have tumbled and hit a more fragile part of my self but it was just a sprained ankle. I don’t remember any flustering or blustering from mom or dad on that occasion, I could still walk without looking too damaged. My foot took several days to swell to the size of a large burrito, a burrito too big to fit into my shoe. By that time no one was worried about my survival and eventually everything got well. How did I get that wrong?

But my flying days weren’t over. I discovered another opportunity to attempt to defy gravity when my folks took the family to visit an uncle who lived on his farm in Missouri. What set me on a flight path that day was seeing my uncle’s barn which had a nice hey loft with the customary very high opening. Up at the top of the opening was a hoist system used to hoist hey into the loft so it could be stored for further use.

That top floor of the barn must have been ten or twelve feet off the ground, maybe fifteen feet. I was excited; I had envisioned myself floating out over the barn yard, floating far enough to get out over the cows and coming down to the ground with a, with a, well I don’t remember thinking about the landing. Just like when I jumped off the garage. But I excitedly climbed up into the loft with my homemade parachute and walked over to the loft door and peered out over the barn yard. This was going to be spectacular. This time I would jump, not for the adulation of friends, but for my own thrill of flight. I would float to the ground with a parachute that I had made of a large square cloth tied at the corners with a cord. I had learned earlier from the garage experience that falling to the ground resulted in a rather rapid descent ending in a very sudden, ankle spraining stop. My parachute would ease my drop and afford a nice soft, no sprained ankle, landing.

I straightened out my chute and made sure I had a good grasp of the cords attached to the corners of what must have been a small table cloth that I had smuggled out of the house. Looking down at the ground, I summoned my courage, threw the chute into the air and away I went. But I didn’t go away; I went down, very fast, with as much speed as I had when I jumped off the garage.

My home built parachute failed to capture any air. It streamed out above me, flapping wildly, like a distraught bird in distress as I plunged toward the ground. My parachute had absolutely no effect on slowing the speed of my descent and I solidly hit the ground with a hard muffled thud. Fortunately for me the thud was muffled by the very thick layer of cow manure which covered the barn yard, probably a foot or more in thickness.

I have no memory of anything else that happened that day after plunging into the manure. I don’t remember getting up. I don’t remember walking across the cow manure and leaving the barnyard. I don’t remember being thrilled to still be alive. I don’t remember being disappointed. I don’t even remember thinking about how I could improve my parachute. I think the sudden stop, when I hit that manure, must have jolted a large portion of common sense loose in my brain. And thinking about it now, I didn’t seem to have enough common sense, as a kid, to give adequate thought to parachute construction.

That day my life was saved by a pile of cow manure. My love of flying was violently buried in the cow manure of that barn yard in Missouri, never to be resuscitated. I learned that attempting to do something I had never done before required much more planning and study to insure success. I’ve heard it said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The definition of luck has been described as when preparation meets opportunity. I had the opportunity but I failed to plan for it.  How did I get that wrong?

My health with Tex Avery at the gym.

Posted in Out and about on January 21, 2011 by dorselanpher

In my book I mentioned that I try to get to the gym every other day. I do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and then work out for 20 or 30 minutes on the free weights.

This morning I had just started my 30 minutes on the machine when a charming young lady jumped on the treadmill directly in front of me. She was very attractive and many years younger than I. She wore black skin tight pants and a black top to match. Being behind her provided me with an inspirational view for my exercise routine.

I had punched the machine’s buttons for my age, weight, time and speed, and it calculated my heart rate that I’m was to achieve, 94 beats per minute.

As my heart rate climbed to the calculated rate I soon reached my limit, but the young lady, no longer jogging on the treadmill, was now running at a good speed. I was keeping my senior citizen pace for a heart rate of 94 beats per minute but I couldn’t help but watch her. As George Harrison said, “Something in the way she moved”. I started seeing myself as if I was chasing her. She was in front of me running and I was behind her, well, not running, but I was keeping up. It was a Tex Avery cartoon! I was still “walking” my speedy senior citizen’s pace but she wasn’t getting away from me! What luck! I looked down at my machine and it showed my heart rate at 103 and climbing. My heart was speeding up to catch her. The more I watched her run the faster my heart was beating. It reached 107 beats per minute. How fast can a guy’s heart beat? Fortunately for me she slowed her pace to a jog. The bottom of her top was slipping up and the top of her bottoms was slipping down, so she had to slow her run to make adjustments.

Her wardrobe antics kept me from looking down at my heart rate indicator, not sure how high it got, and she finished her jog just in time for my heart to slow to a survivable speed. I thought maybe, being an old guy, that I had had enough exercise for the day. How much can a guy’s heart take?

As Rod Stewart sang in song, “This old heart of mine’s been broke a thousand times, yes it has.” But I didn’t break it today and I had a great workout.

A Jim Hill Media review

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 by dorselanpher

“Flyin’ Chunks” looks back at Dorse Lanpher’s 48 years at Disney & Don Bluth’s animation studios

Jim Hill
28 Dec 2010 11:06 PM
  • Dorse Lanpher has a real eye for detail. Which is just what you’d expect from one of the top effects artists in feature animation.

But as it turns out, Lanpher was able to use his eye for detail for more than just creating all those fire, water  and shadow effects that you’ve seen in  most Disney animated features from “Sleeping Beauty” all the way through to “Home on the Range.” Given that Dorse had a front row seat for an amazing amount of animation history during the 48 years that he worked in the industry, Lanpher was able to take all of his highly detailed memories and then channel them into an eminently entertaining & informative memoir, “Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck: Memoirs of a Life Spent Doodling for Dollars” (iUniverse.com, October 2010).


Copyright 2010 IUniverse.com. All rights reserved

Want to know what it was like to spend a leisurely lunch hour on the Disney lot back in 1956? Dorse takes you there, to a time when  you could …

…  go to the sound stages and watch a live action production being filmed … Standing quietly in the dark, I’d watch all of the stagehands, electricians, actors and actresses while photographing a real movie scene. It was a super experience.

Sometimes I would find out where the Firehouse Five Plus Two was rehearsing … I would take my brown bag and sit in an audience of maybe two or three people. Ward Kimball, the band’s leader, always welcomed us, apparently glad to have fans listen … I will always remember Ward Kimball’s snappy outfits. He would wear bright colors and not be concerned with subtleties. He would wear a red shirt, yellow tie, blue pants with green suspenders and a nifty hat of any color or any combo of colors depending on the day. Ward Kimball, the only Disney artist Walt ever called a genius, started the band after he taught himself to play the trombone.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Those were good days. The Mickey Mouse Club was thriving and I would see the Mouseketeers and Annette Funicello bouncing around the studio. I would see Cliff Edwards driving his Nash, an automobile that ceased production years ago, on to the studio lot. His name was painted on his spare tire with a picture of Pinocchio in the center.

You want to know what it was like to work at Disney in the 1970s? Lanpher takes you there as well. To be specific, to the backlot. Where there was this …

… lovely Middle American neighborhood with curving streets and those Victorian styled homes. Some of our artists discovered that one of the houses (back there) had a swimming pool. So occasionally some of our more adventurous artists, working on the weekend, would take a break from their work on Pete’s Dragon and (go for)  a quick swim.


Red Buttons and Jim Dale on “Pete’s Dragon” Passamaquoddy set
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

(Speaking of) Pete’s Dragon, the studio built a huge outdoor set (for that film) which was very impressive. There was an enormous hole dug in the ground of the back lot and filled with water. Around the edge of the water they constructed a New England style fishing village as if the village sat at the edge of a harbor. It was very magical for it was totally believable. Very sad that a beautiful work of art like that was just bulldozed down after completion of the production.

Around (this same) time there was also a beautiful western set on the other side of the lot. It was a small western town with Zorro‘s large early Spanish style home as part of the set. That set was used for the Zorro series. Later the town and Zorro’s home were replaced by what was now called the Zorro Parking Structure. Shades of early Jonie Mitchell: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Lanpher did some really interesting things during his days at Disney. Like serving as a live-action reference model for “The Small One,” that animated holiday-themed featurette that Don Bluth directed just before he bolted from the Mouse Factory in 1979 to start his own animation studio. For this assignment, Dorse remembers borrowing …


A very Dorse Lampher-looking Joseph from “The Small One”
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

… costumes from Wardrobe and a pet pony from a neighbor of one of the animators, Heidi Guidel. I played Joseph, Vera Macaluso played the Virgin Mary and the pony played a burro.

Speaking of Don Bluth, Lanpher was one of those 13 “renegade artists” who left with Bluth to go work on such fondly-remembered animated features as “The Secret of NIMH,” “An American Tail” and “The Land Before Time.” Which perhaps explains why Don contributed an affectionate foreword to “Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck.”

Which brings me to one of those more interesting moments in Lanpher’s memoir. Which is when Dorse reveals that it was Don Bluth – rather than Richard Williams – that Steven Spielberg initially reached out to when he was looking for someone to handle the animated portions of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

To hear Lanpher tell this tale:

We were nearing the finish of An American Tail and we were again on the verge of financial ruin. Don Bluth had been contacted by Steven Spielberg about directing the animation for a live action-animation film starring Roger Rabbit. There was good buzz in the studio for a while. We were going to get hungry and we needed another picture to do. Working hard to finish An American Tail I didn’t notice the buzz had stopped. One day I asked Don what had happened to Roger Rabbit. He said “It’s been shelved.” End of story.

Well, not entirely. Dorse would eventually exit Bluth’s animation operation and return to the Mouse House. Where among his very first assignments was handling a lot of the effects animation on “Roger Rabbit.”


Copyright 1988 Disney Enterprises, Inc. / Amblin Entertainment. All rights reserved

From there, Lanpher was one of the hundreds of dedicated animators & artists that made Disney’s Second Golden Age of Animation happen. And in the wake of enormous successes like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” the Studio spent lavishly on the films that followed. Take – for example – the over-the-top premiere that Disney staged in NYC for “Hercules.”

The street in front of the (New Amsterdam) theater had bleachers set up and thousands of people were treated to (a performance of the Main Street Electrical) parade. After the outdoor ceremonies we entered the theater and saw a screening of (“Hercules”).

The (party afterwards) was spectacular … buses carted us over to the World Trade Center for the party on the one-hundred and sixth floor of one of those really tall buildings. We were served Champagne while we waited for an elevator. John Tucker and I drank liberally to oil our nerves for a ride in an elevator the size of my living room which was going to take us up higher than all of the other building in New York … When we stepped out of the elevator the windows of the lobby were floor to ceiling so one could stand with your toes against the window and peer straight down on the city of New York. It was thrilling.


The Hades float from Disney’s Hercules Electrical Parade rolls up 42nd Street.
Photo by Jeff Lange. All rights reserved

Dorse doesn’t miss a trick with “Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck.” His amazing eye for detail, that little extra something that makes an anecdote that much more memorable (like how – at that “Hercules” after-party at the top of the World Trade Center – Lanpher was able to persuade “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston to sit in his lap and then pose for a picture. Which Dorse then included as one of this 200-page paperback’s illustrations) make this a very enjoyable read.

So if you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and are now looking a fun & informative book that’ll take you behind-the-scenes at both Don Bluth & Walt Disney Feature Animation studios … Well, you can’t possibly do better book than Dorse Lanpher’s memoir of ” … a Life Spent Doodling for Dollars.”

A time to read

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 by dorselanpher

Ron Lund, Dan Lunds dad, reads with Michele and my cousin Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book is the original  external hard drive.  A device where  knowledge can be saved and referred to at one’s leisure. Pages filled with information which can be transported or collected and shelved for later study. A useful extension of the organic memory storage system, the brain.

Happy New Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by dorselanpher

Click  on the photo left of the lamp to view down town L.A.

The life giving sun sets my kitchen a glow on a morning after a week of cloudy skies and rain. Our celebration of Christmas 2010 is over and a new year is around the corner. Hopefully, no matter your personal beliefs, the spirit of Christmas will continue for you through the New Year and on. There is much war, misery, and suffering in the world and hopefully the New Year, 2011, will bring us a year with less of all of that.

My knowing of the worlds suffering causes me to think that there is little I can do about it. But I trust my government is taking care of its part and I’m helping with a little support to a few charities, as I’m sure most of us do. Charities that do medical research, help orphaned children, the disadvantaged, and the elderly.

Being aware and careful of my own welfare gives me the strength and a few resources which allow me to take care of those closest to me. And knowing of the poor and down trodden of the world does instill in me a thankfulness for my own good fortune. My vision for the New Year, for myself and all of you, is a positive one.

And in the traditional spirit I wish you and yours, Happy New Year!

Dorse