Walt Disney Studios' Bambi joins its
cutting-edge Blu-ray Diamond Collection line-up of animated
classics, and debuts today, March 1, 2011.
Disney's new "Second Screen" technology - introduced for the
very first time with Bambi - will further transform the
at-home movie watching experience by giving viewers the ability to
engage with film content and bring it to life at the touch of a
Read my interview with the former child star who voiced Bambi and
kept it a secret for decades.
And, since Disney reaches so many families on a personal level,
it seemed only fitting to sit down with Walt Disney Studios' master
animator, Andreas Deja, who's amazing work is behind classic Disney
characters like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in
Aladdin and Scar from The Lion King.
He also animated Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger
Rabbit, King Triton from The Little Mermaid, the
title character from Hercules, Lilo from Lilo &
Stitch, and Queen Narissa from Enchanted. In addition
to all of that, Deja is also the current resident specialist for
the animation of the iconic character, Mickey Mouse.
During his early days at Disney, Deja worked closely with seven
of the then-living "Nine Old Men," who were the pioneering
animators at what was then Walt Disney Productions. As a group,
they created some of Disney's most famous works, from Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers.
You applied to be a Disney animator at age ten! How did
you go about making your childhood dream an eventual
I was very methodical about it. I wrote a letter soon after I
decided I wanted to be an animator. Mailed it to Los Angeles - I
didn't have the correct address but it somehow made it to
I asked, 'How does one prepare itself to be an animator?'
A few weeks later they wrote me back and said, 'If you're
serious about our kind of animation, don't send an animation of
Donald Duck. Go to art school. Spend a lot of time drawing real
live animals at a zoo.'
I was serious about it. And from there I landed a job in
What does Bambi mean to you?
I want to refer back to the letter when they said I had to learn
to draw live animation. Bambi was released in theatres
when I was 13-14 years old. It was then when I realized an animator
had to really study the animal before animating it.
You view an animated film very differently from your
typical moviegoer. What in the film would you notice and want to
What I want to make people aware of is that Bambi is
very unique in a couple different ways. The art direction and the
look of the forest is almost a character as it changes every season
throughout the film. If you look at the background, it's very
impressionistic, its indicated in a wash. It's very crisp. Very
beautiful and almost impressionistic in style.
The art director in the film is Tryus Wong, he's 100 years
young, a very interesting man, and a genius when it comes to
studying animated film.
Second point, is the beauty of the animation, as if there is
poetry in motion. There's something so lyrical and subtle when
Bambi moves, it's always in sync with the music.
Bambi is animated poetry.
I really don't know any other film that makes it looks so
elegant. To preserve the dignity of these animals in film is such
As a professional animator, is there anything specific
that stands out to you in the film?
My favorite scene in the film is the ice skating sequence, when
Thumper yells, 'Look what I can do!'
It's the difference between a master ice skater and a novice.
That specific scene was animated by the great animator Frank
Do things like voice and body language inspire your
Voice makes a huge difference. If you have a great voice to work
with, your work is half done. Jeremy Irons, in the The Lion
King, has a way with words and phrasing. This makes it easy to
find a acting pattern.
Donnie Dunagan [the voice of Bambi] and Peter Behn [the voice of
Thumper] were also wonderful to voice characters. I remember Peter
could not remember his lines, therefore, it gave his character a
sense of innocence.
How has technology evolved to help the world of
Once in a while we have a problem where an animator draws a
character too large or small. In the old days we'd have to re-draw.
Now we can re-size the character. That's one of the options. Fixing
problems can be easily done with a computer.
Do you still employ any "old school" animation
In hand drawn type of animation, yes. That kind of animation
hasn't changed all that much. We still sit in old vintage drawing
desks though we have electric pencil sharpeners.
Post production is the new wave of modern technology. And now
that drawings are scanned, animation is a very versatile and
accessible form. However, the actual animation itself is the same
as in Snow White or as in Bambi.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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