acroyear: (hick)
I've kinda been busy, first with the SubFire player, then with prepping for a vacation, then finally taking said vacation in Orange County, CA (incl Discovery Cube, Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Disneyland and DCA, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, a Signing Time concert for my kid and a friend, and walking through Crystal Cove State Park (incl a Beach with interesting tide pools we don't get on the east coast).

So, watch the photo blog, 'cause lots of pics are coming in the next few weeks.

Plus here I may recap my thoughts on Disneyland.
About JWS :: Been Busy Doing...Nothing Much?
acroyear: (fof not quite right)
One negative of growing up is that aside from B&N, perusing a mall, even one as loaded as Tysons, just isn't interesting anymore. Sure, I got a little amusement from looking at the Lego store's Hobbit collection, but my 3 year old just isn't ready for that stuff yet. Who knows what will be the next big thing when she is (besides Star Wars, which will never go away), as even the Harry Potter and PotC sets are now gone. I mock the Microsoft store every time I walk past. I cringe at the Apple store not because I dislike the products, but rather just that I generally dislike the prices...and have no room in the house for a new computer (and I have 2 netbooks that need to find a new purpose in life).

But the Disney store's changes in the last couple of years are the most depressing. Between Disney's acquisition of Marvel and Star Wars, the Disney Princess line, Tink, Frozen (almost as large as the rest of the Princess line combined), and Sophia (from the TV channel), plus the required area for Mickey and Minnie, there just isn't any room for promoting the classical era of Disney films except for one tiny floor stand that was promoting a line of things for 101 Dalmatians (I'll wager the Blue-Ray release is coming up soon). Even Pixar is underrepresented, nevermind the Muppets, and I don't expect the Pixar line to grow with the next film as it seems more for a grown-up audience in the same way that Big Hero 6 is (that film also have almost no merch in the store at all).

Just depressing. Much as I *can* shop online, I actually don't like to.

Original Link.
acroyear: (fof good book)
Romney Leading Mormon Takeover of America! | Dispatches from the Culture Wars:
[...] on the list of groups I worry about taking over our government, the Mormon church falls somewhere between the Girl Scouts and the surviving cast members of the Apple Dumpling Gang.
acroyear: (disney toad)
I did realize something interesting about Jobs's passing that few have commented on.  Most are concerned about how the loss affects Apple stock.  Few have actually asked how the loss will affect Disney stock.  The #1 stockholder has passed on, his stocks still sitting in his own account.  That stock will have to be distributed to his wife and children (and any others), subject to the terms of any will he might have had (given that he's known this might happen any second now for years, I'm sure he kept it up to date).

Not all the recipients will likely want to keep the stock, but will just sell, take the cash, pay the tax bill, and move on.

It is likely, then, that a massive ton of Disney stock is about to go on sale that somebody will have to buy.  If Iger is smart, he'll have the company buy it back in order to have a better pool to distribute to employees, but I'm not sure (with ABC's lackluster performance this year, albeit on part with the rest of the major networks) that he can really talk the board into that large a cash payout. In any case, the large supply will drop the price pretty drastically for a few weeks until things sort themselves out.  Only if Iger acts quickly (by offering a price above the market price) can he avoid having the price drop to the point that it inspires a larger sell-off.
acroyear: (don't go there)
The Upside of Avatar | Parkeology:
The reality is that Avatar is a stronger marketing hook than Beastly Kingdomme, even if it's not as pure an idea for Animal Kingdom. It comes with some built in expectations: jaw-dropping visual feasts, exotic adventure, and a strong naturalist theme (John Muir would be proud).
Really? He'd be proud of ripping up how many acres of natural pine and Cyprus forest for the sake of a giant plastic electricty-sucking monument to a half-rate film that itself was rendered off of the electricity partly drawn from the Hetch-Hetchy dam project he so detested?

This is the same John Muir who questioned the building of even a tiny chapel in what he believes was the greatest natural cathedral in the world.  Somehow, I disagree with that assessment.

This is not to say that I don't believe Disney's sincerity regarding Animal Kingdom, only that Muir probably would.

on D23

Aug. 22nd, 2011 03:59 pm
acroyear: (don't go there)
Blue Sky Disney: Lessons Unlearned...:
On what went right and what went wrong. Mostly on the wrong part of that reflective question. Lets recap a little about the 2009 D23 Expo. First, it was over 4 days and in the end had over 20,000+ attend the show. Not bad for a first time event. Disney pulled it off pretty well, although there were some rough edges that you would think they would learn from and tweak the next time, right?

Not really, no.
What follows is a pretty impressive list of PR and "Con" organizational failures from this past weekend in Anaheim.
acroyear: (timing)
No Event Too Small: Disney World Opening Day Crowd Control (Disney Dispatch):
Then we hit upon another scheme.

Our laborers had been working 12-hour shifts, without much time off, and that ran us afoul of labor laws. So we decided to pick a weekend and have the laborers come into the park not to work but to enjoy the day with their families.

Dads proudly showed their kids around the park, explaining that they were the ones building it, but at that time there were only 3-4 rides running, and so the kids would say: "well, hurry up and finish."

(Great motivation! The next day, when work resumed, it seemed to go a lot faster.)
acroyear: (don't let the)
MR. FUN:
It was an unofficial experiment but the experience proved insightful. I set up a special screening for a church group in downtown Los Angeles back in the sixties. The motion picture I chose to screen was Walt Disney’s “Song of the South.”

You see, before the heady days of Blue Ray DVDs and video tape the only way one could watch a Disney movie was in the theaters. Should your favorite Disney film not be in release you were out of luck. There was absolutely no other way to enjoy one of Walt’s delightful feature films. There was one exception. Should you happen to be an employee of the Disney Company you could check out a full length feature on 16mm motion picture film. You probably already know where this is going. My audience was African American, and all were gathered together to enjoy this “controversial” Disney movie on a pleasant Saturday evening.

As expected there were laughs, tears and the usual emotions one would expect at a Disney screening. Applause filled the auditorium as the film ended with the on screen logo, “a Walt Disney production.”

Wait a minute! You might ask. Isn’t this the insensitive, offensive racist movie that black people are suppose to hate? Isn’t this the reason the Disney Company continues to keep this delightful tale of the old south under lock and key never to be released? Apparently, my African American audience of the nineteen sixties had gotten beyond that.

I wonder how long it’ll take the Walt Disney Company to do the same?
"Mr. Fun" is Floyd Norman, Disney animator and story man (today, an occasional consultant for Pixar), was named a Disney Legend in 2007, and was the first African-American animator in the Disney studios.
acroyear: (disney toad)
Meanwhile, At Disney World, In The 70s… | Progress City, U.S.A. I ranted the following in a comment:
The more I’ve been watching old 70s Disney parks promotional materials (lots are on youtube these days), the more I think their entire marketing team at the time should have been shot.

Any time you watch 50s or 60s footage of the parks (well, Disneyland), there’s an excitement mixed with an eloquence to it. For some reason, all of the early WDW promotional materials are just slow and sluggish, and totally uninspiring. It starts with the dull-as-hell Glen Campbell song at the premiere and pretty much goes all the way through to the opening of EPCOT (Danny Kaye was ok, but again the rest of the special was otherwise 2 hours of doldrums). Worst offense through those years is the background music that sounded like a contemporary breakfast commercial for shredded wheat, and is heartbreaking when one compares it to the wonderful materials that Buddy Baker and George Bruns were producing the decade before.

Eisner & Wells were a sorely needed shot in the arm, not just for helping to improve the movies (though I do have nostalgia for some of the 70s live-action works like Hot Lead Cold Feet, Apple Dumpling Gang, and Candleshoe), but improving how the parks were perceived even by those who never went, restoring the anticipation that one should get when looking at promotional videos of the parks rather than the laid-back impression that WDW was solely for relaxing in to the point of falling asleep watching them.

sigh...

Jun. 3rd, 2011 10:47 pm
acroyear: (disney toad)
D23: The Official Disney Fan Club:
Wally Boag, a longtime leading man at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue and television and film actor, passed away today. He was 91 years old. Wally entertained Disneyland park guests five days a week, three times a day, for nearly 27 years.

sigh...

Jan. 31st, 2011 09:21 am
acroyear: (feeling old...)
BBC News - Bond composer John Barry dies aged 77:
Composer John Barry, famous for his work on Born Free, Out of Africa and the James Bond films, has died in New York of a heart attack aged 77.
He composed one of my fav Disney scores, The Black Hole. I later found he did it around the same time as doing Moonraker and so both speak the same musical vocabulary in terms of keys, chords, and orchestration, and fit together nicely.

In spite of his many awards, he wasn't perfect. He also did the best forgotten Lone Ranger film from 1981. :)
acroyear: (passport to fun)
Voyages Extraordinaires: Treasure Planet (2002):
There is an endless opportunity for speculation in assessing why Treasure Planet underperformed at theatures. A theory that I think holds some relevance for a number of films from that period is that Disney is creatively caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, people complain and dismiss Disney as being a company that produces princess movies and other fairy tales. Granted, that is where they are at their most iconic [...]. However, there has never been a shortage of experimentation either: once upon a time, Snow White was experimental. Fantasia and the other mid-century music anthologies were most certainly so, as were the Latin American-themed Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.

Which leads to the other hand: people complain that Disney only makes fairy tales, and then refuse to see any Disney [animated] movie that isn't one. Is it any wonder that Disney's return to traditional animation is being heralded in by two fairy tales, Enchanted and The Princess and the Frog? When they attempt an Atlantis or a Treasure Planet, a moviegoing public cannot seem to wrap their minds around it. Nor can they, despite 20 years of Japanese animation being imported to Western shores, contemplate a mature Hollywood animated film like The Iron Giant or Titan A.E.

Unfortunately, like Fantasia, fans of the film will have to wait a few decades for vindication.
Much of the same could be said for Meet the Robinsons which was also a fantastic piece of work that got buried in the "Disney only makes fairy tales" mix, showing that Disney in 3D is just as trapped by the stereotype expectations as Disney in 2D.

I added the following comment:
Disney Animation in 3D (leaving Pixar out for a bit) hasn't done much better. Meet the Robinsons (which I also loved) was also cursed by the expectation problem, that lack of desire to see a non-princess film from the studio.

Of course that film was also hit hard by being released in a lousy time of year for movies (April, I think?), another experiment ("can we dodge the blockbuster summer and avoid getting buried by our own Pirates sequel") that didn't pay off.

Then again, Pixar too has been hit by the expectation punch. Most of their films since Nemo haven't done near Nemo's numbers in the box office, hinting to some pundits that Pixar should go back to making movies "just for little kids", in spite of the strong critical acclaim and very impressive merchandise sales (think Cars). Toy Story 3 is the recent exception that seems to prove that rule.
acroyear: (disney toad)
Toy Story: Best Picture, Best Animated Picture, Best adapted screenplay, Best Song (We Belong Together, Randy Newman), Best Sound Editing

Day and Night: Best Animated Short Film

Alice in Wonderland: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects

Tangled: Best Song (I See The Light)

Tron Legacy: Best Sound Editing

Other geek-cred nominations include:

How to Train Your Dragon: Best Animated, Best Score
Harry Potter 7.1: Best Visual Effects

--

Thoughts:

Why was Toy Story 3 on the list for "adapted" screenplay - I can't recall them actually publishing the work prior to starting the movie, which I thought was the distinction between that and "original"...

Tron snubbed for best effects?  Was Iron Man 2 really better, or did the Academy just not "get" why Clu looked the way he did?

Tangled snubbed for Best Animated?  And why only 3 nods this year instead of 5?

Alice would probably be the frontrunner for best effects if Inception didn't have so much hype around it.  Odd that aside from Inception, there isn't the big match-up where the visual effects also rule the sound categories (and odd that no animated films got sound design).  I don't expect Harry to get it, though 7.2 probably will get some attention unless Pirates 4 really has something special.

Day and Night I hope gets short animated.  Pixar hasn't won since For the Birds as the Acadamy has voted "artsy" for most of the last decade, though Day and Night is Pixar's most artistic statement for a short in quite some time.  It's also just plain fun.
acroyear: (what a day)
MR. FUN: (Floyd Norman, Disney animator and story man in the 60s, story consultant in the 80s, Pixar story consultant in the 90s - named a Disney Legend)
There’s been a fair amount of chatter on the web about “director driven” projects at major animation studios. I still find the notion of director driven films, with a few exceptions, a major cartoon fantasy.

I first learned my lesson back in the sixties when as a young, green story artist I had to show a storyboard to my director, Woolie Reitherman. After staring at my board for a long while, he finally turned to me and said, “show the board to Walt.” At that point it was pretty clear who was really directing the movie.

Of course, there are a few director driven studios. Lucasfilm is a good example - as long as George Lucas is directing. Steven Spielberg is another name that comes to mind. In any case, these guys are the exception, not the rule.

A feature length motion picture represents the investment of a considerable sum of money. Naturally, the bank or the studio will continually be looking over the director’s shoulder. It’s not pleasant - but it’s to be expected. What’s truly silly is when executives at major motion picture studios speak as though it was otherwise.
This in reaction to all the stories about about John Lassester's veto-level control at both studios, having relieved Chris Saunders (Bolt formerly An American Dog), Glen Keane (Tangled, formerly Rapunzel), Jan Pinkava (Ratatoille), and most recently Brenda Chapman (Brave, formerly The Bear and the Bow) from their director's chairs since taking charge of all WDAS and Pixar projects.  John really is Walt's Heir Apparent in a LOT of ways.

At least, unlike other studios, John's still willing to put in the money to get the project to completion even after a major rewrite and new director assignments.  AND just like Walt's influence in the golden age (most of the time), it works (again, unlike other studios - how many writers and directors to make Superman and it still sucked big-time...).
acroyear: (if you can't beat 'em)
considering I wrote this 18 months ago, it should be noted that alongside the Fantasia Blu-Ray I also picked up Sorcerer's Apprentice (mind you, because Amazon had a bundling sale, $10 off).
acroyear: (free upgrades)
Disney artists do like to clean up the masters these days, and in many cases rightfully so. But it should be noted that ANY artist that cleans up an ancient piece of work, be it a classical Greek mosaic, a Michaelangelo ceiling, a Rembrant painting, a Shakespeare text, or a Disney feature, is doing so slightly tainted by their own times and their own vision of what the work is. In striving to make it as good as it can be, it can often end up cleaner or different even from the original they claim to be striving to achieve. Here's one brief but well known section of Fantasia... )

Is color-correction of the classics the next "compression war", where artists don't restore the originals so much as make them palatable for the current trend in playback technology?

Certainly I'm keeping my 2000 DVD because the extras on it weren't duplicated on the Blu-Ray, nor did we get a new documentary feature like Beauty and the Beast - in fact even the old ones weren't duplicated, but only are available as BD-Live features.
acroyear: (what a day)
Leslie Nielsen’s 1961 Visit to Disneyland Park « Disney Parks Blog:
Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away over the weekend at the age of 84. We have a publicity photo of Mr. Nielsen in our archive and I’m sharing it with you this morning in remembrance of this very funny and talented man.



The photo was taken at the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland park in 1961. At the time, Mr. Nielsen was starring as Revolutionary War fighter Francis Marion in “The Swamp Fox,” an eight-episode series shown during “Walt Disney Presents” on ABC.
acroyear: (photo album time)
The beautiful murals that form the main gate of Disney's California Adventure are coming down today as the gate area is revamped as part of the larger DCA refurbishment. While much of the DCA improvements are needed, and for consistence with the rest of the entrance design, these have to go, I will still miss them. They were one of the things that "worked" for me.

acroyear: (bird)
'Gone with the Wind' child actress dies at 76 - Yahoo! News:
FORT BRAGG, Calif. – Cammie King Conlon, the former child actress who portrayed the doomed daughter of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind," has died at the age of 76.

She died of lung cancer Wednesday morning at her Fort Bragg home on California's north coast, said friend Bruce Lewis. Her son, Matthew Ned Conlon, was by her side.

Conlon was picked to play the small, but pivotal role of Bonnie Blue Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic at age 4. Her character's death in a fall from a pony irrevocably damages Rhett and Scarlett's tumultuous marriage.

Conlon also voiced the young doe Faline in Walt Disney's "Bambi" three years later. It would be her final film role.

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