HTF recently took part in a web interview with Glen Keane who was the chief animator of the Beast during the production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
I submitted several questions for the interview, and though my name doesn't appear in the text below, moderator Mindy Johnson used several of my questions before the turned it over to other people taking part in the interview.
Here's a transcript of the interview:
BUILDING BEAUTY’S BEAST
A Webex Event with legendary animator
The Walt Disney Company-Recordings
Moderator: Mindy Johnson
October 5, 2010
4:30 p.m. PST
Mindy Johnson: All right.
Well hello, everyone. Good afternoon. This is Mindy Johnson here on behalf of Walt Disney Studios, Home Entertainment Division. I'd like to welcome you to this terrific opportunity to meet with Glen Keane this afternoon, the extraordinary, legendary animator of the Beast.
Glen, it's great to have you here.
Glen Keane: It's great to be with you whole gang there that I can't see. But I see your names on a list here. I am looking forward to talking about the Beast.
Mindy Johnson: We're going to take you through a brief presentation, about maybe 20 minutes or so looking at some rarely seen artwork. We're going to put you on a group mute so that Glen can speak a little – so everyone can hear him more hear him more clearly. And then since we're a small enough group, once we're done with that we'll open it up for questions.
If during the course of the presentation a question comes to mind, feel free to enter that into the chat box, which you'll find on your screen. But we will open up the phone lines then once we're done with the presentation for you to ask directly your questions with Glen.
But for the moment we're going to put everyone on a group mute, which means you'll be able to hear us, but we won't hear any of your background.
Operator: The leader has muted your line.
Mindy Johnson: All right. Bear with us. With that, let's get underway. Glen, if you could take us back a little bit. There's quite a bit of interesting history about this story in general. We've got a few of the facts there on the screen about this story. But it's my understanding that Walt Disney, himself had explored this story. Is that correct?
Glen Keane: Yes. There has been a lot of research that we did on time to get to the roots of this story. And apparently Walt had done the same thing. On the film, at that time as we were working on it, Joe Grant, who was the head of story on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Fantasia was working with us on Beauty and the Beast. He was 90 or close to that anyways, late 80s.
So I asked Joe about it. I said did you already work on Beauty and the Beast? He said oh yes. We tried to crack that nut but it was just too difficult. I mean the whole story just takes place in one dining room, where the Beast asks Belle every night if she'd marry him. And there's just not a lot of story in that. And we tried to figure it out. Finally we just put it on the shelf.
And there's a lot of ideas that have been put on the shelf. But we waited until there's a time where we can really focus and crack that nut. In this story, I feel like really needed – well I guess it really needed Howard Ashman in a big way. I mean there is something about Howard Ashman's approach to breaking something down musically and describing story in these tent pole songs that really started to give us a structure to tell that story.
Mindy Johnson: And that began roughly about 1987, correct?
Glen Keane: Yes.
Mindy Johnson: OK. Let's take a look. We've got a rather vintage image of some of the lead animators from the film. If you want to point out who everybody is.
Glen Keane: Yes. This is kind of a weird looking image here. It was actually taken – the picture was taken in a totally dark room. These are the lead animators. And the way the guy did this was opened the shutter of the camera, and then with a flashlight went around the wall with a red light. And you see all of that. And then shined the white light on us. And whatever was lit came onto the film and was exposed.
So we all had to hold that pose entirely still. It was why we all look like we're from Mt. Rushmore or something. But on the left – the far left standing next to me is Andreas Deja, who animated you know Gaston. And then sitting down in front of him is Dave Pruiksma, who did Mrs. Potts. And then standing on the other side of the big buffalo there is Nick Ranieri who did Lumiere. And then sitting in front of him is Will Finn that did Cogsworth.
But both Nick and Will were like at each other's throats through the whole movie, just like Cogsworth and Lumiere. Matter fact at one point at the end of the film where Cogsworth and Lumiere have finally have a moment where they start pushing each other and shoving one another, Nick and Will filmed each other doing the same thing. It was very cathartic for them.
But that's me next to the big buffalo that I had purchased so I could have it on my wall at work. It was a – there is a taxidermy place not far down the street from our studio there in Glendale. And I wanted it there just as a reminder about the immense size and power of this beast. A buffalo. If you have ever been next to one, I mean they are standing you know up to seven feet tall next to you. They're huge.
And I wanted to remember the power of the Beast constantly. Now that buffalo head hangs in our house. For a long time it was in our garage until my wife finally let me hang it in our living room.
Mindy Johnson: So a constant reminder for you then.
Glen Keane: Yes.
Mindy Johnson: Let's go back and take a little bit of a visual history at this story in general. Some of the earlier Beasts – well the Beasts in this story were explored certainly in the early forms of literature. So we've got some examples of early illustrations. And Glen, if you could just talk a bit through each of these pieces. If there was any inspiration in these, or not, for you?
Glen Keane: Well whenever you are going to design a character for a Disney movie, I mean I take it really seriously, because I know that it's going to become the definitive version of that character. When people you know 100 years from now think about the Beast, what's he look like? They're going to be thinking about Disney's Beast.
So I wanted to see if – was there like a definitive version of the Beast that had been done? And as I went through a lot of these images, you see Walter Crane, there is – doing some drawings with him with kind of a wild boar head. But if you notice, the body is very much like a – just a regular man. They all look like Halloween characters. You know like a costume. You just put the head on there. He's got his little animal hoof boots. But he is not really an animal.
And if you – you know Warwike Goble there also was doing the head of the Beast kind of a thing. But even the legs were very human. Arthur Rackham was pushing it a little further. He was trying to really go into an ugliness of the Beast. But when I saw that I thought OK. Well I know that our version – he's got to be appealing. Even though he's got to be ugly, there's got to be an appealing I believe. Something that you are drawn to.
He can't look like an alien. He's got to look like a creature that is actually from this earth somewhere. So as I had done that research, I realized all right. I am not going to find the clue from past illustrators' work. They were more like these are tries that – I don't want to go down that path.
Mindy Johnson: OK. So with that kind of background, we've got a few segments from the bonus features on the new diamond edition DVD coming out tomorrow in the U.S. Those of you in other countries, if you wanted to check with your markets on the regions – on the release dates within your regions.
But let's take a look at one of the segments from there. I think this is sort of a setup which will get us into the flavor of what the research was like in preparation for designing this – working from the Beast's castle.
Glen Keane: We were originally doing this story – we went out to London, a group of us with Don Hahn the producer. And to start to explore this story, how we were going to animate it. And it was just some footage shot back then.
Mindy Johnson: OK. So that experience in London kind of changed up a little bit. You guys had gotten to a point on the film. But then change came about. Is that correct?
Glen Keane: Yes. We realized that this story needed a – it needed a whole fresh approach. And Richard Purdum was taking a much more of a very classic sticking by the book approach on the story, not wanting to go into too far into the zone of a Disney musical.
Well at that point, Jeffrey Katzenberg said all right. Now we're going to throw out everything and start over again. And at that point we had found ourselves in Europe with nothing to do except do a research trip. So we decided well, let's go take advantage of this time and go to Loire Valley. Now the Loire Valley, of course it's in France, and the Loire River runs through that area. And built along the river are chateaus that the kings had built over the years, and each one is a ride – one day's ride from the chateau.
And it was there that we found Chateau of Chambord. And it was something about that. It was an ominous, impressive place with all of these spires and just standing there before us. I mean I'll never forget the morning driving up there through the mist and fog and seeing it there. I thought this is the Beast's castle. This is where he lives.
And to me, as an animator, it's really important to animate a character in a real environment. I mean when I was – when I was a kid, and I would draw – I wouldn't draw just to do a drawing of a face or something. I would do a drawing so I could enter into that paper. You know for me it was like a magic mirror that you could step into. And suddenly I was – I was living in the time of the dinosaurs, or like a time machine, or with the knights or something.
And I just remember that feeling. And animation is like that. And so I really needed for me, as an animator to understand the environment of the Beast. And for all of us as animators, that's what that trip did.
Mindy Johnson: Now there's been some discussion of the castle as almost a metaphor for the Beast, in that it's a large ominous place, but yet clearly as we enter into the interior of the castle, there is quite a lush interior, but yet it's empty and hollow in a sense, very much like the Beast. Was that any inspiration gone for you from that?
Glen Keane: Well the whole Beast castle becomes a visual symbol of what had happened on the outside of the Beast. It's ugly. It's dark. It's tortured. It's twisted. It's devoid of life. And when Belle meets the Beast, she is meeting a guy that has been cursed. The outside is – has got that dark exterior. And at the end of the movie when Beast transforms, and the castle's curse is lifted, you see the transformation. And very much of – there's a feeling of that at Chambord that we had seen in the Loire Valley with all this beautiful white stone from (inaudible) that we were able to let it transform back into that.
Mindy Johnson: OK. Let's take a look and move on to another segment from the bonus features, which helps to get us – the tone set for exploring the early exploration for the piece.
Mindy Johnson: So, with that early beginning, you had to sort of take a second look at how this Beast was going to take – be shaped. So let's jump into some of these early concept pieces that had been underway at an early time in production.
Glen Keane: Yes. So some of these drawings at the very beginning are – some of this is Chris Sanders' Beast drawings. And they do have kind of an alien kind of a creature to me. They're fun and whimsical. But to me it didn't speak the Beast. And these were Andreas Deja's drawings, which were very dark and twisted and sort of scary.
But the – there's still something about the human body thing that bothered me. Now we had all kinds of different ways of throwing animal faces on, the (upper left) one is kind of cat-like. And there is sort of goats. And then there was a mandrel that was in the London zoo that each day as I walked past the London zoo I would do these drawings of this mandrill character.
I remember there was a woman there as I was doing some drawings that said you know if you turned around the mandrill showed me that its rear end was all multi colored. And she said, oh he's got a rainbow bum he has. Which I just loved her accent saying that.
So Beast actually has a rainbow bum but nobody knows that but Belle. There was these different kinds of themes and you know what – what is there – is his feet going to look like there? And where we have got …
Mindy Johnson: It is on the screen.
Glen Keane: Oh it's on the screen?
Mindy Johnson: Yes, we're getting a little discrepancy.
Glen Keane: OK.
Mindy Johnson: But it's – the image is showing through there.
Glen Keane: OK great. I'll look at (Chuck's) screen. We have a wide variety of different creatures. But you know to me appeal was really, really important. You know how were we going to find the Beast – you know that for me was the real Beast. You know like I said, you feel like it's really important to communicate that this is appealing character. And to me there's a sense that the character existed before you even started to draw it.
Mindy Johnson: Oh let's see. (Triva)? Let's run segment three. This is a short clip which talks about the importance of recognizing the role of the Beast, and sort of reflecting on that. But before we get into the inspiration, let's take a look at this.
Mindy Johnson: So with the Beast established then as our key protagonist, that had to have had a pretty impactful influence on how he came about – how you came about getting the final design.
Glen Keane: Well there was – you knew that he had to be frightening. And as I would do these different drawings of the Beast, I kept thinking, how in the world is Belle going to fall in love with this guy? I mean no one's going believe this, really.
And so of all these drawings, nothing seemed to be clicking for me. And if you would come into my office you would see all sorts of photos on the walls of like a gorilla, of sketches. Or I would just try to – what is it about that gorilla that I love? I mean ultimate I love the brow of that gorilla. So I would draw some of the brow of that gorilla on the Beast.
And then there was this – the lion. The lion's mane. I loved that. The softness of it and so the lion's mane came into be part of the Beast as well as the fangs. But there was the wild boar, the ugliness of that. But his muzzle – so I put that onto the Beast with the tusks coming up. It was the sadness of the buffalo. The weight, the – looks like the buffalo carries around the weight of the world on his head. And I loved that.
And then the beard of the buffalo. That went into the crock-pot. And then there was the wolf though. Every day I would walk to work past the London zoo. And these wolves would walk back and forth, back and forth. And I realized they're so animal like. And one of the things that I really am searching for is how can I communicate that the whole beast is like this beast animal? And that it's not just his head or his hands, or his feet.
And so it was the structure of the leg that I started to use a wolf leg, and the wolf tail for the Beast. And the way the Beast could swish his tail around gave it a lot more emotion possibilities. Then the body of a huge big grizzly bear for the Beast. I mean there is nothing more massive and powerful. I knew that from the fox and the hound and animating the grizzly bear in that.
So that came into play. So all the drawings that I started to do with the Beast though, I put them on all fours, just as a reminder, this guy is an animal. And one day in my office, Bruce Johnson, one of the animators working with me said, so Glen, what's the Beast going to look like? This is after like six months of drawing. I said, I don't know, Bruce. I grabbed the sheet of paper and started drawing. And I was like – and I went through the same thing I just told all of you about all of these different elements except I was drawing it as I was telling him this.
And suddenly I looked at him, and it was like, that's him. That's the Beast. That's what he looks like. And it was like I said, it's as if the character existed beforehand, and suddenly he appears on the paper and you recognized him. And that was the experience of that moment.
Mindy Johnson: Well pretty powerful stuff. When the combination of it comes together. Let's take a look at a few little images, a few scenes from the film, images that show just a little glimpse of the Beast.
Glen Keane: There is this petulance that the Beast has got in these – and the image – just that one there. Yes. His you know where Belle is binding up his wounds after the Beast has saved her from the wolves. And you start to see the crack in the armor there. And the Beast starts softening. And you know how do you show the reason that he was turned into a beast was not because he was a murderer or something. It was because he was selfish.
I mean and that's a lot more fun to play when you get to play more to the childlike stomping kind of a beast. I just spent the weekend with my eighteen-month-old granddaughter. And I see in her a lot of the characteristics of the Beast. Her learning to say no and pushing other little kids. I mean she is really sweet. But there is still this dark side you know that you have to confront.
And that was the fun part of this character. Animating the wild animal, but then into a more identifiable thing that the childlike selfishness. And we thought that once Beast had saved Belle's life, that that was enough to earn this dance. This moment with her falling in love. And so we had the – the story went that way. And when we got to this sequence where Beast and Belle dance, which was just in the storyboard at the time, we had a screening.
And there was a feeling like this movie is not working. I don't believe. We haven't earned this moment for Belle and Beast to fall in love. It feels like we're forcing it. Feels like the artist's hand is sort of making people believe this, trying desperately, but it's not working. What is it?
And at that point Howard Ashman came in with this song that I think really turned the corner for us. The "Something There" song. And I had always felt that Robby Benson should have a moment in this movie where he could actually sing. The guy's got a great voice. A baritone base voice. It's very soft and gentle. And so this song, "There's Something There" was written. And what was wonderful is it was a very small little thing that the movie turned on. You know Beast giving Belle the library. It was – that was the thing that he had noticed what was special to this girl, and he gave her this gift.
And it was really cool just to see how the story, you suddenly believed it after that. And before that song was written, you didn't.
Mindy Johnson: Now you spoke earlier about you know the fact that you were not permitted to even see Robby Benson doing any of his lines.
Glen Keane: No, that was for (forboten), (fairboten).
Mindy Johnson: Yes.
Glen Keane: He – you know Robby Benson, for any of you who may be really young journalists out there; you may not know that Robby Benson – when this movie came out, was a big teenage heartthrob. Or at least that was his history at that point. He wasn't quite the heart – he wasn't a teenager at all. But that was his reputation.
And Jeffrey Katzenberg was so afraid that I was going to draw the Beast like Robby Benson. And so he said, I don't want you to meet Robby Benson until after this movie's done. Because I had usually gone into recording sessions, worked with the actors. But in this case I wasn't allowed to specifically because of this thing with Jeffrey.
So it wasn't until after the movie that I actually got a chance to meet Robby. And I guess that's something that does happen that you draw the people that you know into the character. I think I could have – I think I could have worked around that.
Mindy Johnson: Was there anything about the voice? His voicing of the character that sparked you in any way or helped you to …?
Glen Keane: Yes. Well the – at the beginning. I remember when we were trying to find the right voice for this character, we had – the directors had boiled it down to three different voices. And I got this tape from them, a cassette tape that night. And I drove home. And I remember I was washing dishes. We had had dinner. And so I just put the tape on. And as I am washing dishes I am hearing one version of the Beast. Nah, that's not it. Then the next one. No, that's it. And then the third one was like whoa. That's the Beast.
I mean I could suddenly see the voice just fit with the drawings and it was clear, that was the Beast. And I went in and I said who is this guy? And they said well that's Robby Benson.
Mindy Johnson: Amazing how that takes shape. Well we're going to run some segments of taking a look at one of the scenes from the film. This is where the Beast is calling Belle out to dinner. And we're going to take it and look at it from four different perspectives. I will start initially. And four perspectives in the process of animation. So starting with the storyboard segment. And let's take a quick look at this and then Glen, if you want to walk through it a bit.
Glen Keane: Yes. Well the storyboard is the phase of where you just have to get the images up on the board to see what you've got, to plan it out. So let's take a look at this.
Glen Keane: OK. So obviously those are not the – all the – there's a couple of the final voices in there. But most of those are like I think Kirk Wise is doing the voice of the Beast. He was our director. And various different people filling in.
But enough for us to get a feeling of how that little scene is going to play out. A template that seemed to work. And it was fun. And Burny Mattinson, who was one of the guys who worked with one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, was his assistant. Burny was Eric Larson's assistant in those Nine Old Men. And he had learned to really communicate everything in the most simply means with very clear, strong poses. And that's what I really tried to follow some of Burny's suggestions and leave on the animation.
And the rough animation, I have to tell you is to me – that's where – that's where it all happens for me. I go into my office. I turn off the lights. And except for one light above my desk. And it's like a stage. It all just becomes real. And I enter into the paper. And I'm living it. And there is an emotion. There is a feeling that comes through in the pencil lines, and I – to be honest, it never gets better. It never gets better than this for me. This is the rough animation of that sequence.
Glen Keane: And what's interesting is how something – an idea can turn on a tiny little solid thing. Like the Beast pointing, doing the Jackie Gleason. My first – we had done different ways of the point. And if you turn the hand you know so you see the back – the front side of it as he's pointing, it's not funny. It has to be turned the very way that it's turned there, and it's got to come up in that gesture the way it does.
And you don't know that until you've done it a couple times and you go OK. Well why is this not working? And then you finally find it. So the next step is the cleanup. And that's where you break down all these rough lines that you seen into one clean line. And it's quite a challenge.
I had an artist that worked with me for my whole career, (Bill Berg), he is – actually he was a musician, a drummer that won a Grammy for Flimm & the BBs, the jazz group. But he was also a phenomenal artist. And so he oversaw the cleanup of this scene.
Glen Keane: (Inaudible) at one point, I had a lot more stripes designed into the character. And we realized we're not going to be able to finish this movie, Glen if you have all of these stripes in (inaudible) face, here. And (Bill) had already gone through and drawn all the stripes in there. And he had to go through and erase and simplify. Take out all the stripes that he had drawn in there. I think that is the simplified stripe version. But (Bill) (Herculean) effort there.
Mindy Johnson: Yes. And now, to see it all put together, we have the final color segment. So. Put it into context.
Glen Keane: Yes.
Glen Keane: So what you've just seen is kind of an unveiling of all that goes underneath it. There's a term I learned that describes this. And it's called (spretzitera). A term coined in the 1500s by someone describing the work of Raphael, how – and it means art that hides its art. And that's what animation is. It's this amazing art form. But soon as it's in color, you're not looking at drawings anymore. You're looking a living breathing character.
And the animator disappears. You as an artist, it's an art form that where you really hide. You're not out front at all.
Mindy Johnson: Well you know a couple of questions have been coming, which this seems to be a good point. In the beginning when we first meet the Beast, quite a stark and frightening character. What sorts of things did you do to purposefully enhance that transition into a softer, gentler beast by the end of the film?
Glen Keane: Well there's little things that you would do with the Beast in terms of how he would have a gentleness in his expression. I know that for me, the center of emotion in a character is in the brows and the eyes. And that's the place where the audience is looking. All the other cool stuff, the animal things, and all the horns and everything are set dressing for the eyes.
The eyes are that window to the soul. And the one thing I didn't mention on all those aspects of the designing of the Beast were the eyes are the (prints) of someone who's trapped inside this beast. And that's the thing at the end of the movie where Belle, after the guy has transformed, she has to look into his eyes and realize, it is you. I mean it really is the eyes that you know that reveal him.
It's interesting, in animating this character, I got so much mail from people, more than on any other character of people who really related to the Beast. The dark side of him that they felt in their own life that there was – there was a person inside of them that they wanted to get out. That they thought of themselves as ugly. And it was – I got a lot of letters from people who had been abused, just as a weight that they've carried in their life. And they really related to the Beast in watching this transformation at the end.
For them it was a symbol of everything that they wanted to see happen in their own life. The struggle that they were going through. It was really remarkable for me in that.
Mindy Johnson: Is there anything about the Beast you would go back and change, if you could?
Glen Keane: I wish he could have stayed the Beast. In fact, I did have us record a line at the end of the movie where Beast and Belle, the prince – who knows what his name is. I mean you know his name was Beast – were dancing. And I knew that the audience was going to be disappointed that here was – what happened to our Beast?
So I had them record Belle saying, do you think you could grow a beard? See? You're laughing. It was a good idea. It's not in the movie. We should have put it in there. Yes.
Mindy Johnson: Well speaking of transformations. Let's take a look at probably one of the most astounding scenes in animation of all times. And certainly in contemporary animation. And that is the transformation of the Beast.
And Glen, I know there is quite a process to this. But you went through – or it was a pretty pivotal time for you at the time during production. Could you talk a bit about that?
Glen Keane: Well, there was this sequence that I had been waiting to animate for years, I think, as we were working on this movie. And that was you know where Beast is going to transform. But it came down to finally I had one week left in production. And I hadn't even gotten to it yet. And Don Hahn came in to my office, the producer.
And I said Don; I don't have time to do this. I feel like this is what I was born to do, and how am I going to do this in a week? And he said all right. All right. All right. Glen, look. Whatever it is that you need to get done, this sequence, just make it great. Take the time that you need. I'll fight off the wolves here. We'll figure it out. Just do what you need to do.
So I – that day I just up and I left. And I went down to the Norton Simon Museum. This is a photo of the Burghers of Calais, a sculpture that's in front of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. And you don't know what you're looking for at that time. I was just looking for something. And I walked in there. And those sculptures were so bold and powerful and emotional.
And as I walked around, I had my sketchbook, and I was doing these sketches, looking – particularly I noticed the back. The back of (Rodin's) men there, as their bent over. And how expressive they were. And as I started thinking about it, this was a way I could show the transformation scene the Beast's back being powerful massive thing. And as it turns around, you slowly reveal around to his face.
You don't show his face first. But you get little glimpses. Keeping his head up in the shadows. And so that's where I went. And let's take a look at the actual – the rough animation of that transformation.
Here you can see I am doing some of the – in some of these drawings, there is a shaded thing that I am doing in all of my animation that when people look at my rough animation, they say, why are you shading your drawings? It's like – I mean no one is going to see that. It's like yes, but it's more real to me. It's like sculptural drawing.
You know and as we click through, you can see. I am starting with the Beast's back with these big powerful forms. And it is like sculptural drawing. Let's click through there. And as the Beast is turning, you would think that the back is not expressive. But it's actually incredibly expressive aspect of this character.
And his head is coming around slowly. But I am keeping it in shadow. And then as the head comes towards us, this transformation, this – this is a spiritual moment. And I tried to set that up with this wind that starts to move across his face, and brings the – what's hidden inside out as the prince is formed, and we get a glimpse there. And then the light will start flying out from his fingertips and toes.
Mindy Johnson: Let's watch that in Real Time now.
Glen Keane: There's actually some drawings that are missing in there where you see the wind moving across his face. But we'll see it in the color. You know for me, when you're animating something, you're trying to express something that you've experienced in your own life. This isn't just drawing a character. Going through something that's unrelated that you know you can be just doing these drawings. You have to live it. You have to feel it.
And I know that for me when I am animating a character, I am going through all of those same emotions that they're – like animating the Beast. To me, I would go home and my jaw would hurt from drawing this face that – you know his expressions and his emotions, and what he was talking about. I was living it. And in this moment here, this to me was very much something that I think I just experienced in my own life, my own spiritual life.
A transformation to me. I mean I am a Christian. I really experienced this. I wrote on – up in the upper corners of the paper as I was animating this, a bible verse from I Corinthians. It says if any man is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
That's what this was for me. Every artist has to draw on their own experience, their own beliefs, and put that into their work. And it's there. You sense it. It's true.
Mindy Johnson: Were you assigned the Beast, or did you request this character specifically?
Glen Keane: I was asked to do the – do the Beast. Yes. It was one of those things, it was like wow. The best stuff in life is a gift. You know. Things that you work hard to get sometimes are not the best for you. And the best things are something you you're like wow. There it is. This was an opportunity that really – I was so happy that I was there at the right time.
Mindy Johnson: Yes. Well with that, we are going to open this up. There have been a number of terrific questions that have come through. And hopefully we have answered a number of them. But let's open up the line. I am going to check – we're going to undo the group mute. And we'll open up the lines.
Operator: The leader has unmuted your line. To unmute your line press star six or pound six.
Mindy Johnson: If you'd like to, let's open it up. Please state your name, perhaps where you're from, and if you have any questions, go right ahead.
(Steve Pridds): OK. First question I had, and I already shot it up there. Did you see (Jean Clogtoe's) version of Beauty and the Beast, and did that have an influence on you? And I am (Steve Pridds) by the way.
Glen Keane: Chris?
Mindy Johnson: (Steve Pridds).
Glen Keane: (Steve).
(Steve Pridds): (Steve).
Glen Keane: Yes. That's a great question. There was – that's obviously the classic iconic film that defines you know the genre of Beauty and the Beast. And we did look at that. And when we visited the chateaus in Loire Valley, I saw the actual arms holding the candles in the chateaus there that he used you know as the arms kind of turn. And there were these wonderful moments in there that – I don't know. It just felt – there was the presence of castle, the chateau is what really hit me about (Clogtoe's) version that this was happening in a very magical place.
(Steve Pridds): How about the Beast, himself? Did that have – play you think anywhere in there?
Glen Keane: To me, that did not. If it was much more of a – something that I discovered in our own version of this movie.
(Steve Pridds): OK. Thank you.
Mindy Johnson: OK. Next question.
(Melissa Howlend): Hi, this is (Melissa).
Mindy Johnson: Hi, (Melissa).
Glen Keane: Hi, (Melissa).
(Melissa Howlend): Hi. You kind of touched on this a little bit. But I know most artists are never quite finished with their work. Is there anything about the Beast, his appearance, and animal that you would have wished you would have put in there? Is there anything just bothers you about it, or that you want to go back and change?
Glen Keane: You know I felt like everything came together on this character. And in such an amazing way that I would not – I would not change anything on him. Even the stripes that we took out. Now when I look at it I go, yes, yes, yes. There was too many stripes. I was trying to bringing in some of the wild tiger kind of pattern to the Beast.
And now when I look at it, I think yes, maybe that would have been just a little too distracting to him. I am very satisfied with the way he looks, you know. I think I would ruin it if I tried to change it.
(Melissa Howlend): Thank you, so much. That's great.
Glen Keane: Thank you.
Mindy Johnson: Next question.
(Steve Pridds): Well if everybody is going to be too shy, I will. (Steve Pridds) again, Glen.
Glen Keane: Thank you.
(Steve Pridds): I met you in New York when you gave us a pretty good demonstration about Tarzan.
Glen Keane: Yes.
(Steve Pridds): What was it like comparing – working on Tarzan to working on the Beast here? Because here – in Tarzan you have a man who thinks he's a beast, or vice versa, a beast who really is a man underneath.
Glen Keane: Yes you know, it's interesting. I really thought a lot about those two characters. Because Tarzan was the opposite. I mean he – he was a man of nobility and desperately trying to become a beast, to fit in you know with his surroundings. And the Beast was somebody who there was no nobility in him, and that's why he was turned into a beast. And he had to become a man.
Their paths were crossing each other the opposite way. But I think I related to both of them. I mean there is a course in our life I feel like that we go that way. We try to mature and grow. The thing that I guess I really connected with both characters was a visceral feeling of animalness in both of them that I just was fascinated with Tarzan, living in the jungle. Surviving, moving like an animal. And the Beast the same way.
Their hair was really important. A character's hair is sort of defined the struggle that that character has in the film. It's not just like oh, what are we going to do with the hair? You know you just throw something on there. The hair is like a symbol of that character's story struggle with – for Ariel, her hair floating there was a constant reminder that this girl is underwater and that she has got to struggle to live on another zone of – to survive on land.
With Pocahontas, it was this ethereal spirit like movement of her hair that moved in the wind. The colors of the wind. And it was very much this girl trying to communicate that to someone who was from a very black and white kind of a world. With Tarzan, it was the dreadlocks. Is he – is he going to embrace himself as an animal, or as Lord Greystoke?
And with the Beast, it was a constant reminder of the fur on him surrounding this prince. I don't know, these are thoughts that I just ran through my head as I was working on both of those characters. And I …
(Steve Pridds): Well, one thing I was thinking about too, Glen, is also like Tarzan. Most of the time in the Tarzan film he is hunched. He is shuffling like an ape. Beast in the beginning is more or less the same way, walking on all fours. Did you cop some model sheets from Beast who applied to Tarzan? Or just came that way?
Glen Keane: No. I just – it really came that way from – I mean when I – when I felt like Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller to walking around like just a regular guy, and I tried drawing Tarzan like that. It was embarrassing. I mean when he is like this sort of a mostly naked guy with a loin cloth. And as soon as I made him like an animal, it was like OK. Yes. That's it.
And the same with the Beast. People would come in and do – some of the animators would draw the Beast. And they would draw him standing straight up. It was like no, he just – it looks – I don't believe him anymore. This is a man whose weight is down with this animal body. He wants to stand up. But his body – the design of it pushes him down constantly. And that was really an important thing in the Beast, is to feel like there was a struggle for him to just to stand erect. But naturally he would want to go down on all fours.
(Steve Pridds): Yes. Thank you.
Glen Keane: Yes. Thanks, (Steve).
Mindy Johnson: Next question.
(Roger Ash): Hi Glen, this is (Roger Ash).
Glen Keane: Hi.
(Roger Ash): I was just curious. I know that dance scene was incredibly revolutionary for the time. How difficult was that to do? What challenges did it present to you?
Glen Keane: Well the – animating with the computer, anytime the computer enters into a hand drawing, I find that it forces you to draw better. It forces you to think more dimensionally. So I have always embraced anytime the computer work comes in. I mean for me, John Lassiter and I started this thing way back right around (Tran) doing this little animated test called the (inaudible) things, where we animated the background in (CT) but I could do the character in hand drawings.
And it just naturally helps you think dimensionally when the background is turning in space. You just naturally just enter into it and think that way. So what seems difficult about it is the dimensionality of animating and drawing a character that is turning in space.
And that's really not the hardest part of it. What the hardest part of the dance sequence was – was actually learning to dance. We – James Baxter and I, James, who was doing Belle, and I was doing Beast, we filmed – I mean we brought a dance instructor in. And so he and I would dance together. And where I would learn the Beast steps. And you know he would do Belle.
And we worked on that. And we kind of blocked it out ultimately. James went through and blocked out all the animation himself first. And then I went in and went over top of it and was drawing the Beast. But it – in the end, I would have to say it was really just the subtleties, the gentleness of keeping the Beast – of learning the dance steps that were the most difficult in that sequence.
(Roger Ash): Cool. Thank you.
Mindy Johnson: Next question.
(Norm Shrager): Hi Glen. This is (Norm Shrager). How are you?
Glen Keane: Hi (Norm). Thank you.
(Norm Shrager): I just wanted to ask, I have always seen this as a viewer, and going back in history a little bit. Beauty and the Beast kind of reestablished Disney animation across the board, across all audience ages, the Oscar nomination of course.
So I am wondering, with all the experience you had on films leading up to that that may have been a little more kid-focused, was there a different feeling in what was going on in the studio at the time? Or maybe just in particular for this film?
Glen Keane: Well with The Little Mermaid, we were all shocked that the public loved it as much as we did. You know there was quite a while there it felt like Disney just was you know the Golden Age was over and we missed it.
And yet there was no less artistry. There's no less passion in the work that we were doing. And so Little Mermaid opened that door up for us. And we realized wow, this really can happen for us too. And you'd think though that as we were working on Beauty and the Beast, we would have felt that hey, this is really – this is going – this is another one. But we didn't feel that way.
We felt like oh man. This is – how are we going to – how are we going to fix this? This thing is not working out. This is – everything that we did, we had some great songs by Howard Ashman and (Megan). But it still wasn't really singing. There's something that was missing with this. And as I had mentioned to you before, that song that Howard Ashman wrote, There's Something There. But that happened pretty late in the story.
And so there was a – there wasn't this feeling of you know manifest destiny that we were claiming for ourselves. It was more of like desperately trying to just get the thing so that it would look good so people didn't throw tomatoes at us. And then to see how it all came together at the end there like that. That's what was amazing, is to realize how all of these elements together just coalesce towards the end of the picture, and there it was.
But we didn't have a feeling that it was all happening until the end.
(Norm Shrager): And then you ended up with your own little Golden Ages.
Glen Keane: Yes. Yes. It was – you know that's – now we want another one.
Mindy Johnson: Yes, definitely.
Glen Keane: Starting with (inaudible).
(Norm Shrager): Well thank you very much for the reply. I appreciate it.
Glen Keane: Yes, thank you.
Mindy Johnson: Next question.
(Steve Pridds): Well OK. These people are too damn shy. (Steve) again.
Mindy Johnson: Just polite.
Glen Keane: (Steve). They are waiting. When you've got so many good question.
(Steve Pridds): Thank you. How did it feel to go through the whole thing where you might have gotten a possible Oscar for best picture? I mean talk about an – even Uncle Walt didn't quite pull that one off.
Glen Keane: Yes.
(Steve Pridds): And at the same time, do you ever think the Academy will ever give a full animated feature film that honor?
Glen Keane: Well, we were amazed that that happened at that time. And I think it took the academy by surprise, and there was a lot of uproar about it. And you know I would – I'd be really interested in seeing what the final vote count on that was. How close we were to Silence of the Lambs.
(Steve Pridds): Admittedly tough competition.
Glen Keane: Yes. I mean Silence of the Lambs was a phenomenal film. So was Beauty and the Beast. And is it going to happen again? I believe it will. I have to believe that this art form animation is the greatest art form there is.
(Steve Pridds): No argument there.
Glen Keane: And what we have done is just the early curve of where it can go. Because of where computer animation is, and where hand drawn animation is. I think that there is something really new and wonderful to invent and create that no one has seen yet. And I really have to believe that one of these days, yes. An animated feature is going to win best picture of the year. Came close then, and it will happen again.
(Steve Pridds): Because I'll be honest with you, Glen. I saw Toy Story III. And it blew me away. I don't know if you know your colleagues over there up there – up there in Northern California did a hell of a job.
Glen Keane: Yes. Well this is – this is a film that could win that. You know and the fact that you're saying that, there is a lot of other people feeling the same thing. You know one of the things that happened with Beauty and the Beast that really bothered me, and that whole academy thing was the way they were talking about well, what about real actors? We need to have real actors winning these awards.
And I was thinking, well what am I? I mean I feel like I really poured my heart and soul into this character. And Robby Benson's voice, I mean I feel like both of us put so much into that. And the fact that we're drawing it doesn't cheapen it. It actually adds more value to it to me. You know so I think it's coming.
(Steve Pridds): Well, speaking of Robby. I put the question up kind of, and you answered it kind of too. But when you've heard Robby's voice, and obviously you didn't know who he was. Did that affect – because a lot of times I've – you know you kind of mentioned it also. Animators will look at the actor that does voicing stuff, and it will affect their performance.
And I think one case in particular is your colleague, (Mark Han), talking about – or not (Mark Han), it was Mike Surrey. Mike Surrey, saying how much Cummings' performance affected Ray the Firefly.
Glen Keane: Yes.
(Steve Pridds): Was that kind of a similar situation for you with the Beast and you know hearing the voice make you change any of the drawings?
Glen Keane: Yes. You know listening to the voice made me really work on the brows, the expressions. Because you become so familiar with the voice, there is a sensitivity and attentiveness that would come out in Robby's performance that I would really push the expressions and the drawings. It was more like taking the design that I had and letting it work to the sound of the voice, mouth shapes.
Robby has a kind of a soft way of speaking. So the mouth shapes of the Beast weren't just kind of wild and violent as much as they were carefully shaped. And those are kinds of things that just happened because of the sound.
(Steve Pridds): Right. Cool. OK.
Glen Keane: Interesting.
Mindy Johnson: Any other questions?
(Roger Ash): Sure. This is (Roger Ash) again. As supervising animator for the Beast, how closely did you work with the other animators working with you?
Glen Keane: Are you talking about the other supervising animators, or the other actual animators working?
(Roger Ash): The other actual animators on the Beast.
Glen Keane: I worked very closely with them. I would – there were some animators that would actually in Florida. And you know how closely can you work in there? Well I would get their drawings sent to me. And I would draw over top of it and FedEx it back. I would use – do faxes. They'd send me their thumbnails, little sketches, what they were thinking of the scene. And I would draw over top of that with lots of notes.
We'd talk on the phone. Aaron Blaise, he ended up – well he was a new animator on the film. And I trained him. But I trained him from California, and he was working in Florida. But we felt that we could do this as long as we had an ability to draw over top of each other's work. You can't just talk it. You actually have to draw for somebody.
So I had an enormous amount of drawings sending back and forth. Drawing over top of animators at the studio as well. It's much easier if I can have somebody standing, and – over my shoulder and watching me draw over their work. And I did that a lot.
(Roger Ash): Well and since you mentioned it, how closely did you work with the other supervising animators?
Glen Keane: We were all very close. Just from often in the offices next to each other. Constantly in story meetings together. Taking a look at each other's work. Jeffrey Katzenberg was a very solidifying influence on our team, as well. He would have early story meetings, 7:00 in the morning. We'd all get there and he have his – a big Diet Coke and we would talk together as supervising animators with Jeffrey and the directors.
And we – I think we became very close together. We knew each other really well.
(Roger Ash): OK cool. Thank you very much.
Mindy Johnson: Is there any final questions?
(Michelle): Hello, I am (Michelle) from Mexico. I under – which work did major differences between traditional animation and (inaudible) computerized animation? And which may be the future of this kind of animation as 3D increases?
Glen Keane: Well it's interesting. Computer – because I just finished Tangled, well overseeing animation with a lot of the animators. But the way I worked on that film was by drawing on a (sintik) over top of people's computer animation. And what I kept reminding everybody was – is that this is – computer animation is still just a graphic flat art form. Even though we say it's 3D, it's on a flat screen, and it's just as much of a graphic shape as drawing is.
And for them to think in terms of graphic simple shapes. And so I would do a lot of drawings, and apply the same principles of hand drawn to computer animation. And I think that the more we can bring the feeling – the – I guess the influence, the inventiveness of hand drawn into computer animation, where you are not tied to just what the computer is giving you.
Because the computer seems to always shade everything so perfectly. And try to convince you that there, this is what you want, right? Look how good it looks. It's like dimensional everything. And you start thinking wait a second. No. That's not quite what I wanted. I pushed that silhouette a little stronger, and I stretched that arm out more. And I jut that jaw out further.
And you know that's the things that we have to remember that we are the masters of the graphic statement. And letting the computer bend it's knee to the animator, instead of the animator to the computer. And at the beginning, I think we really struggled with the computer was sort of like dictating what we were going to get. And now in Tangled, I feel like you will see the computer really changing and bending to what it is that we want it to look like.
It's very unusual animation in computer animation. You'll see a big influence of the same kind of principles you see in Beauty and the Beast, you'll see handled in Tangled.
(Roger Ash): Well obviously …
(Roger Ash): I'm sorry.
Mindy Johnson: Go ahead. No, go on.
(Roger Ash): Who are you working on in Tangled?
Mindy Johnson: Well we want to kind of keep things centered to Beauty and the Beast on this – in our timeframe. So we've got time for one more question. Well, I'll wrap it up then with the final question, Glen.
In all of your time and your experiences here at Disney, what's been your most favorite project, and/or character?
Glen Keane: Well every project I am working on, it keeps presenting a new challenge to me. And there are different phases in my life. I mean I guess The Little Mermaid to me was like wow. That was – this is the start of a whole new thing.
Beast was such a personal – like a spiritual expression for me. That's what I got out of that one. And it maybe touches me some ways the deepest. Tarzan was absolutely a thrill because of the joy of animating this character and space and the thrill of drawing that that gave to me. This film I am just working now, Tangled, to answer your question there. I mean I have overseen the animation of the character Rapunzel, and the other characters as well. But designing her particularly.
Kind of bring all that – the beauty of hand drawing into CG. It's been an incredible – I don't know, challenge and great satisfaction out of it. You know I guess they're kind of like kids. Which kid's your favorite?
Mindy Johnson: Yes.
Glen Keane: I love them all.
Mindy Johnson: We do too. We love it all. Thank you so much for your time, Glen. We sure appreciate this. And I'd like to thank each of you participating in today's WebEx and sharing in your time and questions, great questions for Glen. Again, if you have any questions – additional questions above and beyond, we can certainly field these perhaps in an e-mail form. Check with your local market representative. And we'll see that we get these in front of Glen and in his very little spare time, he's graciously committed to answering whatever questions we can field past him, if there is a need.
As some markets are releasing a bit later than the U.S., which of course is tomorrow. Those of you who are from Latin America, if you want to check with your local representatives, if there's any additional materials you'll need, please let us know. We will have, and do have images posted. Links have been sent out. If you have not received those, please notify your representative and we'll be sure that you get those.
And again, transcripts will be issued not only on this particular WebEx, but one that we did earlier this morning, which again had – was a terrific round with very different questions in many ways. So you might find something interesting from those transcripts as well.
We'll have these issued out in the next 48 hours. As soon as we're able to get those turned around from the WebEx's today. These are also available online. You can dial back in if there is something you immediately need to go back to, to reference. So you can dial this back in and call up this particular WebEx event to re-listen to this particular WebEx.
Thank you so much for your time. We look forward to seeing some terrific coverage from our extraordinary opportunity today with Glen Keane. Glen, thank you so much.
Glen Keane: Yes. Thanks a lot. Great questions. Enjoyed talking with you. It was a pleasure.
Male: Thank you, Glen.
(Michelle): It was a pleasure.
Mindy Johnson: So again, on behalf of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, thank you so much. And we look forward to your coverage on Beauty and the Beast and the Diamond Edition Release. Take care.