1990- The animation department continued to grow (in our new space off the lot). Who would not want to be a part of the expansion?... I signed on for another stint in my animation adventure. The photo below to the right was taken by Ruben Aquino when we were on Airway street in Glendale, dated 10/90.
and had opportunities to be an ambassador for the animation department. Quenching the thirst of youngsters who wanted to get a first hand glimpse of how our films are made and meet an animator. The wide eyes and dropped jaws were priceless. And each session ended with the inevitable, "can you draw Mickey Mouse?"during the question and answer period.
To the right, is the crew photo from, The Rescuers Down Under, first sequel to an animated Disney feature...
To the left I'm holding a maquette of Cody from RDU-you'd be smiling too if you had gotten a reprieve from crowd scene purgatory.
This is how I escaped: the animation phase was ready to start but was put on hold as the story was being worked out. This dragged on for several weeks as the story was being overhauled. I had a friend who had a son about the age of Cody and I called him and asked if I could to come over to film and draw his son. I got the ok and spent an afternoon observing a kid at play. I took the insight, film and drawings and turned them into a pencil test that I showed to the directors Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel. They liked the direction I was going with the character and assigned me to the Cody unit, headed up by Russ Edmonds.
The years spent doing multiple character scenes had given me insights into how to best plan out a scene. In crowd scenes each character has to work independently and as a group, with as little or no overlapping (if possible:) depending on what the scene called for. Thorough planning is a must to avoid a multiple headache. This same thought process carried over into the scene planning of individual characters, only a lot less complicated.
I had great time working on Cody and those around me could feel the enthusiasm as management sent out congratulations to us. I looked forward to the next hurdle as we wrapped up the animation...
This letter from the National Religious Broadcasters becomes a part of my journey towards the end of 1990. My oldest son Mikel (1972-2007) was in his first year at Howard University in Washington D.C. LaVonne and I had taken him back east in August to start school and he had come home for Thanksgiving. We had not planned to see him again until school ended in May. Glen Keane had a speaking engagement in Pasadena after work. For some reason he could not make it and asked me to go in his place. I had nothing scheduled that night and filled in for him. I gave a short talk about animation. Ted Baehr the chairman and ceo of Good News Communications was in attendance and invited me to give a similar talk...in Washington D.C. at the the NRB convention. I jumped at the chance to kill two birds with one stone, speak at this event and see my son.