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Award Season Focus

‘Get a Horse!’: The Art of the Oscar-Nominated Shorts

In this special Cartoon Brew series, we asked the five nominees of the 2013 Best Animated Short Academy Award to discuss the artwork of their films. Today we conclude this exclusive look at the short contenders with Get A Horse!, a Walt Disney short directed by Lauren MacMullan. The short, which premiered last June at Annecy, was distributed to mainstream audiences in front of the theatrical release of Frozen.

(Click on any of the images for a closer view. See the artwork of the other short nominees: Possessions, Feral, Mr. Hublot, and Room on the Broom)

Lauren MacMullan: Oddly enough, no model sheets from this 1928-30 era could be found. Clarabelle herself was sometimes a mere cow, sometimes upright in a schoolmarmish dress. Here was my attempt to split the difference with a half dress. Dale Baer contributed some poses as well.

Lauren MacMullan: For Horace, we found some reference from a model sheet we thought was made for the comic strips, then pushed him a bit back in time towards the almost-mule of The Barn Dance. I worked in some poses that I’d already boarded; I guess I always thought horses and cows saluting is funny.

Lauren MacMullan: Adam Green’s early test of the Mickey and Horace models helped us work out the CG version of ‘rubber hose,’ and demonstrates the Horace/Mickey bond to boot.

Lauren MacMullan: A lovely model sheet by Eric Goldberg, with just a few tweaks from me. We incorporated poses from the old shorts, to emphasize on graphic silhouettes, stretchy inventiveness, and some love.

Lauren MacMullan: I boarded the short more than once, trying to capture that sense of ribald joy I love so much in this era. Here’s a few that made it in.

Lauren MacMullan: Story artist Raymond Persi came up with this idea of cutting close so Pete suddenly dwarfs a tiny Mickey, lost alone on stage. The Mickey of this era was a littler guy, physically an underdog. His only chance? To outwit Pete.

Lauren MacMullan: All the 2D animation truly was hand-drawn, with pencil and paper. I could watch Eric Goldberg’s haywagon cycle all day long. Tony DeRosa contributed Pete pulling up to this scene, with sundry ducks and chickens. The chicken, startled, lays an egg that then proceeds to grow legs and runs away as well.

Lauren MacMullan: I happily fulfilled a lifelong dream by getting to animate this shot. All it took in the end was assigning the scene to myself—and I was a Disney 2D animator, for a few days.

Lauren MacMullan: I found the mix of 2D and CG animation in the short the most interesting, even haunting aspect. The mediums calling back and forth to each other across the decades, pushing each other into different meanings. Getting to concieve and make this short has been the best animation experience of my life.

Explore the artwork of the other 2013 Oscar animated short nominees:
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom