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Award Season FocusDisney

‘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
  • This deserves the Oscar.

  • Roberto Severino

    A job well done! These model sheet drawings look fantastic.

  • Joseph Patrick

    I’m just hoping Disney releases the full short online!

  • Mark Sheard

    Yes, this was a brilliant short. Well done.

  • Strong Enough

    Disney has been on a roll. the best thing you can hope for as an animator is to wake up every morning and work on something truly amazing. Disney fits the bill everytime.

  • Steven Bowser

    I wasn’t as impressed with this short as I thought I was going to be. It was more a parlor trick than a compelling story. But I guess that’s sort of how cartoons used to be anyways.
    I did really like the part where they are going in circles in and out of the screen going from 2D to 3D repeatedly. THAT was impressive.

    • Funkybat

      I thought it was a cool parlor trick. Some of the gags worked, but some were missed in the blur of activity, especially toward the end. I thought they did a pretty good job mimicking the original Disney cartooning style, but the animation was a little too polished compared to the original. There was this creepy vibe to the early B/W shorts from most studios, including Disney, that I didn’t feel while watching this. I wonder how impressive it will be on home media, I saw it in theaters, once in 3D and once in 2D, and it wasn’t nearly as impressive in 2D. The trick of them appearing to be there in YOUR theater is what made it work.

      • Steven Bowser

        I never felt like they looked like they were in the actual theater, even though I saw it in 3D. I guess that’s just my bad.
        And as far as the 2D animation, I thought it looked pretty good. But I have heard that some old-school animation enthusiasts were put off by it because it doesn’t share the same reasoning as the old shorts did. For instance, when Mickey makes his leg into a staircase, I heard some people thought that didn’t make sense because he just randomly morphs into things with no real reason.
        Or something like that. I’m no expert. ;)
        I like their commitment to keeping old traditions alive in our memory while bringing them new life. That’s a very cool thing

  • DReview

    Technology is empowering animators to a new level of creativity and freedom. It’s a great age to be an independent animator!

  • benmachado

    can’t seem to find it yet

  • AC

    I loved this short and felt it really captured the Iwerks spirit.

  • Confused Now

    Im getting more convinced Eric Goldberg is the only employee at Disney with any unique, inventive style and talent.
    Literally everyone else follows model sheets

  • rafaelmacho

    I watched it without knowing anything with my 4 years old son. I thought it was an old Disney cartoon. I was explaining this to my son “look that’s the way it used top be…” But as the story unrolled, he started to laugh and enjoy it a lot! Me too.

  • Dungeonmaster Jim

    The 3D let this short down. The cell animation was wonderful.