"Oilspot and Lipstick." "Oilspot and Lipstick."

30 Years Ago: Disney Released Its First Fully-CG Animated Short, ‘Oilspot and Lipstick’

This anniversary won’t be marked by many people, but Disney released a historic film on this day thirty years ago.

The studio’s first fully-cg animated short, Oilspot and Lipstick, debuted on July 28, 1987, at the SIGGRAPH conference, held in Anaheim, California that year. The short, as far as we know, was not released to the general public. (A clip from the short can be viewed below.)

In the animated piece, Oilspot and Lipstick are two small mechanical “junk” dogs who are threatened by a junk monster. The film, directed by Mike Cedeno, had actually been produced a year or two earlier, but released at SIGGRAPH in 1987.

Though it was Disney’s first full-cg short, the studio had experimented with computer animation techniques and incorporated cg elements into other projects it produced in the early- and mid-1980s. Among those projects were the 1982 live-action feature Tron, a 1983 test by John Lasseter and Glen Keane that combined hand-drawn characters with computer-generated backgrounds, and the 1986 feature The Great Mouse Detective, which incorporated computer-generated backgrounds in the climactic clocktower finale.

Tina Price, an animator who worked on Oilspot and Lipstick, wrote about the film in a Cartoon Brew comment some years ago, offering some details about the production:

We had 2 SGI hardware boxes called Mickey and Minnie running Wavefront software. We sent out the film printing because there was no optical printer in house, and Tad wrote the hiddenline code that was developed and composited over the 3D rendered images to create a ‘new’ 2D/3D look. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing but we had a lot of passion and ideas and talent that went on to fuel the 3D animation in feature films at Disney.

"Oilspot and Lipstick."

Here’s a list of creative credits for the historic short. The group that made the film called themselves the “Late Night Movie Group” due to the long hours they put into making the project.

Director: Mike Cedeno
Creative Consultant: Burny Mattinson
Story Development: Mike Cedeno, Bruce Morris, Gary Trousdale
Original Concept: Lem Davis
Music: Jay Ferguson
Animators: Ruben Aquino, Mike Cedeno, Tony DeRosa, Tina Price, M.J. Turner
Effects Animator: Barry Cook
Assistant Animators: Brian Clift, Jim Houston
Layout Artist: Fred Cline
Background Artist: Brian Sebern
Production Graphics: John Emerson
Sound Effects: Robby Weaver
Video Editing: Bob Lambert
Film Editing: Dave Wolf
Technical Directors (Production and Animation) Tad Gielow, M.J. Turner
Technical Directors (Compositing and Effects) Lem Davis, David Coons,
Jim Houston
Special Thanks To:
Wavefront Technologies, Inc – Loan of production software
Edge Computer Corporation – Loan of hardware for production
Pixar – Loan of hardware/software for animation tests

  • I wanna say that this CG short predates Pixar’s Luxo, Jr. but they were probably going at the same time and Oil Spot was released after Luxo. After that, all people remember is the Pixar short for obvious reasons. Oil Spot is still an early pioneering experiment that helped prove out that CG could be used at Disney and lead to building the confidence of execs to include CG for the gear-works in Great Mouse Detective. The team who worked on it are all under appreciated pioneers of CG animation for sure.

    • white vader

      Pixar did put out Adventures of Andre and Wally B before that though…

    • Jim Houston

      Hi Tony, Oilspot was after Great Mouse Detective. I think it was being done during “Oliver and Company”. Storyboarding was in 1986 and production started in December 1986. Luxo appeared first at Siggraph 1986. Oilspot premiered at 1987 siggraph and Luxo was part of the inspiration. — member of the Disney Late Night Crew Jim H

  • Elsi Pote

    Back in the day they canned every CG project because they were dimmed too expensive but had no problem paying a hefty coin for Pixar to later put it aside and do their CG on their own.

    Ironic huh!

    • Businesses can be funny that way.

    • By the time Disney bought Pixar they and CG had proven itself many times over. Still it was very shortsighted of Disney to abandon CG and Lasseter. And they aren’t really doing it on their own since John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are running Disney’s animation dept.

  • Beamish Kinowerks

    Great Mouse Detective gets all the attention for the clock tower sequence, but The Black Cauldron has some terrific and very subtle CGI touches in a handful of scenes

    • Dustin Koski

      But you have to put up with the worst comic relief character Disney ever created to appreciate The Black Cauldron’s.

      • Beamish Kinowerks

        Blame Lloyd Alexander for Gurgi, not Disney! Still, I think that farting robot from Treasure Planet is far worse

  • Rather a shame Disney doesn’t release this publicly. Seems like it would be a no-brainer to at least stick it online someplace or even find a way to put out another DVD/Blu-Ray collection similar to the shorts compilations they did before.

  • Matt Norcross

    Wow, so Disney was doing all-CGI projects before they were popular. Interesting…

  • Marc Hendry

    I had no idea this existed at all

  • Kathleen Quaife

    Yep, Mike Cedeno and the entire crew deserve more recognition for this early work! Thanks for posting Cartoon Brew!

  • I recall a 35mm print of Oilspot & Lipstick once showed up on eBay years ago but that’s about it.

  • Thanks Cartoon Brew for bringing attention to this excellent early computer work, especially since it’s not listed in IMDb. I remember Joe Ranft telling me he did some story work on this (maybe he didn’t want credit because he had a tendency to add ideas to everything he saw). I also heard that this was made without executive approval and has been under wraps for that reason. I hope people get a chance to see more than just a few seconds.

  • Tina Price

    This short will be screened at “AN INVISIBLE HISTORY: TRAILBLAZING WOMEN OF ANIMATION” event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Monday, August 7th……….” :-)

  • Jacob D Johnston

    Is there anywhere we can watch the full short?