Disney’s Gettin’ Lazy

Disney’s reuse of past animation is nothing new. But seeing these sequences in motion, one scene followed by its subsequent reuse, is fascinating. Animator Michael J. Ruocco, on his For The Birds blog, has started compiling a series of videos comparing the original animation from Disney features with the later films in which the same animation is reused. He’s just posted Disney’s Gettin’ Lazy Episode #3 showing that Bambi’s Mom didn’t die – she lived on to appear in The Sword In the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Rescuers and Beauty and the Beast. My favorite is Episode #2 (embedded below) comparing a chase scene from Mr. Toad with one in The Jungle Book:

Also check his Episode #1 (which compares a bit from Fantasia with Make Mine Music and The Black Cauldron), and note that Ruocco’s planning many more of these.


  • http://pauloflanaganartblog.blogspot.com/ paul o’flanagan

    oh pish posh! as you say, disney re-using animation is nothing new, but these new comparisons are pretty tenuous. episode 02? both scenes are lazily thought out (well, practically ALL of the jungle book) and have the same idea. but re-use? no. and episode 03 – the figures in both movies are facing the same way! sheesh

  • http://wardomatic.blogspot.com Ward

    I’d like to see the same thing, but with Looney Tunes/MGM shorts. Loads and loads of the same jokes/gags reused and reshot, etc.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com The Gagaman

    One of the song sequences in Robin Hood is almost made entirely out of reused animation from Jungle Book, the Aristocats, and Snow White. While it is pretty lazy at the same time it’s pretty impressive how they could transform a human or cat into a fox. The bear in that film was almost quite literally baloo with different fur though. I have been making a video that cuts this Robin Hood scene with what it reuses from layered right on top of each other, but er…I’ve got lazy and not finished it. Oh the irony!

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Oh that Woolie. You know we love ya.

    Warners (and the Fleischers) would reuse animation because they were strapped for cash and time. At Disney, it was just laziness. And as far as I know, MGM never really reused animation (though they would rehash old character designs often!).

    Taken from here:
    “A distinction should be made between reused animation and reused gags. Reusing animation, as discussed above, means reusing older animation drawings for a new cartoon. By contrast, to reuse a gag means that only a certain scene from an earlier cartoon is reused without using any animation drawings from previous shorts (the material is completely new).”

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C.Edwards

    He forgot to include the scene from “Treasure Planet” where Bambi’s mother crashes that ship and gives Jim that orb-thingie before keeling over dead.

  • Chuck R.

    Michael, you have a good eye! Bambi’s Mom could well become the visual counterpart to the Wilhelm Scream. I’ll object a bit to episode #1: Because the reused demon in “Make Mine Music” doesn’t really move much, I’d put this in the same class as hiding a Beast toy in Aladdin or inserting Nemo in Monsters Inc. —it’s more inside-humor than laziness. A good catch nevertheless.

    I disagree that there was any cleverness in transforming Snow White and the dwarves into foxes for Robin Hood. I always thought Robin Hood’s design was compromised in many scenes to facilitate the cheating. The whole movie represents Disney at it’s low-point. That being said, I still prefer tracing over cartoons judiciously to tracing over live-action indiscriminately.

    BTW, reusing gags is just as lazy as reusing animation. It’s just laziness from a different department.

  • http://rauchbrothers.com Mike Rauch

    Lazy? Possibly. But don’t count out the possibility that they were just having a bit of fun. You could hardly fault them for that given the many laborious hours spent at their desks.

  • http://torontoanimation.blogspot.com TempleDog

    funny as hell, but do you really think it’s a re-purposed set of boards, or just the director’s freudian slip showing in the sequence?

  • http://awprunes.wordpress.com/ Larry Levine

    At Warners, Bob Clampett would creatively reuse animation (eg. log chase from All This & Rabbit Stew for The Big Snooze). I don’t think Chuck Jones did, though his animation was reused by others in the 1960s (A-Haunting We Go & The Wild Chase).

  • http://www.tomsito.com Tom Sito

    Good eye! When I was in the Disney Story Dept. we would joke about how many times the Mowgli Stick Kicking Scene was reused.

    That’s where the skinny kid, bored and frustrated, stomps off, kicks a small stick in his way, leans against a wall or tree and slumps down.

    I think it was used for Wart in Sword in the Stone ( which predates, I know), the kid in Black Cauldron and Small One and a few other places.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    The re-use craze is not a co-incidence. The drafts have actual notes referencing the scenes to be re-purposed and the Woolie features are full of them. The JUNGLE BOOK/MR. TOAD one, (which Dave Spafford pointed out to me twenty five years ago) is a case in point.

    I think in the days before computers it saved on planning scene mechanics (timing pans and camera moves). Back then that could cut days out of getting something prepped for camera. The copious and habitual re-use that later plagued even static scenes can only be blamed on conspicuous corner-cutting.

  • http://www.lippy.com Lippy

    Blatant re-use, to be sure. But remember that 75% of “The Jungle book” was animated by TWO GUYS. We’d ALL be cutting corners.

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    That’s terrible. Nevertheless, did a good job anyway.

  • http://www.shawcartoons.com Scott Shaw!

    WINDWAGON SMITH re-uses animation of a marching band from TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK & BOOM…but WINDWAGON SMITH was intentionally done on the cheap, to show Walt that the studio could do TV cartoons to compete with H-B and Jay Ward.

    Reportedly, Walt hated the cartoon, but it’s one of my favorites.

  • Kevin Martinez

    Goliath II is particularly bad as far as reused animation is concerned (footage is lifted from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Dumbo) so I hope that gets covered in a future installment.

    Then, of course, is the Holy Grail of Disney recycled animation, Robin Hood’s Phoney King of England.

  • http://www.rudyagrestaartandmusic.moonfruit.com Rudy Agresta

    Speaking of Goliath II, I believe the elephant PILE-UP scene was used again in the Jungle Book.

  • Tom Minton

    Amby Paliwoda animated those elephants for Goliath II and they were repainted for the Jungle Book after he left the studio.

  • Newt

    There’s a bear leaping in perspective up a tree straight at camera that is re-used as a feline in “Banjo, the Woodpile Cat.”

  • But Mess

    MGM rehashed sequences in shorts such as Life With Tom.

    Paul Terry regarded recycling as a business fixture.

  • Joe

    I think many must bear in mind that Disney was under very tight budget constraints during both the war years (mid-40s) and was also reeling from the box office disaster that was Sleeping Beauty. The latter really struck the Walt Disney Animation Studio hard, which is why so many of scene reusing happened during the 60s and 70s.

  • http://gerarddesouza.blogspot.com Gerard de Souza

    I disagree. Disney had a budget to consider too. It’s not like they are plagiarizing someone else’s work. This reminds of the rotoscope debate or the one of renaissance painters using optical projection. As if it is that easy. In rotoscoping as a tool (as opposed to a crutch) the animator has to be very action analytical and know what keys to plus from the live action. The renaissance painter had to understand, have an intimate knowledge of his subject, like anatomy, to “trace” it successfully. Their money was time too. Likewise adapting the timing from a mole to a big bear or from a weasel to a monkey. It takes drawing and animation chops to do that never mind technical stuff like the camera and peg calculations. They made the animation they can use it however they wish.

  • Mr. Semaj

    “Goliath II is particularly bad as far as reused animation is concerned (footage is lifted from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Dumbo) so I hope that gets covered in a future installment.”

    Some bits were also taken from Bambi and Sleeping Beauty. (They even make a game out of this on YouTube. :P )

    One other reuse was with Mowgli running thru the jungle. He later got a sex-change operation and did it again in The Rescuers.

  • Brad Constantine

    I’m more offended by the size and volume issues in that Jungle Book sequence than the gag re-use. Who did the assist on that? I always wondered why they all change sizes so much and now I understand. Goliath 2 was used to test the xerox process mostly so re-use was understandable to see the comparisons versus inked cels up on the screen.
    fun to see the comparisons.

  • Fidel

    To me it always seemed like these re-used sequences (save for those in “Robin Hood”) were just Disneyisms in animation. So when I would see something like the chase sequence in Mr. Toad and Jungle Book be familiar (or that bird from Alice in Wonderland and then Goliath II, or the elephants in Goliath II and then in Jungle Book), I would think it’s a Disney gag. Now if some of Disney’s gags and animation had been use for a Warner Bros. or MGM cartoon, then I guess I would have to cry foul, because then it’s another studio trying to copy something from another and that I wouldn’t have been okay with.

  • Matt

    Say what you will, but each and every one of you enjoyed the animated features listed and wouldn’t change a thing. Along comes Mike and opens our eyes that there are similarities in classic sequences. If anything, I found Mike’s discovery fascinating. Something I would expect on a DVD. Instead of calling it laziness, I would consider it creative genius on the parts of these animators.

  • Edward

    Nice story in here and over at the “For The Birds” blog. This is what I posted there…

    There’s another example I know. In the “Peter and the Wolf” section from “Make Mine Music” where when Peter is stuck on the tree branch with the Wolf. As seen from Peter’s P.O.V, the Wolf is coming straight on toward him, maw drooling and all.

    Now years later in the Disney special “Lambert The Sheepish Lion” they use this same animation again where from Lambert’s P.O.V., the wolf is coming toward him. Even the drool is dripping exactly the same way as it was in “Peter and the Wolf”

  • Greg

    Wasn’t some of the animation of Bernard, Bianca and Orville’s flight takeoff from ”The Rescuers” (1977) later reused in ”The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) for Bernard, Bianca and Wilbur’s flight takeoff?