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Glen Keane Interview

Glen Keane

The new-ish animation blog Lineboil offers up a fine interview with Glen Keane, in which he talks about his preference for pencil over Cintiq, who his greatest source of animation inspiration is (a surprise, at least to me), and suggests that he may one day become a full-time teacher. When asked if the amount of animation we’re seeing today constitutes a new Golden Age, Keane diplomatically shoots down the idea with a fantastic answer that I couldn’t agree with more:

“It seems to me that a ‘golden age’ starts with a movement to discover and learn. It worked that way when Walt turned Hyperion studios into a veritable animation university complete with animal pens to keep deer for study. The result was Snow White, Bambi and Fantasia. In the seventies, when Disney re-started its training program, there was an influx of new talent, new discoveries and wonderful new films like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Lion King. Branching out from Disney, there are the films of John Lasseter, Brad Bird and Tim Burton.

“We need to be stretching out and learning, discovering, trying new things. We cannot rest on where we are. There is always a stronger, more convincing, more personal and expressive way to tell our stories and to animate our characters. If we do that then we can move into another ‘golden age.'”

(photo via O-meon)

  • Trevor

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t have much to discuss about it because I agree with every sentiment.

  • Great interview. When Glen talks about the Cintiq, he’s totally right. The only thing I don’t use the Cintiq for is for sketching ideas or thumbs. I love it for storyboarding and animating, but you gotta limit yourself for detail. Don’t be afraid to try new things folks but be cautious about spending too much time on technology than creativity.

  • Snow White, Bambi and Fantasia. One great film and two flops. This is of course from an executive and financial standpoint in regards to the films’ initial releases. Snow White made money, and the other two films lost money. They didn’t make back their production costs until later re-releases.

    The theatrical animation industry cannot get to this “golden age” while people still think in terms of opening weekend box office numbers and DVD releases. You have to think longer term. It doesn’t seem like anyone is doing that right now, except maybe Dreamworks with their commitment to stereoscopic 3D. Whether you love or hate the technology, you cannot deny that their commitment to this “new” technology is more foreward thinking and in line with golden age practices than anything any other studio is doing at the moment.

    Now, maybe it will be the next big thing, and maybe it won’t, but the commitment to an untested technology and a strong will to make it work come hell or high water is in line with the old guard Disney way of thinking, and the first hint of a new golden age.

  • elan

    I agree with much of what Glen says in this interview…but I cant help but think that we ARE in another golden era of animation (maybe not gold, but definitely silver, hehe) it’s just that he’s just not a huge part of it. :\ You cant say Pixar hasnt changed the face of animation forever, and to me, thats an era worth marking. I agree when he says “We need to be stretching out and learning, discovering, trying new things. We cannot rest on where we are” but it seems like a disconnect when he himself is animation-directing one of the most formulaic, safe, Disney Princess films ever.

  • This man is always inspiring. I’m amazed that even when I read what he said, it’s like listening to him in person.

  • Spike

    I’d be happy to call this the silver age, too.
    Or the first international Golden Age of Animation.

  • Brian O.

    Someone ask him if he knew what his dad had in mind with this:

  • Sara

    The one thing I would really like to know is whether Glen Keane ever got that Ode to Joy animation going. I believe the story was that he pitched as a segment for “Fantasia 2000,” but it got passed over in favor of the Beethoven’s Fifth piece. In an interview I read years ago, Keane seemed determined to go ahead with his interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth, whether or not Disney wanted it. I remember he was talking about the potential of the computer to preserve the rougher lines of hand drawn animation back then too and since I am completely in love with Keane’s rough drawings, it’s something I would very much like to see.

    Anyone know if anything came of this idea?

  • Danny R. Santos

    Absolutely, I agree with Glen. Disney has got to move on to new ways of exploring story, to many stories of princesses tend to be on the borderline of repetitiveness “nothing new” I believe there’s a word for it “Cliche” I’m not trying to be rude, I praise Disney for all those princesses animated features they put out there, I bought every single DVD, for reference purpose of course, but I still love them. They are great films. But please try, try to be versatile when it comes to story.

  • There is absolutely no way to have another Golden Age at Disney or anywhere else when all studios care about is the “gold” in their bank accounts.

    I had the privilege of being in many meetings with Walt Disney, and never once did the man mention how much money we made, or needed to make.

    You can focus on creativity — or making money — but not both.