This Week in Animation History: Disney Gutted Their Hand-Drawn Animation Division, 3-D is a Fad, Athens Olympic Mascots

To commemorate ten years of Cartoon Brew, I thought it would be fun to revisit our posts from earlier years. What happened in animation last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago?

I’m borrowing the idea from our pals at Boing Boing who have recently been running a similar feature. We’ve documented ten years’ worth of cartoon history on the Brew, a lot of which I’ve forgotten, and I’m curious to read through the site again. So let’s get started.

One year ago this week
Disney Just Gutted Their Hand-Drawn Animation Division: On April 11, 2013, Disney gutted their hand-drawn animation division, and laid off nine veteran animators, including some of the studio’s biggest names: Nik Ranieri, Ruben Aquino, Frans Vischer, Russ Edmonds, Brian Ferguson, Jamie Lopez and Dan Tanaka. Two of the animators who still have jobs are Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn.

Five years ago this week
3-D is a Fad: “I love 3D movies. Thanks to a pair of 3-D film festivals held in L.A. several years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to see perhaps 95% of all 3-D films ever made. On top of that, I think the use of 3-D in recent motion pictures (Coraline for example) is perhaps the best application of the format in film history. Digital technology has -at last- perfected the technique. I’m not crazy about having to wear the extra set of glasses… nevertheless, it’s a wonderful way to experience a movie. But it ain’t gonna last.”

Ten years ago this week
Proof That There’s No Greek Cartoon God: The mascots for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens – Phevos and Athena – are inspired by a 2,700-year-old Greek terracotta doll, but as comedian Lewis Black puts it, they look more like dicks in sweaters.


  • Joshua Boulos

    Well, it’s pretty outrageous to think that after hand drawn animation layoffs, Eric Goldberg is listed as a “Producer” on paperman and all the other 3D shorts. Like Glen Keane, one my father’s Teachers at Disney while he worked there (Dave Pruiksma was another) he sent drawings and concept art from tangled and find that now he quits Disney. Dave too. But also my Father, Daniel Boulos quit Disney to work at Dreamworks in the 2D division just to get laid off by Jeffery. You know, animation has gotten so limited that it’s not even worried if the art form isn’t great but if it is good enough for its gullible viewers then you’ve got business. Re quoting from a head of Warner Bros. Animation department which was something my dad overheard from him: “The animation doesn’t matter, we just want lucrative sales in licensing and merchandising.”

    • Clamps

      It’s funny though. The things that tend to sell have something great about them, something that appeals to the audience, and that comes from the artists involved in the film. Story, design, animation, lighting, editing, sound and all others I’ve missed.”The animation doesn’t matter, we just want lucrative sales in licensing and merchandising.”
      Is just some ass-hat who doesn’t think in terms of what it is that makes those toys sell. That comes from the team of hard working people, that guy is just pointing out the obvious. Toys…need…sell (say it like a caveman it’s funnier that way)

  • Tony

    I remember five years ago when Jeffrey Katzenberg said that in the future all movies would be in 3-D, that it was the logical next step after color and sound. But adding color and sound to movies required nothing more from the moviegoers than their own God-given senses, whereas 3-D still requires those danged glasses. Until someone finds a way to show 3-D without glasses, it will always remain a novelty.

    • bob

      and yet people seem to keep seeing movies in 3d.

    • https://vimeo.com/channels/wharton Brett Wharton

      I feel like it has gone beyond novelty status. It seems like about 1/3 of the movies I see are in 3D. Personally I like the technology a lot and the glasses don’t bother me at all. I’m guessing a lot of other movie-goers must feel similarly given how many movies people are seeing in 3D. I wish studios would explore producing other genres in 3D beyond fantasy and superhero shows because I think when a film is actually shot in 3D (as opposed to converted in post), it makes the experience more immersive.

    • Leslie

      I hate 3-D movies for that very reason: those stupid glasses (the ridiculous ticket prices don’t help either). Plus it’s simply unnecessary most of the time: the only movie I felt it was justified so far was with Avatar.

      • DangerMaus

        Obviously you must not have seen “Gravity”. I think “Gravity” made better use of 3D than “Avatar” did, and Scorsese’s “Hugo” used it quite nicely as well.

  • DangerMaus

    Just what I’d like to commemorate and remember: Disney MBA ***holes taking a dump on 80+ years of tradition. I remember how Disney was the virtually the only studio keeping classical theatrical animation alive during the 70′s “drought” when hardly anyone, except diehards, would be caught dead going to an animated film. That certainly wouldn’t happen again if animation ever goes through a drought like that again. Not with the types of people that run that company now. It would be a massacre.

  • James VanDam

    I wonder if the Animation Industry will mimic what is happening in the video game scene now. When new 3d Technology came out people naturally gravitated towards that because of the advanced graphics ect ect. But now there seems to be a resurgence of classic side scrolling games. So maybe in a few decades people will once again want to see a hand drawn animated feature.

    • Jane

      Who would the Notch of the animation industry be?

    • bob

      well….. it’s not as if those titles are AAA. The majority of popular games aren’t like Journey (although that was great) they are like the Last of Us or Titanfall etc…

      I think eventually there will be a few more options in animation in terms of visuals and content, but primarily I think the animation industry will continue on a technical path. It pleases a larger audience, and whether the artists who create the movies like it or not, it does come down to money. It is a business after all.

      Animation will go with what sells.

      • DangerMaus

        Like just about everything else in a Capitalist society. Animation is hardly unique in that regard. Live action film making is not any different.

  • Tril

    I hope the Shinto cartoon gods do a better job for the Tokyo Olympics. After all, Japan is well known for its cute mascots.