A very rare late 1980s behind-the-scenes video has resurfaced on Matt Jones’ Shot, Drawn & Cut Youtube channel which provides a detailed look at the production of the Roger Rabbit short Roller Coaster Rabbit, attached to the live-action film Dick Tracy in 1990.
The eight-minute short was among the earliest projects produced at Disney’s short-lived Orlando, Florida animation studio, which was located within the Disney-MGM Studios theme park (later renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The studio is remembered for allowing visitors to walk through a set of overhead breezeways and observe the animation process in action below them. At times during the video, you can even see tourists’ legs passing by outside the windows as the artists are working.
The 25-minute video includes segments about effects animation, background and character animation, painting, checking, Xeroxing, camerawork, editing, sounds and music, and, perhaps most interestingly to viewers in 2022, early applications of computer animation which the Roller Coaster Rabbit team used used for the coaster tracks and cars as well as some sinister-looking darts. There’s a surprising amount of focus on technical processes, which are overlooked in such making-of films.
For anyone interested in learning more about Walt Disney Animation Florida, a new book will release this December titled The Disney Animation Renaissance: Behind the Glass at the Florida Studio. It was written by the late Mary Lescher, a former Florida studio employee who also appears in the Roller Coaster Rabbit making-of video.