Yesterday Was Nik Ranieri’s Last Day at Disney Animation, Now He’s Talking

Yesterday was the last day of employment for Disney animation veteran Nik Ranieri (Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, Meeko in Pocahontas, Kuzco in The Emperor’s New Groove) after he was unceremoniously dumped by Disney Feature Animation last April along with other studio cornerstones. He wrote a long post on his Facebook fan page tonight about leaving the company while expressing the view that hand-drawn feature animation is still a viable art form. He also showed a hand-drawn test that he produced for Disney’s CG pic Wreck-It Ralph. The full text and video are below:

It has been several weeks since my last Animator page posting. As you’re probably all well aware by now, I no longer work for The Walt Disney Company. June 10th was my last day. In October of this year, it would have been 25 years. Disney was my home for the last quarter century and I’ll always be grateful for the people I worked with and the experience I gained there. The last couple of years have been the most difficult of my career. At times I was filled with hope that my skills would be utilized in a new hand-drawn film. At other times, I doubted that a hand-drawn feature—hybrid or otherwise—would be produced at all. We were pretty much kept in the dark for over 2 years and once the word did come out that no more hand-drawn features would be produced, it was only a matter of days before we were “given our notices”. I’m not so much sad that I was let go as I am sad that they gave up on a medium that, if given the right treatment, could be a viable product once again. You may wonder, what will I be doing now. I can’t tell you that because I don’t know. It is said that when God closes one door, He opens another. I pray that He will guide me to the right door and that I’ll open it with confidence. Not in myself but in Him who guides my path.

As a parting reminder of my last years at Disney, here is my last hand-drawn test for a Disney production. I was asked to animate the character of Ralph from “Wreck-it Ralph”, as a guide for the animation of the character in the film. It took me 2 months to animate this scene because,

1. I had to adjust the look of the character as it changed, which meant redoing some of it and

2. I basically did all the drawings myself. Most animators don’t do every drawing in a scene, but I wanted it fully animated and since I didn’t have any inbetweeners, I had to draw everything.