Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review: Hollywood Studio's Animation Academy

Very early on in Around The Mouse, we talked about one of the special FREE things that you can bring home with you when at The Mouse: drawings from the Animation Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios (Oh, You'll Love This, Just One More (Free) Thing..., October 27th, 2009). Recently the kids and I had another opportunity to take advantage of this great attraction.

First, this is part of the larger Magic Of Animation attraction that's housed in the Animation courtyard in Hollywood Studios. The attraction in general is pretty cool, although it used to be quite a bit better back in the day. But this is one of those attractions that if you never experienced the original, this version will seem just fine.

In the full version, you wait in a queue for the start time of a movie to begin that features Mushu from Mulan in an explanation of the creative process by which an animated character is made. It's not a bad movie and does a decent and humorous job of getting its message across. We did find out that you can skip this movie by asking the CM and they will point you toward a second door that will lead to the interactive area (we'll expand on this in a minute). The reason why this current movie is ripped by people who saw the previous version is because it used to have actual Disney animators working live in front of the guests explaining how the animation process worked.

For example, we went there once and saw them working on Brother Bear, explaining it all step by step. Now it's a generic movie that is the same every time. The greatly diminished role of the classic 2D animation style was probably mostly responsible in the elimination of this part of the attraction (Princess and the Frog not withstanding). If 2D animation won't be a constant anymore (considering the tepid theatrical response to ...Frog) Disney might want to now include a portion of the attraction showcasing the art of 3D rendering that's so expertly used by Pixar. Just an idea, Disney.

From the movie you enter an area that overlooks an actual art studio. The last couple of times we've been there, a Disney artist has been sitting in the studio working on animation cells that were to be sold in the Art Of Disney stores (according to the nice CM nearby). This annoys people as well because this studio used to be occupied by animators working on actual cells for animated pictures instead of art to be sold in stores. Anyway, I still think the room is great to look at and it's still worthwhile to see.

After that, you pass by another art studio that features examples of storyboard art at various stages during production. The current art that is featured is from The Princess and the Frog.

From there, you move into the "interactive" area where several things are going on. There's three meet and greets, including a permanent area that features Sorcerer Mickey, an area that currently features the Incredibles, and a third area that houses the Up! characters.

Katie trying out one of the interactive touch-screen games.

There are also interactive games to be played mostly involving art games on touch screen monitors. Several other small interactive activities are present that most kids love to spend time doing. Some activities are similar to the games and exercises that can be found in the Create area of DisneyQuest, if you're familiar with those.

A shot of the CM animator's desk who instructed the class on how to draw Pluto.

Katie and Chance ready to put some pencil to paper.

In my opinion, the best part of this whole attraction is the Animation Academy. As we mentioned in the previous article, it's a free activity. A CM leads a class full of guests in showing them a simple and quick way of accurately sketching popular Disney characters. All you have is a light table, an eraser-less pencil and a piece of blank paper with the DHS logo on the bottom corner.

Mid-way through my sketch of Pluto. Remember - light lines!

It's actually a great exercise in freehand drawing. They emphasize to tread lightly with the pencil, using very light lines - you'll go heavier with the pencil after you get the shapes fleshed out. They do a great job in continually switching out the characters they're drawing all the time - we've done this attraction probably 4 or 5 times and haven't drawn the same character twice. This last time, we sketched Pluto.

My finished product of Pluto.

Katie proud of her Pluto!

The kids always beg to do this attraction, and it's really worth it. Not only does it teach valuable lessons in the art of drawing, but it's simply a very different experience from most things you can do in the parks and it's FREE. Take advantage!

1 comment:

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