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Disney Buys Star Trek

Tue Mar 31, 2015, 3:00 PM
Img-00 by techgnotic


DeviantArt Today’s Page News Desk


“Gary Seven” (Reporter Without Portfolio)

I just received a call from “Gary Seven.”

DeviantArt has many surprisingly well-connected members and one of them, a top Paramount executive, contacted us two days ago with a rumor so powerful that we wanted to be 100% certain before publishing it. We now know: Disney just bought all television rights to Star Trek.

Bob Iger, the current chairman and CEO of Disney, bought Star Trek from CBS Television, which had acquired the television rights when it split off from Paramount. Paramount has kept the motion picture rights.

Our contact, who wants to be known as “Gary Seven,” found out about this purchase — needless to say one of the biggest secrets imaginable — when Iger visited Paramount two days ago to let them know what Disney planned to do with their new franchise. Because Paramount is still making Star Trek movies, we guess there must be some sort of clause in the contracts that requires some kind of cooperation between television and motion picture versions.

Gary is on the Paramount Star Trek motion picture team and their heads started spinning when Iger laid out his plans.

What we know from that meeting is this:

  • Disney is rebooting the television series Star Trek as a fast track project. JJ Abrams had been in talks with Disney before it closed on Star Trek. Iger asked Abrams to secretly set the reboot of Star Trek in the Star Wars universe and in return he would be rewarded by directing the first of the Star Wars movies.
  • Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, now being edited for December release, will plant suggestions that the Federation, Klingons and Romulans were connected to the Star Wars universe. They are dubbing references along those lines into the dialogue now. (Tribbles?) This will set up additional storylines in the television reboot of Star Trek. But Iger assured the meeting that the Star Trek characters would not actually appear in the Star Wars films unless Paramount agreed.
  • Disney will blend Star Trek into their Marvel Universe by placing Marvel characters like Iron Man and a future version of The Guardians of the Galaxy into worlds visited by the Starship Enterprise and its crew in the reboot. Disney also wants a unified backstory that Stark Industries designed the Starship Enterprise and is the go-to contractor for Starships to the Federation. Iger said he would consider licensing the same characters to Paramount for its Star Trek films if the scripts are made compatible.
  • The Disney Channel will be producing an entire series in which the Star Trek characters and more importantly the moral lessons and “humanistic” messages of the franchise will be directed at pre-school and K-6 children. Iger said this was a “passion project” for him because he has learned so much to guide his own life from Star Trek.
  • Disney’s Imagineering division has started plans for the Starship Enterprise Holodeck attraction for all its theme parks as part of TomorrowLand and will easter egg the attraction in the TomorrowLand film coming this summer.
  • Iger showed mock ups of Star Trek merchandise that will start selling at all Disney outlets this summer. In a dramatic gesture he ended his talk by opening up his shirt to display a T-shirt that read “Disney’s Star Trek Coming Soon!”

We are told by Gary that the response was icy while Iger and his team were making their presentation.

As soon as they left the room on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, Brad Grey, the Chairman of Paramount, turned to his executives and said: “Don’t worry. We’ve sued Disney before and we will do it again. They will not f**kup Star Trek like they did with so many other cherished properties. Not on my watch.”

We learned from another source that Paramount’s law firm took over a whole floor in its Century City offices as a “war room” and is pulling in copyright lawyers from all over the country (we guess that includes the one who works here at HQ because he’s been gone for three days and used to be General Counsel at Paramount).

We also learned that Paramount is furiously negotiating with 20th Century Fox Chairman, Jim Gianopulous (who used to work at Paramount on the Star Trek franchise), to use the X-Men or Aliens or Predator characters in the next Star Trek movie.

It’s all great stuff for the press and the critics. But watching this war will be a sad coda and will close the door on the legacy of Gene Rodenberry. At least cyberspace holds the original series intact even if Disney tries to withdraw it and only release it every seven years, as they have done in the past with animation titles.

We may have reached the Final Frontier.

Your Thoughts

  1. Do you think Disney will eventually own and control a single universal science-fiction narrative based on Star Wars, with all the characters from Star Trek as well as the Marvel and DC Universes fully subsumed and utilized per relative timeline?
  2. Do you think the world’s leaders should get involved to protect the integrity of franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars?
  3. Do you foresee the possibility of a lethal conflict arising between the Vulcans and Jedis different philosophies?  Will the undying spirits of Spock and Obi-Wan Kenobi become the political and religious leaders of the two “unified” but contentious factions?
  4. Is it now possible that Gary Mitchell actually tapped into the Dark Side of the Force in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”?
  5. Do you think Scotty and Tony Stark could get along together in the Enterprise’s engine room?

A friend of mine is writing a book on animation fundamentals and asked me for a "paragraph or two" (which I can't do) on the subject of timing.  I considered it and ended up writing about my progression of learning while a Disney animator in the traditional animation days.  It was good therapy for me to really think this through and consider the order of things.  I hope you enjoy it.  "Like" or "fav" this so others will see it too.  Thanks!

My Progression As A Disney Animator
by Tom Bancroft

Walt Disney is quoted as saying that it takes 10 years to make a great animator.

When I was first coming out of California Institute of the Arts and joining a Disney internship in 1988, hearing that quote was devastating.  10 years?  That's FOREVER!  I wanted to be a full-fledged Disney animator in TWO years!  I rationalized that that was a way of thinking from the 40s and today, we move at a quicker pace, so- just like microwave ovens- we can speed up that process.  There.  Walt wasn't wrong, just wrong for THESE times.  

As an eager, young animator at Disney in the early 90s, my strongest desire (as was the same with my animator peers) was to get just one, strong acting scene.   Four or five LINES, beautifully spoken and with lots of drama dripping from them.  That's the kind of scenes that all Disney animators in training know look good on your animation reel and will get you promoted.  I look back at my progression of learning in my twelve years at Disney as a traditional animator and I can describe my leaps forward in my work in three areas I concentrated on and the order I understood them.  

First was DRAWING.  As an animation geek student, I hovered over Disney animation drawings by the Masters.  The Nine Old Men and some of the current Legends of Disney animation were my bread and butter as an animation student and throughout my early years at Disney.  I thought if I could draw really well, that would make me a good Disney animator.  It's not.  You will have pretty drawings that move odd.  I have seen- and made- quite a few animation tests like that in the beginning years.  

Later on, I discovered the importance of MECHANICS.  Almost immediately after I viewed my pretty drawing, oddly moving animated test I realized I needed to study the mechanics of movement.  I started to realize that behind those Masters' drawings were concepts of movement that I needed to understand to make my animation feel natural.  My first scene of Young Simba on "The Lion King" really brought this home to me.  It was the scene where he jumps down a cliff and ends up rolling down the hill into a thorn thicket (after being chased by the hyenas).  That scene of him tumbling over and over down the hill opened my eyes to the fact that I didn't know how a lion moved- or their anatomy- enough to do my job well.  I had to go and research more.  I took a few days and did that before I went back to my desk and start animating that scene.  I never forgot that scene and it made me a proponent of learning the mechanics behind how people and animals move naturally.

TIMING, was the last of the three hurdles and I discovered its importance last.  While at Cal Arts and at Disney I had always heard how important timing was to a scene.  I recited it back to younger animators many times myself through the years.  I USED the concept of timing in my animation for five or six years but it wasn't until the film "MULAN" and I became a supervising animator on the character of MUSHU the dragon that it became an essential part of my animation.  It was partly because I needed to use it more because Mushu was that kind of cartoony- quick moving character that his timing became a part of how I animated him.  I also animated more SCENES on "Mulan" than I had on the three or four films before it- combined.  So, I was getting much more practice using timing in my scenes.  Thirdly, the Disney Studios had developed better and better technology to aid us animators in shooting and timing out our scenes.  By "Mulan", we had a great digital pencil test system where you could change the timing of your drawings with just a push of the button.  Years before that, like on films like "Beauty and the Beast", we were shooting on clunky video based pencil test systems, where you would have to reshoot your scene to change timing.  At least part of it, if not all of it.  That meant you had to make educated guesses on your timing of each drawing, hoping that you were at least 90% correct and then make a few minor adjustments before you reshot it again to see if you could improve it.  With the advent of the digital pencil test systems, I soon became addicted to finessing my pose test timing to get the exact timing I was hoping looking for.  I would even do the unthinkable, trying things that I hadn't thought through- cutting out drawings on the fly even- to make something even snappier.  I discovered that many times I didn't need all the drawings I had created for a certain movement.  Mushu had made me a speed freak!

Okay, that's taking it a bit far, but my point is that timing became the last missing element of finesse that I could add to my progression of learning.  Not to say that I wasn't learning many things- and still am- during those years but I can look back now and see a road map of my progression.  Timing should have been one of the first things I studied and applied, but I think I didn't put enough importance on it in the beginning of my career.  It took many years of study to embrace all the concepts and how they worked together before I felt comfortable to try new things.  

About 10 years, actually.  I guess Walt was right after all.
  • Listening to: pandora
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Disney layoffs, 2D animation, and you

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 2:33 PM
A very nervous animation student (he didn't say, but I assume he is studying 2D animation) asked me about my opinions on the state of animation these days.  What are the companies thinking with laying off all the employees, not doing 2D animation, canceling great TV series, etc.?  Are the business people just evil?  AND the even bigger question: Is John Lassiter a jerk (or worse) for letting all the 2D animators at Disney go yesterday?  

MY ANSWER:  I have a slightly controversial (for an artist) perspective on businesses and business people.  Over all, I like them.  At times, I have even been grateful for them.  (Steady paychecks should never be taken for granted.  Wait till you don't have one one day, then you'll know!) Remember, we live in a world where businesses are expected to make money to stay alive.  It's called capitalism. Others call it "business". That means, the animation world isn't any different from any other job/company. I see the other side of the equation since I owned my own company for about 8 years. It was a small studio, but until you work "out in the real world" away from mom and dad's money and/or a companies' steady paycheck, you have no idea how hard it is to stay afloat as an artist. I don't suggest it to people right after art school by any means. That doesn't mean I think that studios are run poorly at times.  They OFTEN are.  Its is near impossible to find a person that understands creative people AND knows business well enough to run a studio.  That person was NOT Walt Disney, as many of you think.  Walt had his brother Roy, to handle the money side of things and make sure Walt didn't destroy the company.  And he would have.  Imagine a world where Disney animation only made "Snow White".  That's the Disney company with Walt as the sole head.  You need both sides and I admit, the Disney company of today (and for years now) is short sighted.  They want quick money and are not looking long term at investments and legacy, as they should.  They say they are, but its obvious they are not.  

Has power gone to John Lassiter's head?  Is he an evil businessman now?  Not evil, that's for sure.  More business minded than ever before, yes, he has to be.  Its part of his job.  It was when he was just creative head of Pixar, but it could take a back seat a bit in that job (there were other "Roy's" that could do that heavy lifting).  Now, he has MUCH more on his shoulders and he's spread very thin.  As far as the 2D animators that just got laid off?  He was the guy that KEPT them there for the past couple years when they (largely) had very little to do.   They were making money for YEARS and not doing much.  Ask them, they will tell you the same thing.  Its not what they wanted, and they have been fighting to get some 2D projects going the whole time.  But don't think that any other studio/ studio head would have kept about 20 highly paid (based on years of service and compared to some of the younger CG guys for sure) for years without an actual production for them to work on!  No way.  Only at Disney and only under John's eye/hand.  They were his friends and he wanted them there.  At least until the Board couldn't stand the bleeding ink on the stocks, etc.  I don't know the whole story, few do, but this is how these things work.  Believe me, Lassiter is not a saint, but he knows talent and values good people.

So, do you go into animation/ stay in animation school or not?  Well, if you can see yourself doing ANYTHING ELSE and still be content, then maybe you should look into those things. Your life will be easier. If you can't imagine drawing and being creative every day, then go for it. Your life won't be easy, but it will be happier. Its really that simple. Also, keep in mind, time moves forward. Things change. When some companies close, others open up that you never thought would. So, pursue what your dreams (with some 'safety measures, like learning computer animation also, perhaps) and have faith that life happens weather you are happy or not, so choose to be happy.  There's nothing wrong with doing a "boring day job" if it pays the bills for your family and you stay up late doing your creative dream project.  That may happen too.  As long as you flex those creative muscles, it might be nice to not have deadlines and pressure of paying bills with your artwork.

  • Listening to: pandora
  • Reading: Invincible
  • Watching: Modern Family
  • Playing: by writing this journal
  • Eating: too, too much.
  • Drinking: afternoon coffee
Hey everyone, how are you all doing?

Just a quick word to let you all know of a great new source for everything Disney Animation Art - from rough animation to clean-up, from layout to final background, from storyboard to production stills - everything you ever wanted to see from the amazing archives of the Disney Studio can be found on this new facebook page - THE ART OF DISNEY ANIMATION…

Here's just a hint of what you'll find there, and these are much down-scaled from the actual resolution on the page!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So, check it out Disney/Animation/Art fans.

Oh and if you want, you can always join/like my own page on facebook, :)


Brian Kesinger: Character Driven

Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:39 AM
1 by techgnotic

Disney Artist Brian Kesinger on Creating Story through Character

Foreword by techgnotic

It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and Bolt. Brian is author and illustrator of his own octovictorian creation, the wildly popular Walking Your Octopus, featuring Otto and Victoria, about a young turn-of-the-century London lady of distinction and her pet octopus.

Take a moment and think about your favorite movie. Now imagine that movie without the main character, as you know them, in it. I think it is important to make a distinction between the plot of a story and the arc of your main character.

The plot is a series of events that result in a character going through an emotional arc. You can briefly define a character arc as how a character feels and acts at the beginning of the story versus how the feel and act in the end. In Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and at the end he loves it. That is an oversimplification of his arc. The plot is there in order to provide obstacles and choices to show the the audience who they are and what their attitude toward their situation is. A good plot keeps you interested in the story but a good character will make you want to rewatch the movie over and over again. I am personally a fan of movies that have very simple plots as those films leave much more room for character development.

One way to look at a story is a series of choices made in creating the main character. As a storyteller, the more time you put into your character, the easier it will be for you to make those choices for your character be truthful.

Truthfulness is talked about a lot when discussing character creation. Fictional characters are, of course, not real. They do not exist in the real world. They are made up. You must give them reality with relatable traits. Let’s say your main character is a farm hand. How does he feel about that? Does he enjoy the hard labor, or is he bored out of his mind? Let's choose the latter. Note that we are not talking about plot, just discussing character. Does this farm-boy get along with his parents? Let's add mystery by making him an orphan. So we now have the highly relatable story of a bored young man with a decision to make. Should he continue his duties on the farm or answer an inner calling to explore the rest of his world? We know this character. Some of us are this character. So when Luke Skywalker makes his choice, it rings true, because his character has already been established as someone we understand, someone who wants more out of life. We can all relate to his situation. His story will be a bit more exciting than most tales of fugitive farm-boys, but even Star Wars might have bored us had we not been pre-invested in such a relatable character by skilled storytellers.

As an illustrator, my job is to create believable characters. At Disney it is not uncommon for us to start drawing before a writer has even been hired to write a script. Animation and art are a visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Drawing your character is one of the best ways to kick off the generation of those words. It is all in the details. How your character dresses, what sort of hair they have, are they big or scrawny? All these questions can be answered and explored through the drawing process. When we work on our films it is common for the character designers and story artists to work at the same time because one department constantly informs the other.

I love this part of the process, as you draw your character and you explore all aspects of them and the ideas start to gel. You put one image next to another and suddenly a story starts to develop, to talk to you. It is very exciting. We had an interesting challenge in creating the character of Baymax for the up coming film Big Hero 6.

I asked Joe Mateo, head of story on the film to talk a little about the difficulties that arose when creating a character without traditional features.

We knew that Baymax was going to be a challenge given his limited amount of facial features to express an emotional range. It's amazing though, what you can achieve with those charming dot eyes combined with a subtle head tilt, a well timed blink, and body gestures. These things plus line delivery can be very effective in expressing different emotions. We're careful though how much emotions we want Baymax to show given that he is just a non sentient robot... or is he?”

Joe Mateo, Head of story on Big Hero 6

On the film Frozen we were tasked with taking a fairy tale “princess movie” and putting a fresh spin on it. One way that we did that was by exploring the characters of Anna & Elsa and creating a believable relationship between the two of them. Paul Briggs, head of story on Frozen speaks more about that here.

One of the great things we had working for us was the tropes of princess films we had done in the past. Audiences already had an expectation we would deliver the familiar romantic love story... a romantic kiss from a prince/knight in shining armor would save the the day. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck knew they wanted to deliver something fresh and different and took the idea from the original Snow Queen story that "an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart" and coupled that with a story about two sisters. The movie really started to focus more about family love than romantic love. The challenge was crafting two siblings that couldn't have that love between one another. We had Elsa, who was hiding a power that she thinks will hurt or kill her sister. So she lives in fear and is afraid to share her love towards her sister. We developed Anna as being fearless but she lives in a world where we she wants to give her love but it is never reciprocated by her sister. She holds onto that true love for her sister though and it's ultimately the thing that saves the day and protects and saves her sister. Anna makes the biggest choice in the movie which is she sacrifices her life to save her sister—an act of true love.”

Paul Briggs, Head of story on Frozen

Interviews Brian Kesinger's Q&A with the Following Deviant Artists


In creating your Lost Kids graphic novel what were some ways that you made your characters believable teenagers even though they are inhabiting a fantastical world?


Felipe Cagno

It's all about really turning your characters into real people, people that you could walk past in the streets and that means tons of research and world building. For every character in the Lost Kids comics I have these extensive character sheets with dozens of questions ranging from their family background, their homes, where they grew up in, the environment around them, to their biggest fears, their hopes and dreams, their psyche, etc.

All that comes into play and you must know your characters better than yourselves, you really must ask the tough questions and come up with interesting answers. A kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, will most definitely talk and behave very differently than a kid growing up in Orange County, CA. Do they come from a rich family, a blue-collar one, from poverty, where do they go to school, are they outgoing or shy, do they use slang, or perhaps they speak perfect English, are they popular or outcasts, what are their deepest secrets and so forth.

And the most interesting task I had to go through was actually finding a way of these very different kids that should not get along, get together for this adventure. Good storytelling comes from conflict and there is nothing more boring than seeing characters agreeing on paper or screen, you want them to duke it out, you want them to have completely different opinions about the stuff that matters so you can exploit different points of view on a given subject and let the audience choose sides.

Believable teenagers have very strong opinions and views of their world, I just made sure to get all that right even before writing a word of the script.


Can you talk a little about how your characters developed from random sketches to the storylines in your web comic?


Der-shing Helmer

I don't actually sketch randomly and home storylines come out, it's pretty much the opposite... I come up with story elements that I find interesting and work to develop a character that might fit into the scenario in a unique way. For example, in The Meek, I wanted to write a story about a girl who doesn't care much for societal pressures. She started out in sketches as several types of girl, but with the goal of a story in mind, eventually developed in the my character Angora who is introduced as not wearing clothes (that portrayal is pivotal to her essential nature). I don't think the character would have been quite as effective if I had just been drawing naked women, and then tried to mould a story around that visual.

For the new comic that I am making (and will be posting more art of to deviantArt as well), I'm doing something similar; trying to create a certain vision of the future and the people who live there. With the future in mind, I get to create characters that represent my hopes and expectations, vs just randomly hoping to strike gold. My general advice is always to give a context to your sketches, even if you don't ultimately use them... it will help your characters develop into living people who feel like they might really exist somewhere.


When creating your character Veloce Visrin, what were some of the choices you made in designing her look and outfit to help tell the reader what she is all about?


Shilin Huang

I've given Veloce outfits meant for show, as well as casual outfits for the story she is in. The more story-oriented decisions were made with her casual outfit. Naturally, her look should immediately convey her character, because insignificant details on how a character chooses to dress himself/herself are usually a good reflection of their values. I've kept her outfit casual and unimpressive,despite her being the main character, to match her preference for staying away from the spotlight and blending into the crowds. Her clothes are also kept loose fitting rather than skintight, her hair kept free and not diligently kept, giving her a more relaxed air. However, she did come from a respected/feared family, and a hint of the fact that she is supposed to be an upper-class lady still comes across through the halter top, which is the same top/dress featured in her other, more extravagant and impressive outfits, covered up under the guise of her hoodie and otherwise unassuming look.


Your character drawings are so expressive. What are some tips for drawing animal characters with such human emotions while still maintaining their animalistic anatomy?


Tracy Butler

Thank you! Foremost, I’d say it’s important to get to know the subject matter. Gathering some overarching observational knowledge about anatomy, gesture and expression is pretty vital to drawing convincing pictures of such things. It also applies to the ensuing Frankensteinian drawing experiments that I would recommend as a generally effective approach to designing characters that fall somewhere between human and animal (though I’d argue that distinction is mostly philosophical).  Do a lot of sketching, in other words.

Human capacity for self-aware emotional complexities aside, it’d be difficult to mark a clear distinction between human and animal emotions. Among other mammals in particular, there’s quite a lot of overlap in the way we express basic things like fear, dejection and excitement, in fact. Whether human or wolf, a lowered head, fixed stare and curled lip is unmistakably aggressive.  That sort of thing can certainly work to the artist’s advantage when drawing an animalistic character meant to emote in a relatable human fashion.  Further appending the expression with the animal’s telltale posturing - raised hackles, pinned ears, bared fangs - can be mixed in to varying degrees of bestial and dramatic.  The more minute facial features add a layer of human nuance and specificity - the smallest adjustment can put an entirely different spin on an expression. For the given example, downward angled “angry” eyebrows would be well in line with the straightforward appearance of aggression, but simply arching one of the brows higher than the other can turn it into an expression of calculated anger.  Symmetrically high arching brows could make the expression more excited or crazed; furrowed brows could be used to convey a sort of consternated anger, and so forth.

Of course, species that don’t communicate in ways that are especially decipherable to humans and critters with physiognomies that don’t lend themselves well to forming human expressions can present design challenges that might require some careful finagling. To use a popular example, note the dramatically shortened heads of My Little Pony characters as compared to realistic equine heads.  Much of the animal appearance of the face is sacrificed, clustering the features together into an alignment more closely resembling a (cartoon-like) human.  This way, the expressions are eminently readable, never inadvertently shifting from cute to awkward.  In other situations, preserving the animalistic mien might be the greater priority over rendering consistently appealing human expressions. If you ever find yourself trying to draw chagrin on an anteater, consider that in some cases, embracing a bit of the awkwardness might not be a bad thing.  It can make for some defining, memorable characteristics.

My advice overall is to approach whatever abstracted combination of anatomies are at hand as an advantage rather than a limitation to building an expressive character.  The human and animal aspects each bring a toolkit array of physical features, gestures, behaviors and idiosyncrasies to utilize and draw inspiration from - all the more resources with which the character may exude life and emotion, presence and personality.


What led you to pick Korea as the location for your fish out of water story of frankie*SNATCH? And how does that specific location inform what situations your character goes through?


Lynsey Wo

When I initially came up with the concept for frankie*SNATCH back in 2001, I wanted to base it in a large, modern city in the Far East. At the time, Japan was experiencing a huge popularity boom (certainly within the target audience I was wanting to reach) and I wanted to avoid following that trend. After a little bit of research, Seoul seemed to contain the fast pace, bright lights, cosmopolitan scene I was looking for. In these early stages, a strong visual setting was all I was after, and Seoul fitted that need perfectly.

Frankie*SNATCH has always been a character-driven plot, and whilst the location had never been hugely influential as a whole, as the story developed darker, controversial issues, I still needed to make sure it was still appropriate. For example, a major theme of substance abuse within the story lead me to research the sort of healthcare and treatment available for those suffering with addictions, and how this sort of issue is perceived and handled by Korean society as a whole. This research directly impacted on how the character(s) confronting this issue would handle it, particularly from the societal angle. This idea of such an old-fashioned taboo against the backdrop of an otherwise modern, diverse city was something I found interesting, but it also made me realise the importance of making sure the characters were believable enough for them to address the issues presented to them with as little help from the outside as possible.

Questions for Brian Kesinger

  1. Brian has volunteered to answer any questions you might have in a series of video updates we will post soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for a shout-out from him.

    Leave your questions for Brian in the comments below.

Cosplay Friday: Frozen

Fri Dec 26, 2014, 12:00 AM
80-img-00 by techgnotic

There’s a chill in the air as we travel to the kingdom of Arendelle for a Frozen cosplay treat.

Frozen was Disney’s tremendously successful third attempt at adapting the grimm Hans Christian Anderson tale The Snow Queen. As early as 1943, Walt Disney saw the potential in this the longest and most highly acclaimed of Andersen’s stories, but it took 70 years and a couple of modifications for the film to finally become a dream come true.

First published in 1845, the villainous Snow Queen was described in the story as: “…a woman, dressed in garments of white gauze, which looked like millions of starry snow–flakes linked together. She was fair and beautiful, but made of ice—shining and glittering ice. Still she was alive and her eyes sparkled like bright stars, but there was neither peace nor rest in their glance”

In order to make the story work on screen Disney had to turn the Snow Queen from villain to flawed heroine and in doing so introduced it’s first dual Princess movie featuring sisters Elsa and Anna.

Disney always includes a few artistic treats in their animated films and this one is no different. The names of the characters—Hans, Kristoff, Anna, and Sven—are a tribute to the original author, when place together it sounds like Hans Christian Anderson. During Anna’s song ‘For the first time in Forever’ she swings and poses in front of a painting in the palace gallery based on 18th-century oil painting ‘The Happy Accidents of the Swing’ by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. It seems to be a popular painting among the Disney animators as it has show up in the concept art of films like Tangled.

Frozen’s popularity is a tribute to the essential and timeless themes of Anderson’s story—love, family, and finding one’s inner strength. The award winning film has not only melted audiences’ hearts across the world and become the highest–grossing animated movie of all time, it has also inspired a multitude of cosplayers to “let it go” and transform into their favorite Frozen characters.

The Real Life Big Hero 6

Tue Mar 24, 2015, 4:53 PM
Img-og by techgnotic

Disney’s Academy Award Winning Big Hero 6 pushed the boundaries of realistic animated storytelling with Hyperion, the new software developed specifically for the film.

It simulates the physics of light, creating a more lifelike environment. Hyperion allowed the Big Hero 6 team to capture the air and light of San Francisco in a way never before possible and the spectacular results are visible in the movie’s breathtaking aerial sequences.

A team of DeviantArt cosplayers known as the Tux Team fell in love with Big Hero 6 and decided to one-up Hyperion by bringing the movie’s characters to life. And did they ever! The group recreated several scenes from the movie to near perfection.

The Tux Team

as Hiro Hamada

as Tadashi Hamada

as Aunt Cass



as Baymax

Each has been cosplaying for at least 10 years and they came together after having met each other through conventions. Eventually becoming good friends, none is sure where the “Tux Team” moniker came from. Members enjoy the challenge and creativity that go into every cosplay creation, which are only made possible through the diverse and complementary skill sets of the Tux Teamers.

Why “Big Hero 6”

When asked what was it about this movie that inspired them to cosplay the scenes Jin responds, “It completely stole our hearts. We were blown away by the quirky aesthetics of the world of San Fransokyo. We came to love the diverse and endearing cast of characters, and most of all — we were deeply touched by the messages of the film. It was through these that we were inspired to recreate the scenes.”

Kat adds, “Big Hero 6 just struck me so deeply because of the way that they tackled with the topic of loss and how to cope. It’s a universal concept that anyone can easily relate to.”

How Did They Do It?

The most striking part of this cosplay is how the team’s faces evoked those of the animated characters. When asked how they achieved this look Jin says, “I do illustration and painting, so I think of makeup as drawing materials for the face. So basically, I look at a character and observe their features and attempt to draw the same lines and colours on my face. I kept in mind that I wanted us to look partially like 3D-rendered characters and tried to work towards that idea. It’s a tough balance to achieve.” To fully portray the characters in all their glory the team studied their character’s gestures and facial expressions until they had them just right.

“Understanding the artistic choices and character motives the artists selected really help when you’re trying to reenact the scenes faithful to the original material.”

— Kat

Depending on a project’s complexity, costume production can range from weeks to months. For Big Hero 6, ready-made clothing for most of the characters was the choice since they were simple in design and items a regular person would wear. For Hiro’s outfit Jin chose to use an old hoodie and sneakers he already had. ”What was important for me was finding pieces with fabric in the right colour, weight, and texture. I wanted these pieces to contrast with each other visually so that it would look interesting despite the simplicity.”

Kat took a similar approach to her Aunt Cass costume. “I was literally wearing my mom’s clothes for Aunt Cass. That’s a pretty methodical approach to it because I really associate Aunt Cass with my mom — fashion, hair style, silliness, just everything, really!”

Baymax was definitely one of the more complicated costumes to craft out of the group. Kero spent a week “just figuring out what the best materials are to use and acquiring them.” To create Baymax he cut and sculpted dense mattress foam, covering the inside with a cloth lining to keep it clean. For the exterior he used a white, shiny 4-way stretch cloth and cautions not to use 2-way stretch as it makes it more difficult. For the rest of the costume Kero says, “foam-assisted rubber or EVA foam was used for the emblem as well as to help the head retain its smooth, oblong shape. Black synthetic leather was used for the eyes and grey colored stretch cloth was used for the patches. Contact cement was the primary adhesive for everything.” Here’s a clip of Baymax in action!

The Photo Shoot

An important part of the art of recreating scenes is the actual photo shoot and the post production elements. Jin shared a bit of the process the team went through for Big Hero 6. “As much as we can, we minimize the need for editing, because it’s fun to try working with available lighting and to make the most of our locations. Resh is excellent at capturing specific aesthetics through his photography! For our Big Hero 6 shoots, we scouted for places that looked like those in the film, and then we planned it so that we would be shooting in that place during the time when the quality of sunlight would match the scene that we’re trying to replicate. Even if we achieve what we want with the raw photo, we often still edit to do at least some colour grading to polish it further and unify the look of our photos as a collection.”

On creating scenes that were not in the movie Resh says, “The chemistry between the characters, their expressions, and their environment were brought together so well in the movie that we felt it would be fun to do our best at recreating them. It really helped us get a better feel for the mood and style of our other Big Hero 6 shoots that were not inspired by scenes from the movie, too!”

What’s next for this team of cosplaying masters?

Jin is looking forward to becoming Howl from “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Miguel is working on Judge Anderson from the Dredd series. Kat plans on crafting Mako Mankanshoku from “Kill la Kill” in her 2 Star Goku Uniform, and Kero has a slew of characters in store from Buzz Lightyear to the Avengers’ Ultron Prime.

The final result of all their hard work speaks for itself. Looking through the team’s gallery you’d think you were staring at production stills for the live action adaptation of Big Hero 6 - yes, it’s just that good.

Tux Team’s Top 5 Deviants To Watch

What they all have in common is the amount of care that goes into their work, whether it be photography or costume crafting, or a mixture of both. We admire their technical skills, of course. But the best cosplayers are the ones who best communicate how much they love the series that they are representing!

Our top five favourite cosplay galleries on DA, in no particular order:

Your Thoughts

  1. Who was the first character you sought to emulate from a TV show, movie, comic book or other source? How old were you?
  2. Which do you think requires more dedication to a character: a massive tattoo, or an elaborate and well-documented cosplaying?
  3. Do you use cosplay as a way to freely express yourself in a way not otherwise possible as your regular self?

There is no cosmic law that states artists must suffer many long years and demeaning day-jobs before a window of opportunity cracks open just enough to hop on through.

Fellow deviant Brian Kesinger is a case in point.

His first “day-job” in 1996—he was hired straight out of his senior year of high school—was drawing Tarzan for Disney.

Brian stayed at Disney and he considers every day there a part of his ongoing education as an artist. He most recently worked on “Wreck It Ralph,” and has become active in the story department, where he dreams up fresh narratives and new characters with fellow Story Artists and Disney directors.

But more and more, he is being recognized for his own style and own creations independent of the Disney dream factory right here on deviantART. Deviants are currently singing the praises of several evolving BrianKesinger series.

Victoria is a Victorian-era lady and Otto is her pet octopus. What began as a whimsical sketch of a fine young lady walking her pet octopus on a leash has mushroomed into a fan favorite inspiring cosplay and body art of the green-haired Victoria. Brian is releasing “Walking Your Octopus” to be published by Baby Tattoo Books with a more intimate look at the Victoria and Otto relationship.

Brian’s skills as a storyteller really shine in his characters’ motivations and subtle emotions expressed in facial cues and physical attitudes all in a single image. Making “readers” care about characters, a skill finely honed by his extraordinary Disney experiences, marks him as a great illustrator – a real storyteller.

Ever wonder what a Transformers would be like if it had been created with steampunk technology and aesthetic?

Wonder no more.

A delicate mash-up of fetchingly attractive young Victorian-garbed ladies enjoying their afternoon tea, with added accents of Japanese geisha fashion, fantasy figures, steampunk and painted with real tea.

Community of Artists

Having had your “dream come true” as a gainfully employed working artist, do you feel a special obligation to help fledgling artists gain a foothold in the business?

No question, that said its not just an obligation, I actually enjoy helping others. My parents are teachers and I think I may have inherited the gene that lets me feel good when I can help someone who might be struggling with a concept finally "get it". The only reason I am where I am in my career right now is because of other artists sharing their knowledge with me. It's one of the great things about the collaborative nature of animation. Having a group of artists that you trust to be able to share your work with is the only way to make your art the best it can be; deviantART is the perfect place for that too. I've seen no other site that connects artists in such a great way in order for you to share your work with others and learn from each other. It's one of the reasons I am a member of the site because its very easy to help share what I know with others and learn so much from the artists that I follow.

I do know that studios look for these mentorship qualities in the artists they hire so it is a good idea for fledgling artists to start learning about how to communicate their ideas on deviantART.

Should illustrators focus on drawing their interesting characters, or do they need to flesh out story narratives for those characters, even if that means collaborating with other artists and writers?  What’s the best way forward in this increasingly decentralized arts distribution system?

Story should be driving every detail of your character design. What distinguishes a good artist from a great artist is the presence of storytelling in your work. Their are a lot of good artists out there that can render a bad ass space marine or menacing creature but to take your work to the next level is to consider how that character got to where he or she is in the moment that you decided to draw them.

Consider their upbringing, their bad habits or maybe even their goal in life and once you've done that then try to think of visual queues that can represent those ideas. If you can keep it in the back of your mind you will see great improvement in the quality of your work. All artists are storytellers and the more you infuse story into your work the more it will stand out in the often overwhelming amount of art that is being viewed these days thanks to the decentralized arts distribution you speak of.

What trends in animated narratives do you see, working on the inside of the studio system, that we outsiders might not see?

As you know there is no secret sauce when it comes to creating narratives for film. Lots of writers will try to sell you their books on how to crack the code and while there is merit to those books no two stories are created in the same way. I have worked on over 10 films during my career at Disney and not one film production had a predictable trajectory. I will say that I believe that an animated film really works when it's able to tap into a universal idea and change the point of view to the unexpected. We all understand the concept of an over protective parent who is fearful of sending their child off to school, but when you tell it from the point of view of a fish you get Finding Nemo. A very relatable idea told from an unexpected point of view of fish added a fresh take and a fun world to draw humor from. My book was inspired by not only raising two young children but also our little puppy. Most people can relate to the ups and downs of taking care of something or some one so I thought: what must it be like to take care of an octopus? Once I had that core idea the rest of the story development process really flowed nicely.

How do you see making one’s living as an illustrator changing in the next few years?

I think that audiences are getting more sophisticated and that while there is more opportunity for artists to have their work seen there will be a demand for something new, something people haven't seen. That's really hard to deal with. People are viewing art at a volume and speed like never before. I know I can get lost for hours on deviantART scrolling through Daily Deviantions and think about how many images you are seeing in that hour compared to the old way of browsing in a book store or art gallery. So our challenge will be finding ways to stand out from the crowd and that comes not just with keeping our skills up but also the way we think about things and our point of view on the world.

Can you describe what it’s like to now have cosplayers portraying your characters, or people getting tattoos of Otto & Victoria that began as sketches on your drawing pad?

Cosplay is an art onto itself and I follow several cosplayers on deviantART because I love seeing their craft of turning 2D sketches into 3D art!

I can't think of a higher compliment. It truly is special to see your work embraced in such a way that a person is compelled to pull a character that you created off the page and transform their physical appearance in order to bring my work to life.

Fan Art

If you had to choose the most essential component of education for a new artist beginning her or his journey, what might that be?

To never stop learning. An artist never leaves school they just find new teachers. There was a time when I had not been drawing that much. I had transitioned into more of a CG role at Disney and there was just no time for me to sketch like I used to. I quickly learned that I needed to make time. Your talent is a muscle that must be exercised.

Can you share with us the secrets to always moving a story forward in every single frame and within every element in that frame?

Research and details. We have a saying around work, "one shot; one story." What that means is as an artist you have the power to control every detail within the frame. Especially in animation where you are starting with a blank page and you must decide how to fill it. What helps you decide what to put in there is whatever helps you tell your story. For instance lets say you wanted to paint a scene of a baker who has had lousy business. It's a vey generic idea. But, first you could research what bakeries look like and pick out certain visual details that help show that he gets no business and perhaps even allude to why he gets no business. (Perhaps it is a pretty rundown bakery.) It is a continual layering of visual clues that supports the big idea translating into every shot of a movie on a microscopic level that you would not believe. Artists that can keep these ideas in their minds are very valuable to the animated process.


If you look closely at Brian’s desk in the video you’ll see:

The Golden Zoetrope (an Annie award for individual achievement for storyboarding);

A wall plaque for 10 years of working at Disney;

A Sorcerer Mickey Statue for 15 years at Disney;

A Conductor Mickey for contributions to Disney's Art for Music Education Program.


Should save more often...

Britt315 has such great energy in her line work. She has a real talent for capturing an emotion not just through facial expressions but through the entire gesture of the figure.


Brianna Garcia

briannacherrygarcia is a great storyteller I really enjoy her Alice and Mad Hatter fan art.


Karen Hallion

khallion's art really appeals to the pop culture side of me. Not only is she a great graphic designer but her sense of humor really stands out in her work with the fun twists she puts on geek culture icons.


MeganLara is known for her art nouveau work but I am really inspired by her color palette, especially in her portrait and non t-shirt work.


Kindra T. Haugen

UlaFish is great about posting her thought process through sharing sketches of facial features or work ups of characters' silhouettes to maximize the visual punch of her designs!

Be one of the first to bring Otto home.

Brian Kesinger’s book is in its first week of publication.
Check it out

  1. Would you like to share the name(s) of artists on deviantART who have really helped you to improve your craft and technique?

  2. Would it be your preference to gain formal art skills on the job?

  3. Do Brian’s thoughts on fan art change your opinion about learning through example and by copying the masters?

  4. Has luck played a role in your development as an artist?

Fan Art Friday: Beauty and the Beast

Fri May 1, 2015, 11:18 AM
Img-00a by techgnotic

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast redefined the animated features genre when it became the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

It was a feat that had not been accomplished in over the 50 years since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs first established the genre in 1937. Beauty and the Beast was also the first animated film to earn over $100 million at the box office. Walt Disney originally considered developing Beauty and the Beast as early as the 1930’s after the success of Snow White but was dissuaded from moving forward after the brilliant live action release of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête.

When the studio finally chose to move forward with the animated film, they followed the 1756 French version of the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont about a young woman named Belle who takes her father’s place as a prisoner of a ferocious beast. A tale as old as time, the beast eventually falls in love with her, as does she with him, and the spell he has been under is broken by their transcendent love. There were a few genius ideas Disney decided to borrow from Cocteau’s film such as the objects in the Beast’s castle coming to life as well as a rival suitor for Belle.

The original direction taken with the film was to create a non-musical version,

But after 10 weeks of storyboarding the narrative was considered too dark and depressing by the studio. It was around this time that The Little Mermaid premiered to great success and Beauty and the Beast switched gears to become a Broadway-style musical, with the same songwriting team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman from The Little Mermaid called in.

In order to set a different tone from typical fairy tale intros, the team went with a stained glass motif during the prologue of the story, creating a magical and beautiful opening. Animators for our beautiful and brainy heroine, Belle, designed her graceful movements based on ballerinas and used Audrey Hepburn’s princess gown in Roman Holiday as the inspiration for Belle’s iconic ballgown. Belle is also the second Disney princess to become royalty via her marriage to Prince Adam. The first was Cinderella. Animator Glen Keane based the Beast’s character design on a combination of different animals. He has the head and beard of a buffalo, the mane of a lion, the brow of a gorilla, the tusks of a wild boar, the body of a bear, the legs and tail of a wolf, but his eyes are human.

Sleeping Beauty shares a connection with Beauty and the Beast.

Disney reuses a lot of its animation and the dance scene at the end of the movie with Belle and the Prince is reused footage from Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip’s dance scene at the end of Sleeping Beauty. This film also marked one of the first collaborations between Disney and Pixar, which used the software developed by the two companies, called Computer Animation Production System (CAPS). This enabled the creation of the 360-degree ballroom set showing Belle and the Beast dancing to the title song Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast went to to become Disney’s first attempt at producing a Broadway musical opening in 1994 with it’s success cementing a new foothold for the Mouse House on the Great White Way. The film was also added to the National Film Registry in 2002 after the Library of Congress deemed it a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” film. Almost 25 years after Beauty and the Beast premiered on the big screen it is still stealing the hearts of new generations who are discovering the true beauty of this animated classic.

Be our guest and enjoy this enchanted gallery of Beauty and the Beast fan art.

It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting “ideas”, and “thinking”…”

— Gaston

Enchanted? Ha-ha ha-ha! Who said anything about the castle being enchanted? Ha-ha-ha…”

— Cogsworth

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand I want so much more than they’ve got planned…”

— Belle

Ma chère mademoiselle. It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now, we invite to relax, let us pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents … your dinner.”

— Lumiere

I want to do something for her … but what?”

— Beast

Well, there’s the usual things: flowers… chocolates… promises you don't intend to keep…”

— Cogsworth

Your Thoughts

  1. Who is your favorite Beauty and the Beast character and why?

If ever you bring up Disney in a conversation, people immediately recite tired old issues with the company that haven't been true for a long time. For example, complaining about the excess of half-assed sequels. That was part of Michael Eisner's regime. When he left the studio the quality Disney was producing suddenly skyrocketed considerably. Likewise the excessive merchandising and branding of Disney related products has also ceased to be as all-consuming now that Eisner is gone. In fact, a lot of the main issues people had with Disney during the 90's and early 2000's was a result of Eisner.

Since Eisner left, the Disney studio has done a REMARKABLE job in clearing their name of many of the atrocities they had committed during his regime. They promptly turned the animation department around and have even begun doing 2-D animated films again after Eisner said "no." Granted, at the moment 2-D is still in hiatus, but the situation isn't as dire as it use to be and there's still promise of a unique 2-D 3-D hybrid coming out eventually thanks to their award winning short Paperman.

It's frustrating to see people criticizing Disney for things they did 10-20 years ago when they're not doing those things now. Especially since a lot of the "bad" things associated with Disney (like all the dirty subliminal messages in their cartoons) were false accusations to begin with started by religious groups trying to get funding in the activism racket.

Bottom line, Disney of 2013 is entirely different from the Disney of 2003. So why is everyone freaking out now? Because Disney is closing the doors to Lucas Arts.

Link to the Article:…

As we all know, Star Wars was recently bought for an obscene amount of money by Disney, taking the creative reigns away from George Lucas (thank god). In that deal came Lucas Arts, a game company that has a long and prestigious history of great games. However, despite how great those older games were... the studio hasn't really produced anything worthwhile in a LONG time. In fact that last game they produced was Star Wars Kinect which was universally panned and hated.

Disney has looked over Lucas Arts, determined that they're not worth the funding (which isn't surprising given how much they just spent acquiring the rights to Star Wars), and has promptly shut the studio down. 150 employees were laid off, and 2 promising Star Wars games were canceled in the process. Naturally people are freaking out, but dear god people... read between the lines.

First off, Lucas Arts will still be around, just in the form of a licensing name. It's not like any of the original programers who made those classic games are still there. They've all gone on to do bigger better projects. And there will ALWAYS be more Star Wars games. Disney is not trying to kill your precious fandom.

Second, the two games that were canceled might still eventually see the light of day. As I understand it, one of the title was very close to being done and was receiving positive attention. Just because the studio is closed, doesn't mean Disney can't still have a 2nd party come in and do the final tweaking on the game and release it under the Lucas Arts brand (which is probably what they will end up doing).

Third, anyone who listens to the news in the video game industry knows that this is a COMMON TACTIC. Companies fire employees, and even whole teams, all the damn time. This isn't anything new. Just as an example: This past week the team responsible for the Tomb Raider revival was fired. Yes, it's a douchy business method, but stop acting surprised, please.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm just getting really sick of the reflexive hatred against Disney for doing what all other businesses do openly and without shame. You're still getting a whole new trilogy of Star Wars movies, plus movies set in the Star Wars universe being directed by big name directors that will likely be epics. Disney doesn't want to kill Star Wars, they want to make sure it flourishes and thrives for their benefit. Axing a studio that, although had a history of good games, hadn't been producing anything worthwhile in ages seems to me to be a fairly standard surgical business decision.

So grow up people... this is not the end of the world. Stop freaking out. Stop trying to sensationalize something that's not that sensational.
  • Listening to: Escapist Podcat
  • Reading: Gamefaqs
  • Watching: Intently
  • Playing: Minecraft
  • Eating: Yes