Thursday, February 12, 2015

Disney Legend and 101 Dalmatians animator Floyd Norman interview & drawing demonstration #101Dalmatians

When I started this blog a few years ago I never imagined it would turn into something that brings me so many magical bucket list moments. All of the trips and experiences that I have had over the past 4+ years have been amazing and I had another bucket list moment crossed off my list recently when I learned to draw Mickey Mouse from Disney Legend Floyd Norman. It was so much more than an art lesson, it was a glimpse into the life of a man that has had a really wonderful journey.
 After graduating from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena Floyd was hired by Walt Disney Studios where he served as an apprentice for less than a year before he was hired as a full time animator to work on sketching cartoons for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the Disneyland TV Show. 
The first feature film he worked on was Sleeping Beauty, and soon after he was called up to the story department and worked under Walt Disney’s personal supervision on story sequences for the Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians! Other films he’s worked on over the years include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Dinosaur and The Tigger Movie. Then in 1997, Floyd moved over to Pixar where he worked on Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.
The chance to not only learn to draw from this legend but to sit down and talk to him, and ask him questions about the differences from when he started working for Disney animation using pencil and paper to draw to now that almost everything is drawn on computers and what it was like to actually work with Walt Disney was something I will never forget.
Here is my drawing, it is harder than it seems to draw Mickey, I will not be giving up my day job for drawing anytime soon... But it was fun to learn to draw this iconic character. Along with the drawing demonstration we also got to chat with and interview this Disney Legend. Here are some of my favorite questions from the fun interview with Floyd Norman.

Question: Out of all the projects you've worked on in your career, do you have a favorite? 

Floyd Norman: "My favorite would have to be the Jungle Book. That is the only film I worked with Walt Disney. Which makes that a very special motion picture. Walt passed away after the completion of that film. So we never worked together again."

Question: What is your favorite character?
Floyd Norman: "There are so many Disney characters how to you choose a favorite from all of those?" 

Question: Is there a favorite you love to draw?
 Floyd Norman: "I spent a lot of time with Mickey, in the comic Disney character. Mickey became very special to me not only because I got to draw the 80's something unique happened I had the opportunity to write Mickey. The Mickey Mouse comic strip, I was now writing the comic strip I read as a child."
Question: The technology for 101 Dalmatians until now...what do you think is the most revolutionary? 

Floyd Norman: "Starting from the 1930's this was a very crude art form (animation), Walt wants to push it and make it better, everything was analog. We had the huge multi-plane camera to give the film the depth of realism, today we can do all that massive camera does on a computer. Xerox experimented in 1959 for the film 101 Dalmations, we started to paint cells using the computer you will see the progression we were moving more and more away from analog towards digital."
 Floyd Norman also gave us a demonstration on how to draw the beloved Pongo from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. 

"Today almost all of the animated films are produced digitally. We made a major move from analog to digital, people ask me do you think Walk Disney would have done that? Well of course he would, because the one thing Walt Disney was always focused on was technology and innovation. Pushing things forward, Walt would have loved this technology. Knowing Walt Disney he could not wait to get the next thing. Whatever that next thing was he wanted to get there."

Question: You spent so much time with Walt what was the one memory that sticks out? 

Floyd Norman: "Fear (laughter). It is amazing you think...keep in mind how young we were most of us were in our 20's, Walt Disney and the Disney artists were all the age of our parents. So that is how we looked at them. We were very respectful of them, one thing that was awkward Walt Disney had this first name policy, everyone was called by their first name. For us who came from a traditional background, to show respect for our elders it was difficult calling these gray haired old men by their first names."

"Walt was a nice guy, he was very patient with us. We had been given as assignment on the Jungle Book we were going to show the story board to Walt, back then Walt came to your office to see the story board. You did not know when he was going to do it. He would just show up, can you imagine when your boss walks in for a minute you just can't move. Walt's here! He would come in and say “what do you have to show me?” Then you would have to pitch the story board to him. Then Walt would either like it or he wouldn't like it. Walt was clear and concise, he either liked something or he hated it. He would not say I hated it, he would say that doesn't work. If you did a terrific job and you sold him he would say that'll work. If you got this from Walt that was considered huge."
Question: What are you working on now? 

Floyd Norman: "I've had the opportunity to work with special projects with Walt Disney Animation Studios. We're doing some interesting things. After we completed Monsters Inc. in 2001, I retired from full time employment from the Disney Studios. I became a retiree for 10 years. Like a normal retiree, I go crazy! I kept going back into work and I kept working on things, even though I was retired I never stopped working. Then I decided since this guy is not going to stop working they decided to hire me because I would simply not go away! So now I work with the computer again, we work on special projects, we do a lot of fun little cool projects. To me work is more like fun today.

I've had a long career here at Disney, I've been retired, going back to work is not like having a job at all. I feel like I get paid to play. What I do is a lot like playing, animation is a lot like having fun. If we're not having fun the audience is not going to have fun. Watching our movies there's a playfulness about what we do. Because I've always been kind of a playful kid. I guess I was a natural for this company. The work we do, a good deal is all about play. We make the kids laugh, we make the adults smile, Disney is fun. To bring that kind of joy and pleasure to audiences there's nothing better than that!"

To actually be able to meet a man who worked with Walt Disney was a moment I will never forget, and to watch him sketch pictures in such an effortless way while I struggled to just draw a not so round circle is something that I’ll cherish forever. Moments like this don’t happen for everyone and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to talk to such a wonderful man.

Be sure to stay social with 101 Dalmatians:
101 DALMATIANS On Blu-ray and Disney HD now

Buy it:
You can purchase this great dvd in stores or online

 ***Disney provided me with an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this event***

Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .
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  1. This is one of my favorites movies from when I was a child and seeing a behind the scenes look makes it even cooler! I so look forward to watching it with my kids!

  2. How fun! My kids just watched this last weekend. It was nice sharing a movie from my childhood!

  3. What a wonderful opportunity! I'm so jealous! I'm all about everything Disney.

  4. How exciting! It looks like you must have had an amazing time there!

  5. my grandkids would have loved this,I have a couple that are into drawing

    1. my daughter loves to draw and she loves 101 dalmations

  6. I think that this is so great and I love Floyd Norman a lot. I love your great review.


Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions, . No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. This is a unofficial fan site that is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney theme parks.

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