It has apparently taken a little over a village full of creative people at Disney Animation to pull off the AI-free Once Upon A Studio. The animated short film celebrated 100 years of magic and storytelling. Iconic characters like Peter Pan and Snow White have featured alongside Robin Williams’ Genie, including a cast of 543 characters from 85 feature-length and short films.
This has all come to be without the help of AI. In a bid to honor the legacy of the studio, Directors Dan Abraham and Trent Correy have created this. The film takes place at the end of a typical workday at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank. When Disney legend Burny Mattinson who had worked for over 70 years on films like One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Lady And The Tramp, leaves, the place becomes magical.
The characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse come out of a photo and call for their buddies to collect for an official 100th Anniversary Studio portrait.
Abraham and Correy took over eight months to pull off the project. Shrouded in mystery, a group of artists who are led by Andrew Feliciano and Eric Goldberg joined forces to bring the characters to life. The characters include Genie, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Wendy, Peter Pan, and Chernabog.
About 80% of the characters were hand-drawn, while the others were computer-generated.
Producer Bradford Simonsen has explained, “It needed to feel that so the audience response would be visceral. We used our animation research library where we pulled out model sheets for the animators to work from. We had Eric Goldberg who has the studio history, and we did tests to make sure it was all working together in the scenes.”
About Robinson’s character, Simonsen has said, “We tried to take them on the journey with us to say, ‘We’ve got this very special short that we’re doing. Robin as the genie means so much to so many people and we would really love to involve him. So Dan listened to the outtakes from the original recording and he found those little bites that we could use. We went back to the estate and said, ‘This is what we hope to do.’ Eric, who originally animated the genie is on the show, and he’s going to be part of it.’ And it was wonderful to see that happen.”