Language of the Soul Podcast

CTN Expo with Lion King producer Don Hahn and Legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja

November 21, 2023 Dominick Domingo Season 2023 Episode 8
CTN Expo with Lion King producer Don Hahn and Legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja
Language of the Soul Podcast
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Language of the Soul Podcast
CTN Expo with Lion King producer Don Hahn and Legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja
Nov 21, 2023 Season 2023 Episode 8
Dominick Domingo

The CTN Foundation's annual gathering, known as the Creative Talent Network Expo or CTNX, is a flagship event in support of visual storytelling artists globally. As a non-profit charitable organization, the CTN Foundation has been hosting this extraordinary event for 15 years, making it the longest-running event of its kind in the world. In 2023, the 15th anniversary of CTNX created an inspiring atmosphere that drew students and budding animation artists from across the globe. This celebration is a unique blend of History, Heritage, and Heart, fostering a sense of encouragement and creativity. The CTNX community stands out as a distinguished assembly of artistic geniuses and master storytellers, making it a premier destination for anyone passionate about the world of visual storytelling.   To veteran animation artists like Language of the Soul host Dominick Domingo, the convention is nothing less than a family reunion. Join Dominick as he catches up with colleagues from his time at Disney Feature Animation, working on films like Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, Little Match Girl, and One By One. Nostalgia reigns as Dominick and his colleagues reminisce about the legendary ‘animation renaissance,’ a moment when the stars seemed to align to inspire onscreen magic.
Opening ceremonies at CTN kick off with a screening of Mushka, the first independent animated short from legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja. Seven years in the making, Mushka is a charming, poetic tale of a young girl and the orphaned tiger she raises. When the lights come up, Dominick and his crew are fortunate enough to capture an in-depth interview with Andreas, known for animating Disney villains like Scar, Jafaar and Gaston, as well as idealized male heroes like Triton and Hercules.
Next, we catch up with Don Hahn, producer of such blockbusters as Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Atlantis and Hunchback of Notre Dame. Don gives us his thoughtful take on the personal and cultural relevance of storytelling, and why it’s one of the most important jobs out there. Don’t be fooled by his approachable demeanor; the man is passionate about his chosen craft! 
Recorded live on location at CTN Expo in Burbank,

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The CTN Foundation's annual gathering, known as the Creative Talent Network Expo or CTNX, is a flagship event in support of visual storytelling artists globally. As a non-profit charitable organization, the CTN Foundation has been hosting this extraordinary event for 15 years, making it the longest-running event of its kind in the world. In 2023, the 15th anniversary of CTNX created an inspiring atmosphere that drew students and budding animation artists from across the globe. This celebration is a unique blend of History, Heritage, and Heart, fostering a sense of encouragement and creativity. The CTNX community stands out as a distinguished assembly of artistic geniuses and master storytellers, making it a premier destination for anyone passionate about the world of visual storytelling.   To veteran animation artists like Language of the Soul host Dominick Domingo, the convention is nothing less than a family reunion. Join Dominick as he catches up with colleagues from his time at Disney Feature Animation, working on films like Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, Little Match Girl, and One By One. Nostalgia reigns as Dominick and his colleagues reminisce about the legendary ‘animation renaissance,’ a moment when the stars seemed to align to inspire onscreen magic.
Opening ceremonies at CTN kick off with a screening of Mushka, the first independent animated short from legendary Disney animator Andreas Deja. Seven years in the making, Mushka is a charming, poetic tale of a young girl and the orphaned tiger she raises. When the lights come up, Dominick and his crew are fortunate enough to capture an in-depth interview with Andreas, known for animating Disney villains like Scar, Jafaar and Gaston, as well as idealized male heroes like Triton and Hercules.
Next, we catch up with Don Hahn, producer of such blockbusters as Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Atlantis and Hunchback of Notre Dame. Don gives us his thoughtful take on the personal and cultural relevance of storytelling, and why it’s one of the most important jobs out there. Don’t be fooled by his approachable demeanor; the man is passionate about his chosen craft! 
Recorded live on location at CTN Expo in Burbank,

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

Speaker 1:

Hi guys, and welcome to Language of the Soul, where life is story. I noticed I've been opening every episode by saying I'm so excited about this week's guest. I always mean it, but of course it could start to sound and feel insincere, so I'm trying to change that up and this is the perfect opportunity to do that, because today's episode does not feature any particular guest. It's going to be what I call a roaming podcast. So I'm attending a convention that I've been a part of for 15 years and I'll tell you more in a minute, not to be cryptic, but I'm just going to be walking around trying to catch little sound bites or snippets or entire interviews. So there is no one guest, but I am very excited about this roaming podcast. So the way I would like to sort of dive into what the convention is all about is also a great way of letting you in on a little bit of what I've been up to during my career. As some of you know, my bio is on most of the platforms in which you can access this podcast. It's also on our YouTube channel and our website, but of course, a bio or a VT resume doesn't tell the full story. So, being the storyteller that I am, I'm going to back up a little bit and let you know how I became involved in what's called CTN Expo. In short, it's the largest animation convention in the world, right out the gate. The first year it became the largest animation convention in the world. So back it up.

Speaker 1:

I was born in 1968. No, I won't go back that far. Some of you probably know I did work at Disney feature animation during what's become known as the animation Renaissance. I painted production backgrounds and produced visual development art for what have become classic 2D animated films like Lion King, pocahontas, hunchback of Notre Dame, tarzan, little Match Girl, and one by one. So I was there for 11 years. All said and done, I worked in both LA and Paris, and those are my glory days. It's never gotten better. So to back up a little bit, previous to my internship, which was my introduction, my foot in the door, so to speak I do remember being in college. I had already got my general ad out of the way.

Speaker 1:

I was at art center in a very demanding program and a little mermaid came out and, of course, I had swam with the dolphins in Israel. I actually hadn't by that point, but I had swam with swam. The past part of swam. I had swam with the sea lions in La Paz, mexico, and of course as a child I was just fascinated with coral reefs and under sea life. I wrote entire reports on them. I've actually mentioned that in the podcast which I then illustrated, and my teachers would then distribute them to the class and of course I would include question and answers. So I unwittingly created more homework for my classmates. It didn't really win me friends, but it didn't make me enemies either.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, I was always very intellectually curious about the planet we live on and specifically under sea life. So when a little mermaid came out I was intrigued, not just because of her shells but because I I feel like it's an escape. It's just so magical under under the sea. So I did go out and see it mid college and of course you know it's family entertainment but it's largely meant for children. But it still got my attention and I thought, okay, after those string of duds like Black Cauldron no offense to anyone, but there's a string that have become known as a low point, we actually used to screen them while I was at Disney to remind ourselves what not to do and the mythology that went down around.

Speaker 1:

That is, you know, the nine old men had moved on and I wasn't at Disney file, I didn't read the illusion of life. So I had to learn all this. But of course the nine old men, the original animators, had all died or moved on and there wasn't really nobody at the helm with a storytelling sense. A lot of great animators Glen Keane, up and coming, andreas Teja was probably already there, and then really beautiful backgrounds, like in isolation. There was a lot of artistry going on, but nobody really at the helm with a storytelling sense.

Speaker 1:

So anyway, little Mermaid got my attention because there had been some duds and it just re, you know, kind of opened my eyes mid college and I thought, you know, I really Disney was a big part of my childhood. I hadn't really processed it that way, but my dad was smart enough with a family of six and God knows, it could have been very expensive to go to the movies. He took us to the drive-in, so saved a little money there, but he always took us to the tenure re-releases of the classic Disney films, meaning Walt always intended them to be re-released every 10 years. So I was just the right age to catch 101 Dalmatians in the drive-in and I was so young that I actually didn't know the difference between animation and reality. So I thought Cruella de Vil was our family friend Luella. Luella wore a fur coat and smoked a cigarette on a long cigarette holder and I just thought everybody had a cartoon version of themselves and that was hers. I was the right age to catch Aristocats at the tenure mark Jungle Book and talk about a full circle moment while working at Disney or soon thereafter.

Speaker 1:

I went to Andreas de Jaune's Christmas party. If you don't know who he is, he's the lead animator that did all the villains Scarge, afar, triton, gaston, some of those more villains, but you get the idea. Hercules, I would say. Him and Glen Keane are pretty much gods when it comes to traditional animation, traditional 2D animation, especially in the Disney tradition. Anyway, andreas, I guess I'm off track here.

Speaker 1:

I was going to bring this up a little bit later, but sadly Andreas is the hub that holds the Disney legacy together. There's what's called the Animation Research Library and of course they document and archive everything. But Andreas is the only one that's actually in touch with everybody who's still alive, who's attached to the Disney legacy. So you go to his Christmas party. You see the Tinkerbell. You see the Sherman brothers Actually, I think both have passed now, but you saw both of the Sherman brothers and they would sit down to the piano and literally play. It's a small world, the way it was originally intended Chitty, chitty, bang, bang, all of their proprietary songs. It was magic. And then after one of them died, the other would sit down and play. But it was a who's who and it was a full circle moment. Having seen the Jungle Book in the drive-in as a child to meet the voice of Mowgli and he wasn't an old man, he was just a dude it rocked my world.

Speaker 1:

So I guess I'm going to take this opportunity to say at one of Andreas's fabulous Christmas parties, I ran into a colleague named Tina Price and she's going to be on the show a little bit later and this was probably 10 years out from having left Disney. I was there for 11 years and this was probably 10 years after leaving and a lot of people had been laid off or just moved on. So, tina, the way she expressed it at this Christmas party is hey, I have this little. I think she probably called it a network, called Creative Talent Network, and she didn't say it was an agency, but it was meant to be a hub where people could go to hire an animation artist of any ilk if they wanted to, or where you could set up a profile and, in theory, get work. But she said I basically just want to keep the family together. It was a network in which we could all be in touch and interface and maybe cross-pollinate or share ideas. And so I took her up on it, and that was probably 16 years ago now, because the convention itself has been around for 15 years.

Speaker 1:

This year marks the 15-year anniversary and I've been involved since its inception every year in some capacities, sometimes in a panel discussion or just doing portfolio reviews, sometimes presenting or doing workshops. And man, it not only keeps my finger on the pulse and I get to see my 20 years of students from Art Center it's a reunion in that respect but I also see my family. So I was working for those 11 years with creative geniuses, master storytellers but, most importantly, the most inspiring people I've ever had the privilege to be surrounded by, and it was very much a family. So, having been involved for 15 years, I'm very glad to be part of this 15-year anniversary, specifically because the theme is story, so I planned to just walk around the convention and, like I said, steal interviews when and where I can from artists the world over.

Speaker 1:

Now the pandemic put a little dent in things because we couldn't do. I think one year it happened online only. Then the next year was a sort of a hybrid event, but the attendance was a little low and it was kept low key intentionally. But now it's back to its full glory. Traditionally aspiring animation artists come from the world over, some students just wanting to learn more or network and build a platform. Sometimes it's artists currently working in the field that just want to keep their finger on the poles. It's just a very inspiring event. So I plan to walk around and just say, hey, you're from Germany. What brought you several thousand miles to this event? What do you hope to learn or accomplish here at CTN? I also want to interview colleagues. I regularly run into Andrea Stesha, whom I just described a moment ago, or my friend Roger Ellers, the director of Lion King. I run into Tony Bancroft, the director of Mulan, and we chat. So I hope my luck holds up this year and I do run into some colleagues who will have some inspiring words.

Speaker 1:

Those of you that follow the podcast know the emphasis is really not on technique or the nuts and bolts of craft, but why we tell stories in the first place. So, because emphasis often is on superficial aspects of the creative process, like technique, I really look forward to asking some of my colleagues who might very much respect what do you love about storytelling? Why is this your chosen craft? And I know we're going to get some really stellar responses, so fingers crossed. Okay, so that's my introduction to today's episode. I've already taken up enough time and here we go with some interviews. Enjoy, all right.

Speaker 1:

So my first interview was done, believe it or not, before even leaving the apartment. It sounds obnoxious, but I have two assistants for the convention just because I've never done a roaming podcast and it's CTN is overwhelming regardless. So just to make sure, I crossed my T's and dotted my eyes and didn't dot my T's and crossed my eyes, I got some help. And also to just make sure, if there's so much ambient noise at CTN and that's a little bit of a warning to you, the listener, to prick your ears, so much ambient noise that I just wanted to make sure the levels were correct. Even so, you know the mic wasn't always quite picking up a response here and there, but we did our best. Anyway, I just needed help.

Speaker 1:

So I asked the logical people. I asked a former student named Shanti, whom I will introduce in a little bit, but Lorelei Delgado is my niece. She's a brilliant artist. I wouldn't say that if I didn't 100% mean it. Great writer, just a great brain, very conceptual brain. Really understands what inspiration looks like and I think, concept and yeah, brilliant writer, amazing poet, amazing illustrator.

Speaker 1:

So at one point she had chosen film, I believe, along with Christian Studies, and for that reason I reached out to her and thought, hey, maybe, I don't know she could benefit from this or meet some people or learn something at one of the very many presentations and panel discussions and demonstrations at CTN. Turns out she had switched from film to illustration, which is even more relevant. That was my major in the Cretaceous a million years ago, from 89 to 91. There were no entertainment tracks, so illustrations seemed the broadest and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I believe she picked illustration for the same reason. It seemed the most open-ended in terms of career options. But you'll also hear some other reasons that we discussed in our little interview before even leaving the apartment. So let me introduce Lorelei Hi there, hi there.

Speaker 3:

Hello.

Speaker 1:

So what brought you to CTN today?

Speaker 4:

I was invited to it by a very, very special person to me, by my own very dear uncle.

Speaker 1:

The weird uncle.

Speaker 4:

In the best way possible.

Speaker 1:

Well, I happen to know, or I believe, you're studying film, christian studies and film, is that right?

Speaker 4:

It was correct, but I've switched to illustration and Christian studies.

Speaker 1:

I actually didn't know that.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I think it will translate more to the things that I enjoy doing and I could, if I wanted to go into motion design, do more traditional animation styles rather than you know live action stuff.

Speaker 1:

And what school are you at?

Speaker 4:

I'm at Cal Baptist University.

Speaker 1:

So at Cal Baptist? I'm just asking because obviously I went to art center and things have changed. I went from 89 to 91 and God knows I've found their entertainment track and taught there for 20 years. I've been involved at LaFa, montecito Fine Arts, la Academy of Figurative Art and I've built curriculums. So everything's changing all the time, right, but I would say, like motion graphics used to be, and graphics is an entirely different department than illustration, right, but now at art center anyway, illustration has so many tracks that entertainment has now been divided into entertainment arts and entertainment design. So it's like a major or an emphasis, right, but we call them tracks. So I picked illustration a million years ago because, probably like you, I was like well, it seemed the most open-ended, seemed the most general, would you say. That's still the case, or at least at your school.

Speaker 4:

Yes and no Is general in the sense that you can take illustration and go into different fields with it. Like, you can be an illustration major and you can illustrate books, or you can make comics, or you can make animations, or you can just become an artist and start doing paintings, but at the same time it's more focused because it's taking you actually into a professional industry, whereas Fine Arts is a little bit different. That's just where the weirdos that have money go. You know what I mean.

Speaker 1:

Well, sorry to interrupt you, but yeah, when I was in school, if you actually wanted to learn to draw and paint, you took illustration, because the skill set can be applied to whatever you want. But Fine Art this was from 89 to 91, was so conceptual that it was all, if you want to look at it in a really cynical way, like there were grant writing workshops where you were just learning to snow the grant writers with your BS. And it was so conceptual that you actually didn't get to learn to draw and paint. So people took illustration because they got those hardcore skills like composition, light logic, color theory, perspective, all of that foundational stuff. But I would say, you know, when I went, illustration was divided into advertising and editorial. That was it. And editorial is what it sounds like. You know, if you want to illustrate Time Magazine or Sports Illustrated or Playboy and it accompanies a text, advertising was literally like drawing, rendering water droplets on a fruit, you know not as conceptually based. It was very. You know, you were a wrist, basically. And then the term that I started, they did away with fashion illustration because photography had taken that over. So the term I started, fashion went bye, bye. But anyway I chose it because it was the most general kind of the same as you. But for me back then it was like, oh, I could do album covers. That was really what I wanted to do, album covers. And then I learned as I got in the program, before I learned all the different things I could potentially go into, like print, like children's books. Who knew animation?

Speaker 1:

I did go to Disney at 17 because I was, you know, grew up in Burbank. So I remember marching my portfolio my portfolio in quotes into Disney and a friend's mom worked there and I said I'm not leaving until I have a job and so I waited for Peg to come out and she spoke out of turn, clearly, and then she came out and couldn't believe I actually marched my portfolio and so she took it and of course I waited and waited and they never came back out and then two weeks later I got a nice rejection letter saying you don't have the hardcore drawing skills necessary. It was very nice. But anyway, thinking back, once I realized Art Center did have an internship at Disney and that was one of the many things I could go into. I thought, well, I did, at 17, really want I would have killed or died to work at Disney, but anyway, I learned all the possibilities once I was in the track. But I'm surprised to hear you say motion graphics would be under illustration. Is there not a graphics department?

Speaker 4:

So there is a graphics department. There's an. Interestingly enough, both the graphic design major and the illustration major have motion design concentrations. But because graphic design and illustration are so different, the concentrations for motion design are going to be so different. So for graphic design, I have beef with graphic designers because whenever you talk to a graphic designer they're like oh, we're doing the same thing. It's like we're not doing the same thing. You know it's very similar. But for illustration, you're very more focused on organic stuff, whereas graphic design is very formed Right. Suffice to say, there is a graphics department that does have motion design concentration, but illustration also has one.

Speaker 1:

So when I think of the illustration there is so much crossover now there is.

Speaker 4:

There truly is, especially with the digital age. You could be like I'm an illustration major, and yet you're using the same programs and the same techniques as a graphic design major.

Speaker 1:

Well, when I say crossover, I work a lot of people do their editing and after effects and some people do their after effects in Final Cut Pro and it's like the platforms are very similar and they all have the same capabilities. But I would say the role of graphic design has evolved too, because I worked for an ad agency before I even went to Art Center. I was a driver for an ad agency and they hired freelance illustrators. So I kind of drive around LA and meet these illustrators in their little home studios At that time. 100% a graphic designer, because the Quadra 660 was the state of the art. When it came to the home computer, I'm the right age. I remember when my friend Eleni got the very first Apple home computer. What was it called? Little Apple Macintosh. Yeah, it was a Macintosh Apple, but there was a model number attached.

Speaker 4:

She just learned about this, and so now I feel very ashamed.

Speaker 1:

What was the Macintosh Apple home computer? And then of course PCs took their own route. But anyway, I just kind of was on it from day one, or at least I witnessed it. So graphic design was not obviously digital yet, but graphic designers regularly hired illustrators because they couldn't draw their way out of a paper bag. No offense to anyone. You hire an illustrator for the narrative stuff or, frankly, the drawing. I have friends that work graphic designers and they're really great at vector based things, but they usually need parameters to sort of feed in. You know what I mean.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that is the experience I've had, although I do have a friend who's a graphic designer, who's an amazing artist. But when I asked her about it like why don't you want to go into illustration or do more drawing because you're so amazing at it? And she said, well, that's why I don't want to, because I'm already so amazing at it.

Speaker 1:

Well, oh, I see. Well there's a lot of work in graphic design, and that's one of my observations too. Is graphic design? It used to be graphics and packaging, believe it or not. At ArtCenter, that was the department graphics slash packaging. Now it should just be graphics slash web design, right, because so much of the graphic design is web design. Yeah, true, anyway.

Speaker 4:

No, it truly is so. Talking to her, you realize she's learning how to design websites and how to even design social media pages, because apparently, we can do that Design the template for a social media page. No, but there are things like if you look at a really professional social media page, they have the specific colors that they use and they have specific elements that they add to the page.

Speaker 1:

The homepage for social media.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and then you can do that like a YouTube or something Apparently very customizable.

Speaker 1:

Well, yeah, I get job ads for Meta all the time.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, exactly, and so there's things like that that she can do. I think the emphasis for a graphic designer is user interface, whereas an illustrator isn't working as much with a user interface.

Speaker 1:

Well, as an illustrator. My background is in illustration, my degree is in illustration and, of course, the bulk of my career has been in animation, so I do UI elements all the time in gaming, like. My only experience with gaming is do you know Silent Hill?

Speaker 4:

I do.

Speaker 1:

So I did the. At the time it was called the PSP version. It was timed with the release of the movie, so I did all the characters for the PSP. Wow yeah, and that was my first brush with gaming. But then later I did Pixie, hollow Fashion Boutique and Princess Dress Up Very different than Silent Hill for DimG, disney Interactive Media Group, and a lot of that was user interface, just little buttons, but they had to be really highly rendered. It wasn't vector based, it was actual illustration, but it had to be really high res and really rendered out to be used as a UI element. Right, anyway, we should get in that Uber. You're a great interview and we'll do. We'll add more to this later.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I'm sold down for that Okay, but let's pretend for a minute that I don't know you. Okay, and you just showed up at CTN. I mean, do you have any preconceived notions about it? Do you hope to accomplish anything, or just learn anything or promote yourself? What's the goal other than helping your uncle?

Speaker 4:

You know I considered researching it beforehand to be prepared, because I have a little bit of social anxiety.

Speaker 1:

But I realized oh, this is going to overwhelm you.

Speaker 4:

Oh no.

Speaker 1:

I'm telling you we'll have a talk in the Uber.

Speaker 4:

All right. Well, the thing is, though, I want to work past that and I want to do exciting and thrilling things, so I decided I'm not going to research it.

Speaker 1:

Good call, seriously Actually a good call.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and we're going to see what. We're going to see what it's like when we get there, you know, but I am hoping just to see things, you know.

Speaker 1:

I want to. It's inspiring, just be inspired, exactly I want to be inspired.

Speaker 4:

I want to see what my peers have done. What are the people that are above me?

Speaker 1:

called the people that do what.

Speaker 4:

The people that are like above you.

Speaker 1:

Oh, like the higher ups, higher ups.

Speaker 4:

I want to see what the professionals are doing. I want to see what people use animation skills and drawing skills and illustration skills and all of those things, for I want to be inspired.

Speaker 1:

I love it. I love that attitude and that's exactly what it can be. Don't be freaked out by how incredibly competitive it is. Renee went. Renee went once she was like a deer in the headlights and I would have freaked out if I. I would never have even tried if I was 19. But I think you can enjoy. You'll learn a little something. If there's an event you want to go to, you can actually attend it. You're going to meet some people I did tell your grandma. You're going to meet my family. This is my family for 11 years. The most inspiring not just master storytellers and amazing artists, but really down to earth people. The most inspiring people I've ever had the pleasure of being surrounded by. It's not, do you know?

Speaker 2:

what I mean. It's not the.

Speaker 1:

Hollywood cliche that you think I mean animation. You're behind the camera, they're dorks.

Speaker 4:

Oh, and that's my people. You know, no, I don't want Hollywood. And so I was telling my friends about this and they were like, oh my gosh, you're going to LA, you're going to see celebrities. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, I'm seeing the people behind celebrities.

Speaker 1:

Well, I was going to say I did tell your mom, like it is a true. I'm not kidding when I say the most quality people have ever been surrounded by. It's never gotten any better. I can't like this. And they're my family, yeah, but they're, you know. And animation, you know it's not glamorous. We were in the little building with the hat in Burbank. Oh, Previous to that we were in warehouse buildings, very incognito warehouse buildings. Then, when Lion King did so well, they built that building with the hat. But it's still just very down to earth. We're behind the camera, we're dorks, but one woman and she was in production. She wasn't an artist, she was in production and she thought she had to rub elbows with the A-listers and play the Hollywood game and you know, casting couch. She had all these notions in her head about LA. So she rented a BMW to drive onto the lot.

Speaker 3:

She rented a BMW to drive and it wasn't even the main lot of Disney.

Speaker 1:

It was just driving in the animation parking lot, so that was the exception. You know what I mean Somebody that thought they had to play the game a certain way. Anyway, enough prefacing.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I think I'm prepared. Hopefully not too prepared, you know, but prepared enough.

Speaker 1:

Okay, let's go, let's go.

Speaker 6:

Let's go, let's go.

Speaker 4:

Let's go.

Speaker 1:

So with that, Lorelei and I headed out to the Marriott and Burbank, the convention center, and we were joined by a second assistant. It sounds obnoxious, but just to manage the logistics of doing a roaming podcast, which is new to me, I had a second assistant and her name is Shanti Biondolo. I knew I was going to botch it, shanti Biondolillo. I hope I said that right, you'd never know I was Italian. Anyway, shanti joined us and we got lucky straight out the gate man, we started tag teaming and the first event we attended I think I've mentioned this was Mushka. So Andreas de Ja I did mention him, one of the top animators in the world premiered his first solo effort. Mushka Took seven years to make. It's a beautiful, poetic little film that just transports, and immediately afterwards we were able to corner Andreas and he was gracious enough to give us not just a couple sound bites but some really great content and enjoy. Okay, we just came out of a screening of Mushka Amazing, and it's my second time seeing it. It's there first If you want some feedback.

Speaker 1:

All right tell me what did you think of it.

Speaker 4:

It was gorgeous. It got me really in my feels. I almost cried, but I didn't, but I almost did.

Speaker 2:

It was a sentimental film and I told my group of friends that's a good thing.

Speaker 1:

I was thinking if I was a child I would be a mess, I would be in tears and I was a little weepy but it's kind of the Santa Ana's but it's so touching. I think if I was a kid I would be kind of traumatized for life.

Speaker 2:

It took me a little while to get used to the tone of the film because I had a little bit more of a comedy in mind with gags. But then, once we storyboarded the screenplay, I thought, okay, it's not an outright comedy and I could fill it with gags now, because at Disney that's what we did. We would have a screening and then find out it's not funny enough.

Speaker 1:

They call it a comedy punch-up, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, or like a gag meeting or something like that, and I stayed away from it. I thought it doesn't really need it. Let's stay truthful to the tone.

Speaker 1:

There were moments, though, if I could argue, I think, when needed, there were little comic reliefs I'm trying to remember the Disney reference there were some inside jokes, yeah, exactly. And then, right before that, I think, there was a lightness to it, like life. They're like life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, fully enough. And the sequels. I really enjoyed animating. I think that was the first one I did. It was the montage sequence where we see the two characters growing up and bonding, and that was kind of on me because I didn't get any help from my story guys or from the crew, because they said, well, they grew up together and they have fun and maybe they swim in the river or something. And then I thought but it needs structure, it needs something. And then I thought, wait a minute, if I have these moments with feeding, bathing, playing, you know, and then have those moments as a cup and then the same kind of moments as an adult tiger, where the outcome would be different. So she feeds the baby one the cup like a bottle and when he's older she throws a steak at him. So we have these A and B, the caramel, yeah, and so that was kind of my idea and I took credit for that one.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Thanks, yeah, it was very poetic and sentimental, but I did think there was a little comic relief here and there.

Speaker 2:

Hopefully enough to balance it.

Speaker 1:

Like life, I think. What did you think, Shanti?

Speaker 3:

I loved it. I made me want a tiger.

Speaker 1:

Now I act Like you know how kids you know, the kids get delimations after every Valentine's Day, but then they return them. That's the worst part.

Speaker 3:

I was actually really impressed that the tiger had such low facial emoting, like it was very like an animal, yet you still felt still that affection and like the aggression and the affection still felt so different, like him being protective of her, him like responding to her at all, like I was really blown away by that, like just it being a tiger, yet still like feeling those emotions, feeling it wanting to hug her, like as it like kind of did that like gesture of like approaching her but still being big yet soft, I like, and that's really what was getting me and making me emotional about it. I yeah.

Speaker 2:

But that was an animation point of view, that that was a challenge, because Scar was a talking big cat and this one doesn't talk. So then how do you do that with your facial features, you know, but when you really study tiger footage, they do have expressions. I mean, when they get scared, their eyes also get wide. When they get angry, they do this human thing. You just have to walk that fine line and make it look like this is not a character who's about to start talking.

Speaker 1:

Lion King was fairly naturalistic, though it wasn't like putting Donald like Donald Duck without pants. You know it gets problematic when you start anthropomorphizing certain animals selectively. Right, there's a consistency to Scar and Lion King?

Speaker 2:

I think yeah, I mean they have these cats also. They had weight in the Lion King and that was important. But there's certain moments where you can use their paw for the for human gesture, Like when Scar is talking to Simba and he says, oh yeah, you and your father's father's son thing, and he, he flicks his paw. Well, that's a very human thing and you have to be careful how far you take that. I couldn't do that on Muska, you know, certainly not put to it on Scar.

Speaker 1:

You have no idea. Did he do anything with his hand on that one? It's such an iconic lion. You have no idea.

Speaker 2:

No. But he also says taught the end of the film where he's got Simba hanging from the cliff. It's at the end of the movie and he does this thing where he says, no, where have I seen this before? So you do this very humanized paw and again, you can, you can do, but you have to be careful that it doesn't look like a human hand.

Speaker 3:

And that's what I was thinking about too was like movies like Lion King, and also like horses. Every horse in an animated film has like so much like bombastic personality, so it was really cool to see like the tiger be so understated yet still be powerful in that.

Speaker 1:

I did notice that too, that when he grew up and became powerful you saw hints of it previous to that. Did that enter your mind, Like I saw a hint of the potential early on? Maybe it's because I had already seen it, you know, and I kind of knew what was going to happen. But yeah, there was a little bit of a wildness in his eye, I think.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and we kind of built that one sequence in that he's starting to to have instincts, wild instincts. He's ripping the head of the girl's doll and I, on purpose, think that one story is because when we see the doll we had it on the floor that basically, basically saying this could be a human. So it's maybe not a good idea to have this tiger, your whole life.

Speaker 1:

Tell me if this entered your mind, because I'm a storyteller, as you know, and screenwriter. I loved it. Was almost like theater, theater del arte. They say show it, don't say it. There was so much that was poetic because it didn't have to be expressed through words, like just an image, like that. It says it all, and I felt that way throughout, didn't you? It was kind of light on dialogue in the best way.

Speaker 2:

We even had a moment where early on we thought maybe we have no dialogue, maybe they shouldn't talk. But I've seen animated films like that where the characters were supposed to be real but they don't talk at all, and to me it's an artistic choice. The characters stay a little bit more abstract that way because people talk. So we decided let's have as little talk as possible, use it when we need it, but not have them talk a lot. So it was a choice.

Speaker 1:

Those are my favorite films because it takes you to a visceral place, you know, like a nonlinear space a little more. There was a film called Beautrevies. Have you seen that by chance? A little French film.

Speaker 2:

The one I'm thinking of is by Sylvain Chaumet, the illusionist.

Speaker 1:

Yes, oh, that was no dialogue, right, yeah, that one. No dialogue.

Speaker 2:

It's beautifully animated, but again the characters stay just a little abstract and I needed my characters to come down from the screen and we touch you.

Speaker 1:

No Beautrevies live action. But I remember the screenplay was like this they say a minute a page and yet it was all fleshed out with the sensory details and you know the ambiance, so poetic, but it was really light on dialogue.

Speaker 2:

So those films move me more lately. Me too, actually, because they just call dialogue scene talking radio kind of a thing, you know, when the characters don't shut up. So they just try to not do that.

Speaker 1:

Well, and their mouthpieces for exposition have the time, which is a no-no.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's pretty good and you're supposed to show it, not talk about the plot.

Speaker 1:

There's literally a line in Avatar Do you remember this? The line where he says so you're saying that unobtainium, there is dot dot dot. Yeah, I loved Avatar, Worst screenplay ever written.

Speaker 2:

When you have to explain. So there was this one scene in the movie when Alex knocks at Sarah's window, and I wasn't going to have any dialogue there either, I was just going to have him gesture and loud music, because he's basically telling Sarah what the audience just saw. I think that's the one time where we broke that and he's explaining that they were playing cards and cheating Mushka's in trouble. The audience knows that already, but everybody around me, or my little crew, said no, he's got to talk, he's got to talk, and I think it's okay for him to say those two lines.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it worked. It worked Just our opinion, thank you, thank you. Who are we, anyway? Well, thank you. I would say what's next? But we actually I don't want to keep you, I don't want to monopolize you and we got the Don Han snippet as well, so I love that you're doing a comedy next.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, something funny, something that makes people giggle, that's up next.

Speaker 1:

I feel badly that I'm holding people up. Thank you so much, thank you. And I'll probably see you over the weekend.

Speaker 2:

Okay sounds good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so immediately after interviewing Andreas, I feel very fortunate to have been able to catch Don Han. He had moderated the panel discussion after the film and basically interviewed Andreas, but strangely Don Han the producer of Lion King, aladdin, I believe, beauty and the Beast and many others during that 2D Renaissance was kind of standing alone. Nobody, he was not being swamped. I think. People were lining up to talk to Andreas and so I caught Don and I cornered him and we had a great, albeit quicker than I would like to talk, but he agreed to come on the podcast. So he's been very good to me. He's actually written me letters of recommendation for the ABC DGA Film Fellowship, so I trust that he will stick to his word and come on the podcast. So here's just a little taste. He's a great, obviously a very accomplished producer, but he's just fun to talk to. He's certainly delivered on the few questions I asked him. So here's Don Han.

Speaker 5:

Podcast. You're like man on the street. I like that.

Speaker 1:

Okay, like Billy Eichner.

Speaker 5:

I love Billy Eichner. That's a great recorder.

Speaker 1:

Did you see what was it called His romcom? Billy Eichner? He didn't know. Okay, you need to see it. I resisted it and then I fell in love with it.

Speaker 5:

I really liked him because he's so irreverent.

Speaker 1:

Well, he's abrasive, he's an acquired taste, that's okay.

Speaker 2:

Oh, broze Broze is the one I'm talking about. Yes, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it, after resisting it for reasons we're not here to talk about today. Say no more. It was kind of like the good, the bad and the ugly and I was like are we ready for that? Are we ready? Anyway, we're with Don Han. Yes, came out of a screening of Musica and we were lucky enough to get an interview with Andreas himself. But I would love to talk because I did work with you for a few years, eleven, if I'm not mistaken. Do you remember what film I started on.

Speaker 5:

I have no idea. When did you start? Beauty and the Beast? Yes, aladdin, no.

Speaker 1:

Actually, beauty and the Beast was in development and Rescuers Down Under was in production when I interned, but then I went back and finished up and I started online. So 18 months early online. Okay, good, and that was you right, you produced, it was me.

Speaker 5:

The Blockbuster Lion King. It was me and a lot of colleagues and friends. Many of you were here. That's what's great about coming to CTN. It's kind of it's a great educational experience for some and for others it's old home week, it's a family reunion. We get to see people like you, so that's good.

Speaker 1:

And I run into 20 years of former students, so it's pretty draining. I mean, the family reunion is a plus. Reviewing portfolios in a corner by the drinking fountain is not fun.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, don, I don't know where to begin with you the podcast is about. I do have a question. The podcast is about story. It's about the cultural impact of storytelling in all its forms, which obviously is a very broad right Propaganda, political campaigning, advertising, cinema. You had a lot of great guests, like from the literary realm, from cinema, etc. If I put you on the spot and said, what do you feel? Well, why are you a storyteller? Let me start with that I mean.

Speaker 5:

storytelling to me is the most important kind of currency of human communication there is.

Speaker 5:

I also think yeah, it's a broad question, though the other thing I think it is in a slightly unconventional way is a coping mechanism for us as human beings to look at stories and say those characters made it through that dilemma, those characters are like me, those characters are not like me or whatever. And we love stories and how, since the beginning of our you know half-formed brain ages ago, where we can react to them and the lights can go down, whether it's around a campfire or in a theater, and be told a story and apply that to our own lives. Sometimes, if that's in the news media, we might apply it in a way that says, oh, that's just bull, that doesn't apply to me, or that's not authentic, which happens a lot or that's just sensational and meant to kind of stimulate my amygdala so I can go out there and get angry at people. That's legit.

Speaker 1:

There are stories that just feed a cultural addiction to adrenaline and cortisol. That's how I put it.

Speaker 5:

They do and that's so true. I mean, that's really true, and I think a lot of businesses out there, whether it's news or motion pictures or whatever, you have to know those tools, because a good film the ones we've worked on have always had those tools to them. Usually Disney films are measured in the amount of brain drugs they dispense, but they're more the good ones. But it's not afraid that the real films of Walt Disney the Bambis and the Snow Whites were not afraid to be intense, because I think they're not.

Speaker 1:

I'm still traumatized by Bambi.

Speaker 5:

I'm sure you've met a lot of people and a lot of people are by Lion King too. At this point, to be able to step out and have that ability to tell stories and let people, whoever that audience might be, react to it is one of the most important professions, I think. That's out there right now.

Speaker 1:

You totally deliver. Thank you, for that is the premise of my podcast. How? Yeah, well, I wouldn't be doing it, you know we wouldn't be doing it, but I also wouldn't be doing the podcast if I didn't believe it. Yeah, here's my way of putting it. I want, just want to see, if you agree, the evolution of our noosphere, right, the realm of our Morals, ethics, codes, beliefs that become policy, right, that moral realm. It's as crucial that that evolve as our biology. So story telling is no small thing. So, like I, the way you hinted that, I think, at Tribal bonding, yeah, right, just telling a story around the campfire was Good. Right for, yeah, the proliferation of the species, because it was a bonding, a form bonding and how we remember the mistakes we made or don't remember the mistakes we made.

Speaker 5:

And, frankly, if you're, whether you're a prince or a bopper, you, an audience or a people, will forget If there isn't a story. The most memorable people out there, from religious figures to political figures, are Remembered by their stories, not by their architectures that may still be there.

Speaker 1:

I think Kim Jong-un wasn't born. He was. He sprouted on a mountaintop and a lotus. From what I remember right, that's a story right there.

Speaker 5:

I have been told that yes, and so those kinds of stories are are important, and the end, by the way they understand the importance of story.

Speaker 1:

Do you know what I mean?

Speaker 5:

They really do, and also the importance of mythology and we have equal mythology in our Western culture, mythology that tells us, for example, how we feel about ourselves, not as humans, as Americans, as as Citizens of the planet. We, our stories, define who we are, and what's really interesting about the age we're living in now is those stories are all being questioned and being tested and people are saying, well, wait a minute. This story about the founding fathers or about the native Americans is not what I thought it was. The real story is more like this. So, again, storytelling is that currency whereby we learn what it is to be human full stop well, and the full tapestry of Our shared human condition, right, yeah, I want.

Speaker 1:

Just because you mentioned it it's your fault, I'll let you off the hook in a second, but I've had a couple guests on. You know that I think we would agree. Our national identity is mythology and it may or may not be true, right, but have you noticed a trend of it's not even revisionist history? It's almost aspirational. Yes, like Hollywood. Ryan Murphy's Hollywood was like a retelling Through a lens of like what, if? What, if? So I Don't know when something is a little too sacred. I don't think we can play fast and loose with history. Right, like I loved when a Mel Brooks made it look like an idiot, but yet I couldn't go see in glorious bastards because it was almost like appropriation, if that made sense exactly, I do, yeah, so you've noticed the trend of like a little revisionist history.

Speaker 1:

I call it aspirational or even wish fulfillment.

Speaker 5:

Well, listen, as storytellers, we're meant to retell stories, tell and retell them. So a lot of people say well, you know why? Why would you do a story like Beauty and the Beast? It had been done so many times? Well, because nobody told it in the 90s. So we thought we would, and, by the way, it's been retold again since. And, and that's our job is to tell and retell these stories.

Speaker 1:

I make them relevant for current audiences, or because they can take on new meaning entirely. Yes to both.

Speaker 5:

Because we know more now, sitting here in our era today, than we did when we made Lion King. When we you and I worked on Lion King, it was a seminal time. The apartheid had just fallen apart, the world was full of Africa. In the news, lebo, who sings the opening chant in Lion King, voted for the first time that year because he was a South African citizen. So there's an undercurrent of world events in that movie. It did, but subliminally, you know. And so I think that kind of storytelling is important for all of us to find the stories that are important to us today, or to Retail it, retell stories that are important to us today, and that's our job, for gut's sake.

Speaker 1:

Wow, beautiful. I totally agree. Is that a good note to end it on? I'm sure you have other people that want, want to get sound bites For me and my glass of champagne well, I support you in finishing that. I have a million other, maybe I'll have you on.

Speaker 5:

Be happy to. I'm glad you're doing this.

Speaker 1:

It's thank you, so much topic.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, and I have, as you can tell, really strong feelings about it.

Speaker 1:

So well, I think there's more to explore next, we caught up with Roger Valoria, the producer of muska. He's actually a director of photography, slash cinematographer in live-action, but in working with his partner Andreas on this seven-year passion project, he's also become an expert in building a, a pipeline and a, an animation studio from the ground up the pressure, though it's all very casual.

Speaker 6:

We're not pressured by having a microphone driving between us.

Speaker 1:

No this is just like just a conversation. You can get raunchy. We actually like to drop f-bombs on my podcast, so as many as you can drop.

Speaker 6:

Oh my god. Anyway, roger, you recording now, okay.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so we, very we. I've seen it before. They had not seen the film.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, you saw it at the industry screening. Yes, at the theater the theater was like I can't remember, but right on the wheelchair.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, I thought that was the premiere, was it not?

Speaker 6:

Not really, it was just yeah.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, so beautiful. I had already seen it, but they gave Andres some really good feedback because they're seeing it for the first time, okay. So of course we all think it's poetic and melancholy and beautiful and we're kind of talking about how light on dialogue Right, it's almost so visceral because it kind of transports you I call it a nonlinear space it's just so dialogue free that it's a very emotional experience. But I want to ask you not so much about the story I know you were the producer, right, and you're her editor.

Speaker 6:

I mean, what did it? So many hats that I wore all the hats. Basically, I mean, andres just drew the animation and then, he gave it to me and then I took over. I know I got to scan all the drawings, to do all the composing, I got to work with the artists, but you built a studio from the ground up.

Speaker 1:

It's how I put it by right.

Speaker 6:

I have to create a workflow. That is something that I you know not like you guys at Disney that you guys have already something going on.

Speaker 5:

The train is already rolling.

Speaker 6:

They give you your assignment and you are that what you do. It doesn't take. No, I have to create stuff myself. You know like oh, now I'm the colorist, they are the editor. Today I'm the. You know, all this different day for night, guys. Yeah, it was a challenge, but I learned a lot, you know and I get to do.

Speaker 1:

you feel like you're up and running, so maybe you don't have to work out as many kinks next time. Or is there always a no?

Speaker 6:

you still work, but I think I already know what to do you? Know, like a lot of stuff that I have to come up with for me. How do I do this? How do I create that? It's so funny because nowadays you go online and you can find anything online and you do. Everything is online. Do you want to know how to use this? You go type the, you know itch.

Speaker 1:

When people ask me a question like do you have fingers? Like do you have Google fingers? Yeah, and literally yeah. There's tutorials for how to pick your nose.

Speaker 6:

Everything. I mean, I had an issue with one of the hard drives and they actually explained to me how to open it and then, you know, put it back together and start running again.

Speaker 1:

Actually, yeah, I replaced my graphics card, my own graphics card. I was so proud of myself.

Speaker 6:

So it's all the stuff that I learned. You know, on the, not just technically. Sometimes we had some issues with some of the hard drives and stuff like that, but that happens. But yeah, it was it went really well.

Speaker 1:

Give me some specifics. I remember you said that the day for night thing was like oh, okay, that's a, not a short, but like a hack, A hack we can use.

Speaker 6:

I think when you already start technically thinking about stuff, you come up with those tricks. You know you're like, oh, because Andres was all thinking about, okay, at Disney we had to figure out what was the color at night, and then we have to do some tests and see what's the right thing to do it. But now you don't have to. I mean, this is the colors that you have right now. Light makes these colors to be at this color. If I actually take the light out of you, it's going to change the colors automatically, because that's the perception that you have. So then I use that technology. I mean analogy in my head. I was like what if I change brightness but also color a little bit, and then throw that as a filter, and then not fully, but just a certain percent, and then that's it? And I was that didn't trick and I'm like that's it, we don't have to worry about it. I think we just keep painting the characters as they're supposed to be. You know, when you mentioned Disney.

Speaker 6:

I don't want to put words in the rough, but being a well-oiled machine and having a very slick production pipeline that's been perfected over decades, and then, of course, all the other studios follow suit, and have a similar pipeline, and it comes from the Disney for the film days too, you know, because everything was out of film and it was another story. So now on the computer you just digitize everything.

Speaker 1:

Well, we have a computer aided painting system. But and it was ink and paint became the paint bucketing which just does what we did. So we used the painting system as the tracking system for the whole production. That's how that evolved. But then my brother got a job at Dreamworks. I was midway through Pocahontas, I think. Of course I got him the interview, but he got the job on his own. That I got him the interview. But he was on the ground floor with Jeffrey Katzenberg literally ordering all the equipment, setting up the workstations. But you know, on Elder Rotter, that was the first film.

Speaker 6:

I think Maybe yeah, and they look beautiful. That's what I was. Yeah, it was beautiful, but they did it all in Photoshop.

Speaker 1:

No, wow, even the compo, like I forget what they used to compose it, but they didn't have a caps, they didn't have a tracking system, right, right. And I just remember all the you know, the plane, separation of the backgrounds was all Photoshop. I was like holy crap, that's low tech.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, so we actually use After Effects for film and a program called TV Paint, which, is it really helped us to do that traditional?

Speaker 1:

workflow. So beautiful. You know, I noticed things this time that I didn't last time in terms of the techility and surface texture. I love the ice.

Speaker 6:

We had to have some film grain too, because it otherwise looks so slick, so digital I think that's.

Speaker 1:

What I didn't notice last time was the surface texture. I noticed it on her hair, but I remember, you know, way back when Andreas, I think, was approving the re-release of Sleeping Beauty. Remember the crawl idea? Yes, he was so invested in the crawl and that means in containers. You could see brush strokes going up and down, or left to right or any number of rhythms, and when they cleaned it up it was so synthetic and almost cold, right, right.

Speaker 6:

So he had to reintroduce the crawl. Yeah, they need. They need to, I think, because it took all the grain out of it. The grain was already. I think the studio's already knew that.

Speaker 1:

That's the texture, that's the final look, you know, but even sorry to interrupt you, but even the plane, remember the multi-plane camera.

Speaker 6:

Yes, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So you, it's literally plexiglass and you're just taking your foreground, middle ground, background and sometimes gluing it to plexiglass. Yes, so then you get your parallax shift when the camera moves through it. But I remember very distinctly like all the things they cleaned up and got rid of reflections, dust, it looked like spider webs in the forest, it looked like, I guess, like ambiance, and it was so synthetic when they cleaned all that shit up right, yep.

Speaker 6:

Well, we tried to do that little dirty touch to the movie now because it was so perfect, you know.

Speaker 1:

Well, you reintroduced Maybe it wasn't Sleeping Beauty. Then I remember seeing one where he was like, oh, he's Bambi. It's like where's the where are all those beautiful spider webs and the dust? That's right, you reintroduced the crawl. I remember that. And then what about? Was there multi-plane?

Speaker 6:

stuff on Sleeping Beauty as well. Yes, well, we used some multi-plane, but what we didn't do is, like you know, we just wanted to make it look more like you know I don't know if you guys know, but I mean like when you see, like the 101 Dalmatians or those old films, that's what Andres wanted to have you know, yeah, well, he mentioned black line, but he really didn't so much mention the Xeroxing thing, right, because I felt like the vibrating line is the product of the Xeroxing technique they were using at that time as well.

Speaker 4:

And it was.

Speaker 2:

Yep.

Speaker 6:

Well, we, we, we are attracted to imperfection, you know, especially visually. You know you don't want something so perfect. You know what is wrong with to see you having a little freckles or something on your skin. People get obsessed with that. You know, like hyper, hyper, who throws up For a shot? My face, you know it's like why this is your face. It's just, yeah, we, we just overusing this, this tools that we have now Instagram filters.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, and it takes away the realism of everything, and then that's what we try to keep on this film, you know not to be so perfect, you know like that.

Speaker 1:

So refreshing. We were talking about even art, the idea of any currency to the archival physical artwork. Do you think that's going to make a comeback? You know what I mean, like the actual assets that are used to make the film Right.

Speaker 6:

I don't know. I mean this whole AI, which is. I don't think I was going to make a film like this. It's not going to look like that. You can replace that. Something is done by hand, you know, but it's getting pretty good, you know. But this is for a different thing. I think AI is actually a tool and it's not artistic. You know, we're going to do a whole episode trust me, we're doing a whole episode.

Speaker 6:

And I think it's a tool that we're all used, because we're using it even right now. I mean, everything in our phones is all AI. You know Alexa, siri and all you know you. When I travel, even even here in LA, I just go and turn on my ways and that is actually an AI telling you where?

Speaker 6:

to go Part of the problem and not the solution. Yeah, so I know that we use it, but not not to use it to replace you. Why are we going to replace you? Because this thing can actually do your job, you know, you're here. Well, you're wearing this, you're holding it, you're aware of the sound and no, the thing is like no, you don't need to be here, I can do it. Okay, let's see how that works. You know if that's going to be good enough.

Speaker 1:

You know because you Andreas is the one hold out right to even digital animation. He's a purist.

Speaker 6:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So you're opening a can of worms here, but we maybe I'll have you on for our episode about AI, because I think it's. I have opinions. You know, people talk about the human touch, right. But literally 25, 30 years ago, when virtual reality was in its infancy, they came to Art Center and did this is before lawnmower man, the movie that popularized virtual reality, and they've got all their arguments. I would say, well, what about spontaneity? What about humor? Oh, that can be programmed. Spontaneity can be programmed. They have answers for everything, but for me it's not even the human element, whatever. That is To me.

Speaker 1:

Again, when those higher ups were saying during the strike oh, we can cobble together a script, we don't need you they were literally saying we don't need you, you're a dime, a dozen. We can create scripts through AI. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but my immediate thought was well, you can put a bunch of old tire tropes in a blender and come up with a screenplay and quotes, but it's not a story that transforms people, it's content, right. So, like this, I'm an elitist. I went to art center, but the big difference for me is not the human touch, the tactility, the archival artwork, it's like inspiration. I'm going to lose you a little bit comes from the universe itself. We've consciousness, knows what's needed in our evolution. It works through us like antennas, and that's what inspiration is you can put. Now I'm preaching, but you can put parameters into AI and produce the result, but it wasn't inspired by the universe. You're an artist. Back me up? No, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Right Moments that are bizarre, like seeing a specific bug or something. Wow, I'm like with a specific person. It's like that is such like a, and that meant to me something about my grandpa. This is a real story, by the way. Sorry that it's missing details, but like juxtapositions inspire you Images juxtapose. And only a person can cobble together all of the layered emotions, layered associations like yeah, the numbers can do it to a degree, but they are just pulling from humans, Like that's the other thing it's mimicking.

Speaker 6:

Well, when it comes to storytelling, you know there's no way that you are going to be like so into, like a story. Let's say she wants to tell you what she did yesterday. She had an amazing day yesterday, right, right. And AI is not going to tell you that because you know what? Ai doesn't know anything about what happened.

Speaker 1:

It certainly doesn't know humor yet. Let's all agree to that. Yeah, ai can't do humor.

Speaker 6:

Or like the main, like stuff that just happened to her. Let's say, I don't know something really great or something really bad. That was your story, the alchemy. You want to fit it to the computer and the computer can actually take some elements to create a second story. That's another story, but that's the thing that I think. I'm not against it, I just think that it's not there yet.

Speaker 1:

It's not there, it's not there.

Speaker 6:

It's a place where, okay, well, when it comes to competition, they say okay, this is our form made in AI and this is our form made still by humans. Yeah, so, in competition, we are competing in this form here and in this form, but we can't just replace this with this.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 6:

One thing can take the other one. You know, because that's what the whole fight is. You know, like we're having right now, that what is going to be replaced with more.

Speaker 1:

Sorry, jump in, jump in. I know you have an opinion.

Speaker 4:

No, I don't. I hate to bring this in because it is always controversial, but I believe that values can be taken from any worldview as just as a piece of literature from a biblical sense. Okay, so we're all created in the image of God, the Amago day, and so, because he's the ultimate creator, right, we are all little creators, and that's the element that separates us from AI, is the created element. Because AI cannot create. It cannot because, without the parameters, can it do anything? No, it cannot. It doesn't have the ability to pick something out with its own mind and say you see that chair right there, I'm going to remake that. It waits for you. And even if it had some type of sentience, it still has to be programmed, whereas people are not that way.

Speaker 6:

People are little creators, and even if your AI is like something that you will use, it's also based on stuff that already comes from you, comes from her, you know. So is the only way it could happen. If there's no information given to the computer system, it's not going to. Nothing is happening out of the computer.

Speaker 1:

I sorry, I just want to follow up on what you said. I agree with the divinity idea, you know, and the Christian context or not, in any context, creativity, the creative process, is the most divine thing you can engage in.

Speaker 2:

And.

Speaker 1:

I was just connecting it to like, if you look at it from an evolutionary theory standpoint, that everything's here to propagate the species, even if you don't even mean you have no spiritual. You don't have a spiritual bone in your body or a religious bone in your body. On an evolutionary theory level, we are wired to either realize our potential, because epigenetics promises we'll pass that on to our children, right? So we're inspired by the universe. Collective consciousness, god, call it what you want. We're inspired because it's needed in our evolution. Make sense.

Speaker 6:

Same thing, Same thing Divinity. We need to learn how to use it and not to actually you know, I think that also they're making this big deal out of it right now. It's just a tool that we have and it's just going to help us.

Speaker 1:

But everyone's sorry, but everyone's focused on rights and I want my money, Like I don't want them using my image Because they're focusing on the wrong things.

Speaker 6:

Yeah, and they're like oh, we have somebody who can help us. You know, it can just help us, but doesn't replace you or your idea. Don't tell me that NAI is going to make a new Harry Potter movie, you know, and then it's going to be even better than ours.

Speaker 1:

And another way too is like, have you ever heard about the bot? Like there was a chat bot, forget what company. Like not Google, some big company created a chat bot and within 24 hours it became a Hitler loving, sex obsessed, because it's you know, it's the pop culture, it's humans that are feeding, that are creating the parameters. So I feel like if storytelling is meant to I don't know evolve humanity, it's got to have all the colors and all the threads in the tapestry. So even indigenous people whose stories haven't been told need to be woven into the fabric. Right? But AI is only going to take from Judeo-Christian Western European culture, because we're the ones who developed it and we're the ones feeding all this shit into social media. Does that make any sense? Like it's only going to take from what's put into it? And, I'm sorry, are the Papua New Guineans contributing to all that crap? Like the Hitler loving and the sex, the sex obsession? I don't think so.

Speaker 4:

I think the only way that AI is going to get any of that is if we give it to it, and we're not giving it to it with the right perspective. We're giving it to it with our perspective, which is not the perspective of those people, so it's never really gonna. It's never really gonna get seen. It's never gonna be seen.

Speaker 6:

But I tell you one thing there's no AI on Mushka. We didn't use any of that right, it was all hand on paper, and still we use a computer. But it was all like a person me sitting in my ass there every day, every night, scanning the drawings, coloring the movie, putting it all together and also sitting there and waiting for hours to render the files.

Speaker 1:

You know so what I've said for years Andreas will be the survival of 2D. I know Europe's doing it, TV animation is doing it a little bit, but like he's, the man.

Speaker 6:

I mean, we always kept saying from the beginning with all this project is that we want to inspire people to work on their projects. You know, and it starts saying like, oh, I want to do this, I want to make this movie, I want to do that and say, like you know what? It's a lot of passion, but there's no drive. You got to work. I mean, we have to keep pushing ourselves all the time because sometimes you got tired, I got tired. We keep pushing each other, you know, until finally we see now we're enjoying the outcome. You know, like this, with you guys showing you the film and all that, but does it take on?

Speaker 6:

a new life when you share it with people. Yeah, because you actually you know you get all like this butterflies in your stomach and you're like, oh, finally, I mean I wonder what they think of the film. I mean this was a lot of work and it's the most rewarding thing to me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it can be you get tired, right, and then you got to go promote it and it's like which is also?

Speaker 6:

exciting. It was very exciting. To be honest with you, it's like traveling with a movie and showing it.

Speaker 1:

It could be a little exhausting, you know, but I think that's what I'm saying, but the reward is hearing the feedback. Yes, it can be All right. So there was obviously a lot of ambient noise in that last interview. I really hope you can hear. You know the main speakers, but it got a little out of hand so I think we aborted the interview. I hope you enjoy that.

Speaker 1:

But also we're dividing this into two episodes because there was so much good content that it merited two episodes. So please tune in for the next one. I believe you will hear from Ed Gertner, a layout supervisor who was at Disney for, I believe, 35 years, and he he's just a great storyteller, but he really understands film language and cinema. Every format and genre has a different way of reaching us in terms of is it visceral or is it cerebral, or is it touch the heart or does it change the mind? And a really great cinematographer understands film language and the ways in which it immerses us in the experience and therefore, hopefully, transforms us. So please tune into the next episode for more inspiration and, as always, remember life is story. Individually and collectively, we can write our own song. See you next time.

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