Lella Smith, the Creative Director of the Disney Animation Research Library talks about the new blu ray release of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs with the guys at www.movieweb.com.
MovieWeb: What are your concerns, how do you manage to preserve the soul of these characters which by now live in the hearts of millions of fans?
Lella Smith: Well one thing I will tell you about the restoration is that it hasn’t changed the feeling of the film or the tenor of the film. It basically took away the dirt and the fingerprints. Actually when they began to restore it in Blu-ray you could see the fingerprints of the artist who had laid the cells down onto the camera platen. So that’s the kind of cleaning that was being done but it’s a cleaning that just makes it look more beautiful. So the feeling of characters has not changed and basically the colors are only cleaner, not brighter.
MovieWeb: In terms of preserving the artwork, if you could talk a little bit about the work you do at the Animation Research Library.
Lella Smith: Glad to talk about that. Well we do take care of art as if it were in a museum. We have all the archival materials, in fact we have several materials that were developed specifically for animation. And so everything is kept in acid free boxes with acid free tissue. And we have extremely low temperatures because of course, you know, there is a little nitrate in the material that the cells were painted on so we want to make certain that those are kept very cool. And then we handle everything with gloves. So basically it’s treating the art as if it’s art and not drawings on paper that don’t matter. And I think the challenge that we have is that the art was never intended to be put in a museum, it was created to make a film so they didn’t always use, you know, the best papers, the kind of papers that Michelangelo would have used for example. So we have to take extreme care to make certain that those are carefully preserved because we want to have them around. For the artists…it’s all we can do to keep them from drooling on the paper. (laughter) They love to look at the art for inspiration and to learn how the older animators would carry out a scene through their drawings. So they’re for inspiration and for learning purposes.
MovieWeb: Were there any thoughts about a remake or a sequel?
Lella Smith: Yes indeed there were. There were some commercials that were done after the film was done, they were more like shorts to raise money for the war. But everyone wanted dwarfs and everyone kept saying to Walt we need more dwarfs. And Walt pretty much got fed up with it because he felt that the dwarfs should be represented just once and that they didn’t need to see another film with the dwarfs. They talked about, I mean, the dwarfs were constantly being brought up as potential characters for cartoons and every time it was pretty much shot down by Walt Disney who felt we’ve been there, we’ve done that, let’s move on. But they were used quite a bit in commercials and shorts.
MovieWeb: What does your work at the Animation Research Library consist of on a kind of regular basis?
Lella Smith: Ooh it’s so much fun. I work with all the creative projects that come out of the library. For example we’re opening an exhibition on November 15 in New Orleans called Dreams Come True, Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio. And that is an exhibition that celebrates fairy tales, talks about how Walt Disney Studio changed them, some of the reasons they did, the elements of animation are represented in the exhibition and there will be about 800 works. So I wrote the catalog and the text labels and then we’ll go there for the opening. And then we’re working on books. We’re just coming out with a book now the second in the animation archive series on animation. And we’ve just finished designing the design book which this is the third in the series of books. It’s called the archive series that goes back and picks out the finest of the finest of the stories from our library, the finest animation, the finest design pieces, and puts them into a big book available on Amazon.com. But that’s – those are the kinds of things I get to do and it’s just great fun.
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