Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films

Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films Book Preview

Disney sent a review copy of the revised and updated Disney Who’s Who: An A to Z of Animated Films. This 432-page book is a glossary of characters broken down by animated film. It looked like a perfect Disney book to do a preview and share with everyone.

Is this a book for kids or will all Disney fans want it on their shelves?

From 101 Dalmatians to Zootopia! Disney Who’s Who Video:

What do you think about this latest book featuring the characters from Disney’s classic and modern animated films?

FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney Maps: a Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love

Disney Maps: a Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love

The new Disney book release Disney Maps: a Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love celebrates the Disney and Pixar animated feature films that we know and love, hence the title.

Is this book that features maps of the primary locations from the animated feature films worth adding to your collection?

There are 24 different films covered in this book. The films span the entire history of the Disney Company from its first animated feature film to the most recent blockbusters.

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,
  • Pinocchio,
  • Bambi,
  • Alice in Wonderland,
  • Peter Pan,
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians,
  • TheJungle Book,
  • The Little Mermaid,
  • Beauty and the Beast,
  • Aladdin,
  • The Lion King,
  • Toy Story,
  • A Bug’s Life,
  • Finding Nemo,
  • The Incredibles,
  • Cars,
  • Ratatouille,
  • Up,
  • Brave,
  • Monsters University,
  • Frozen,
  • Inside Out,
  • Moana, and
  • Coco.

Obviously, they couldn’t cover every film ever released, but they do offer the most popular ones. Interestingly enough, but there aren’t any page numbers, but it won’t be difficult to navigate this title, at all.

Who is Disney Maps: a Magical Atlas of the Movies We Know and Love For?

Fans oft animated films that are included will enjoy the title. It really feels like the book is meant for the tween and younger set to enjoy with siblings or parents. It’s also a great title for anyone that wants to let their imagination explore the realms of classic and modern Disney and Pixar films.

What do you think about this new Disney book release?

Looking for the book on Disney Park maps?

Or a video on different park maps of the Magic Kingdom?

FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

George and Jeff Review The Cat Returns and Spirited Away on Blu-ray

George: We’ve got two blu-ray releases from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Studio Ghibli for you this week. One of them, we’ve been waiting for many years and the other one turns out to be a surprise! Disney has released many of the Studio Ghibli films in the United States, including spending time, talent and money to make amazing English-language dubs of the films. Spearheaded by John Lasseter, the Studio Ghibli films were brought to US audiences with a lot of fanfare and love. Anyone that’s followed Communicore Weekly knows that we’re both huge fans of Studio Ghibli.

Jeff: Let’s start with the title I didn’t know much about first. The Cat Returns is one of those weird things I literally had no idea what to expect. But, being Ghibli, how could I go wrong, right? RIGHT! The Cat Returns is about a young girl named Haru who saves the life of a cat. And then things get…weird. The cat begins to talk to her and somehow has her wondering what it would be like to marry a cat. In American culture, we have only seen something as weird as this in Howard the Duck, but in Anime, anything goes.

George: The Cat Returns is a very interesting title and one that my family had seen before. Like most Studio Ghibli films, it might seem a little strange to Western audiences, but it has a charm that’s hard to deny. The style is not as realistic as the Miyazaki-produced films and it retains more of the manga-feel that inspired the film, Two of the main characters are featured in the Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart and continue their roles in this film.

Jeff: And, let’s be honest, I’ll watch anything with Kristen Bell’s name on it. That said, the film surprised me a bit. It was really enjoyable, and not at all what I expected. The extra features were just OK, though. The “behind the voices” thing just doesn’t seem to be all that great, on any disc, and more fluff than anything else. But the story boards were fun to watch, and see how the scenes evolved from concept to final form.

George: It’s not the best Studio Ghibli film, but it is a fantastic animated film that most people (of all ages) will enjoy. It has a really good pacing and the art style lends itself well to the subject matter. And cat fans are really going to love it, especially the scenes with Moota. It looks great and sounds great on blu-ray, as well.

Jeff: Like George said, it’s not the best, and heck, it’s not even the weirdest! But it’s up there. I just want to visit the Cat Kingdom, though. Sounds like a full day trip!

George: Disney’s Cat Kingdom? Do you really want to spend all day being ignored?

Jeff: I’m strangely OK with that. SPEAKING OF strange, how about the next blu-ray, Spirited Away? Who DOESN’T love this film? For many, this is the first Studio Ghibli film we saw, and fell in love with.

George: Like many Studio Ghibli fans, I saw this film during it’s initial DVD release in 2002. I remember that my oldest son (who was almost 5) watched it with us and he begged to watch it a second time. It was enchanting, mesmerizing and confusing; it is really hard to explain to people what makes the film so magical. But it is.

Jeff: It’s just…weird. But in a good way. I remember watching it for that first release in 2002, also, scratching my head and going “WHAT IS THIS?” And then growing to love it more and more on each viewing. The story involves a young girl, and her parents getting turned into pigs, and then working in a bath house, and, and, and…it’s just weird, you guys.

George: Weird but amazing. The first viewing often leaves people spellbound and wanting to know more (I always recommend this great book to learn more about the Studio Ghibli films). It’s obvious that the film is a masterpiece and is one that needs to be a permanent addition to your collection. Spirited Away has some of the most incredible animation that never gets in the way of the story, even with the Disney English-language dub.

Jeff: It really does shine on the blu-ray. It’s super crisp and clean, and it impresses me with how much they got the colors to pop. I mean, it’s not often something like this manages to impress me, even years later, but this one really knocked it out of the park. It made me remember WHY I loved this film so much when I first saw it years ago.

George: Sadly, the bonuses aren’t that exciting and I wish they had included some history of Ghibli Studios as well as some interpretations of the story for Western audiences. There’s the standard “Behind the Microphone” and a look at making the film, but nothing that would entice you to buy the blu-ray. Other than the amazing film.

Jeff: I did like the Nippon TV special, where they actually GO to the studio and interview key members of the team about the film. That said, it is presented in standard definition, as are most of the other extras, which is kind of a bummer. It’s a good thing the film itself is so stellar!

George: Even though Kristen Bell isn’t in Spirited Away?

Jeff: She IS in The Cat Returns, so I’ll let it slide.

George: Just like how these movies need to slide into everyone’s collection?

Jeff: We could do this all day, folks. But we probably won’t.

George: Or shouldn’t. So, definitely head out and buy Spirited Away. The Cat Returns is a good rental, but you’ll probably end up adding it to your collection, too!

Jeff and George Review Pinocchio by JB Kaufman

George: Sometimes a book comes along that is so monumental, that it’s hard to describe it. In 2012, J.B. Kaufman wrote two books on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that were so inclusive, exhaustive, and stunning, that it’s hard to find other works that even compare. His latest release, published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press is Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic. Kaufman has authored many other titles focusing on Disney animation, including the South of the Border films, the Silly Symphonies and the silent films. Needless to say, I was super-excited when this book showed up.

Jeff: Just to parrot what George said, we’re huge fans of Kaufman. His research goes above and beyond many others, and it shows in his final product. Many folks may be intimidated by this massive tome, but really, it is well worth the time to read. It’s definitely one of the best “making of” books I’ve come across, and packs a lot into its pages.

George: Parroting? I though you were going to start using the term Carioca-ing.

Jeff: Given the topic of one of his previous books, that WOULD make sense…

George: Anyway, Kaufman’s book clocks in at 352 pages, and honestly, there really isn’t much fluff to be found anywhere. It is a making of book, like Jeff mentioned, and it’s so well researched and written that it’s hard to believe that Kaufman hasn’t written everything that can be written about the iconic and award-winning film. It does follow a standard presentation that we’ve seen in similar books about animated films, but that doesn’t mean this book isn’t truly groundbreaking.

Jeff: To me, this book struck a perfect chord between images and text. Sometimes, this types of books are too heavy on one or the other, but Kaufman’s book is so beautifully laid out, it never feels over-bearing. It truly is up there with the greatest animation books of all time. But, I feel like we’re just overtly praising it in generalities, and not really pointing out why. So, George, what was your favorite part of the book?

George: Like most other “making of” books, I find myself really drawn to the history of the subject, especially the periods before Disney. Like the books on Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, Kaufman takes us back to the origins of story to give us the details that we might not know, as well as for laying the foundation of how Disney changed the story. Compared to some of the other films, Collodi’s Pinocchio was barely 40 years-old when Walt decided to tackle it as an animated film. To me, seeing how the original tales fits historically is always eye-opening and lends understanding to the choices made in the creation of the film.

Jeff: I really enjoy how he looks at the film upon its release as well. It seems that audiences expected another Snow White, and were turned off by the adaptation of the must darker, Collodi story. Snow White briefly goes into that area, sure, but Pinocchio plunges head first into it in parts. But his look into the warmth and heart of the film is compelling. You realize how much the animators poured their hearts and souls into the film, often around the clock and on unpaid overtime, because most of them believed in what they were doing.

George: The very long (and richly detailed) section of the creation of the film showed just how difficult it is to craft a work like Pinocchio. Walt and the animators went through many different versions of the story with different characters before they hit the mark, so to speak. Kaufman was able to access the notes from production meetings and share the comments from Walt and other studio employees that shaped the film on a daily basis. At times, it really felt like I was a fly on the wall, just waiting for them to tread into the story that we now know so well.

Jeff: Overall, again, this is an impressive work. I can’t even imagine how much work Kaufman put into this. I mean, the man churns out a book like this every 2 years or so, at this point, so he must be constantly researching. It’s impressive, and seriously one of the best “making of” books I have ever read on ANY topic, hands down.

George: Kaufman, based on his relationship with the Walt Disney Family Museum, is one of the few researchers to have almost unfettered access to various archives at Disney and it’s well worth it. He stands tall with other historians and the work that he presents on Pinocchio is going to be the standard. Besides being incredibly well-researched and well-written, the book is easy to digest and easy to enjoy.

Jeff: Needless to say after all that praising, I think you realize how into the book we are, and highly recommend it. Four thumbs up?

Big Hero 6 on Disney Movies Anywhere

The blu-ray release of Big Hero 6 won’t be until February 24. If you missed it in the theater or you need some Baymax STAT. then the digital download of Big Hero 6 with Disney Movies Anywhere might be perfect for you.

After inputting the code provided (normally, you would just purchase the download), the film was added to my Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) app on my iPad. From there, we were able to link the DMA collection to iTunes, Google Play and VUDU. In order to access it on the ROKU 3, I connected the DMA account to Google Play. The interesting thing was that a lot of the extras were available on DMA but not on Google Play (there was no extra cost to link the accounts). It worked just like streaming a film from Netflix or Hulu Plus.

My eleven year-old and I watched the movie this week while we were both home sick. We’d seen it in the theaters and we knew it was going to be an amazing film. It looks and sounds spectacular through the Disney Movies Anywhere app and through Google Play on the big tv. We still laughed in all of the right places and the sense of excitement still held up.

And by far, Fred is the best character in the film!

My favorite Disney film (including Pixar) has always vacillated between Lilo & Stitch and The Incredibles. Both films really focus on families and offer a level of adventure that you don’t see in  most animated films. Watching the film in the comfort of our home also let me pay more attention to the backgrounds and I was floored by how realistic the backgrounds were. It was so simple watching the film on DMA. When my son’s friends came over, he started the film and they were able to enjoy it before dinner.

I did a screen capture of the extras available on DMA, but I’ll cover those in another post.

The Alchemy of Animation by Don Hahn

Book Review: The Alchemy of Animation by Don Hahn

The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age by Don Hahn. 144 p. 2008.

Don Hahn is heralded for his animation production work at Disney: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. He is also the first producer of an animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award (Beauty and the Beast). Hahn started his animation career at Disney under the tutelage of Wolfgang Reitherman, one of Walt’s Nine Old Men. He is currently at Disney working on his next animated feature.

I wasn’t sure what I would find between the covers of this book, at first. Due to the subtitle, I inferred that it would be similar to The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (Thomas and Johnston)—the seminal work on animation. Hahn’s book is a quarter the size of Thomas and Johnston’s work; it really acts as a supplement, an animation Cliff’s Notes and an update to The Illusion of Life.

Hahn takes us through the stages of creating an animated film, whether is is hand drawn, computer-generated or stop-motion. The principles outlined are the basics for creating an animated film and can be used as an animation primer. The focus is creating a film using today’s standards and the book reflects that. A majority of the text (and lavish illustrations) centers on digital technology–not to the exclusion of the other arts, but since CGI has become so popular. Many of the jobs and duties in CGI are unique to that medium.

Another interesting take, is that Hahn has created a work that can be used by people interested in animation as a career. He covers almost every position in the hierarchy and offers details about their duties and general work. (Ever want to be a Look Development Artist?) The only information Hahn doesn’t provide is a link to a pay scale and a road map to making it big. Hahn is able to break down each job and explain it in layman’s terms. If you have a youngster interested in the field of animation, this title is for them.

Animation enthusiasts will relish the concept illustrations and artwork from all stages of animation. Hahn includes anecdotes from Disney animators young and old. The book has three major divisions: Act One (looking at the production team, the story and the major steps of every animated film); Act Two (the differences in production for 2D hand drawn, CGI and Stop-Motion); and Act Three (marketing, roll out and post-production). Hahn also includes a fantastic glossary and bibliography for additional reading. He treats the book just like an animated film and builds the story, layer upon layer.

Bottom Line: If you have any interest in animation or animated films, you will love this book. If you want to be part of the animation field, you need to own this book. It is a fairly straightforward look at creating an animated film with today’s technology and work processes. Hahn’s passion for animation shines and it is evident in The Alchemy of Animation.

Have you read Don Hahn’s Alchemy of Animation?


Daily Figment 89 – Book Review: Quintessential Disney: a Pop-Up Gallery of Classic Disney Moments

Quintessential Disney: a Pop-Up Gallery of Classic Disney Moments is more than a book; it is a work of art that can be displayed with all of your other collectibles.

The book covers five Walt Disney classic animated films: Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, Bambi, Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Each page has a fully rendered pop-up scene–usually a very pivotal or memorable scene that we all know and love.

Also on each page is a fold-out essay about the importance and significance of each film.

This is one of those rare mixed-media collectibles that you can flip through and admire the details or you can display an individual scene on a desktop or shelf. I love the book, but I hesitate to recommend it to anyone but completists or to animation fans. If you are a fan of one of the films listed, you will definitely enjoy displaying that particular scene.