Found: An Important Moment in Animation History

When Michael Eisner came on board as CEO of the Walt Disney Company one of the first decisions he made about the future of Animation at the company was to send John Lasseter and his Computer Generated Animation experiment packing. Disney may not have liked what he saw, but George Lucas did and started the company that would become Pixar.

Ward Jenkins found an early test of the CG Animation Technology that made it into a 1984 TV special now hosted on YouTube. The project is an attempt to animate Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are”, with CG backgrounds and hand drawn animation up front. It’s an amazing leap beyond where they were just a few years earlier with “Tron”. But not quite there yet, as you will see.

You have to wonder how different Disney would have been if Lasseter hadn’t been forced to form his own company but rather had been allowed to develop and share his talents within the Disney organization all these years. On the best end, the 90s probably would have truly been the ‘Disney Decade’ as Eisner announced. On the worst end, the company may have been too attractive a target to avoid a buyout and then been split up and sold as parts. With Lasseter and Co. back in the fold, alls well that ends well, right?