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Friday, January 16, 2015

Ward Kimball on Cinemascope

Ward Kimball on Cinemascope
Image Source: wikipedia.org
Ward Kimball was always ready and willing to voice his thoughts and opinions on something. And this lovely article is no exception, entitled “Cartooning in Cinemascope,” published in Films in Review magazine in March 1954. Jerry Beck once shared this article some years ago on Cartoon Brew. But after my friend and Disney historian Ross Care shared this with me, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share it again! All interesting things deserve multiple readings!
         Ward’s article is not only well written but also well researched. He begins by referencing Walt’s early interests in new formats on Fantasia (1940), “Walt never lost interest in what big screens and directional sound can do to increase entertainment possibilities.” Here Ward remains committed to the Disney standard. Even the complex technical advancements were always meant to advance the story and entertainment value of a film. They were not innovating simply for the sake of innovation.
         The more detailed descriptions of drawing size and aspect ratios demonstrates that this magazine was certainly aimed at film enthusiasts and experts who would understand “the change in the screen ratio from the old conventional 4 to 3 rectangle to Cinemascope’s 2.55 to 1…” Ward certainly recognized his audience when writing this piece.
         The most important statement no doubt is, as my friend Ross underlines in blue ink, “In Cinemascope, cartoon characters move, not the backgrounds. Because there is more space, the characters can move about without getting outside the visual angle…In Cinemascope cartoon characters no longer perform in one spot against a moving background but are moved through the scenes.” This represents a whole new realm of thinking in the contexts of making animated films.
         Ward certainly utilized this new thinking on Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, released in November of 1953, less than a year before this article’s writing. The article itself was published the same month as the Academy Awards, where Toot Whistle won for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). Ward was in the audience, as Walt Disney accepted the prize onstage. In the coming years this new thinking in animated cinematography was put to the ultimate test in Lady and the Tramp (1955) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Happy Reading!  Click here to read! Special thanks to Ross Care for sharing!

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