Sometime a company's work load can be quite large, and you don't want your best staff members (Disney
's Los Angeles
unit, known today as Walt Disney Animation Studios) to waste their time on TV shows when said staff members are best off working on Major Movies
, and that's why the other studios are here.
Units of Disney:
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North American Units
- Los Angeles Features/Shorts unit (Walt Disney Animation Studios, formerly Walt Disney Feature Animation): Founded in 1924, when Walt Disney moved out to Los Angeles after his Laugh-O-Grams shorts bombed. For more info about this unit, see the Classic Disney Shorts page and the Disney Animated Canon page.
- Los Angeles TV/DTV Unit (Walt Disney Television Animation and Disney Toon Studios, respectively): The unit was founded in 1984 but did not boom until 1989 when they stopped relying on TMS Entertainment, This is Disney's TV and Direct-to-Video unit.
- Florida (Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida): Disney's other US animation studio; located inside Walt Disney World's Studios park and affectionately nicknamed the Fishbowl for the windows that allowed guests to peer into some of the studio; it went down in 2003. It was the main production studio for Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear.
- Canada: It was not too big a unit, providing most of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas and a number of episodes of Mickey MouseWorks.
Walt Disney Animation Japan
The biggest of the non-North American units, WDAJ was founded by Motoyoshi Tokunaga (an ex-TMS
producer) in 1988 after Disney bought out Pacific Animation Corp. (a studio mostly known for doing Rankin/Bass
). However, the studio was shut down in 2004 as Disney was getting rid of their non-CGI animation units (yet the Los Angeles units were saved). After that most of their staff members went to work for Madhouse
, Studio Pierrot
or Production I.G
. The ones who went with Tokunaga joined him when he formed The Answer Studio
Notable staff in the Japanese unit include Saburo Hashimoto, Shigeru Yamamoto, Sawako Miyamoto, Kazuyoshi Takeuchi, Hiroshi Kawamata, Yukio Okazaki and Tsuguyuki Kubo.
See also Tama Productions
, Nakamura Productions
, Jade Animation
, and Takahashi Production
, studios that were often used by Disney Japan.
Productions by Disney Japan:
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series (12 episodes) List
- 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch's London Adventure
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears: From season 5 until the series's end, replacing TMS Entertainment.
- Aladdin And The King Of Thieves: Done with Disney Australia.
- Aladdin: TV series. (15 episodes) List
- Bonkers (14 episodes) List
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (with Jade and Pixar; also did 2 episodes)
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Replacing TMS.
- Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True: An aborted TV series that became a direct-to-video movie.
- Darkwing Duck (14 episodes, with Atelier Bwca, Studio Jack, Tama and Jade) List
- Gargoyles (14 episodes) List
- Goof Troop (5 episodes) List
- Hercules: The series (seven episodes, with various additional production facilities) List
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
- The Little Mermaid: The TV series, season 1 and the first half of season 2.
- Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas: First short only.
- Mickey Mouse Works: Disney Japan's shorts were also re-broadcast on House Of Mouse.
- The Mighty Ducks (one episode)
- Mulan 2 (With support by Jade and Wang Film Productions)
- Piglet's Big Movie
- Pocahontas 2: Journey To A New World: With the Canadian unit and Character Builders.
- Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin
- Pooh's Heffalump Movie: Disney Japan's last production.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: One short, To Catch A Hiccup.
- Raw Toonage
- The Return Of Jafar: The first of the Disney Direct-to-Video sequels, done with the Australia unit. Japan animated the second half of the film.
- TaleSpin (with Hanho Heung-Up, Jade and Tama)
- The Tigger Movie: Done with TMS (Telecom unit), Tama and other studios.
Walt Disney Animation Australia
Founded in 1989, the Australian
unit is often known among the animation community for having very cartoonish and expressive animation, which they are still praised for. The studio had a longer life than the Japanese unit; it became the main hub for Disney's Direct-to-Video
sequels, a role originally fulfilled by the Japanese unit. The Australian unit came to an end in 2006, due to rising costs for animation in Australia. Its role was once again succeeded by other studios used by Disney like Toon City
and Synergy Animation
Notable animators in the Australian unit include Bob Baxter, Kevin Peaty, Lianne Hughes, Andrew Collins, Ian Harrowell, Alexs Stadermann, Pieter Lommerse, Ryan O'Loughlin, Bernard Derriman, Robert Mason and Lily Dell.
Productions by Disney Australia:
- France: Established in 1989 when Paul and Gaėtan Brizzi sold their company, Brizzi Films, to Disney. Initially, they were mostly used on the TV shows. France animated three episodes of Darkwing Duck List , five episodes of Goof Troop List , some TaleSpin episodes, and one Bonkers short, "Petal to the Metal". Starting in 1995 with A Goofy Movie, however, they began working on Disney's features, and most of the Disney films from 1995 to 2003 were partially animated in France. Walt Disney Feature Animation Paris shut down in summer 2003.
- United Kingdom: They worked on DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp and 3 episodes of TaleSpin under contract from the France unit.
Tropes associated with Walt Disney's various animation units:
- Animation Bump: The Los Angeles, Japan and Australia units are the biggest examples, but all are known for this. This is Disney, after all.
- Depending on the Artist: Most evident in the episodes animated by the Australian studio, unsurprisingly because of the studio's emphasis on expressive animation and less on remaining completely uniform from scene to scene.
- Medium Blending: The North American units are known for this.
- Off Model:
- Return of Jafar is frequently accused of this, not so much the bad animation. But rather the abrupt change in how the movie looks: Around the thirty minute mark, the animation suddenly switches over from the Australia unit to the Japan unit, and remains that way for the rest of the movie. This resulted in much different looking animation in the second half. (The change occurs when Abis-Mal climbs over the palace walls.)
- Gargoyles's "Seeing Isn't Believing" is also guilty of this. Though it does make up for it with its fluid animation.
- As well as the two Freelance Animators New Zealand sub-contracted episodes - Darkwing Duck's "Heavy Mental" and Goof Troop's "Meanwhile, Back at the Ramp".