Creator / Walt Disney Animation Units

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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Los Angeles area units

     Walt Disney Animation Studios 
Walt Disney Animation Studios (formerly Walt Disney Feature Animation from 1986-2006) was established in 1923, when Walt Disney moved out to Los Angeles after his Laugh-O-Gram studio went bankrupt and sold his Alice Comedies to distributor M.J. Winkler. For more information about this unit, see the Classic Disney Shorts page and the Disney Animated Canon page.

Their first studio, the Disney Brothers cartoon Studio opened in 1923 on Kingswell Avenue in Los Angeles. In 1926, the studio, now called the Walt Disney Studio, moved into a larger studio on Hyperion Avenue. In December 1939, the crew began to move into a more spacious studio up in Burbank, a move completed by May 1940. In 1985, the animation crew was ousted from the old building on the studio lot and was moved into some warehouses in Glendale. In 1995, a new feature animation studio (named the Roy E. Disney Animation Building as of 2010) opened in Burbank across the street from the old lot, where the unit is housed today.

     Disney Television Animation 
Established in 1984, Disney Television Animation (established as Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group) produces Disney's animated television series and specials. It didn't really boom until 1989, when Disney stropped relying on TMS Entertainment and established various satellite studios around the world. The studio is located in the Frank G. Wells Building on the Disney studio lot in Burbank.

     Disney Toon Studios 
  • DisneyToon Studios was established in 2003, spun off from the Direct-to-Video unit within Disney Television Animation established in 1994. This is Disney's DTV unit, producing video (and occasionally theatrical) releases based on famous Disney characters and franchises.

Satellite studios

     Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida 
Established in 1989, this satellite studio for the feature animation division was housed in the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) theme park at Walt Disney World. The studio was nicknamed "the Fishbowl" because the studio also doubled as an attraction that allowed guests to see the artists in action through windows.

The studio worked on segments from various full-length features, and was the main production facility for Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear, as well various shorts, including two cartoons starring Roger Rabbit. The studio closed in January 2004.

Productions:

     Walt Disney Animation Canada 
Established in January 1996, Walt Disney Animation Canada operated from two studios in Toronto and Vancouver and co-produced various direct-to-video projects. This venture was short-lived, and the studios closed in Spring 2000; they were originally set to produce Return to Neverland (then called Peter and Jane), but with the closure, it was instead given to the Australian and Japanese units.

projects

    Walt Disney Animation Japan 
DisneyToon Studios Japan, (formerly Walt Disney Animation Japan, Inc.) was the biggest of the non-North American units. The studio 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' Thunder Cats and Silverhawks). 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: The 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 II: 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: "Stuck on Chtistmas" segment.
  • Mickey MouseWorks: Disney Japan's shorts were also re-broadcast on House Of Mouse.
  • The Mighty Ducks (one episode)
  • Mulan II (With support by Jade and Wang Film Productions)
  • Piglet's Big Movie
  • Pocahontas II: 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: Their production.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: One short, To Catch A Hiccup.
  • Raw Toonage
  • Aladdin: 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 Television Animation Australia 
Founded in 1988, DisneyToon Studios Australia (formerly Walt Disney Television Animation Australia Pry. Ltd.) 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:

  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series - 8 episodes. List 
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves - Done with Disney Japan.
  • Aladdin: The Series - 9 episodes. List 
  • Bonkers - 12 episodes. List 
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time - The unit's final production, done with Toon City.
  • Darkwing Duck - 10 episodes. List 
  • Gargoyles - The episode "Seeing Isn't Believing".
  • Goof Troop - 25 episodes. List 
  • A Goofy Movie (with Walt Disney France). They handled An Extremely Goofy Movie completely on their own outside of some uncredited layout assistance from the Canada unit.
  • Hercules: The Series: Two episodes: "Hercules and the First Day of School" and "Hercules and the Dream Date".
  • House of Mouse - A few Mickey's Mouse Works shorts.
  • The Jungle Book 2 - Done with Toon City.
  • Jungle CubsList 
  • Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure
  • The Legend of Tarzan
  • The Lion King 1˝ - Done with Toon City.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride - Done with the Canadian unit and Toon City.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Most of the series after season 1, with Hanho and Wang.
  • Quack PackList 
  • Return To Never Land - With the Canadian unit and Wang.
  • Aladdin: The Return of Jafar - Done with Disney Japan. Australia animated roughly the first half of the film, while Japan handled the second half.
  • Timon & PumbaaList 
  • A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving
  • Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You (CGI animation)

    Walt Disney Feature Animation France 
Walt Disney Feature Animation France (formerly Walt Disney Animation France, S.A.) was established in 1989 when Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi sold their company, Brizzi Films, to Disney. Initially, they were mostly used on the TV shows, but starting in 1995, they became a division of the Feature Animation studio partially animating most of their features from 1996 to 2003. The studio was shut down in Summer 2003.

Features and shows:

     Walt Disney Animation UK Limited 
This shirt-lived unit was set up in Camden Town, London in 1986 for the animation production of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, using a combination of Disney animators from Burbank, Richard Williams’ associates and animators from all over Europe (many of whom would later join the prestigious Feature Animation unit in Burbank when Roger Rabbit had finished production).

Projects

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 for 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".
  • Signature Style: For the Japanese unit, bouncy characters and crisp linework. For the Australian unit, deranged eyes when a character is angry, very specific mouth movements, and wrinkled faces in certain poses.

Alternative Title(s): Walt Disney Animation Japan, Walt Disney Animation France, Walt Disney Overseas Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Australia

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