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Frames of Time...

060_04 - My Lunches With Glen
While working at the Disney Studio Archives, one of the perks was visiting the animation building during lunch. At the time, it still held the animation department!

During those times, I'd bump into a number of the animators sitting around having bull sessions, catching up on work, developing a "secret" project on their own and such. Some folks would say "hello" and wonder who this "stranger" was. Others were glad to receive attention from other departments. As one put it, only animation personnel, or execs giving tours usually came down the hall. Otherwise the artists were pretty much ignored.

One of those I got to meet and chat with regularly was Glen Keane. Since I was a collector of foxes, it was fun to watch him work on scenes from THE FOX AND THE HOUND. Glen graciously allowed me to chat with him as he drew. He often asked questions about things the archives might have for reference.

When he found out about my interest in foxes, Glen was intrigued. Disney had given the crew very little in the way of reference material for the film. When Glen discovered I had a huge library of books with photos of foxes, he asked to borrow some. I said of course and dropped several off. Most were Japanese photo books, mostly based on the Japanese feature THE GLACIER FOX.

Glen loved looking at the pictures. At one point he studied several and began drawing a series of curves on a sheet of paper. He stated how fox bodies had such a natural curve from tip of nose to tip of tail. Then he quickly sketched in fox bodies on each curve. This fluid nature of the species pleased him.

Probably my favorite visit was when he had begun work on a new scene in the film. He expressed displeasure with the way the sequence had been boarded. He also didn't think the director had the best idea. The sequence was of the fox and the vixen falling in love. It had been designed as a series of close-ups as the characters gaze into each other's eyes. The eyes would just get bigger and bigger. Glen felt it was just too common and even smacked of Robin and Marian in Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD.

I suggested he make the sequence more like the natural mating ritual for foxes. Glen was instantly puzzled. While he was aware of the mating ritual of some birds (in fact a sequence featuring a Charro-voiced bird had been proposed for the feature), he didn't realize foxes had any lovemaking moves.

Pulling out one of the books on his desk (which I had ordered for the studio), I showed him a sequence where two foxes were bouncing around each other. I explained this "play" or "frolicking" were actually foxes mating. He pulled the book closer to him and looked from one photo to another.

"This could work", he said. He pulled out a sheet of animation paper and did some quick sketches based on the photos. It pleased him that the sequence could now be more animated and moving rather than stagnant.

The next time we met, he shook my hand and said the directors had bought the idea of making the sequence more natural. He told me it was a good idea and appreciated the help. He took one of his roughs from the film of Vixie (the vixen) and did a quick clean-up. He then presented it to me as an official "thank you". This would be my first idea ever used in an animated feature, and my first "pay". The picture is above.

During a later visit with Glen, he was in a very good mood. It seems, since his first suggestion of the love scene had been well received, the directors were going to let him try to re-think an ending sequence with a bear fight.

Shortly after, I left Disney to work elsewhere. Years later, I chatted with Glen for our book, How to Create Animation. Again, he was friendly and gracious.

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