Putting The 2D Horse Before The 3D Cart

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Get A Horse!With all the talk over the week­end about Frozen, many are miss­ing the lit­tle gem of a short that pre­cedes the big, cold mon­ster. While Lau­ren MacMullan’s Get A Horse! first released last June at the Annecy Film Fes­ti­val in France, it was not until it was paired before Frozen that it many of us got a shot at see­ing it, much less even know­ing it existed. And a lot of fun it is– but by the end of the fea­ture, many of peo­ple may for­get about this won­der­ful lit­tle gem that lead off the movie.

Get A Horse! begins like many of the clas­sic Mickey Mouse black and whites from the thir­ties with a title card out of reg­is­tra­tion with the title. The 2D, hand-drawn ani­ma­tion can eas­ily be mis­taken for clas­sic ani­ma­tion, though the story has a more mod­ern feel than the ear­lier films. Min­nie calls to Mickey to join her and their friends Horace Horsec­ol­lar and Clara­belle Cow as they delight in a musi­cal wagon ride.

The fun really begins when Peg-Leg Pete shows up in his new horse­less car­riage, and tries to pass the hay wagon. When he can’t pass them, he tries to run them off the road. In the process, Mickey gets thrown from the wagon, and through the screen… and in the process, he breaks through the “fourth wall” and into the the­ater itself. And whats more, Mickey morphs from the rubber-limbed, hand drawn black and white char­ac­ter into a full-rendered, 3D CGI color creation.

Mickey must get back to his black and white world to save Min­nie, and soon all the char­ac­ters are jump­ing back and forth between the two worlds. And this is where it get’s fun, because this is much more than just a comic device– this is a com­men­tary on mod­ern ani­ma­tion. Just as we have a con­trast in the hay wagon and the “new” auto­mo­bile, so do we have a pro­duc­tion con­trast of two ani­ma­tion styles. We have black & white ver­sus color. We even have the con­trast of the orig­i­nal voices– Mickey is voiced by Walt Dis­ney, re-edited– and mod­ern actors doing the clas­sic voices (both Mar­cel­lite Gar­ner and Russi Tay­lor voice Min­nie and Peg-Leg Pete is voiced by re-editing Billy Bletcher and mod­ern touches by Will Ryan).

Get A Horse! was con­ceived and directed by Lau­ren Mac­Mul­lan. With this short, she becomes the first woman to direct a Dis­ney ani­mated film. The hand-drawn ani­ma­tion was super­vised by Eric Gold­berg with assists from vet­eran ani­ma­tors Dale Baer and Mark Henn, while the com­puter ani­ma­tion was super­vised by Adam Green.

So all these com­par­isons beg the obvi­ous ques­tion… which it bet­ter– the old, tried and true way, or the new way. In many ways, the new ways are faster and tech­ni­cally bet­ter. But no one can deny that the clas­sic meth­ods also have a lot of appeal, even if they are slower or more clumsy.

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