Number 17 is an animated adaption of a 1956 novel by Dodie Smith titled One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Dodie is said to have hoped the book would catch the eye of Disney, and it certainly did. After acquiring the rights, Disney sent the story to Bill Peet to write, marking the first time that the story for a Disney film was created by a single story man.
Most notable about this film is that it was the first full feature animated film Disney made using the xerography process. The results are readily apparent to anyone who compares the outlines of the animated characters from this film, and any preceding Disney animated film.
After Sleeping Beauty, which Walt Disney has sunk a then-exorbitant $6 million into (and not made back), Walt was contemplating giving up on animated films altogether. Disney’s first main animator, Ub Iwerks, was now in charge of special processes at the studio, and had developed a process to use the Xerox method in animation.
Until One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the animators drawings were aligned (“registered“) with blank cels, and the outlines traced onto the cel with inks. In many cases, multiple colors for the ink lines were used, adding to the naturalness of the lines, and making them less noticeable to the casual viewer.
With this film, that transfer was more automated. The animators lines were, in effect, Xeroxed directly onto a cel- completing 1-2 hours of inkers work in 10 seconds. While this helped stream-line the animation process, it also did not look nearly as good. Or, at least it looked different. But the savings to the studio were significant, allowing the animation department to shrink form 500 people to a mere 100. And that savings was enough to keep the department alive, and the animated feature to continue at Disney.
Some people like the more sketchy look because you can see the actual work of the animator. In fact, there are some points in which you can see the animators head or body construct lines. Like it or hate it, it was the new way to make animated films.In fact, according to animator Chuck Jones, Disney was able to bring the movie in for about half of what it would have cost if they’d had to animate all the dogs and spots by hand.
In addition to the outright cost and time savings the Xerox process afforded the studio, it was a great in animating the spotted dogs. To keep all the many spots on each Dalmatians straight, the animators used to think of the spot pattern in terms of a constellation of stars in the sky. Once they had the main “anchor spot” situated on the dogs body, the next was placed in relation to that one spot, and so on and so on until the full pattern was achieved. It has been calculated that 101 Dalmatians featured 6,469,952 spots, with Pongo sporting 72 spots, Perdita 68, and each puppy was spotted 32 times each.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians ended up as the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, grossing $6,400,000 for it’s domestic release.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
- Traditional Animation
- Walt Disney Studios
- Distributed by: Buena Vista Film Distribution
- Cartoon Characters: Pongo, Perdita, Roger Radcliff, Anita Radcliff, Nanny, Cruella De Vil, Jasper Badun, Horace Badun, Rolly, Patch, Penny, Lucky, Freckles, Rover, Pepper, The Captain, The Colonel, Sergeant Tibs, Danny, Prissy, Coco, Lucy, Towser, Queenie, Princess, Duchess, Thunderbolt, Dirty Dawson, Miss Birdwell, Mr. Simpkins, Inspector Craven, Percival Fauncewater, Spotty.
- Voice Actors: Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, Cate Bauer, Lisa Daniels, Ben Wright, Lisa Davis, Martha Wentworth, J. Pat O’Malley, Fred Worlock, Tudor Owen; Full Voice Cast ...
- Directed By Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi.
- Produced By Walt Disney, Ken Peterson.
- Animated By Hal King, Les Clark, Cliff Nordberg, Blaine Gibson, Eric Cleworth, John Sibley, Art Stevens, Julius Svendsen, Hal Ambro, Ted Berman, Bill Keil, Don Lusk, Dick Lucas, Amby Paliwoda; more Animators ...
- Written By Bill Peet, Dodie Smith.
- Music: George Bruns, Mel Leven, Franklyn Marks, Evelyn Kennedy.
- Editor: Donald Halliday, Roy M. Brewster Jr..
- Originally Released on January 25, 1961.
- Originally Released Theatrically.
- Running Time: 79 minutes.