Thursday, 19 January 2012

Annotated Bibliography

Geo Interview (n.d.) Remembering Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: [Accessed: sunday 8th january 2012].

This a typed up interview for GEO with John Kenworthy and Leslie Iwerks about Ub and their book 'The Hand Behind the Mouse'.  This was a very successful site in terms of reading about Ub's life as it is so rarely documented this site gave me rare insight from his granddaughter.  It enabled me to source direct quotes from both of them that I could use in context in my research.  It helped me back up most points I was making about Ub's life as I used it in most of my posts.  There are a few grammar and spelling mistakes but that could be down to the difference in American and English spellings.  

Digital Media FX (2001) The Early Disney Years,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This site is the website for a magazine and the information that was posted about Ub was meant to be an incentive to get the magazine or sign up to the website to read the full article.  It was successful in helping me write about Ub's early life but apart from that it could have been better if they posted the rest of the article with a clear link but again I used it a lot so it was really helpful to a point.   

Google (n.d.) Ub Iwerks Picture. [image online] Available at:ência+de+Tv++2010.jpg [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This was just a picture I found on google after searching Ub Iwerks as I wanted to show a picture of the man I was going to research.  It was really useful as it was clear and one of the few images that actually show him clearly.  

Google Search (n.d.) Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks Photo. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

Again I needed a picture of Disney and Ub together as I was writing about how they met and I found this on a google image search it helped me demonstrate their friendship as they do look close in the picture and it is one of the only photos that shows them together.  

Ford, B. (1989) Walt Disney: A Biography , 3rd ed. United States: Walker & Company . [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012] 

This book was published to give people who were interested an idea about Disney's life as an unofficial biography of sorts. It was quite successful in telling the story of Disney's life but it was long winded and could have used a bit more summarising as it took me a while to find the information I needed but I did find it and I used to to back up my research into Disney's and Ub's friendship.  

eternalfrost21 (2007) Gertie The Dinosaur. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This was a youtube video and it was posted for public viewing to show an early animation by Winsor McCay.  This video was successful in showing how good early animation was and in such good quality.  It helped me back up my point that Ub was inspired by McCay and his work as it is clever and pretty good as early animation goes.  

Google Search (n.d.) Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

Google Search (n.d.) Oswald The Lucky Rabbit Image. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This is a picture I google searched to give a visual representation of the information I had written on Oswald The Lucky Rabbit.  It helped me as it was one of the many search results that was the black and white version that showed the character in different angles and it also helped me back up my point that I thought it looked a bit like Mickey Mouse.  The second link was found in by the same method of search and I used it to back up my research on Oswald and it helped me show that even though Ub drew it all his name wasn't shown in the credits, so it was helpful and couldn't be improved.  

Tv Tropes (n.d.) The Silent Age of Animation,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This website provides the public with information on the silent age of animation.  It helped me with my research on Oswald and back up my points on why it was successful.  It was helpful to me as I just wanted a bit more information on the silent age so that I could write about it with a clear understanding of what it was and why it was important to my research on Oswald and Ub.  

TV Tropes (n.d.) Oswald The Lucky Rabbit,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This website it for the public and it tells the story of Oswald in detail for anyone that would need to know about him.  It was really successful in providing information on the rabbit it was the best site that I could find.  It helped me write about Oswald in detail and get more of an idea about Ub and his work.  

laughland (2006) Oswald The Luck Rabbit Trolley Troubles. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This video was posted by someone on youtube for the public to view if they were interested in Oswald cartoons or early animation.  It was successful in showing me exactly wanted to see even if the sound was added later I could mute it and watch it in both with and without sound so it was fine and it really helped me give a visual representation of what I was writing about and showing off Ub's drawing/animation skills.  

Google Search (n.d.) Modern Mickey Mouse. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This image again was found in a google image search and it helps prove my point that the design of Mickey has changed a lot from what Ub originally drew and the commercial version we are used to seeing these days and again it is a public image that can be found by anyone that searches for it.  

Ub Iwerks (n.d.) Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cell Drawing. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Sunday 8th January 2012].

This image was a little harder to find but it helps prove my point on how well Ub could draw and again how much his version of Mickey and Minnie mouse have changed over the years.  

disneyanimation (2009) Steamboat Willie Video. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012]. &

disneyanimation (2009) Plane Crazy. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012]

This was a youtube video posted for the public it is a video of the early animation, Steamboat Willie.  It is very successful in showing the animation as it is clear and it doesn't have to buffer all the time.  It was very helpful to me as it helped back up everything I was writing about early animation and how it showed Mickey in a different light one that was more rebellious and one that I preferred as he had more about him. The video for plane crazy does this as well and it also helped me prove what cartoons could do that other motion capture films couldn't do at the time.  

Disney Shorts (1997) Plane Crazy, [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012].

This is a public website and so the information on the page can be accessed by anyone that googles the site or comes across it by accident.  It was a really good website with loads of information just about that one video and it really help me back up all the points I was making about Plane Crazy based on what I had researched so far.  

Tv Tropes (n.d.) Flip The Frog. [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012]. &
Tv Tropes (n.d.) Willie Whopper. [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].

Both of these sites are available and easily accessible to the public.  They were packed with information that I found really interesting to read and then write about.  Some of the links could have been improved and some of the information could have done with extra links to references so that I could do further research easier that directly linked to what I had read already.   These websites helped be back up my research and points I wanted to make about the early Ub animations.  Both sites also had an image I could use for my research which was a huge bonus and these websites were the most useful out of all the websites I used for this research blog.  

Find A Grave (2004) Ub Iwerks Grave. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012]. &
Find A Grave (2002) Ub Iwerks Grave. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

This site is a public site that allows you to search for anyones grave and it was a really obscure website so finding it was tricky and I stumbled upon it by accident so it could be more publicised so that I and others could find it easier in the future.  It was a really interesting website it didn't have to much information but the pictures were so useful when it came to writing about Ub's death.    

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The End..

Sadly all good things come to an end and Disney's sudden death caused Ub a great deal of pain as that was his best and oldest friend, the one man he both needed and sought approval from, who he could bounce his ideas around with and get a positive reaction.   This was a really sad time for Ub but it didn't deter him from his work and I think the reason he carried on working at Disney for the next 5 years until he was 70 was because he didn't want to let his friend down, he wanted to still create amazing things in his name.  However even Ub didn't last to much longer and he finally succumbed to a heart attack on July 7th 1971.

Ub was buried at Forrest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, LA.  People can still go and see his grave today.

Regarding Ub's death John Kenworthy said in the GEO Interview; 'He worked all the way to the end.  I think that's the true story of Ub Iwerks.  His work ethic was the most important thing to him.  It was the summer of 1971.  He had obviously had a stroke some time that morning, but he denied it to himself.  He went to the studio and just kept on working.  His left hand became limp and useless so he would use his right hand to maneuver it.  His staff finally convinced him to go to the hospital where he died on the morning of July 7th 1971.  Very sad: here was this great man was constantly driven to solve problems.  This was one problem he couldn't solve.'

This quote backs up everything I have learnt about Ub from doing this research blog.  He was dedicated to his craft from the minute he got that job at Pesman-Rubin Commerical Art to the day he died.  It has been difficult at times to research into his life as it is not as well documented on as Walt Disney's but I have enjoyed the challenge immensely and I'm sure I channeled my inner Ub to do this as he loved challenges.

Geo Interview (n.d.) Remembering Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th january 2012].

Find A Grave (2004) Ub Iwerks Grave. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Find A Grave (2002) Ub Iwerks Grave. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Disney World

Having been to Walt Disney World Florida, 3 times it is one of my favourite places in the world it just takes me back to being a child and the whole of this park and the others are just amazing.  Whilst doing my research of Ub I learnt that he had a hand in creating this world and for that I really wish I could thank him as i'm sure he threw his enthusiasm into creating this place just as much as he put his soul into his drawings and inventions.

I found out that he had a huge hand in creating this place again from the interview his granddaugter Leslie gave to GEO, as she said 'He had a hand in virtually every attraction, creating projection technology, camera technology, 3-Walt Disney works for the park and for the films and tv shows.'

John Kenworthy who was also part of this interview and helped write 'The Man Behind the Mouse' with Leslie said 'Anything that Walt Disney could think of to do tv shows, movies, animation, Ub was involved with.  And when the Disneyland theme park came up it was plain that Ub would be involved with that too.  His contributions were many and varied: he worked on the film backdrop of Abe Lincoln.  He devised the camera for the 360 degree theater. He came up with the talking busts in the Haunted Mansion attraction.'

The first time I went to Disneyland the Haunted Mansion was one of my favourite rides as it felt so real and everything looked so lifelike.  Obviously things will have changed since Ub designed it and it was made but I'd like to think the key elements are still there and they are amazing!

John Kenworthy also goes on in the interview to explain how this was done; 'One day he (Ub) got this crazy idea to take a wig stand and project film of a real face on it.  So he brought in his wife's to the office and tried it.  It looks very realistic...and very frightening! and thats how the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion came about.'

This ride also inspired the 2003 Disney film The Haunted Mansion.

Geo Interview (n.d.) Remembering Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th january 2012].

Walt Disney World (n.d.) Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Google Search (n.d.) Haunted Mansion. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Back To Disney & Inventions

In 1940 just after Ub's studio had closed he was starting to lose his motivation to animate according to his granddaughter because 'It was just like bowling to him: he had done it; he had mastered it; so he wanted to move on.  His mind as this point was more interested in the technical side of film making.'  There were rumours at the time that said the friendship was rocky when Walt decided to hire Ub again but this wasn't the case as they had gone through a lot together by this point and were old friends and Walt wouldn't have hired him again.  He was paying him $75 a week which considering the financial situation in America at the time was good money.  Leslie goes on to to talk about their friendship and says that 'They just fueled each other, inspired each other.  Ub would work on some new technique and Walt would look at it and figure a way to use it in their next film.  Conversely if Walt came up with an idea for a film, say, or a ride at Disneyland, he would turn to UB to come up with a means of making it happen.  So it was a great balance between the two of them.  

Ub was given his own lab at Disney and he got straight to work as he had new technical challenges to fuel his motivation to work.  

His first major breakthrough that helped save Disney's company and staff time and money was the process of Xeroing.  Which was a die process which involved using a machine that would die the drawings done by Ub or another animator into the cells which they would then compile to make the finished short/film.  This was the process and machine that allowed Disney to create all the spotted dogs in 101 Dalmatians.

He then came up with a new matte system which allowed for the movement of the birds in Mary Poppins as it would have taken to long to teach the birds what to do if they were going to film live action.  Below is a video I found on this system and its amazing to think they could do that back then as the technology was really just getting started.  

It's not surprising after watching this video that Ub worked behind the scenes on many of Disney's films and other companies films doing all the technical work that then earned him two Oscar wins for his technical breakthroughs.  Doing something like that today is a lot harder to achieve as technology has changed and developed so much inventing something new and as intuitive as Ub's inventions is nearly impossible, I think anyway. 

Geo Interview (n.d.) Remembering Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th january 2012].

Tv Tropes (n.d.) Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Animation Studio (n.d.) The Animation of Ub Iwerks, [online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

muppetspuppets (2007) Walt Disney Ainimatronics. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 18th January 2012].

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ub Iwerks Studio

Ub Iwerks started his own animation studio in 1930.  This was obviously a huge risk as he had been in Disney's shadow since they were 18 and especially at this time in America starting a business was a huge risk.  As he started his business a year after the Wall Street Crash which led to the Great Depression which in tern led to a great uprising in the unemployment figures so for Ub to start his business now he needed to ensure the few people that he was going to employ that it was worth it and that he could make a real go of this.  

His first creation was Flip the Frog.  Ub produced and helped draw 38 shorts for this character in 3 years.  Again shocking me that when he commits to a project and he starts to draw he really just doesn't stop until it's done and I'd love to have that sort of motivation.  As his split from Disney was still fresh in his mind the character Flip is completely anti-Disney which you can see when you watch the video's this is really Ub's sense of humour coming through the character.  

Drawing influence from the times and Ub's life in the short animations Flip can most likely be seen starting up a new business or trying and failing to find work due to the depression and the troubles it brought to America.  He constantly clashes and has trouble with his sidekick Orace the Mule he also has trouble with finding love which is actually pretty funny to watch and again its very un-disney like, which I'm surprised at how much I liked it.  

These cartoons made him fairly successfully and they were soon followed by another series called Willie Whopper. 

There were less Willie Whopper shorts, just 13 made in just a year.  These were meant as a replacement to Flip who was on the outs as these animations were being made.  

The shorts follow a boy called Willie, a young boy who tells his friends about his outrageous adventures which are in fact lies hence his surname.  Unlike the Flip the Frog all of these animated shorts were kept in black and white whereas only two of the 38 shorts were kept in black and white.  

For me the Flip the Frog cartoons are better as I found them funnier and I guess the fact that most of them are in colour is also a part of why I like them better as it made a change for me to watch something that was made so early that was in colour.  

Sadly The Iwerks Studio wasn't meant to last as even though his shorts had brought him a certain amount of success it wasn't enough to keep his company afloat in the midst of the depression and he was forced to close before the end of the decade was over (1940).

TV Tropes (n.d.) Flip The Frog, [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].
TV Tropes (n.d.) Willie Whopper[online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].
Tv Tropes (n.d.) Flip The Frog. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].
Tv Tropes (n.d.) Willie Whopper. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].
The Animation of Ub Iwerks (n.d.) The Animation of Ub Iwkers/ Flip the Frog, [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].

His Works

While researching his work I came across this website - and it completely blew me away.  The amount of work he was part of and produced in his life astounds me it's completely overwhelming to scroll through.  He obviously had to do it to make his living as times were tough during the great depression, when he was completing most of these works but he obviously loved what he did and his body of work proves this.

His filmography includes:

Directing 112! animation shorts/films

Producing 91! animation shorts/films most of which he also directed   

He also helped out on the visual effects and worked in the crew on several other film/shorts.

This to me is crazy but it will be a small feet if I can ever compile a list as extensive as that I would be immensely proud of myself, which I'm sure Ub would be if he had the chance to see this list.  

He even managed to have enough spare time to draw a self-portrait:

ASIFA - Hollywood Cartoon Hall of Fame(2005) IWERKS, Ub, [online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012]

Google Search (n.d.) Self-Portrait Ub Iwerks. [image online] Available at: [Accessed: Tuesday 17th January 2012].

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Along Came Pat Powers


Now that Ub had created some of the Silly Symphonies for Disney such as The Skeleton Dance above, often animating them all by himself.  He liked to do this but soon he found coping under Disney constant harsh command was proving to much for him as obviously the pressure of getting somewhere was getting to Disney and he felt the need to pass that pressure on to Ub.  This all started when a man named Pat Powers made a deal with Disney that he would pay him $2,500 per Mickey Mouse cartoon and Pat would also receive 10% of the gross earnings.  This nowadays is the equivalent of paying someone around $30,000 per cartoon, which is a serious amount of money just for a cartoon!  He also realised as I had said in my previous post that he wasn't getting the recognition he thought he deserved for doing most of the work on the cartoons/shorts.  This constant battle caused a strain on their friendship and they decided to go their own ways after being such close friends since they were 18.  After Pat had tried to sell some of the cartoons Ub had worked tirelessly on he failed to pay the Disney Brothers Company claiming that expenses were taking most of it.  With most of Disney's anger directed at Ub he found his work less and less interesting and his motivation lacking.  It was one of the final straws that broke their friendship, that and Ub has secretly signed a deal with Pat behind Disney's back.

Ub went to work with Pat and Disney bought out his 20% share of his company.  It was to late at this point for Ub to back out and I think that was a shame as it was obvious that his friendship with Walt meant a lot and to throw it away like that knowing Disney didn't forgive people that betray him Ub made a serious decision and once again I find myself desperately wanting to go back in time and ask him about his reasons for this secret deal and why he thought it was the best thing for him to do.

Digital Media FX (2001) The Early Disney Years,[online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 10th January 2012].

kikthedaisy (2008) Silly Symphony - The Skeleton Dance. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: Wednesday 11th January 2012].