Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Walt E. Disney and the Art of Animation

It was while working at the Kansas City Film Ad Company in 1921 that Walt Disney first attempted and became fascinated with the art of animation.

19 years-old Walt Disney at the Kansas City Film Ad Company

In January 1920, Disney and Iwerks formed a short-lived company called, "Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists". However, following a rough start, Disney left temporarily to earn money at Kansas City Film Ad Company, and was soon joined by Iwerks who was not able to run the business alone. While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he made commercials based on cutout animation, Disney took up an interest in the field of animation, and decided to become an animator. He was allowed by the owner of the Ad Company, A.V. Cauger, to borrow a camera from work, which he could use to experiment with at home. After reading a book by Edwin G. Lutz, called Animated Cartoons: How They Are Made, Their Origin and Development, he found cel animation to be much more promising than the cutout animation he was doing for Cauger. Walt eventually decided to open his own animation business, and recruited a fellow co-worker at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Fred Harman, as his first employee. Walt and Harman then secured a deal with local theater owner Frank L. Newman — arguably the most popular "showman" in the Kansas City area at the time — to screen their cartoons — which they titled "Laugh-O-Grams" — at his local theater.

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