Animation Artifacts &Disney &Story & Storyboards 29 Oct 2007 08:15 am

Ben & Me I

- Bill Peet was one of the prime artists who shaped many of the Disney features. He has been an enormous influence on me and thans to John Canemaker, who has loaned me the following storyboard, I’m pleased to post some of Mr. Peet’s excellent artwork.

Ben and Me was a 20 min short produced in 1953. It’s an oddity in the Disney canon. The story of a mouse who influences Benjamin Franklin through many of his most famous moments was originally a book by Robert Lawson and was adapted by Bill Peet for the studio.

The photostats of the storyboard, like others I’ve posted, is extremely long. Hence, I’m posting them as large as I possibly can so that you’ll be able to read them once you’ve enlarged the images.

These three panels are followed by a couple more revisions. The revisions I only have as xeroxes – lesser quality. I’ll post those tomorrow.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

This image is a recreation of the extraordinary pan as seen in the first row of the storyboard posted above. It’ll enlarge to a size where you can properly see it. A couple of the objects were on secondary overlays creating a minimal multiplane effect.

4 Responses to “Ben & Me I”

  1. on 29 Oct 2007 at 2:31 pm 1.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    Unbelievable! Many, many thanks for posting this! I’m going to make an affectionate criticism of the board but please note the word, “affectionate.”

    The criticism is that the board is so beautiful that it successfully sells a weak story. If Peet was a good performer in his pitches then that would have compounded the problem.

    Lately I’ve come to distrust pitches, especially if executives are present. If you’re listening to a good pitch you don’t want to interrupt the performance with criticism, and later on might be too late. If the execs like the pitch the story might be locked in that very hour.

    On the other hand, pitching a board in progress to other artists can be very useful. You sometimes find yourself fast-talking through a section, or apologizing for it, and that’s a sure sign that the story doesn’t work at that point. Pitching a weak sequence is painful but the pain you feel results in a better story after you’ve had time to make changes.

    But I digress. Of course a story sketch guy is going to do his best to sell a story with good drawings and few people do it better than Peet.

  2. on 29 Oct 2007 at 3:02 pm 2.Julian said …

    Al Bertino was allegedly famous for his hilarous Disney board pitches, often peppered with profanity to oversell what was there. Months later, when Bertino’s material was finished and on film in color, some of the same people in the room for the pitch noticed that it wasn’t nearly as funny as it had been when pitched. Verbal pitches lay the producers open to the negative effects of the cult of personality. Far too many of them, to this day, especially in television animation, drink that Kool Aid. Don’t know if Bill Peet relied on verbal shtick, he probably didn’t have to. Curiosly, Pixar recently opted to dispense with verbal pitches, letting the board artists’ work stand or fall on its own. Smart move.

  3. on 29 Oct 2007 at 11:11 pm 3.Tim Rauch said …

    Thanks for posting these! Bill Peet’s structure was so unusually natural, and the drawings always have so much personality. I guess I’m not entirely sure if it’s necessary, but it seems there are TV shows today where they’d like everyone to board with the “same” technique, right down to line quality. These Peet boards are a great demonstration of the strength of boarding in a more personal shorthand; I don’t think his ideas would have nearly as much juice if someone was looking over his shoulder urging him to get back “on model”. No surprise he went on to create such amazing books.

  4. on 11 Nov 2007 at 2:27 pm 4.Progress City, U.S.A. » Blog Archive » A Pair of Shorts said …

    [...] On this day in 1953, Walt Disney Productions released a pair of animated shorts that remain well-known to this day. Ben and Me told the odd story of a mouse who lived with and inspired Ben Franklin. Based on a book by Robert Lawson and adapted for the screen by the great story artist Bill Peet, the two-reeler was eventually nominated for an Academy Award. On his blog, Michael Sporn has posted a series of storyboards that Peet created for the film. [...]

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