John Canemaker recently completed his latest book about Herman Schultheis and the effects department at Disney’s during the early 40s. It, hopefully, will be published in late 2014. This encouraged me to pull up this piece I posted in Sept/2009. It’s amazing how much information I was able to cull from the photos I found on the DVD.
I’m pleased with this post and am glad to repeat it for those who might not have seen it. John’s book, by the way, is one I’m looking forward to reading. He’s written a bit about it on his website.
- Herman Schultheis was an effects animator who worked on Fantasia. He kept a tight record of the effects they were creating from 1938-1941 and a photo display of how they were done. Schultheis disappeared in 1954 while trekking through Central America, and the notebook was forgotten until his wife’s death in the early 1990s, after which it was discovered by Howard Lowery behind the couple’s bedroom wall.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
Herman Schultheis created the book of charts and photos
which gives us a link to the many creative effects in the film.
The book is on display at the The Walt Disney Family Museum. It’s also been digitized so that visitors are able to go through the book, enlarge photos and view it page by page. An interactive display.
Prior to the discovery of the book we were able to figure out a few of the effects. One Disneyland show, in fact, recreated the bubbling lava scene from the Rite of Spring sequence.
However, the book revealed so much more than we’d understood
about how the superb effects had been crafted.
They then superimpose the “smoke” (or ink) over the volcanoes.
This same effect was used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
to create clouds when the alien ships were moving in on the
farmhouse where the boy and mother lived.
You can see the highly polished sheet of metal (middle left) which reflected
and distorted the animation drawings. This is what the camera photographed
in some of the scenes during the Night on Bald Mountain sequence.
It was also used for the fire in Bambi.