Well Halloween is over, and for those interested here's a quick commentary on my animation of the classic The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion.
Back in 2009 when I made the Unused Concept Art from the Haunted Mansion Animated I used the record cover art by Collin Campbell for the open. At the time I thought it would be cool if the cover art would animate, but the prep work needed to do this was a monumental chore in its self.
So I basically forgot about it for 2 years, but this summer I thought I should finally do it for this Halloween. Early on I thought I would just animate the cover art, but I soon decided I would animate some (not all) of the "Story and Song" art.
Okay now I'll go through the animation one shot at a time...
The cover art was the biggest chore to animate (and a bigger chore to prep), and there over 30 moving characters and elements. Originally I thought I might try to make it 3D, but that was way too difficult. The audio mix was a challenge too. I first thought I might just use the music of the band members and opera singers, but I quickly learned hearing those opera singers for any extended period of time is pretty brutal. I decide to fade the singers out and primarily use the ballroom music which I had used back in 2009 on the concept art animations. At the end of the open when the titles appear I brought in a little bit of the title theme from The Haunting (1963).
It's been reported that this movie was influential during the creation of Disney's Haunted Mansion. I also used the spooky look of The Haunting's opening titles (which look very much like the effect used on the type in the above trailer), and ghostly transitions used during the first few minutes of the film where the history of Hill House is told. If you haven't seen the movie, or don't know what I'm talking about you can check it out here if you wish.
I like animating Haunted Mansion art that hasn't been done in real life. That's what appealed to me about animating unused concept art, and it's this philosophy that guided my choices when I animated the "Story and Song."
|The first page|
Like the above opening page has almost nothing to do with the Haunted Mansion attraction. Sure there's an executioner in the ride, but he is singing in the graveyard and not opening the front door for you. I thought I could use a 3D camera with a short depth of field to get this shot, but it was impossible to get the framing correct so I cheated the look in 2D. It's not perfect, and it's something I wish I had more time to finesse.
I know Madam Leota is in the attraction, but I animated this art because Collin Campbell staged the seance scene so differently from how it looks in the attraction. I love how lively the room looks here. In recent years the Disney Imagineers have gotten Madam Leota to float in the air, which is a neat trick, but I'd be truly amazed if they could make all the furniture float like it does here.
|A wide shot of The Bride|
The bride art is not by Collin Campbell. It's by me. Did I fool you? I hoped it looked like Campbell's work, but the talent gap between me and Collin is pretty huge.
I based the look of the Bride after a couple early versions, but mostly this maquette...
I've borrowed this photo from the encyclopedic Haunted Mansion blog Long-Forgotten. HBG2, who owns the blog, is using a Photoshoped photo of the "corpse bride" I did so I don't think he'll mind too much. I know she doesn't look much like an actual bride, but she is a very early version of sorts. For hardcore Mansion fans there's also a couple of "Easter Eggs" in my Bride scene, like the bust on the sideboard and the hanging portrait.
|CU of Bride art before animation|
Above is a close-up of the original art. You can see the skull face which is something that I experimented with. I though it might look cool if you saw the skull flicker as her heart beat, but I dropped that idea. One idea I did keep was a faint flicker of the artery and veins that surround the heart, but I don't think it's very noticible in the final animation. Also starting with the Bride I tried to make my shots a little more POV (point of view).
Here we have the most infamous Mansion resident - the Hatbox Ghost. The history of this character is well known by Mansion fans, and so I had to include him. He's been long absent from the Mansion, but the hope is strong among the faithful he'll return one of these days.
Lastly we have the escape thru the crypt ending and that crazy alien-like ghost with the yellow eyes. This is where the POV becomes the most obvious (with mixed results). I which I had more time to finesse this shot a little more. I think if I made the shot 3D the POV would work better, but prepping the art for 3D would have taken time which I didn't have.
Well that's it. Thank you for reading this, and thanks to those of you who have left comments. Thanks to Disney for not getting upset with these fan creations of mine. The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion is available on CD, so if you don't have a copy for yourself go get one now. I think this will be my last animated trip into the world of Disney, but rest assured I have ideas for other fun and stupid animation in the future.