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Sleeping Beauty by Lynleigh Cooper
Via Flickr:
The sun sets over Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.

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Fantasmic by SureAsLiz

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Elena by SureAsLiz

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If you’ve seen Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you’ve seen the work of animator Floyd Norman; for decades, he has helped bring Disney and Pixar classics to life.

Now 81, Norman still works for Disney, where he has plied his trade, on and off, since he became the studio’s first African-American animator in the 1950s.

The future animator loved drawing and cartoons from an early age, first falling in love with Disney’s animated classic Dumbo at the age of five. He immediately knew what it was he wanted to do for a living. He landed a job at Disney’s studios in 1956 fresh out of art school. The humble Norman insists he did not break any barriers:

I didn’t break barriers — I was just an artist. Being a woman was a lot tougher. There wasn’t a single female animator there!

 After Walt Disney died, Norman found himself in hot water with the company’s accountants who wanted to fire older workers and replace them with newer ones who would work for less money. He migrated to Hanna-Barbera, working on The Flintstones and Josie and the Pussycats. After the accountants lost much of their influence at Disney, Norman returned to the company. He worked steadily over the years and was present for Disney’s merge with Pixar, doing work on films such as Toy Story 2. Retirement age arrived before he knew it, and Human Resources asked him to retire. He returned to the company afterwards as a contractor but did not leave when his contract expired.

I decided I didn’t want to work at home. I missed the camaraderie of the big studio. I missed talking to people. I miss being around the action. And so … I found an empty office and I moved in. I was probably in violation of some rule or law or whatever, but there I was.

He continued to work in the office, and his colleagues affectionately coined the term “Floydering” — it rhymes with loitering — in his honor.

GREAT MOMENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY! So many hidden figures in so many fields. Another we didn’t know about. Imagine loving what you do so much that you still want to do it at age 81! Floyd Norman, I salute you.

#BlackPride #BlackExcellence #BlackHistoryMonth

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Good News/Bad News: The Last 2D Animators at Disney are Doing Projection Mapping for Walt Disney World

The Good News: Legendary Disney animators Mark Henn (Tiana, Jasmine, etc.), Eric Goldberg (Genie, Phil, etc.), and Randy Haycock (adult Simba , young Hercules, etc.), are animating characters from Aladdin, The Little MermaidMoana, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, etc. USING THE CLASSIC, HAND-DRAWN METHOD for an upcoming Walt Disney World show, Happily Ever After, scheduled to debut May 12.

Besides the usual fireworks and pyrotechnics, Happily Ever After will feature the now de rigueur projection mapping on Cinderella’s Castle – only it will be done in glorious hand-drawn animation! What a wonderful way to keep kids aware of this now pretty-much-extinct Disney tradition!

The Bad News: Disney is wasting these legends on temporary theme park shows, when they could be using them to train a brand new generation of animators in the fine art of hand-drawn animation! Traditions like this MUST be passed down from one generation to the next, or else the intricacies and subtleties of the art form will be lost. Textbooks and video tutorials can only capture a fraction of the knowledge that these ‘old Masters’ have to share. It would be a shame if this knowledge died with them.

GIFs: Tiana animated by Mark Henn, Ursula animated by Eric Goldberg, Aladdin + Jafar animated by Randy Haycock