Friday, August 23, 2013

Hyperion Studios Documentary

The Disney Animation staff 1934
Animating Snow White
This post is my first public announcement concerning a documentary film I have been working on that tells the story and share the history of one of the most important yet almost forgotten studios in motion pictures, the Hyperion Sudios of Walt Disney by Mike Peraza. It is a subject I am passionate about and believe the public would enjoy if they only knew about it. For the video teaser or trailer included below, I created all the graphics, CGI models, restored and repaired old film footage and provided the rough narration. This is but a small example of the imagery I have located along with that I have digitally created from scratch. So far, everything has been out of my pocket so I am seeking financial help in order to proceed and give this documentary and the amazing people it represents the respect and acknowledgment they deserve. I want to hire personnel that can aid with additional research as well as provide material that will help gain insight to the sometime rocky road of that exciting period. I also need help transcribing interviews from Disney employees that worked at the old studio.
Lunchtime at the old Hyperion Studios
To keep the film balanced, it contains interviews with studio personnel that worked at Hyperion during that time and often used the moniker given to the project as “Walt’s Folly”. We will share the good times the crew enjoyed along with the tensions that were slowly building concerning financial inequality that would eventually erupt in a violent studio strike shortly after the move to Burbank. How women and people of color gained their rights albeit slowly to achieve equal respect as well as job positions.

In the end however it will celebrate the triumph of a talented team of young people working together overcoming many difficult obstacles to produce one of the greatest achievements in the history of animation. The Walt Disney Studios of the 1930s which released so many classic films no longer exists but was demolished many years ago to be replaced by a grocery chain (albeit a nice one) and parking lot. 

Without the successes of Hyperion, there would very likely be no Disney Cruise Line, no Disney Afternoon, no Disneyland, well you get the idea. The groundbreaking successes produced under that old tile roof made all things that came after it possible for the young visionary Walt Disney and his talented crew pf men and women. -Mike Peraza

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy Birthday BAMBI!

If you were in London on August 8, 1942, you might have enjoyed the premiere of one of the most beautiful of all the Disney classics: "Bambi". If you are among the few who has not seen this film, do yourself a favor, turn off your computer and go watch a copy of this heart warming masterpiece. 

It was directed in 1942 by Dave Hand and of course produced by Walt Disney.

This is a powerful "coming of age" story as we follow "the little prince" as he goes through life, and death. MGM had the rights to "Bambi' but was unable to come up with a method to tell the story and so Sidney Franklin sold the rights to Walt Disney in April 1937. There were many challenges faced by the Disney staff. The novel was written for adults and was considered too grim for the usual Disney audience. 

Artists went back to school to learn to draw animals in a more convincing and life like manner. There were many "starts and stops" in the story development including sections that were developed and dropped such as the "talking leaves" and the "ant hill" sequence. Personally, as a conceptual artist, I was drawn to the magnificent background design of Tyrus Wong who introduced a revolutionary look in Disney films that drew the eye to specific points while keeping a soft impressionistic feel to the forest. 

When Bambi was released during World War II it failed at the box office yet today it is hailed as the Walt Disney classic it deserves and has not only recouped its cost many times over but was named 3rd best film in the animation genre by the American Film Institute. Happy Birthday Bambi!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


MiceChat is planning a magical booth in the Collector’s Forum area of the D23 Expo in Anaheim on August 9, 10 and 11. Meet MiceChat staff, special guests and Disney legends whom we have scheduled throughout the three day show. 

We will also be giving away lots of great prizes, including unique Disney merchandise, hotel stays and an iPad Mini (stop by our MiceChat booth for details)! There will be some very special guests joining us so don't miss the fun!!!!!

Meet Bob Sunday 11th,  2pm - 4pm


Rolly Crump is an Imagineer most famous for his work on The Enchanted Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and much more. He continued working on and off for Disney for years, including contributing ideas to projects for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom & EPCOT Center. In addition to Disney, Rolly has also designed projects for Busch Gardens, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Jacques Cousteau, Knott’s Berry Farm and other projects around the world. Rolly was named a Disney Legend in 2004.

Meet Charles Saturday 10th, 3pm - 4:30pm

Charles Fleischer actor, stand-up comedian and voice artist most known to Disney fans as the voice of Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Other voice roles for Fleischer include The Polar Express and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.

Meet Mike Friday 9th, 10am - noon

Mike Peraza is a Disney art director and concept artist who has worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation (Fox and the Hound, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Great Mouse Detective, Black Cauldron, TRON, Something Wicked this way Comes, Return to OZ, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast) Walt Disney Television Animation (DuckTales, TaleSpin, Goof Troop and Darkwing Duck) , Disney Comics, Disney Interactive, WED and Disneyana Galleries.
Meet Nik Saturday 10th, 11am - 1pm

Nik Ranieri is a former character animation for Walt Disney Animation. He started working on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and eventually moved on to work on The Little Mermaid and The Rescuers Down Under. Though his roots are in traditional animation, he also made the jump to CGI and worked on Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons.

Meet Sam  Friday 9th, 6pm - 7pm

Sam Gennawey, Author of Walt and the Promise of Progress City,  is an urban planner who has collaborated with communities throughout California over the course of more than 100 projects to create a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Sam is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving municipal, county, and private sector planning documents from throughout Los Angeles County. 

Meet Margaret Friday 9th, 4pm - 6pm

Margaret Kerry is an American actress, motivational speaker and radio host best known for her 1953 work as the model for Tinker Bell in the Walt Disney Pictures animated feature, Peter Pan.

Meet Bob Sunday 11th, 2pm - 4pm

Bob Gurr was Imagineer for Disneyland’s early days and designed most of the early Disney attraction ride vehicles – including Autopia, the Disneyland Monorail, the Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and much more. He later gave himself the title of Director of Special Vehicle Development. He was named a Disney Legend in 2004. 
Meet Paige Friday 9th in afternoon

Paige O’Hara is an accomplished stage performer, having performed all over the world in such productions as Oklahoma, South Pacific, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Paige is best known to Disney fans as the voice of Belle from the film Beauty and the Beast. She was named a Disney Legend in 2011.

Meet Don Friday 9th, 10:30am - Noon
Don Ballard is an author and Disney historian famous for his love of the Disneyland Hotel and its history. He has written two books on the subject of the Disneyland Hotel and has new archival information to share .Meet Don on Friday August 9th from 10:30am until Noon

PLUS: Meet MiceChat columnists, podcasters and staff – such as Andy Castro, Fishbulb, Monorail Man, Doug Barnes, Scarlett Stahl, Rixter, Mickey Maxx, Jeff Heimbuch, Gwendolyn Dreyer, Sarah the MiceChatter, Indiana Jenn, Mamabot, Dustysage and more.


MiceChat is supporting All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation at the D23 Expo. All the Arts for All the Kids is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing, sustaining, and supporting the arts as an intrinsic part of every child’s education.

To raise money for this wonderful organization, local artists have decorated oversized hearts for auction. A Small World themed heart will be on display in the MiceChat booth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Art for the Park!

I''m extremely excited to have a few more pieces that will be exhibited and sold in the Disney Parks this summer. The first one is based on an animated feature film that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to Art Direct called, Disney's"The Little Mermaid". That movie had outstanding direction, great songs, memorable music and lively animation from a great team of amazing animators. Besides a good story, you need a solid team and we certainly had that. Enchanted Paintings. Disney Fine Art. Disney Art.

I'm commemorating that experience of working with such a talented group with this piece. It's gouache over a wash of watercolor done in the traditional steps Disney Studio background artists used in the 1930s and 1940s. A year or two ago I was asked to design the mural for the "Little Mermaid" attraction down at Walt Disney World. That mural was HUGE, probably why they call 'em murals... anyway, I wanted to get back to an earlier concept I had been tinkering with that revealed low rays of the setting sun peeking through the clouds to find a lovely but lonely Ariel on her rocky perch looking longingly towards Eric's ship anchored in the royal harbor. You can see this painting as well as most of my paintings done step by step with explanations as to the medium, how I am applying it, even what specific brush I'm using online in my Facebook pages. Also feel free to comment and ask any questions about the process, I'm always happy to share my techniques and methods. Enchanted Paintings. Disney Fine Art. Disney Art.

It's in a looser and more "painterly"style than I did for the attraction mural along with a much more colorful and saturated palette. You can find this new original and eventually some prints for sale in a marvelous store I always visit while at Disneyland located in the Disney California Adventure called, "Off the Page."

This store offers the guest an immersion of sorts into the retail wonder of Disney animation. Rumor is I might be called in to do a signing  which would be fun. It's always a honor to meet and personally thank the Disney fans out there who collect these pieces.

Not far from "Off the Page", over in Disneyland you'll discover the beautiful and recently re-modeled Disneyanna Gallery located on Disneyland's Main Street where you'll find a couple more of my paintings. This one, "Seasons of Magic" was done in gouache over 300 lb acid free board and it's a big one too. It's done in a whimsical style I have used over the years for commercials, shorts, TV and even some educational film strips I designed for WEDEMCO, an educational division Disney had back in the 1970s.

One of the iconic images for Disneyland is obviously the Sleeping Beauty Castle and I thought it would be unique and fun to illustrate it as a stage in four sections showcasing the seasons. Each season's palette was carefully chosen to compliment its particular time of year as well as using specific characters and poses that would fit into each season. I doodled a bunch of doodles (isn't that what you do when doodling?) at my old animation desk and once I had a composition I felt was OK, I transferred the sketch onto a big piece of 300 lb watercolor board. Disneyland artwork. Disney Fine Art.

Disney Fine Art
When I had that monster of a board firmly secured to my 1/2" thick tempered masonite backing, the fun really started. Out came the gouache and I quickly went for a bright and happy color scheme while keeping each season in mind. I had to consider not only the background setting but the characters that were interacting in front of each section. I also spilled one tiny jar of paint during this session and unfortunately my wife Patty heard me muttering and came up to the studio before I could clean it up so I'm not hearing the end of that.

Illustrating these pieces for the Disney Parks is always an honor I could never tire of. There is a long list of Disney Imagineers who have had their work exhibited and sold at the park including Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Collin Campbell, Herbie Ryman, Sam McKim and many other extremely talented folks. Knowing these originals and prints will go into someone's home or office to be enjoyed is something truly magical to me. I hope you will enjoy my latest paintings but will also take the time to see the fantastic work of so many other amazing artists.