Walt Disney

Did you know that a traditional animated film used 24 frames per second and most frames were comprised of a background image and four cels which were mounted in the multi-plane camera? An 80 minute animated feature would use 460,800 cels. The outlines of the images were drawn on the front of the cels while colors were painted on the back of the acetate to eliminate brushstrokes and give a clean image. Animators worked in teams comprised of a “lead animator”, up to three “in between animators” and several “clean-up animators”. The lead animator was responsible for a specific character and would draw about one of every four drawings of that character. The in between animators would produce cells to fill the gaps between the cels created by the lead animator and finally the clean-up animators would touch up the cels wherever necessary to ensure clean lines and smooth motion. Of course the animators didn’t just sit down and churn out finished cels. They made several sketches before deciding on the best and then based the cel on that sketch. They created an average of five sketches for every finished cel so that 80 minute feature I mentioned earlier would require up to 2.5 million sketches. That’s a lot of work and it required a highly talented work force. In 1941 when Disney Studios were producing Dumbo they employed over 1,200 people and several hundred of them would have been animators.

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