An Interview With Disney Legendary Animator Floyd Norman!

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Hey All!

Over the holidays I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Disney Studios Movie Lot to check out the new special features for the animated Disney classic 101 Dalmatians. It’s always such a pleasure to visit the lot as it has so much of the original studio that Walt Disney himself roamed around through is still there.

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I always love seeing this statue in dedication to Walt and all that he’s brought to the world. I also love that the Animation buildings where the classic animated Disney films were created still remain.

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101 Dalmatians was one of the last films Walt Disney worked on and Floyd Norman was one of the animators that helped him bring it to life. He is a Disney legendary animator who has worked on numerous Disney classics over the years such as Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, and more! It was incredible to get the opportunity to meet him and listen to him share some extraordinary stories of his time with Walt Disney and working on 101 Dalmatians! He worked one on one with Walt and has so many fond memories of him.

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Floyd Norman shared how the Disney Animators at the time recommended he finish high school and encouraged him to go to Art school. He listened and attended Art Center in Pasadena California. Floyd was hired by Walt himself shortly after graduating. He worked for decades until he retired in 2000 shortly after working on Monsters Inc.

Floyd:

I retired but I just kept coming to work until they were forced to hire me again. So now I have two work badges.

Floyd loved his work and the lot so much that he didn’t want to stop coming to work. He wanted to continue to work and that is what he it doing today well into his eighties. He recalled how Walt would work with him and he’s kept working with that same mindset to this day.

Floyd:

You never knew when Walt would stop by your office to see your work and presentations. You just had to be ready at all times. That’s how I worked. I would have everything ready at all times just in case. And when Walt would drop in and you gave your presentation, If he didn’t say anything you did a good job. If he said something you knew you had to get back to work.

He’s now working on special projects and behind the scenes features for the studio.

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During this interview he also showed us how to draw Donald and…

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One of the Dalmatians Pongo from 101 Dalmatians. It was so magical to see and learn. He mentioned Mickey was the first character he learned to draw and that Mickey is his favorite Disney character.

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In regards to 101 Dalmatians, Floyd shared that the studio needed to start saving money on the animated films since Sleeping Beauty cost them so much time and money to make.  They decided to use Xerox copy machines for the first time in animation to reproduce the animation cells for the film. It would take way too long for the animators to animate 101 puppies by hand. They had to come up with an alternative solution and they thought this was the perfect resolution. Walt Disney didn’t like the look of the animation using the Xerox machine said Floyd, but Disney couldn’t argue that is did save them a lot of money and time in the long run. 101 Dalmatians ended up being one of the top grossing animated films for the studio and helped the studio stay in business.

Hearing Floyd tell these Disney historic moments in person was a once in a life time opportunity. I’ll never forget my time with Floyd!

You can hear more of Floyd’s stories in the special features of the newly released 101 Dalmatians Blu-ray. Run out and get your copy today to hear more about how this amazing animated film came to be.

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I was given this blu-ray and the opportunity to attend a media press event. All opinions are my own.

Comments

  • What a magical moment! I would love to meet this icon of a man! I have many friends who work at Disney as animators and I love visiting every now and then. It always feels like a magical place! My 14 year old just started taking classes at Art Center. Such a fantastic school! I love the idea of xeroxing the animation cells for 101 dalmatians.. that was way before they could clone with computers 🙂

  • Watching him draw would be so amazing!

  • What a cool interview! I love hearing stories about the history of such iconic cultural staples like Disney Studios. How great that he didn’t want to retire because he loved what he did so much, and he just kept showing up until they rehired him. Love it!

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