Saturday, November 25, 2017

Shanghaî Disneyland Tomorrowland, by Those Who Built It

A great video for the week-end with Grimshaw Architects, Scott Drake , Shanghaî Disneyland Tomorrowland Creative Executive and Bob Weis, President Walt Disney Imagineering discussing about the making of SDL Tomorrowland. Working hand in hand with Walt Disney Imagineering, the Grimshaw team has designed a unique experience for guests to Shanghai Disney Resort's Tomorrowland.

The picture at the top of the article was shot by me last year at SDL and instead to choose a picture showing the TRON dome as it is usually the case when one wants to show SDL Tomorrowland, i've choose a picture of another area of Tomorrowland, rarely shown so you may have never seen it before. It is located opposite to the TRON ride, where there is a stage with musicians playing music at night, with lights effects, etc...

Picture: copyright Disney and more

Video: copyright Grimshaw Architects, Disney

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Fall of John Lasseter? Hell, no!

Until now John Lasseter was one of the luckiest man in the world. Beloved by Disney and Pixar fans for his contribution to animation and all the great PIXAR classics, Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, and recipient of so many awards and honors that i've stopped to count them - he's probably not far to have received as many awards as did his hero Walt Disney.

But today, the list of famous people in trouble because of past sexual harassment or wrong behavior with their employees seems to never end. Yesterday it was the turn of famous interviewer Charlie Rose and today the unthinkable is happening as John Lasseter announced he's on leave after report of misconduct and apologizes "for making some employees feel disrespected and uncomfortable". Let's try to understand what really happened and start by the memo that was sent by John Lasseter to Pixar employees, and then i have more to say after it. The Hollywood Reporter article who posted Lasseter memo is HERE.

John Lasseter memo to PIXAR employees:

"I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.

I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.

In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.

I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.


Disney also posted a statement regarding John Lasseter:

"We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical."

The Hollywood Reporter is adding in another article that "one longtime Pixar employee says Lasseter, who is well-known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment community, was also known by insiders for "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes." Multiple sources say Lasseter is known to drink heavily at company social events such as premiere parties, but this source says the behavior was not always confined to such settings."

Okay. Now, did John Lasseter behaved badly with women? According to the facts reported by The Hollywood Reporter, and even according to Lasseter himself, yes he did. And he's of course right to apologize and to leave Pixar for a few months to think about all this. But, wait a minute, as we live in a world where people react so emotionally and are always fast to make a judgment on  what is reported and mix everything with other things that did not happen, let's say it clearly: as far as we know at the time i write this article John Lasseter did not raped anyone, he didn't walked naked around Pixar Studios and he didn't forced any Pixar employee to any sexual acts. It doesn't mean that what Lasseter did is nothing, it just mean that he's been "grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes" - and that's all he did. "That's all" doesn't mean of course that it's not reprehensible. But does it mean that Lasseter deserves to have his career at Pixar ended and his public image destroyed because of what he did? My opinion is no, it doesn't. It certainly deserves a strong explanation and apologies from Lasseter to the women who were embarrassed by  John behavior, but to go up to the point he must be fired from Pixar looks a bit exagerrated to me, simply because it is forgetting all the rest - the good side of John Lasseter and what he brought to Animation during the last thirty years. In two words, if you want to judge John Lasseter, as long as there is no real crime - and there is is not here - judge him with everything that makes him John Lasseter and not only the small part of him belonging to the "dark side of the force".

But there is more that i want to add: as famous French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu once said: " There is no power, there is only abuse of power". What happen to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein prove that Bourdieu is right. One month ago Weinstein was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood and in less than a month he lost all is power and is now virtually nothing. That said, what John Lasseter is blamed for looks minor in comparison of what Weinstein did and if Weinstein fully deserved to fall i think that it would be really unfair to put John Lasseter in the same bag. In my opinion, what's happening currently to all of these men accused of sexual harassment or inappropriate attitude towards women, what they're paying for, is for some moments, as short as they were, during which they did "abuse of power".

Now, remember the famous book titled "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"?  Well, it couldn't be more right, men are from Mars indeed, and Mars is an energy which rules the force, sexual power, animality, and - as it was the God of war in ancient mythologies - it also rules agressive behavior. It doesn't justify, of course, that men abuse of this power to assault women and i'll be the first to applaud all these women who have the courage to come out to say the truth about what happened to them, but i'm just asking for a fair judgment here and to don't put a gentle tap on the ass or a hug a bit too warm - as inappropriate as they can be - in the same bag than a rape or a sexual attack. In two words, i ask everyone to keep his common sense and to don't see suddenly John Lasseter as a creep or a monster because it wouldn't have any sense, and it's not the case here. John may have to take some sabbatical months to think about his past behavior, but does he deserves to "fall" for this? Hell, no!

Annie Awards : Didier Ghez, Historian of Disney Animation and Co-Author of the Disneyland Paris Book Is Awarded the June Foray Award !

A great news for my friend Didier Ghez, Historian of Disney Animation and co-author with me of the Disneyland Paris book as well as editor of the great "Walt's People" book series and also the "They Drew as they Pleased" book series about Disney Animation: The Annie Awards- the Academy Awards of animation - has announced this year’s slate of recipients for its Juried Awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation and Didier is being awarded the June Foray Award - the award for significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation!

This is truly a fully deserved award for Didier who has dedicated a big part of his life to Disney Animation and i'm sincerely very happy for him! The official ceremony will happen on February 3, 2018 in Los Angeles and in the meantime if you want to congratulate him you can do it on his Facebook page HERE.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Awesome Harper Goff Hot-Air Balloon Attraction Concept that Would Fit Perfectly at the Entrance of Disneyland Paris

I have more Harper Goff greatness for you this week with never seen before Harper Goff artwork showing a 1980's unrealized project for a captive hot-air balloon attraction and restaurant. Although this attraction concept was not designed for Disney but apparently for some company in Canada, Harper Goff designed this Victorian-style hot-air balloon attraction called "Island in the Sky" featuring observation decks, lounges, and a restaurant - a restaurant in a balloon, can you believe that! This fascinating unrealized project included antiquarian, Victorian elements that reminds Harper Goff's legendary Nautilus submarine and his theme park designs. Even the huge windows inside the restaurant remind the one of the Nautilus!

The hot air balloon was huge, along with four smaller ones on each side and this Harper Goff concept is, in my opinion, pure greatness.

When i saw it it instantly this concept-art done for Disneyland Paris Hotel located at the entrance of the park where are loading in the air hot air balloons.

Of course the balloons were there only for the artwork but i though "wait a minute, wouldn't it be great to have this Harper Goff balloon flying in the air at the entrance of the park - as captive balloon, just like the one currently on Lake Disney near the Disney Village - its Victorian style would fit perfectly with the Hotel? And DLP could even make money with the restaurant inside. So, i took the WDI artwork and did quickly some picture editing, placing Harper Goff balloon on it, and in my opinion it fits just like if it was done for it!

I’m pretty sure it won’t cost that much to create the balloon as Goff did ( well, it will cost money but not millions ). They could bring all food and beverages that the restaurant would need for guests lunch and dinners when the balloon would be down, during the night when guests are gone. So, on this point, it don't looks to me to be a big problem.

NOW, as i know that Disney will have concerns about security issues the balloon can’t have its launch base inside the park or can’t fly, even captive, over the park. So, where could we put the balloon launch base? As we know there is already a captive balloon on the lake near the hotels, but ideally considering the balloon design it would be better if it was placed near the DLP hotel. So, i’ve been on Google Maps and i’ve found two locations where it could be possible to have the launch base. First, here is a screen capture just like it is now, view from above.

And here is my proposed idea of locations where, considering what is built currently, i think DLP have available room to put the balloon launch base. My favorite is the “location 1", but location 2 would fit also. If any of these locations are too close to the parks for security reasons then there would always be the solution to put it on the lake near DisneyVillage where the other balloon currently is.

So, What do you think? Honestly, i don’t see anything unrealistic but may be there is something i didn’t thought about. That said, balloons don't cost tons of money - this one is more sophisticated indeed as there it include five balloons with a huge one at the center but the cost would be certainly less than a Disney attraction. It would be the only one in the world to have a restaurant, the theming is gorgeous, as a captive balloon it will always be attached to the ground, and DLP would even make a lot of money with guests and the restaurant inside it. If any DLP Imagineer is reading this article, thanks to think about it!

Pictures: copyright Harper Goff, Google Maps