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Disney Magic Revealed In New Exhibit

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Disney's films have always had a sort of magical quality.  Now, a new exhibit in Norman has put a little of that "magic" on display.

"A Century of Magic: the Animation of the Walt Disney Studios" runs through September 16 at Norman's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Museum Curator Mark White said the exhibit serves to fill a "generation gap."

"You are starting to deal with a generation that really didn't necessarily grow up watching these films," White said.  "But I think there are a lot of parents out there who have made the attempt to really introduce their children to the older films."

The "cels," short for celluloid acetate, are transparent drawings used to produce the animation seen in old Disney films.  The cels were hand drawn, then hand painted on the opposite side to eliminate brushstrokes.  The cels were usually filmed in front of a hand drawn background.  Dozens of artists were needed to produce the amount of cels needed for a film, with each of them working on separate portions of it.  Since there were twenty-four cels per second of film, some movies used up to fifty thousand separate cels. 

"It's the same process as an artist in front of a canvas doing something," said  Ghislain d'Humiere, the museum's director.  "I dare to say that in many of these cels you have much more artistic input and creativity than some contemporary art we could see." 

The exhibit features rare drawings from "Snow White," Disney's first fully animated feature film.  "Pinocchio," "Jungle Book," and "Winnie the Pooh" are other films that have cels on display.  There are over eighty cels involved, with the most recent ones from "Fantasia 2000."

Computer generated imagery, or CGI, has taken over most animated films these days, but the detail in "A Century of Magic" is something that computers just aren't capable of.

"They're sort of an artifact of the past," said White.  "There is a sort of quality to it that I think people can recognize and appreciate."

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