Trade se­crets

Dis­ney holds train­ing course for lead­ing Chi­nese an­i­ma­tors

Global Times - - Front Page -

The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany, known for pro­duc­tions whose life lessons tickle our funny bones and tug at peo­ple’s heart­strings, has also stepped up to be­come a bridge be­tween China and the US.

On Au­gust 26, Dis­ney brought 20 of China’s lead­ing an­i­ma­tors, an­i­ma­tion com­pany ex­ec­u­tives and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to Cal­i­for­nia for a three-week train­ing to learn Dis­ney’s se­crets of suc­cess.

Dis­ney has been im­ple­ment­ing a multi-year train­ing pro­gram since 2015 to help China’s home­grown an­i­ma­tors to suc­ceed in the global an­i­ma­tion mar­ket, while also send­ing their own peo­ple to China to un­der­stand the lo­cal mar­ket.

“Every­body un­der­stands China is a big mar­ket... but Dis­ney has al­ways un­der­stood that for us to func­tion in China we need to tune into Chi­nese cul­ture and we need to be­come part of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try in China,” said Marc Han­dler, Dis­ney’s cre­ative direc­tor, dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Xin­hua News Agency this week in Los An­ge­les.

Sta­tioned in Shang­hai, Han­dler and his China team are tak­ing their mis­sion se­ri­ously. Mov­ing be­yond the lim­ited scope of just flog­ging stu­dio prod­ucts into the bur­geon­ing China mar­ket, Dis­ney has com­mit­ted it­self to a far more am­bi­tious agenda: to gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the Chi­nese peo­ple and their his­tory and cul­ture.

“Chi­nese cul­ture is so rich, so deep. I’ve been liv­ing in China for the last five years and am able to be re­ally div­ing into it and see the dif­fer­ent parts of China,” Han­dler said.

That has en­abled Dis­ney to do co­pro­duc­tions with their lo­cal Chi­nese col­leagues, such as Stoney & Rocky, a show Dis­ney did with Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion stu­dio Toon­max, and Stitch & Ai, a pop­u­lar se­ries set in An­hui Prov­ince.

To sup­port lo­cal fare, Dis­ney also aired P. King Duck­ling – the first time a Chi­nese TV se­ries was im­ported to the US and broad­cast on a Dis­ney chan­nel. Also, one of Dis­ney’s own hit se­ries, Sofia the First, was the first US TV se­ries per­mit­ted to air in the Chi­nese main­land in years.

“We shared our project plan about Chi­nese mythol­ogy, hop­ing to im­prove it in dis­cus­sion with Dis­ney,” said Fang Ling, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of CCTV An­i­ma­tion.

To help, Dis­ney is bring­ing out their big guns.

Chi­nese vis­i­tors are learn­ing the in­side skinny from the very best: Dis­ney’s top stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives, finest an­i­ma­tors, di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers.

As part of the train­ing pro­gram, Dis­ney also al­lows them ac­cess to an ac­tive pro­duc­tion to get a real life un­der­stand­ing of the com­plex pro­duc­tion process that can take months for an­i­mated TV shows and years for an­i­mated films.

This year’s pro­gram is a deep dive into all things Tan­gled: the Se­ries, Dis­ney’s hit new an­i­mated TV se­ries, de­vel­oped by Chris Son­nen­burg.

It is based on Dis­ney’s hit 2010 film Tan­gled, which grossed $592 mil­lion world­wide. The se­ries fol­low the ad­ven­tures of the Broth­ers Grimm’s mag­i­cal-haired, fairy­tale hero­ine, Ra­pun­zel and her wacky friends.

Chris Son­nen­burg, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and su­per­vis­ing direc­tor of the se­ries, told Xin­hua: “It’s been su­per fun to have the [Chi­nese] group come through and ex­plain to them how the show is cre­ated ... I love shar­ing the en­tire process of pro­duc­tion and what it takes to do it.”

While at­tend­ing in-depth classes, par­tic­i­pants get a rare chance to peek be­hind the cur­tain at Dis­ney’s in­com­pa­ra­ble hit-mak­ing ma­chine.

Son­nen­burg leads the 20 Chi­nese par­tic­i­pants through the com­pli­cated process of nur­tur­ing an an­i­mated TV se­ries from story and char­ac­ter con­cept, through script de­vel­op­ment, char­ac­ter de­sign, mu­si­cal com­po­si­tion, sto­ry­board­ing, fi­nal art, pro­duc­tion, post pro­duc­tion and scor­ing, to the fin­ished prod­uct.

“Chi­nese an­i­ma­tors are im­pressed by the spe­cial­ized op­er­a­tion of Dis­ney. We are trying to ab­sorb ad­vanced ex­pe­ri­ences from them as much as pos­si­ble in three weeks,” said Fang.

Yu Shengjun, pro­ducer of the Chi­nese an­i­mated se­ries Lit­tle Artist Remy

Bear, was equally ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity. “It’s help­ful for the de­vel­op­ment of Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion to gain ad­vanced ex­pe­ri­ence and tech­nol­ogy from Hol­ly­wood. I use the ex­per­tise learned from Dis­ney to im­prove my work, at­tract­ing more buy­ers from other coun­tries.”

Photo: Xin­hua

Tan­gled de­vel­oper Chris Son­nen­burg shows ma­te­rial from the film to Chi­nese rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

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