Back at the end of June, Collider was invited to participate in a long-lead press day for the much-loved, classic Disney animated feature The Lion King, which has now been turned into Disney Digital 3D. As if seeing The Lion King in 3D wasn’t cool enough by itself, the interviews were held at the Disney Animation Research Library, which houses approximately 65 million pieces of art produced over more than 80 years. While we will have exclusive interviews with the film’s co-director Rob Minkoff, stereoscopic supervisor Robert Neuman, and animators Mark Henn (“Young Simba”) & Tony Bancroft (“Pumbaa”) closer to the September 16th return to theaters, I wanted to give a preview of my impressions of the 3D conversion and my experience touring the vaults of artwork and character sculptures that are housed within the ARL. Check out my thoughts on the 3D conversion and what it was like to tour the ARL after the jump. We’ve also got a bunch of images.
Nearly a decade since it last appeared on the big screen, a special two-week theatrical run will showcase the Oscar and Golden Globe winning film for the first time ever in 3D. Because The Lion King was originally done in 2D hand-drawn animation, the 3D is best displayed in the sweeping landscapes and large group scenes. The opening musical number, “Circle of Life”, immerses viewers in the epic setting and puts them face-to-face with the beloved characters in a way they’ve never been able to before, all well instantly reminding you why the film has remained so popular. Already the best-selling home entertainment release of all time, October 4th marks its highly anticipated debut on high-definition Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D. Getting to check out the 3D quality of the Blu-ray, I can say that it features pristine picture and sound, interactive features, and bonus content that includes a new set of hilarious animated bloopers.
The most exciting part of the press day for me was getting to go out to the Disney Animation Research Library for the interviews because it also included a tour of the world’s largest archive of animation art, by the very knowledgeable staff member, Fox Carney. We were given glimpses of the diverse collection, which includes animation drawings, conceptual design artwork, backgrounds, layouts, cels, story sketches, exposure sheets, model sheets and maquettes from most of Disney’s animated shorts, featurettes and full-length features. While it was very cool to get to see some of the character sculptures for The Lion King, I must admit that it was equally cool to also see some for the ones for the new Winnie the Pooh, Up, The Incredibles, Hercules, Mulan, The Princess and the Frog and, most importantly for me, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although we were not allowed to bring cameras into the art vaults, they had a photographer document the day and those images should give further insight, as to what the experience was like. And, in case you were wondering, extra special precautions have been taken throughout the building to ensure that, if there were to ever be a fire, all of the artwork would immediately be sealed off and protected from any damage, to live on for many generations of Disney fans to come.