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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

About The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Pt 3

ASIFA Cartoons Magazine
Here is the conclusion of Stephanie Sapienza's great article, PROJECTING ANIMATION'S PAST ONTO ITS FUTURE: The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. This article runs in the current issue of ASIFA-International's CARTOONS magazine. -Stephen Worth

Mickey Mouse Poster Design
ASIFA-Hollywood's Animation Archive Database contains many one-of-a-kind treasures from the estates of legendary animators like Les Clark and Grim Natwick.


Mary BlairMary BlairYou might wonder where the funding to accomplish all of the things the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is doing is coming from. "We're very much flying by the seat of our pants." Worth admits. "The Walter Lantz Foundation and Sony Pictures Imageworks have given us grants that take care of the office space. Dreamworks SKG has donated equipment. And luckily, there are a lot of great people who believe in this idea who are willing to support it through individual donations. The student volunteers are enthusiastic too and are willing to roll up their sleeves and make it happen. Everything is on an achievable level and momentum is building to allow us to take on even more in the future."

Future plans include syndicating the archive database to satellite workstations at museums, libraries and universities around the world. "I'd like to see every chapter of ASIFA get a digitization setup so they can contribute their own reference material to the database." Worth says. "That way, animators all over the world could contribute and gain from the accumulated knowledge."

Lotte Reiniger Prince Achmed
ASIFA-Hollywood's Animation Archive contains information on influential women animators like Lotte Reiniger, the creator of the oldest surviving animated feature, and the acclaimed illustrator and designer, Mary Blair.

Eldon DediniEldon DediniRight now, the database is only available at the archive offices in Burbank, California; but the Stephen Worth has also been utilizing the archive's blog to get a massive amount of their fantastic collection online. He dedicates much of his time writing articles on the website to generate interest in the materials and to clearly state how interested parties can become involved in the project. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Blog, which can be found at, contains thousands of images and streaming videos, along with biographical articles and information on the progress of the project itself. According to Stephen Worth, the blog serves over a quarter of a million articles a month to over 1.5 million unique visitors. "Our web traffic comes from around the world. We've heard from artists as far away as Japan, Kazakhstan and Italy who follow our progress on the internet every day."

Gustaf Tenggren
In the "golden age" of animation, production designers didn't look to other cartoons for inspiration on how their films should look... they looked to classic illustration, like that of Gustaf Tenggren. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive collection includes hundreds of illustrated children books, each one bursting at the seams with new ideas for how animated films can look.

"The next step for us is to establish a steady stream of revenue to fund the sustained growth of the project," says Worth. "I see in my head a full brick and mortar museum dedicated to animation with satellite facilities all over the world. I'm willing to do whatever I can to make this a reality. There are a lot of other people here who love animation and are happy to help. I don't think it's an unattainable goal."


Ub IwerksUb IwerksThough few would recognize his name, and even fewer his face, nearly every person on earth knows of this man's work. This is Ub Iwerks, the man who created Mickey Mouse.

This self portrait from 1931 was found in a trash can at a local TV cartoon studio. No one knows how the drawing got there and no one at the studio could identify him. At a reunion of animators from the most successful animated feature of recent times, this sketch was shown to a hall full of employees from the studio this man made famous- not a single person recognized him.

Read more about why we need an Animation Archive.


Part of what makes the ASIFA-Hollywood Archive so unique is that they are so progressive and yet so willfully different from other archives. Their unique vision is encapsulated in a remark from Worth, "I'm not a library science person, I'm an animated film-maker, so I don't know what normal is for a facility like this. I do know what animators need and how they need it organized so they can use it. That's what I'm trying to build." Their pro-access and pro-digital approach is refreshing.

Milt Kahl Pinocchio Drawing
A rough animation drawing by the legendary Milt Kahl. The animation of the past is being put back to work, educating and inspiring the animators of the future.

PropagandaPropagandaThe ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive is designed by and for animators. This is a group of artists who not only understand the basic elements of form, design, and nuances of character performance, but have to rigorously time and structure the creation of their art down to 1/24th of a second. Certainly the professional world contains a scattered sampling of people as dedicated as ASIFA-Hollywood is to documenting their own profession and educating the newcomers, but it's extremely rare to find such a concentrated few in any one place. As an archivist myself, I think my peers might have a lot to learn from these animators, and in time I think the archiving world will take notice of ASIFA-Hollywood's efforts. It is rapidly becoming the model of what the "21st century archive" must become. -Stephanie Sapienza 2008

Paul Terry's Famer Al Falfa
The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive depends on the support of the people who benefit from it. If you feel that this resource is of value to you, we encourage you to contribute using the PayPal links on this site and become a member of ASIFA-Hollywood. With your contributions, the Archive can grow. Together, we can take the project forward.

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