Meet the animators behind Disney's princesses

December 7, 2009 4:39:08 PM PST
They are the animators behind Disney's princesses: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Mulan. Find out how they come up with these loveable characters and be the first to meet the newest member of Disney royalty.

About The Princess and the Frog:

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents the musical "The Princess and the Frog," an animated comedy set in the great city of New Orleans. From the creators of "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" comes a modern twist on a classic tale, featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana, a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.

The film also features the voices of Oprah Winfrey, John Goodman, Terrence Howard, Bruno Campos, and Jenifer Lewis.

The Princess and the Frog features music by Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman.

For more information, visit disney.go.com

About the animators:

Mark Henn (Supervising Animator) joined the Walt Disney Animation Studios in June 1980 as an in-betweener on The Fox and the Hound and was promoted to Animator less than a year later. Since that time, he has risen through the ranks to become one of the industry's most respected artists.

Most recently, he animated Goofy in How to Hook Up Your Home Theater for Disney's newly reinstated shorts program and provided animation for the bookend sequences of the Studio's hit Enchanted.

He is currently working on The Princess and the Frog, the Studio's latest entry in traditional hand-drawn animation, as the Supervising Animator for the titular princess, Tiana, having helped design the character and oversee her animation throughout the film.

For his first assignment at Disney, The Fox and the Hound, Henn was an in-betweener on Tod the fox, as well as the film's bear fight sequence. He was promoted to Animator during the featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol, where he was part of the team responsible for animating Mickey Mouse.

As an Animator on The Black Cauldron, Henn worked on the Horned King's henchman, Creeper, the furry Gurgi and Fflewddur Flam, the wandering minstrel.

In his first stint as a Supervising Animator, Henn animated the characters of Basil, Dr. Dawson, Olivia and Flaversham from The Great Mouse Detective.

Since then, he has continued in his role as Supervising Animator, bringing life to Oliver, Dodger, Jenny and Fagin in Oliver & Company; Ariel in The Little Mermaid; Bernard and Bianca in The Rescuers Down Under; Mickey, the Prince and Goofy in the animated featurette The Prince and the Pauper; Belle in Beauty and the Beast; Jasmine in Aladdin; Young Simba in The Lion King; the free-spirited and irrepressible heroine of Disney's Mulan, as well as Mulan's father, Fa Zhou; the loving older sister Nani in Lilo & Stitch; and Grace in Home on the Range.

He also served as an Animator on the title character in Pocahontas. In 2000, Henn also traded his pencil for a director's chair and directed the award-winning short, John Henry, which is based on the popular American legend.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Henn remembers telling everyone at the age of seven that he wanted to be an animator after being inspired by the Disney animated classic Cinderella. In 1980, he successfully completed the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts, then began his career at Disney, where he was mentored by legendary Disney animator Eric Larson. On the home front, Henn is an antiques collector and American history buff. He and his family currently reside in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Michael Surrey (Supervising Animator) grew up in Toronto, Canada where his life ambitions included becoming a fireman, architect and (of course) hockey player. He attended Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada and received his BFA from the New York Institute of Technology. Michael's first Disney project, back in 1990, was The Prince and the Pauper.

His first job as a Supervisor was on The Lion King's Timon, and he is particularly proud of the success that film enjoyed. He is currently working on The Princess and the Frog, overseeing all the animation done on Ray the Cajun Firefly. He is responsible for keeping Ray's look consistent, as if animated by one artist, although he works with a team of four.

He recalls his ultimate Disney moment as getting to flip through an original Pinocchio scene kept in the research library. Nominated for an Annie Award for his work on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Michael lives with his family and two dogs in La Crescenta. His hobbies include drawing, spending time with family and friends, and hockey. He's inspired by confident people who are not afraid to push themselves.


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