Disney Animated Review

Disney Animated Review

Learn the secrets of animation from the master in Disney Animated for iPad

Just as they have brought countless still images to life on the silver screen, Disney has now sprinkled their magic over this comprehensive guide to animation. Designed exclusively for the iPad, Disney Animated uses hours of video clips, interactive features and practical exercises to take you through every step of producing a cartoon classic. Drawing on the filmmaker’s iconic collection, the app’s many behind-the-scenes features will also appeal to fans of the House of Mouse.

Framed as a breezy guide to animation, Disney Animated includes overviews of Walt Disney’s approach to everything from developing a story to visual effects and adding a film score. The language used is broad rather than technical, so consider this Animation 101 rather than a step-by-step guide to making the next Cinderella or WALL-E.

However, there are also a bunch of practical activities to test your animating skills: make a ball bounce, adjust the face of a horse to convey expressions and create your own animated sequence. The latter is a simplified version of real Disney Studios software and involves both adjusting the joints of a CGI model to make them assume positions and recording it and editing the order of frames to produce a short film.

The guides themselves are illustrated with hand-drawn sketches, work-in-progress computer-generated scenes and rotating artefacts from the locked vaults of The Walt Disney Animation Research Library. Tapping on objects can trigger video cut-scenes or allow you to pinch-zoom in on images and view additional annotations. These details give the app mass appeal beyond wannabe future animators to all film lovers.

Perhaps the biggest fan service in the app is the timeline of all 53 Disney animated movies ranging from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs back in 1937 right up to 2013’s Frozen.

Each entry includes a plot synopsis, ‘did-you-know’ factoids, video clips for all major characters, cinema trailers and extracts from the musical score. The Timeline also includes key moments both in Disney’s business history, ranging from the opening of Disneyland in 1955 to the purchase of Lucasfilm last year, as well as offering wider historical context, such as the Great Depression and the invention of the World Wide Web.

Each film also includes a Color Map, a unique way of viewing entire movies from beginning to end, highlighting the tones and hues that dominate each scene. Hold your finger over the multi-coloured lines to view individual frames from each film. There is also a shortcut on the main menu to view the colour map for every film at once. Again, this is a feature aimed at those interested in learning the secrets behind Disney’s magic, and is a great way of spotting style trends. For example, why was the colour palette of Disney’s movies darker between 1980 and 2000?

All in all, this app is packed with hours of entertainment with guides divided up into chapters so that you can easily dip in and out of them. While the make-your-own-animation Workshop feature will keep bringing users back time and time again as their skills improve, so will the hunt for interactive Easter eggs.

Produced by Disney in collaboration with Touch Press, who has developed many other popular interactive books (Barefoot World Atlas, The Orchestra and March of the Dinosaurs), Disney Animated raises the bar in terms of interactivity levels. It seems like every object on the screen has an additional function, whether it is a tappable image caption or a video clip. However, perhaps the animated text is a bit too much. While being able to drag every item on screen is fun, having the text move as well every time your finger strokes the touchpad can be very distracting when you’re trying to read, annoying even, after the fourth or fifth time it happens.

A word of caution to parents, while the App Store lists this Disney product as suitable for ages four and over because it contains no objectionable material, it may be that it is a little too complicated for children under ten-years-old without supervision. Users should also be aware that all those video clips and interactive features will eat up 1.78GB of your storage – not unusual for an interactive book, but still more than your average download. Despite that, this is a brilliant app that will likely appeal to everyone on some level.

Rated 5 out of 5

Inside knowledge from the iconic film studio, completed with great interactivity.