Disney Intros: Design Evolution and Technical Improvement

As a kid, I loved Disney movies–particularly the animated ones. I remember the opening blue screen with Cinderella’s Castle. In the context of 2-D animation, it was a perfect opening–simple but recognizable.

As Pixar’s 3-D prowess increased, they updated the original blue opening and added a few three-dimensional flourishes. It was a literal reinterpretation of the Disney opening.

The requisite blue background remained, but the flags waved and a slightly more realistic castle floated in mid-air awaiting the introduction of the title. The original was iconic and in many ways, not subject to reality; however the rudimentary 3-D work in the follow-up lost the simplicity and magic.

Enter version three:

The latest iteration captures the magic of Disney in ways 2-D animation could only dream: a mystical start in the heavens, a moving camera point, fireworks and lighting complexity. This is the perfect introduction to the magical world of Disney.

Whereas the first 3-D version captured all of the requisite elements of the original, the design was constrained based on past considerations. Instead of rethinking what made a Disney movie (and intro) great, they simply slapped a new coat of paint on the intro.

A proper re-imagining of the intro led to something that captured the essence of Disney while taking advantage of technological improvements. It was everything that the original offered but appropriately updated.

As designers, I wonder if we fall prey to the ease of slapping paint on something old. Technology has opened up new worlds for designers, and it would be a shame to miss what the new allows us to do.