Disney has brought Robin Williams back in a new short film, without the AI

Disney’s new animated/live-action short Once upon a time in the studio It’s kind of like the final battle in Avengers: Endgame: Filled with every relevant character you can think of. The short film, which aims to celebrate 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios, features 543 characters from throughout the company’s history – including some that fans thought we might never see again, such as AladdinThe Genie, voiced by the late Robin Williams.

Polygon was on hand to watch the short film at a Los Angeles preview of the upcoming Disney feature he wishes. Once upon a time in the studio Follows Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they gather cartoon characters for a centennial group photo outside the Roy E. Disney Animation Building. About halfway through, images of animated Disney characters come to life and wander the halls of the studio, à la mode Night at the museumThe genie appears next to him FrozenOlaf the Snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) speaks a few awkward lines Aladdin. As the filmmakers have repeatedly emphasized, they did not use special effects or artificial intelligence to craft the moment, unlike other filmmakers who have resurrected cast members for film roles.

“It was actually direct lines from previous records,” producer Yvette Merino told Polygon at the preview. “When we record animation on any feature, there are a number of takes. So we were able to find that line that fit perfectly with our short.”

AI has been an intense topic in Hollywood during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, with the WGA winning concessions in its new contract to limit the use of AI. And earlier this month, Williams’ daughter Zelda Shared on Instagram How disturbing it was for her to see instances of artificial intelligence recreating her father’s voice, describing the replicas as “at their worst, a horrific Frankensteinian monster.”

Disney does not intend to create its own version of this monster. “We’re not on the flat [AI] “For now,” producer Brad Simonsen told Polygon. “As a matter of fact, you are not allowed to use AI in the building.”

the Once upon a time in the studio The creative team, including directors Dan Abraham and Trent Currie, reached out to Robin Williams’ estate early on, swapping storyboards for short anthologies and excerpts from Aladdin. As chief creative officer of Disney Animation Studios (b Frozen (Director) Jennifer Lee The company has the estate’s blessing to move forward.

“It was very important for us to share our first version of the short film with the Robin team,” Merino said. “A lot of us who work here at Disney Animation were inspired by this Aladdin And Robin’s performance. It meant the world said yes to his inclusion in the acronym – and [it was] So special that Eric Goldberg, who animated the genie for [original] Feature film, he also animated here.

For the directors and producers, Goldberg was the real key to honoring the iconic character. “When you animate a character, you develop a relationship with that character, and you know who that character is,” Merino said.

Image: Walt Disney Animation Studios

“What Dan and Trent were specific about was that we were hoping to get the animators back,” Simonsen added [who originally served as lead animators on some of the short’s characters], because in 2D, hand-drawn mode, one of the moderators actually drove this character. They were the ones who kept that character on form throughout the show. So to bring back those people who led those characters was a dream.

Not only did Goldberg handle Genie, he served as the overall head of hand-drawn animation Once upon a time in the studio. When the moment came to bring the genie scene to life, the directors handed him the wheel. “We storyboarded for a moment and said, ‘OK, Eric, do what you want Eric Goldberg and bring the magic,'” Abraham recalls. “And then he did.”

She told me that Williams’ performance still has an impact on her more than three decades later. “The genie is an important figure to many of us,” she said.

It’s that kind of impact that makes Williams’ place in Disney animation’s 100-year history enduring. “I think we couldn’t have made this short without Cinderella,” Abraham explains. “We couldn’t have made this short without Stitch. We couldn’t have made this short without Robin Hood. We couldn’t have done this without the leprechaun. He’s just part of our history and our legacy.”

Once upon a time in the studio It will debut on Sunday, October 15 during The Wonderful World of Disney: Celebrating Disney’s 100th Anniversary Special at 8pm EST on ABC. The broadcast date has not been announced yet.

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