Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30: Silly Symphonies Go Color

On this day in 1932, Disney's 29th Silly Symphony short Flowers and Trees premiered at Sid Graummann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, playing in front of the Clark Gable film Strange Interlude. The first to be produced in three-strip Technicolor and considered a landmark in animation, Flowers and Trees was not the first color cartoon (that honor went to The Debut of Thomas the Cat produced some 12 years earlier for the Bray Studios).

Walt Disney's reason to use three-strip Technicolor (a very expensive process at the time) was to boost interest in his Silly Symphony shorts. At the time, Walt's Mickey Mouse cartoons - although black & white - were doing great ... but his Silly Symphonies needed a push. Flowers and Trees was already in production as a black & white short when the choice was made to go color. Walt also signed a two-year agreement with Technicolor giving him sole rights to the process for animated shorts ... and a head start over all the other cartoon studios. This made Flowers and Trees the first commercial film to use the 3-color dye transfer system.

A simple story featuring two trees in love who are threatened by an angry old tree stump that sets the woods on fire, the long list of animators who worked on Flowers and Trees include such famous names in Disney history as Les Clark, Norm Ferguson, Dave Hand, Hardie Gramatky, Fred Moore and Dick Lundy.

Directed by Burt Gillett, Flowers and Trees was a commercial success and earned Disney the first Academy Award ever given for Best Short Subjects - Cartoons. Every Silly Symphony that followed was produced in color.

"When I first saw those three rich, true colors on one film, I wanted to shout." -Walt Disney

Click HERE for more July 30 Disney history.

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