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Todd Jacobsen Disney Where's My Mickey?

  • Client: Disney Mobile

  • Work Performed: Animation (Toon Boom Harmony)

  • Project Date: 2013

(A snippet of this scene appears in the official trailer for the “Where’s My Mickey?” mobile app at the 00:22 mark, and a slightly longer version was used at 00:55 in a “Behind the Scenes” promotional clip. The official trailer and the “Behind the Scenes” promo are at the bottom of this post, as well as the entire “Growing Pains” sequence and an explanation for the animation error.) I was originally hired by Disney Mobile to work on the sequel to the popular “Where’s My Water?” app, but was both thrilled and honored to animate a Mickey Mouse scene for “Where’s My Mickey?,” a game with a template similar to the one used for “Water.”

I’d always wanted to work in mobile gaming, and my time at Disney Mobile gave me something for use in my résumé and portfolio that I’ll cherish forever — it’s not everyday an artist gets to animate Mickey Mouse directly for the company that created him!

During my second week at Mobile, “Croissant de Triomphe” (the first entry in a corporate “Mickey re-branding” effort) had its online première. Part of an ongoing series of Disney Channel short films, these projects gave Mickey Mouse’s “pie-eyed” designs from the 1920’s and 1930’s a retro-futuristic sensibility.

Using Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe After Effects, along with a slapstick and almost dialogue-free story (what little spoken was in basic French), Paul Rudish and his team created a surprise hit which brought a sorely missed sense of mischief and fun back to Disney’s most iconic character.

The “Where’s My Mickey” game would be using the same designs as the new Mickey shorts, and I fell in love with these new model sheets when I saw them during my pre-hire interview. And even more so when I saw these designs in motion while watching the “Croissant” première a few weeks later.

So, yeah…you could have knocked me over with a feather when they asked me to switch gears from “Water” to “Mickey.”

The scene I’d be animating would be the last one in the “Growing Pains” mini-movie preceding that particular section of the game. I asked Scott Graham, the Senior Animator at Disney Mobile, what Mickey’s motivation would be in this scene. He paused for a second, and said: “Really anxious.”

So after spending some time that afternoon watching an animatic made up of some rough storytelling drawings, I realized I could insert some quick, simple “anxiousness” of Mickey nervously bouncing up and down while he was waiting for water to come out of the faucet. (This bit of acting was not in the animatic.)

The entire "Growing Pains" sequence It took a total of about two days (using Toon Boom Harmony, after a four-year personal/professional hiatus away from the software) for me to block out and animate this seven second scene, and I really wanted to spend a minute or five in two areas to polish it up for my “Monday at Noon” deadline: 1. While Mickey was standing still after his nervous bounce, all of his body parts were drifting and mistakenly overlapping in some areas (at 00:25 in the YouTube clip); and

2. I wanted to give him some “bend” in his knees during his bouncing. Unfortunately, I was asked immediately after our Monday morning meetings to start working on another interstitial in a completely different section of the game, as the work pace at Disney Mobile was very frenetic. So Scott took this scene off my computer to add the shivering water faucet and drip animation, as well as the visual “smack!” effect when Mickey completes his facepalm.

And after those little bits of effects animation were complete, the scene went on its way…with Mickey’s drifting elements and unbent knees intact.

Rats. (Or, in this case: Mice.)

Still, I’m pretty happy with how this scene turned out.

Official trailer (Scene at 00:22)

"Behind the Scenes" (Scene at 00:55)


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