During the early days of the Disney Studios, Walt used the short films he produced as a way to experiment with the possibilities of what animation could do. Some of the technological advancements made during this time, including the introduction of synchronized sound and three-strip Technicolor, helped set Disney’s output apart from his competitors and led the way to more ambitious feature-length projects. Today, both Disney and Pixar continue this tradition through the production of their own animated shorts that seek to further push the envelope in new and exciting ways, some of which can be seen at Epcot’s “Magic Eye Theater” as part of the new “Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.”
After picking up your 3-D glasses, be sure to take a moment to admire some of the concept and production artwork that lines the wall of the theater’s lobby. Among them is this lineup of familiar characters from the first of the presentation’s three films: the 2013 Mickey Mouse short “Get A Horse.” Although its design harkens back to the work of animator Ub Iwerks in the 1920s, it’s safe to say there’s never been a Mickey Mouse cartoon quite like “Get a Horse.” Through an astonishing combination of classic hand drawn animation, CG animation, and stereooptic 3D, director Lauren MacMullen and a talented crew that included master animator Eric Goldberg literally push the classic Mickey Mouse we know and love into the 21st Century.
The film begins as if it were a long-lost black and white hand drawn short, but that all changes when the villainous Peg-Leg Pete throws Mickey and Horace Horsecollar so hard that they break through the movie screen itself. As a result, our heroes, now transformed into color CGI characters, find themselves now trapped in a modern movie theater. The rest of the short focuses on these two worlds colliding as Mickey attempts to somehow rescue Minnie from Pete’s clutches as characters seamlessly jumping back and forth between the 2D and 3D environment.
Although it is currently available on several home entertainment releases and on-demand download, this is definitely a short meant to be on the big screen in 3D. Literally breaking the fourth wall, the 3D effects makes you feel like Mickey and friends have crashed into the theater with you. “Get an Horse” not only embraces the playful rubber hose aesthetic of the early days of Disney animation but also that era’s experimental spirit. So, next time you find yourself at Epcot’s “Imagination!” pavilion, be sure to take some time to stop by the “Magic Eye Theater” to witness some of the imaginative work still going on at the Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.