For those of us who aren’t animators (so, most of us), it can be impossible to fathom just how much work goes into making a feature-length film. Artist Aaron Blaise helps shed a little light on the process with a series of YouTube tutorials. Recently, he took a look back at his hand-drawn work on 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. As Slate writes, Blaise worked with Disney for over two decades, and also had a hand in Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994).
In the video above, Blaise focuses in on a single shot from the film when Beast is leading Belle down a hall after she first arrives at the castle. Here’s the bit of dialogue that goes with it:
Beast: “The castle is your home now so you can go anywhere you like, except the West Wing.”
Belle: “What’s in the West W-”
Beast: “It’s forbidden!”
It’s pretty short, but as you’ll see, it takes pages and pages of sketches to bring the scene to life. Disney allowed animators to keep the shot drawings when production was over, so the ones featured here are the actual pages Blaise used to create the moment. They include little tricks of the trade like a chart he scribbled on the sides of the pages to help incorporate the up and down motion of the Beast’s walking. Blaise talks through everything from details to big picture planning; it’s a fascinating look at the process behind the art, as well as a welcome look back at a form that’s falling away in the digital era.
Blaise says, “Paper is still a viable medium for us to animate on—I still love to do it every once in a while. Don’t get me wrong: the digital world, the moving end of the digital world, that's progress and we’re moving ahead, and I think there’s some beautiful digital animated films that are being done, but there's no reason why we still can't come back every once in a while and enjoy these little bits of nostalgia.”
On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons premiered on FOX. Nearly 30 years later, the Simpson family and their fellow Springfield residents are still going strong. Let's look back at where it all started—"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."
1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO PREMIERE IN SEPTEMBER.
The Simpsons was originally planned to premiere earlier in the fall of 1989, but because of animation problems, the series began on December 17 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." The original pilot, "Some Enchanted Evening," later aired as the season finale.
2. MARGE WAS SUPPOSED TO GET DRUNK.
According to Al Jean, the original premise of the episode was that "Homer was worried that Marge was going to get drunk at a party and get him in trouble at the office."
3. IT'S LACKING THE SERIES' NOW-FAMOUS OPENING SEQUENCE.
The episode lacked the now-famous opening sequence, which was added in the second episode, "Bart the Genius," because creator Matt Groening thought a longer opening sequence would mean less animation.
4. GWEN STEFANI'S BROTHER PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN ITS CREATION.
One of the layout artists for "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was Eric Stefani, brother of Gwen Stefani and a founding member of No Doubt.
5. BARNEY LOOKED A BIT DIFFERENT.
In the first episode, Barney had yellow hair, which was the same color as his skin. This was later changed because the people behind the show thought that only members of the Simpson family should have yellow hair.
6. LISA REALLY WANTED A PONY.
Lisa asks for a pony six times on her Christmas list (it's her first line in the series). She would later get her pony in the season 3 episode "Lisa's Pony."
7. PART OF IT WAS INSPIRED BY MATT GROENING'S SECOND GRADE SCHOOL REPORT.
According to the DVD commentary, the "Santas of many lands" portion of the Christmas pageant was inspired by a second grade report Matt Groening did on Christmas in Russia.
8. IT DIDN'T INVENT THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF "JINGLE BELLS."
Additionally, Groening claims that this episode has been incorrectly credited with creating the "alternate version" of "Jingle Bells." (Bart sings, "Jingle Bells/Batman Smells/Robin Laid an Egg...")
9. IT WAS ONLY THE SECOND ANIMATED SERIES TO AIR IN PRIMETIME SINCE THE FLINTSTONES.
The Simpsons was just the second animated show to air in primetime since The Flintstones went off the air 23 years earlier. (The other was Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which aired from 1972-1974.)
10. THE IDEA WAS CONCEIVED UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL.
According to executive producer James L. Brooks, "The Simpsons series began like many things begin: with an animator getting drunk at a Christmas party ... We were already doing Tracey Ullman, and David Silverman, who was with us then and would go on to direct The Simpsons Movie, cornered me and poured out his heart about what having a primetime Simpsons show would mean to animators."
11. LISA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A "LITTLE HELL-RAISER."
According to Al Jean, in the original shorts, "Lisa was supposed to be this little hell-raiser like Bart, but their character differentiation was wider when we went to full series."
12. YEARDLEY SMITH AUDITIONED FOR BART.
Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa, originally auditioned for Bart. "That lasted a good eight or nine seconds," Smith recounts, "It was like: "Cut, cut, cut! You sound too much like a girl!"
13. A SECOND CITY PERFORMANCE GOT DAN CASTELLANETA AN AUDITION.
Dan Castellaneta was invited to read for Homer Simpson after Tracey Ullman saw him perform a sketch comedy bit about a blind, crippled comedian at Second City in Chicago.
14. IT WAS MILLHOUSE'S FIRST APPEARANCE, BUT HE ALREADY EXISTED.
"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" is the first time Milhouse appeared on the show, however he was featured in a Butterfinger commercial in 1988.
15. SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER WENT MISSING.
Because "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was originally meant to be the eighth episode, Santa's Little Helper is mysteriously absent from the next episode ("Bart the Genius"). According to DVD commentary, the creators of the show received letters of praise for heightening the awareness of the abandonment of racing dogs even though they didn't know it was a real problem when they created the episode.
On March 8, 1993, Beavis and Butt-head made its debut on MTV—to the delight of young viewers, and the annoyance of their parents. While some people considered it the end of the civilized world, TIME Magazine critic Kurt Andersen lauded its irreverence, writing that it “may be the bravest show ever run on national television.”
From its original 200-episode run to the books (yes, plural), movie, and soundtrack it inspired—plus its brief return in 2011—Beavis and Butt-head has not lost any of its original charm. On the 20th anniversary of its original finale, here are some things you might not have known about Mike Judge's animated headbangers.
1. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD GOT THEIR START ON LIQUID TELEVISION.
Mike Judge went from teaching himself animation and playing bass for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets to having one of his cartoons played on MTV’s animation showcase program Liquid Television in one year’s time. Cartoon short Milton, the origin of the character from his live-action cult classic Office Space, appeared in a 1991 episode. In 1992, Beavis and Butt-head made their loud, violent first impression in his short Frog Baseball. MTV then paid Judge for the rights to the two characters and ordered 65 four-minute cartoons.
2. MTV PULLED THE SHOW SOON AFTER IT BEGAN.
Shortly after greenlighting Beavis and Butt-head, MTV had to halt production. Not because of any controversy, but because Judge and his animation staff couldn’t keep up with the demand for new material, forcing MTV to stop airing the show entirely two weeks after it premiered. It made its return more than six weeks later on May 17th with “Scientific Stuff” and “Good Credit.”
3. MIKE JUDGE IMPROVISED MOST OF THE DIALOGUE DURING THE MUSIC VIDEOS.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Judge voiced virtually all of the characters on the show and was one of just a handful of people who made up the writing staff. He opted to add to his workload by winging it when it came to Beavis and Butt-head's taste-making opinions on music. Time was saved on the animation for the music video commentaries by having an editor take footage from earlier episodes and sync it up with new mouth positions.
4. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WERE NAMED AFTER KIDS THAT LIVED IN MIKE JUDGE’S NEIGHBORHOOD.
Bobby Beavis was “kind of an athletic kid” that lived three blocks from Judge while he was in college, and not similar to the character with the Metallica shirt christened with his surname. There was also a 12-year-old who called himself “Iron Butt” (because he claimed to never get injured from a kick to the posterior) who had a friend called “Butt-head.”
5. ALL REFERENCES TO FIRE WERE REMOVED PERMANENTLY AFTER THE SHOW WAS BLAMED FOR A DEATH.
In October 1993, a 5-year-old boy set fire to his Ohio home, which killed his 2-year-old sister. Their mother claimed Beavis’s fire-making and blatant spoken love of arson were responsible. MTV’s quick response was to only air the show after 10:30 p.m. and to wipe all fire references from all of the previous episodes—only fans who taped the offending episodes on their VCRs have proof that the word was ever uttered. “Fire” was banned for the rest of the series’ original run, but it was allowed again in 2011.
6. A SENATOR REFERRED TO BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD AS ‘BUFFCOAT AND BEAVER.’
Soon after the fatal fire accident, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, spoke at a Senate hearing as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Hollings attempted to argue that TV broadcasters needed to be forced to clamp down on their offensive programming and used the most controversial show at the time as a specific example ... or at least he tried to.
7. PRISON OFFICIALS IN OKLAHOMA BANNED THE SHOW.
There were also documented reports of South Dakota schools outlawing Beavis and Butt-head-related clothing.
8. MARLON BRANDO WATCHED THE SHOW.
According to Mike Judge, Johnny Depp told him that Depp and Marlon Brando would imitate Beavis and Butt-head, with Depp as Beavis and Brando as Butt-head. This occurred when the two worked together during 1994’s Don Juan DeMarco.
9. MATT GROENING WAS A FAN, TOO.
The creator of The Simpsons claimed that he liked the show because it took “the heat off Bart Simpson being responsible for the downfall of western civilization.”
10. DAVID LETTERMAN WAS THE VOICE OF THE MOTLEY CRUE ROADIE WHO MIGHT BE BUTT-HEAD’S FATHER IN BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA .
David Letterman was credited as Earl Hofert, which is actually the name of Letterman's uncle. Letterman was a fan of the show and had the Highland teens on The Late Show in 1996 to promote their movie.
11. BEAVIS ALMOST SAID SOMETHING TOO CLEVER.
In 1993, Judge toldThe New York Times that one of the big challenges of the show was to keep the two in character and, therefore, dumb. An original line had Beavis telling his classmates that they had “Beavis envy” because he received a school pass. It was cut because it almost made the 14-year-old with the underbite too smart. In 2011, Judge admitted to “cheating” and probably making them smarter than they are during the music video commentaries.
12. DARIA WAS CREATED WITH JANEANE GAROFALO AND DARLENE CONNOR IN MIND.
The character of Daria was created after then-MTV president Judy McGrath expressed concern about the show’s lack of smart or female characters. Garofalo and Sara Gilbert’s Roseanne character were the models for Daria Morgendorffer. Morgendorffer was the maiden name of the show writer David Felton's mother, and was deemed perfect for the new character.
13. THE FRIENDS ARE HANGING OUT AT BUTT-HEAD’S HOUSE.
While it isn’t officially canon, Judge responded to a reporter’s assumption that the two were always at Butt-head’s abode by saying he “always imagined” that to be the case.
14. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WERE FEATURED ON THE COVER OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE THREE TIMES.
Their first appearance in 1993 ended up being the best-selling issue of the magazine that year.
15. THE TWO STARRED IN THEIR OWN LIVE-ACTION THANKSGIVING SPECIAL WITH KURT LODER.
The night before their (first) series finale, “Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," MTV put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then later put them at a dinner table with the veteran MTV News broadcaster. The one hour special only aired on television once.
16. THE SHOW ENDED DUE TO CREATIVE BURNOUT.
In 1997, toward the end of the show's original run, Judge was running on empty. "I actually wanted to stop a little sooner," Judge told the Los Angeles Times. "We've done over 200 episodes [since 1993]. After the second season, I thought, 'How are we gonna do this anymore?' I was completely burnt out. I got a second wind in season three, and again in season five. But I don't know, you do it as fast as you can, get it on the air as fast as you can, and there's never a break. I felt, like, why not retire before it gets too stale or whatever?"
17. KANYE WEST WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW.
In contrast to the more innocent 1990s, Judge and his team had to get authorization from all of the parties involved in a music video to have it appear on Beavis and Butt-head when it returned in 2011. Kanye West wanted to have one of his videos featured on the show, but another credited songwriter on the undisclosed track declined immortality.