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When Two Worlds Collide: Films That Combine Live-Action and Cartoon

With rapid developments in animation possibilities and CGI, it can be easy to forget the beginnings of live-action films being introduced with cartoon animation. Looking back it is impressive to see what was capable of the film industry even before all of the computer technology and equipment now available. If you’re interested in creating a CGI film, have a look at our studios here at Meadows Farm Studios.

Fantasia (1940)

Walt Disney’s third feature-length film after the animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Pinocchio (1940). This was one of the earliest films to combine cartoon animation with live-action film and was originally produced to boost Disney’s icon of Mickey Mouse.

Fantasia allowed Disney to showcase their animation and sound techniques, with the famous orchestral score accompanying the film, both on and off screen. ­­The series of short animations were made to fit with the music as conducted by Leopold Stokowski, until the famous ending where Mickey Mouse shakes the conductor’s hand.



(via What’s On TV)


Mary Poppins (1964)

Based on the popular book series by P. L. Travers, the film overlapped the reality of the children Jane and Michael’s worlds with that of their magical and mysterious new nanny, Mary Poppins. Disney had trouble persuading Travers to sign a film and when it was finally released the author disliked the cartoon sequences, refusing to sign the rights for any subsequent film adaptations.

Many of the sequences, particularly the songs, combine the colourful animation Disney was well known for with a very British backdrop of London. As a film it worked well for Disney because it allowed them to still show off their animation skills whilst experimenting with a newer market of live-action films.


(via Sparkly Ever After)


Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Similar in many ways to Mary Poppins, the film incorporated animation when the Rawlins children entered the magical world of their carer, Ms Price, an apprentice witch. The film brought to life the imaginative minds of children by creating talking animals and acted as an essential escape from the reality of the Blitz which had led to the children’s evacuation to begin with. Again, set against the backdrop of London, and the Dorset countryside, this was a very British-feeling film that drew upon the concerns of the war.


(via The Times)


Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

This was a particularly important film for Disney’s future in animation. The current chairman at the time, Jeffrey Katzenburg, had argued that the live-action-animation-hybrid would ultimately save the animation department which had previously suffered.

Rubber mannequins of Roger Rabbit, Baby Herman and the Weasels were used alongside the filming to help the actors get a sense of where the characters would be and how to interact with them. The props were at times manipulated on strings to emulate the movement of the animated cartoon characters to come.

During the animating stages, the animators were given live-action stills which they placed on top of their animations. Then they could begin mapping out how to combine the two and create a film where live-action and cartoon animation fully interacted. In many ways a lot has stayed the same even now when combining animation with live-action.


(via Prop Bay)


If you’re interested in creating a film or CGI sequence, get in contact with us and we’ll let you know how we can help you with your next greatest project.