G. McConway
July 13, 2023

Legendary Disney Producer Dead at 73

For many of us growing up, and even up until the last few years, Disney animated movies were like babysitters at times.

When we were kids, and when our children were growing up, the moment we sat down in front of the TV with a Disney animated movie, the world stopped for about 90 minutes.

Sadly, one of the architects of some of the most incredible animated special effects in Disney films for almost two decades has passed away.

He’s gone

If you are a fan of animation, and I mean a true junkie, when you hear the name Randy Fullmer, you immediately think “legend.”

Fullmer passed away on July 10 at the age of 73, reported Laughing Place.

Rather than mourn his loss, I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing things this man did with animation.

There were many great movies that preceded “The Lion King” for Fullmer, but this was a movie that literally changed animation forever. Between that movie and “Beauty and the Beast,” his name will forever be associated with the legends of the industry.

“Beauty and the Beast,” while spectacular, did have some issues. Fullmer explained, “Depending on who you are and how critical your eye is, it’s either mind-bogglingly successful or a little odd because you’ve got these 2D characters kind of semi-floating around in the middle of this very three-dimensional space that’s swirling around them,” reported Polygon.

In “The Lion King,” Fullmer served as the artistic coordinator, which played a key role in keeping the animation team and the computer effects team on the same page.

This led to the creation of the magical “dust” in the movie. Yes, you read that right… the dust.

The creation of the dust in the animated movie was the key to making this movie as lifelike as possible. Fullmer stated, “You needed both [teams], but they didn’t always completely understand each other.

“We had these really brilliant computer guys that figured out herd behaviors and all these things that a stampede might do. You could not possibly hand-animate hundreds and hundreds of wildebeest, so it became their job to do this whole stampede.”

The dust was created using the Computer Animation Production System, a system that is now on the shelf since Disney moved to CG animation in 2004.

Fullmer stated, “You had misunderstandings at times, but you had to have both skill sets to put them together.

“And then you eventually have real-looking wildebeest in this herd behavior, and then you could go in with dust and dust clouds and mimic that behavior and the patterns of where the herd had gone. The herd came first, and then where the dust appears, and then the opacity of the dust and everything.”

He explained the creation of the dust cloud as well, stating, “A dust cloud is going to be soft, and you’re adding opacities to it too.

“Like in the stampede, or when you’re revealing that Mufasa has been killed or something, you might start out with a scene where the dust is pretty opaque because it’s a reveal. That might be a slight transparency, but maybe it’s almost 90% opaque.

“And as the scene progresses, you’re allowing it to dissipate, then you’re gradually doing a change down to, like, 20%. The dust is still there as atmosphere, but you can now see what’s just taken place.”

This animation was industry-changing at the time, taking a full leap from 2D to something Disney fans had never seen before.

With progress also comes loss, however, something Fullmer noted before he died. He openly pined that animation had lost a little something over the years, calling it a “sweet quality” “that has been lost a bit” as the industry moved forward with CG animation.

While I think we can all agree that Disney has lost its way in the 21st century, Fullmer was not part of that change.

Rest in peace, sir, and we thank you for keeping us and our children entertained for decades.

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