Behind the Scenes at DisneyToon Studios

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I recently had the special treat of visiting DisneyToon Studios, fascinating both for the work they do and for the campus itself. The campus features state of the art facilities and produces all Disney Fairy movies. I got the chance to see the magic behind the magic of DisneyToon’s Fairy Movies and I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some of DisneyToon’s top producers, directors, character designers, animators, and technical magicians.

So I’m going to pass a bit of the magic on to you. Can’t you just feel the pixie dust?

Secret of the Wings Producers

The occasion of my visit was the imminent release of Secret of the Wings, the latest and, I think, greatest of DisneyToon’s fairy movies to date, as the artists and animators there are in relentless pursuit of artistic growth and excellence. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, make sure you do. It is available on Blu-ray and DVD, just in time for the holidays, and features breathtaking attention to detail and stunning artwork.

Ritsuko Notani Character Designer Secret of the Wings

A small group of bloggers and I had the chance to sit down and interview Secret of the Wings Director/Screenwriter Peggy Holmes, an incredible woman whose many and diverse experiences and accolades include an Emmy® for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for “Fame LA,” and recognition for choreographing Michelle Pfeiffer’s famous top-of-the-piano performance in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

Here are a few things I learned about Secret of the Wing from Peggy and the rest of the team at DisneyToons. First, they brought in a snow expert to understand everything they could about snowflakes and, among many other things, they discovered there is a certain type of frost that actually protects plants from the type of frost that kills plants, a fact which plays a key role in the film.

John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of DisneyToons, suggested to the team to “look to nature for inspiration.”  Knowing that, here are a couple more scoops:

  • Periwinkle’s hair was inspired by the “frost flower.”
  • The very special effects of Periwinkle's and Tinker Bell's wings were inspired by abalone- after first looking at hummingbirds, oil and water, and opal.
  • The very talented Ritsuko Notani, Character Designer, was born in Matsuyama, Japan, and she has been the principal designer of all the major and supporting DisneyToon fairies, including Tinker Bell and, most recently, Periwinkle.
  • Subtle motifs, which represent each fairy’s talent, have been designed into each fairy’s wings.

Thank you DisneyToon Studios for your generous hospitality, I had a wonderful time,

 Disclosure: I was invited to an event at Disney Studios. Food and accommodations were provided. As always my opinions and my love for Disney are my own.

Silvia Martinez
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