How Disney Culture Values Excellence
Few corporations have maintained such high standards as Disney.
May 17, 2013 - 2:00 pm
Everybody knows that the Disney Studios artists cut their teeth on animation. At first the cartoon shorts reflected the same crude gags and shortcut-laden techniques of all the other studios in the business, but Walt knew his studio was capable of more. So he added new innovations. Flowers and Trees was the first animated short to employ full Technicolor, and it won an Oscar. Three Little Pigs made use of a musical theme, created a mega-hit song in “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” and won another Oscar. The Old Mill marked the debut of the multiplane camera (which simulated 3-D effects) and won yet another Oscar.
By the middle of the thirties, Walt made up his mind that his studio would create the first feature length animated picture: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt strenuously watched over every detail of the film’s production, and it became a runaway hit. With Snow White and subsequent features (particularly Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi), budget and time were no objects to Walt — much to the chagrin of his brother, Roy, who handled the studio’s finances. Instead, creating the perfect product mattered, and while many of these early films were not hits in their initial release, they eventually made profits and garnered respect and acclaim.
Later, Walt would turn his attention to live action films, and, when he was passionate about a project, he would exercise as much control as he could. This commitment to excellence didn’t always pay off, but the efforts produced classics like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Swiss Family Robinson, and what many consider Walt’s masterpiece, Mary Poppins.
Today we can see a similar — if not greater — value of excellence in the works of Pixar, where computer animation is an art form. But Walt found an even greater, more exciting way to immerse guests into the worlds he envisioned.