Disney’s “Nine Old Men”—the nine core animators who worked directly under Walt Disney himself to create many of the company’s most famous animated features and short cartoons—are part of the company’s mythology. In 1981, two of the Old Men, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, put their years of experience to use when they wrote The Illusion Of Life: Disney Animation, a book detailing the company’s history and the 12 principles of animation that they and their colleagues developed over the years to give their creations a sense of life and motion.

These principles have become widely celebrated in the field of animation, and a new video, put together by New York artist Vincenzo Lodigiani, shows why: They work.


Using simple computer-generated geometric shapes, the video demonstrates each of the principles, showing how their application can bring objects to life, imbuing simple cubes and spheres with charm and vitality. It’s a quick, lovely demonstration of some of the ideas that give so much of Disney’s work its lasting appeal.

Lodigiani has also condensed the principles into a series of animated GIFs, viewable at http://the12principles.tumblr.com/


The illusion of life from cento lodigiani on Vimeo.