Review: ‘Disney Animated’ iOS app puts movie magic at your mobile fingertips with exhaustive filmmaking history and features

in Disney, Merchandise, Movies, Reviews

Anyone who has ever enjoyed a Disney animated film – and that’s just about everybody – needs to lend a finger and lots of free time to the new Disney Animated app from Disney Interactive. This impressive piece of digital technology houses an incredibly extensive library of Disney animation history presented in the most user friendly and enjoyable ways.

The simple flick of a finger enables easy browsing of more than 80 years of Disney movie magic, from even before “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” all the way through the upcoming film “Frozen.” Disney Animated summarizes this massive span of time into an easily digestible format, as each aspect of filmmaking is explained in plain English but with enough technical detail to appeal to any level of interest. From character design to sketches to background painting to 3D computer model rigging to special effects and more, this app shows it all off.

But a book could just as easily tell the story and information of how animated films are made. Disney Animated goes well beyond a book’s capabilities by utilizing every ounce of iPad processing power (and more than 2GB of space) to feature and endless stream of clips, not only scenes from movies but also old film of Walt Disney directing, artists’ drawing, and anything else related to the process. It’s all accessible from a quick tap on a picture or graphic. It’s still flipped through like a book, page by page, but as its name suggests, it’s quite possibly the most animated book around. Unlike a book’s confined formats, each of the app’s many images is enlargeable to zoom in on every tiny detail.

Beyond the rather linear way of exploring Disney’s rich animated film history, Disney Animated also offers quite a few interactive features. A detailed 3D model of Vanellope von Schweetz can be manipulated part by part to create, save and share custom animations. The snowy magic of Elsa from “Frozen” can be duplicated and adjusted long before the film even hits theaters. The basic animation concepts of squash and stretch can be understood through a frame-by-frame controllable amusing bouncing ball character. And that’s just a few of the interactive features.

The real “wow” moment of the app comes in its Color Map feature, which includes an unexpectedly large number of frames from every animated feature film Disney has ever released, each represented in a small sliver of color generated from the predominant tone of that frame. The result is an overall view of Disney animation history that can be flipped through by dragging a finger across the screen. I can’t imagine an actual use for this feature, but it sure is fun to play with.

If there is one drawback to this app it’s that there is no easy way to feature all of the content from a particular film. There are sections that organize different types of content, such as spinnable moquettes, but they can’t be narrowed down any further.

To see everything in the Disney Animated app would require an enormous time commitment as its content spans so many years and is the very definition of exhaustive. Its price may be higher than most apps, at $13.99, but for all fans of Disney animation will find it well worth it for the wealth of information and entertainment contained within.

Disney Animated is available for iPad now via the iTunes app store.

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