Feb 15

Disney's spherical characters

Category: Design,industrial design,Linux,product design   — Published by goeszen on February 15, 2016 at 8:36 pm

steamboat willie, vincent and bb8

steamboat willie, vincent and bb8

Do you notice the similarities between the above characters? When you see them side by side it's quite obvious: their basic shape is spherical, an orb. Their body is a ball.

Just look at Disney's very early rendition of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie. Stemming from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Ub Iwerks designed Mickey's lower body around a ball-, or cauldron-like base structure, with cylindrical short trousers.

Disney's foray into sci-fi in 1979's movie "The Black Hole" had V.I.N.CENT, a laconic-smart robot with a familiar shape. Vincent is a hovering ball, with cylindrical structures on the bottom, resembling legs. A very clever Disney design, probably by production designer Peter Ellenshaw.

And finally, Star Wars 7 features a little robotic friend as well: BB-8. The story is that BB8 is based on a napkin sketch of director JJ Abrams, yet his/her's body shape is perfectly aligned with classic Disney character design. As a blend of Lucasfilm's R2D2's dome head and the Disney ball, BB-8 is probably the perfect design-metaphor for Disney's Lucasfilm acquisition.

I think we could mention WALL-E's EVE here as well. Although her body is more of an egg shape, she shares the technical enigma of how she actual works with BB8's motion drive or VINCENT's anti-grav hover generator.

If you're interested, see what The Black Hole's Maximillian and BMW's have in common.

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