A World with Color
Walt always appeared to be challenging the status quo and attempting to find ways to improve the quality of everything his studio created. In the early 1930’s, Walt and his team of animators were already experimenting with something uncommon at the time – color animations. Unfortunately, the technology that Walt needed to produce the stunning color animations he desired did not exist at the time and their current methods were very expensive and created sub-par results.
In 1932, the company Technicolor, released a three-color process that was exactly what Walt believed he was missing. Still, at the time, creating color animations was three times as expensive as creating traditional black and white, not to mention, the additional production costs needed.
Walt’s brother, Roy, who managed the studio’s finances, was strongly opposed of experimenting with color animation. He couldn’t understand how the studio would cover all of the additional costs. In addition, their current contracts for Mickey cartoons and the Silly Symphonies did not pay extra for the animations being in color. From a financial perspective, creating animations in color was a poor financial decision for the studio.
Technicolor was not financially strong at the time as they were having difficulties convincing studios to spend the additional money required for color. Walt wanted it badly and Technicolor was supportive because they wanted to showcase what their company could help create and attract other users. Through negotiations, Walt agreed to make thirteen Silly Symphony cartoons in color and Technicolor agreed to allow Walt to use the three-color Technicolor process exclusively for two years which would give his studio a competitive advantage.
Still opposed to the idea, Roy was left to figure out how to fund these increasing costs to support Walt’s desires (this was hardly the first time). Luckily, the Disney brothers found the support of Attilio “Doc” Giannini who worked for his brothers bank, the Bank of America. He was known for investing in new ideas and was familiar with the film industry. Doc agreed to loan them the money they needed which allowed Walt to pursue his passion of creating color animation.
Despite the many people who were skeptical about creating color animation, the studio was rewarded when Flowers and Trees was released in 1932 in Technicolor and went on to win an Academy Award. Color soon became the way of the future.