Video of the Day: Disney’s 1939 Behind-the-Scenes Short

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Nowadays, the behind-the-scenes featurette is a standard part of Hollywood’s promotional toolbox — prepared by the studio, released to media outlets, and slapped onto the DVD as a “special feature.” But the good folks at Open Culture have discovered what is presumably one of the earliest examples of the form (it’s certainly the oldest one we’ve ever seen): How Walt Disney Cartoons are Made, an eight-and-a-half minute look behind the doors of the studio (“Doors usually barred to all visitors!”) and at the making of the first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The “documentary newsreel” traces a Disney cartoon from conception to completion: brainstorming, writing, preliminary animation, inking, coloring (shades are developed by “expert chemists”), photography, sound effects recording, scoring, and the premiere. (Apparently the voices just magically appear.) A brash narrator guides us through the making of the “pic-shuh,” and Disney himself appears, working out ideas with his “hard-boiled directors.” The short is filled with funny little voice-over touches like that; also of note is that the inking is done by “hundreds of pretty girls, in a comfortable building all their own, well-lighted, air-conditioned throughout.” Disney appears at the end to introduce the seven dwarfs, and a final title nudges the viewer thus: “See for yourself what the genius of Walt Disney has created in his first full-length feature production.” Check out How Walt Disney Cartoons are Made after the jump.

[via Slashfilm]