Released on May 28, 1953, MELODY was the first cartoon ever filmed in 3D. It was shown at Disneyland in the Fantasyland Theater as part of the 3D Jamboree. As I mentioned earlier with TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK and BOOM, this film was the first in a proposed series of shorts teaching the principles of music, called Adventures in Music. TOOT was the only one made after MELODY. I would've loved to have seen the opening credits in 3D, as the mobile concept for the opening title sequence probably looked great.

All the prinicple artists and creative geniuses who produced MELODY are pretty much the same from TOOT (check out the details here). Ward Kimball, being the director, kept the flow of the piece quick and precise. Again, some great character designs by Tom Oreb, as well as some fantastic background and color designs by Eyvind Earle. The story is similar to TOOT, where we are introduced to a schoolhouse with the Professor Owl presiding over the class. As he talks about the subject of the day, we are presented with some interesting side examples of melody in action. My favorite is the "Steps of Life" segment, demonstrating how melody is evident throughout the life of your average guy. As we go though the stages of this one guy's life, his early life and childhood steps go up. When he marries and has children, that is considered his "prime of life," and is depicted at the apex of the stepbridge of his life. Then, as he gets older, the steps go down. All at the same time, the overall colors shown for each step changes subtlety, as warm ochres, yellows and reds, suggesting growth and vitality, are for his childhood and school years, up until his marriage. When he gets older, the color scheme subtlety changes from reds to purples to blues, depicting maturity and loss of vitality. A nice gag that is barely seen, but for an instant, is when we see him get married, a shotgun slowly flies across the frame, suggesting that perhaps there were more than one reasons why our boy got married!

Another slip of fun that got overlooked somehow, was a shot of the dunce of the class glancing over at the Mae West-wannabe chick, Suzy Sparrow. He's not looking at her eyes, if you know what I mean. You can check that frame out below. And yes -- the frames! I couldn't stop with the frame grabs. I believe there are 46 here. It was very difficult in trying to find out what exactly to grab as every single shot looked fantastic. The colors, the backgrounds, the characters, everything. This short is probably not as fun as TOOT, but it's just as tight. (By the way, MELODY is found in the bonus features of the FANTASIA 2000 DVD, and more recently, is included in the Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities DVD set.) And don't forget -- all images below are clickable to view in a larger, 800 pixel-wide size. Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: The following images are owned and copyrighted by Disney. I am not making any money off of this presentation, just posting these wonderful images merely for the sake of resource and historical purposes. If you have any questions about all this, please feel free to email me. Thank you.

As I was watching the end of MELODY, I noticed the nice pan that goes from the schoolhouse, up to the end frame, and I thought, you know that'd be pretty cool to see in its entirety. So, I grabbed some of the frames from that shot and put them together via Photoshop. Here's the final result (you can, of course, click on image for a larger size):

You can help me out by ordering MELODY through Amazon directly here:


  1. I love this short! It's not quite as great as Toot, but it's still wonderful. I had noticed the dunce's look before, but I never noticed the gunshot during the wedding. I had to get out my DVD and watch it. That made me laugh so much! Thanks for pointing it out! I love it when you do these write ups. I would love to see more of them.

  2. I love the ladies gossiping at the fence, and the funny trot cycle of the horse. And such great saturated color!

    Both this one and "Toot" are forever inspiring me.

    Thanks so much!

  3. I always loved the amazing and advanced graphics of this movie, unfortunately, as often in the Disney case, this film was ruined by the awfully corny music. Check how cool was the music UPA used at the time. Gail Kubik's "Gerald McBoing Boing", David Raksin's "Unicorn in the garden" or Phil Moore's "Rooty Toot Toot".
    Let's not forget that animation is an audiovisual medium.

  4. man as young as i am, i remember watching that! it was so cute with all the little birdies and the music in it. another clever one made my disney. leave it to those guys to make something spectacular that everyone can enjoy. just look at fantasia!

  5. whoa anonymous commenter! i love gerald mcboing boing. it was my favorite story as a kid and my mom would read it over and over and over again and make those crazy sounds which made the story so much fun! ill have to read that to my kids someday. man that was a nice little memroy. thanks for that! :)

  6. Nice, Ward. I got this out late last night and watched it. I wouldn't have ever noticed that shotgun if you hadn't mentioned it.

  7. Hey chacha, GERALD MCBOING BOING shorts are available on DVD -- on the 2-disc HELLBOY set. I talk about it HERE.

    And Jeremy, I think I might have to go and grab that frame, so other's may know what I'm talking about. It's a pretty funny shot.

  8. How did they do it in 3D? I can think of two possiblities.
    Either they just drew and painted everything like usual and then shot eack frame from two slightly different camera angles.
    Or they drew and painted every frame twice like they would have looked from slightly different camera angles. This would probaly have been a nightmare but I read on the Internet that a finnish guy had done something like that in the seventies. If he could, Disney surely could.

  9. I never saw these before getting the Fantasia 2000 DVD and now I can't get enough of them. It breaks my heart that they only did these two.

  10. Wow, another really great writeup. I don't know where you find the time, but I learned a lot.

  11. Johan -- I asked Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew fame, about how they did the 3D process for that time, and here is his answer:

    "...my guess is that they just shot it
    from different angles. UPA's THE TELL-TALE HEART (1953) was originally produced in 3D, but never released in that format (the 3D version is lost and has never turned up). For that film, which had a lot of really complicated camera work, Paul Julian had said that he painted many backgrounds twice. But he also said he painted overlays on some scenes and just shifted them left and right. So he used a combination of both techniques, depending on the scenes. My guess that MELODY was just shot from different angles, because the film isn't as graphically complex as TELL-TALE HEART, but there may be certain instances where they did things twice. Just a guess.


    Hope that helps!

  12. Strange... when I rented Fantasia2000 a couple of weeks ago, the only bonus was Toot Whistle Plunk Boom... no Melody.

    Is the Region1 version different? Or was it dropped to add another language track?

    - Benjamin

  13. This is pretty good,ward does great with the animation,he should have made more.

  14. Cel animation lent itself to the 3D process, because the panning peg-bar system enabled the cels to be accurately displaced for the second negative. At its simplest, 3 levels of depth could be had by taping the Background to the bench and offsetting top and bottom registration pegs by differing amounts. But most rostrum cameras had between 4 to 6 panning pegbars, 2 or 3 top and bottom, allowing 5-7 levels of depth. The only problem being that using the inner pegbars required taping the cels to the bar and unscrewing the pegs to allow the next cel up to lie flat: the amount of time involved in doing this meant that use of the inner bars tended to be limited to static overlays.

    But Disney had the multiplane camera - which allowed still greater possibilities. Does anyone know if Melody was shot using this?

  15. Hi..I have many times seen and enjoyed both "Melody" & "Toot, Whistle, Plunk & Boom". The birds, besides Suzy Sparrow and Prof.Owl, were Bertie Birdbain, the local-yokel dunce you mention leering at Suzy, Penelope Pinfeathers, the braniac, The Canary Sisters, and some unnamed ones.

  16. This is one of my favorite Disney's animated short films. I think this is funnier than TWPB, that is more educative, Melody have more gags. Melody have an excellent structure to show what's Melody and how we use it all the time, even when we not notice it. I loved the characters, specially Canary Sisters.