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How Disney copied itself for decades, in one video

When Disney's animators got something right, they didn't hesitate to repeat it.

Movie Munchies put together a compilation of nearly identical scenes from Disney films. They show how animators occasionally painted over the same cels to save time — resulting in animation sequences that are eerily similar.

Cel animation let animators split up the work by painting parts of a scene onto different transparent sheets. By combining these sheets, they could make an entire scene and save the time of drawing the whole thing over and over again.

A Disney animator hard at work on 1937's Snow White.

A Disney animator hard at work on 1937's Snow White.

Earl Theisen/Getty Images

But that also means the reuse of scenes is visible to a savvy viewer. Animating a film like 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was incredibly tedious, which made replicating scenes an easy way to save money. Disney's 1973 Robin Hood was one of the company's lowest-budget films, and it saved money by modifying lots of scenes from earlier classics.

These scenes are most powerful as a reminder of the process that made them. Yes, Disney animators repeated their work, especially when under a tight budget. But for years, animation was a hand-drawn process in which animators used transparent sheets and their own overworked hands to make masterpieces. If work like that can emerge from occasional reuse, it might even be worth using again.

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