Sincerity: Things I heard at Disney that I’ll never forget

By Pamela Park |
August 11, 2020

This is part 2 in a series of “Things I heard at Disney that I’ll never forget”,  by 30-year animation veteran Tom Bancroft. Read part 1 here.

There are some words in the English language that we think we know the meaning of but when asked to define them an explanation can be allusive.  How do you describe “Love” or “Design”?  The definition can change dependent upon the context.

The word “Sincerity” is that word for me when applied to animation.

I heard the word when I was probably about 5-6 years into my career at Disney.  On the film “Pocahontas” I was honored to have been chosen to be one of about 18-20 animators to animate the title character under the supervision of Master animator, Glen Keane.  I’ll be honest, the thrill on that film was not to animate Pocahontas, it was to work with Glen.  At Disney, he’s known to be one of the best animators (and draftspeople) of ALL TIME.  Glen was good at everything- drawing, character design, expressions, posing, staging, acting, timing and animation- but more than all those things, he was inspiring.  While many Disney supervising animators were talented, not all were inspiring leaders.  Glen’s ability gave him the rare ability to not have to think about the million of things a traditional animator has to consider as they place one drawing on a sheet after another.  Unlike most of us, he could draw exactly what entered his head and knew how to place it on the page to create the timing and performance he wanted.  Because of that, he didn’t think about the technical side of animation, just the creative- and pushing the boundaries.  This made him a different kind of mentor to us new animators.


For example, during Pocahontas, he would look at a scene of mine and rather than seeing how I could smooth out the animation here, space the drawings less evenly there, change the timing of this section, or even lift an eyebrow on this drawing- he would say to me, “It doesn’t feel sincere enough.”  Huh?  Where’s the magic knob where I turn up the “Sincerity” of the scene to a 10?  What he was doing was talking about emotions and feelings.  It wasn’t feeling alive quite yet.

Like all Disney animators of that “Second Golden Age” when he spoke of sincerity in your animation, he was speaking the words he had heard from his mentor, Ollie Johnston, one of the legendary “Nine Old Men” of Disney.  When younger Glen was working with Ollie, Ollie had reached that same peak where drawing and the technical aspects of animating were not the main concern.  The performance of the character was what mattered.  He would tell Glen, “Don’t animate drawings, animate feelings.”  This was something that Glen repeated often to us animators in training.  What Ollie meant was to make the character come alive you can’t think about individual drawings anymore but how they fit together to give a feeling to the audience.

I have to admit, it took me years to fully understand the concept of “being sincere” in your animation.  In my mind, it means forgetting animation principles and feeling what your character is feeling.  It’s only through that connection that your character will come to life and suspend the disbelief of the audience,


About Tom Bancroft

A good overview of Tom Bancroft’s work can be found on his website.  His Instagram, a good overview of his MerMay work, is @tombancroft1.  The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast is hosted on his educational network Taught By a Pro. If you’re interested in the full scope of his work in the animation industry, check out his IMDB page.

Related posts:

Omar Gomet’s character design process — and insight into his creative career

Omar Gomet’s character design process — and insight into his creative career

Cheer up with Jacqueline Chen, also known as Chibird

Cheer up with Jacqueline Chen, also known as Chibird

The ultimate guide to cutting out images in Photoshop, with School of Motion

The ultimate guide to cutting out images in Photoshop, with School of Motion

The power of confidence: a special animation and interview with Javadoodles

The power of confidence: a special animation and interview with Javadoodles

Connect with Wacom on social media

🎉 Manga friends, save the date! We’re thrilled to be at @dokomi_expo 2024 this June! ✨

Join us at the Wacom booth for 3 days of fun activities:

🖌️ Art Battles to showcase your creative skills!

🔥 Exclusive presentations with Wacom’s CEO Nobu Ide and Celsys’ CEO Kei Narushima!

🤝🏻 Meet and greet with Connected Ink Village artist Ktym from Japan (@yuki_ktym_ )

🌟 Try our latest tech with click & collect on site!

📅 28 - 30 June 2024
📍 Düsseldorf, Germany
✍🏻 Booth# > Halle 3, Artist Alley

See you there! 🌟

#WacomAtDokomi #Dokomi2024
833 5
We asked character designer @omarsharif.creates to share part of his process. Check out his reference mix and how much fun he has experimenting with textures and colors. ⁣
Head to the #WacomBlog to read our interview with Omar! ⁣
Link in bio!⁣⁣
#wacom #characterdesign #digitalart #artprocess #madewithwacom #wacomcintiqpro #cintiqpro ⁣
206 7
See you in Berlin!💫 Come celebrate with us at @weareplaygrounds this weekend!

💡 Explore artist discussions, demonstrations, film showings interactive live sketching!

✍️ Visit our Wacom booth to experience and enjoy drawing on our latest pen-displays and tablets and some other surprises 👀

📅 Berlin, DE on May 25th-26th

See you there!

#TADBerlin #CreativeCommunity
96 6
A magical midnight forest... 🌲🌙🦉🎨🖌️⁣
That's what @yingshiart was conjuring in this amazing piece #MadeWithWacom. Tayler loves using color to evoke emotion and fullness in her paintings, and liberally uses adjustment layers, filters, and gradient maps. She trusts the creative process and lets go, allowing the subconscious to put one hand on the wheel instead of micromanaging every detail. ⁣
Do you trust your creative process? ⁣
#WacomOne #digitalillustration #moodpainting #environmentdesign
1005 15
Easy to pack & ready to go! 🏃🏻‍♂️

🆕 The new Wacom Movink easily fits in any bag and can be set up anywhere with a single cable. The best solution for creative professionals on the go!

Wanna get yours? Follow the link in our bio!

413 7
Dive into the insightful first look of the NEW Wacom Movink by @wieger_poutsma, Digital Artist and Creative Director, working for clients like Netflix, Warner Bros, HBO and many more. 💻 🙌🏻

👉🏻 Follow the link in bio to discover all the benefits of our NEW Wacom Movink and shop yours!

#WacomMovink #CreativeProfessionals #CreativesOnTheGo
295 12
You got this! ✍️ Never stop creating. 🤘⁣
Animation made by the wonderful @javadoodles⁣
#MentalHealthAwareness #madewithwacom #TVPaintAnimation⁣
760 24
🆕 Alex Wätzel @dgtlcraft_postproduction , High-end photo retoucher & video editor with years of experience on the creative industry, also tried the NEW Wacom Movink!

Now’s your turn! Follow the link in our bio and discover all the amazing benefits of our new Wacom Movink💥


#WacomMovink #CreativeProfessionals #CreativesOnTheGo #MovinkMakers
169 4
Mental health awareness month is upon us and we want to give a shout-out to anyone out there struggling, yet creating. ⁣
We see you and you're absolutely wonderful. 😍⁣
Art by @chibirdart 🐤💓⁣
#MentalHealthAwareness #webcomic #comic #webtoon
833 10