March 16, 2012


The film was released in 1995 and is based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska.

Balto is the final animated feature produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation feature animation studio, before Spielberg co-founded DreamWorks with David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg; most of the Amblimation staff was re-located to DreamWorks Animation. Universal Pictures would not release another feature-length animated film to theaters for over a decade, until Curious George in 2006. Similarly, it would not be until 2006 that Amblin Entertainment would produce another theatrically released animated film, which was Columbia Pictures computer-animated feature film Monster House.

The release of Balto was vastly overshadowed by the performance of Pixar's Toy Story. But the film did end up recouping its small budget and did modest business at the box office. Strong video sales lead to the release of two sequels: Balto II: Wolf Quest and Balto III: Wings of Change.
Color Key test by Jeff Varab and Hans Bacher

Main Character Voices by
Kevin Bacon, Bob Hoskins. Bridget Fonda, and Jim Cummings

Music by James Horner

Art Direction by Colin Stimpson

Production Design by Hans Bacher

Film Editing by Renee Edwards, Sim Evan-Jones, and Nick Fletcher

Produced by
Rich Arons (associate producer)
Steve Hickner (producer)
Kathleen Kennedy (executive producer)
Bonne Radford (executive producer)
Steven Spielberg (executive producer)

See full credits here, including the whole art and animation departments.

Simon Wells was the director of the film. He first began his career at Richard Williams's studio where he animated commercials and other projects. Wells later was an animation supervisor on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

Wells later became a member of Amblimation, a studio owned by Steven Spielberg, where he served as director on films such as An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and eventually Balto, production began on Balto in 1992, and was released in 1995. He apparently rough-thumbnailed the whole story in tiny sketches himself, obviously the whole film was truly his vision, he came up with the most amazing shots.

After the closure of Amblimation, Wells joined DreamWorks where he worked as storyboard artist on many animated projects, he also co-directed The Prince of Egypt which was nominated for an Annie Award.

In 2002 he directed his first live-action film, a film adaptation of his great-grandfather's book The Time Machine written by famous author H.G Wells. In 2011 he co-wrote and directed the box office failure Mars Needs Moms using motion-capture technology during the filming. He continues consulting and collaborating on storyboards for all 3D-CG films made at DreamWorks.

Here are some samples of Storyboards, Model Sheets, Character Layouts/Sketches, Pencil Tests, and Background Art. Images via AnimationSource



ze said...

Long time reader here. This blog is a daily stop and the stuff you put together is amazing. Much appreciation.

Mike said...

It most be amazing when your first sketching it then you get to see it come to life in color with audio.

Balto said...

I see you found images from my collection. Ive recently aquired a full book of original studio model sheets from Balto. I got them from an animator. I have not posted them on the site tho.

I actually have way more original Balto animation art than whats posted on