Category ArchiveDaily post
Daily post 24 Nov 2013 12:38 pm
Being the luckiest of people, I had a spill down an escalator and met a wall with 10 steel grids on it. Tried to reshape my face and of course, it hasn’t, unfortunately. But don’t worry. I’ll be back soon, writing.
See ya real soon!
Why? Because I probably like you.
Daily post 17 Nov 2013 11:58 pm
Don’t worry, I’m not done with the blog.
I’ve got some things planned and it could be as soon as tomorrow that I pass them along.
I’ve had some weird stuff going on in my life and I’m just trying to get past it.
Hang in there.
Daily post 13 Nov 2013 01:00 am
Yesterday’s blog post was something I needed to write for myself.
Animation, as far as I can see hasn’t been going as well as I’d like. The good films have been few and far between.
During my career, I’ve been asked to be involved in a number of fine films. However, it’s the luck of the draw to be involved in good movies, also the power of your own abilities. I can’t tell you how many films, bad films, that have requested my help and participation. Also good films. They’ve been few and farther between, but they’ve been there.
The moment Weston Woods asked me to work on The Man Who Walked Between the Towers I knew this was a good one. It took me about five seconds to read the script and know it was great, and I knew I was working on a winner. There are other films that had the opposite reaction for me, and I was correct there as well.
Yesterday I wrote about a film I was asked to participate in. I knew the very second I saw the project that it would make a great film. None of the story stuff I wrote about – 60,000 flyer pilots (just a metaphor) coming to the rescue – was actually in the film. But the result is the same. The film is a feel good moment, and I know it will make a very good film. Even, god help me, if I’m not allowed to be part of it. It’s a good movie with a good story line. I just hope I am part of it, because I like it enormously.
My point, here, is this. Please allow me the use of Miyazaki for my example. The man is a good = no, take that back, a great filmmaker. He not only knows a good film, but he knows how to make them better. The films ha makes become automatically better. He has something to say; he finds curious and complicated ways of telling those stories, and when he is part of a project he gets the most of the story.
He knew he had to make it a children’s film with the simplest of story directions. He had to reach the largest possible audience and be direct. He was, and the film he made was an unmitigated success.
With The Wind Rises he has made an adult film it’s the only way he could tell this tale. He also complicates the structure of the story, and despite the fact that he will not get the largest possible audience, he wants to be sure every aspect of the complicated story is told. This he does. He ignores a large section of the audience for the sake of making a richer story.
His work on the two films, in my mind, can only be seen as the work of a genius. His story is as full as it can ever become, yet he disappoints a small part of the audience searching for the obvious. I can only credit the man, the artist. I also take away very deep lessons about his artistry and what he wanted to do with it. I’ve seen Ponyo half a dozen times with full joy. With The Wind Rises, occurring post Tsunami and post nuclear meltdown, I am sure he has plenty to tell me, and I will see it again and again until I’ve gotten all of its pleasure.
Most prominently I believe he wants to be heard about man’s inhumanity to man. Despite all the natural disaster and chaos in our lives, he uses a man intent on carrying out the best war to get the full tale told. His method is enough to make me tear up, his story goes even deeper.
So back to that film that I praised last night. The one that asked me participate in telling a sad and deep story. I am beside myself with joy at having been asked. I hope I remain connected with it. I am honored at having been asked. If I am allowed to continue with it, I will do my very best. If I am not allowed to continue through to the end,I’ll watch and have my opinion, and that’s one opinion I’ll keep to myself.
It’s been a few days since I posted some artwork. Here are some piece I repost which were taken from the collection of Vincent Cafarelli. I’m curently sitting in his desk at Buzzco, so I’d like to see more of the great art that passd his way during the heyday of the commercial in NYC.
Among Vince Cafarelli‘s remaining artifacts there are lots of bits and pieces from several Piels Bros. commercial spots. I decided to put some of it together – even though they’re not really connected – into this one post.
There are animation drawings I’ll try to post in other pieces.
Here, we have a storyboard for a spot; I believe this is an abbreviated spot promoting some contest Piels beer was running. I think this is from a shortened version of a one minute spot since there are animation drawings which are obviously from the same setup, but they’re not part of this storyboard. (There’s an unveiling of the barrel, which is upside down.)
Since the boards are dated 1957, and given the use of signal corps pegs, I believe these were done for UPA.
Regardless, the drawings are excellent. I presume they’re hand outs to Lu Guarnier, animating, and Vince Cafarelli, assisting.
The following are three drawings from the opening scene of this storyboard. Others from this scene weren’t saved.
Let’s follow that with layout drawings from two different spots. The first doesn’t really offer much, but the quality of the clean-ups and the drawing is first rate. I’m pleased to post it:
Here are layout drawings for the second of the two spots I have in hand. I presume this is also a spot promoting that contest.
- Here’s one of the scenes saved by Vince Cafarelli from a commercial he did while at Goulding-Elliott-Graham. The commercial was animated by Lu Guarnier, and Vinny was the assistant on it. Hence, he saved the rough drawings (instead of Bert Piels. (Sorry I don’t know what he’s saying, though I’m looking for the storyboard.)
So, here are Lu’s rough drawings in this CU
The following QT movie was made by exposing all drawings on twos
except for the extreme positions that were missing inbetweens.
For those, I dissolved from one extreme to the next.
It drove me crazy that Lu Guarnier always animated on top pegs.
Next week with the last of these three posts on this Piels Bros commercial, I’ll talk about Lu’s animation and some of my pet peeves.
Here’s the last of the three posts I’ve been able to cull from the drawings left behind in Vince Cafarelli‘s things. The 60 second spot was animated by Lu Guarnier and clean-up and assisting was by Vinnie.
Within this post there are drawings from two separate scenes. If you look at the storyboard (I’d posted the entire board in another post, but I’ve pulled the particular frames from the board to show again here), you can see what it is the characters are saying. I don’t have all the drawings for these two scenes; just those I’ve posted.
I’m also going to use these drawings of Lu’s to write about his style of animation. I was taught from the start that this was completely done in an incorrect way. I don’t mean to say something negative about a good animator, but it is a lesson that should be learned for those who are going through the journeyman system of animation.
Right from the get-go I had some difficulty assisting Lu’s scenes. He started in the old days (early-mid Thirties) at Warner Bros, in Clampett’s unit, and moved from there to the Signal Corps (Army); then to New York working at a few studios before landing at UPA’s commercial studio. After that, he free lanced most of his career, as had so many of the other New York animators. They’d work for six months to a year at one studio then would move on to another.
I suspect the problems in Lu’s animation all generated from the training he’d gotten at WB. Lu worked in a very rough style. No problem there. An animator should work rough. These drawings posted aren’t particularly rough, but in his later years (when I knew him) there was hardly a line you could aim for in doing the clean-up. His style was done in small sketchy dashes that molded the character. Rarely was it on model, and always it was done with a dark, soft leaded pencil. There were others who worked rougher, Jack Schnerk was one, but Lu’s drawing was usually harder to clean up.
There was a rule that came out of the Disney studio, and, as both an animator and an assistant, I’ve followed it closely. When doing the breakdown charts (those ladders to the right of the drawing) all inbetween positions had to be exactly half way between drawing “A” and drawing “B”. If the animation called for it to be 1/4 of the way, you’d indicate that half-way mark then indicate your 1/4. If a drawing had to be closer or farther away – say 1/3 or 1/5th of the way – the animator should do it himself. This, as I learned it, was the law of the land. However, Lu would rarely adhere to it, and an assistant’s work became more complicated. The work was too easily hurt by a not-great inbetweener. I’ll point out an example of Lu’s breaking this rule as we come to it).
These ladders are done correctly, per the Disney system.
#34 is half way between #32 & #35;
#33 is half way between #32 & #34.
#36 is half way between #35 & #38;
#37 (the 1/4 mark) is half way between #36 & #38.
However, Grim Natwick told me
- demanded of me –
that all ladders should appear on the lower numbered drawing.
The ladder here should be on drawing #32 for all art
going into the upcoming extreme, #38.
Lu never followed this rule, which means the
assistant generally had to search for the chart.
The Second scene
This ladder is typical of Lu’s animation.
It would seem that #106 is 1/3 of the way between #108
and #105 is half way between #106 and #109.
and it also looks like #107 is 2/3 of the way between #108 and #109.
Because the numbers come on the last of the extremes, here,
more confusion is allowed to settle in.
Again, the ladder appears on the later extreme. The assistant
shouldn’t have to go looking for it. The ladder should be on
the first drawing involved in the breakdown.
Again, the breakdown drawings are on 1/3′s, and
the inbetweens are 1/2′s of that. It makes it harder on the
people following up on the clean-up & inbetweens.
I don’t know if this style of Lu’s was a product of where he learned to animate or not. Jack Schnerk, a comparable animator – whose work I loved (even though he had a rougher, harder to clean up drawing style) – always broke his timing in halves and halves again. There were times when his animation went to one’s and he did most of all the drawings. I assumed he had an unusual timing, and he didn’t want to burden the Assistant with his schema. He also always carried the breakdown charts on the earlier numbered drawing – per Grim Natwick’s comment. In some way I felt that Lu was rushed to get on with the scene, and whatever method he used would be to get him there more quickly. (It was the assisting that was slowed down.) This may have been a product of his attempts to devise some type of improvisation in the animation. Lu’s work, on screen, was usually excellent, so he didn’t much hurt anything in his method.
It might also have been his method of trying to put SNAP into the animation. This was a WB trait from the mid-late Thirties. It was certainly in Lu’s animation. No doubt a hold-over from Clampett’s early days of directing.
The final thing to note is that Lu usually worked on Top Pegs. Animating on Top Pegs makes it impossible to “roll” the drawings and check on the movement of more than 3 drawings. You can only “flip” the three, checking the one inbetween, but it didn’t give you a good indication of the flow of the animation. This is obviously necessary in animating on paper. It also made it difficult for the cameraman as well as those following behind the animator. If there were a held overlay, this would have to be on bottom pegs since the animation is on top pegs. That requires extra movement of the expensive cameraman to change all the animation cels after lifting the bottom pegged overlay. It also risks the possible jiggling of the overlay as it’s continually moved for the animating cels.
Daily post 09 Nov 2013 09:26 pm
Just who was ALice?
This little girl who walked about with the intelligentsia of mid nineteenth Century Oxford. And she affected them all somehow. Charles Dodgson in a skiff took her boating on the Thames, posing as the writer Lewis Carroll, and told her stories of herself and the world that really didn’t exist in her mind but rather in Carroll’s. It took a hundred years for one of the greatest playwrights of our time, Dennis Potter, to make a movie of her older self looking back on the past years of a “Dream Child.” She inspired artists like all of the greatest with Raiph Steadman filling up volumes and volumes of illustrations with pictures of a good little girl acting bad. That slight resemblance to Meryl Streep who played Alice for Eve La Gallienne. It’s all too in-bred, artistically. Ask Robert Wilson who could barely get his character of Alice to pose for his photographs. Tom Waites wrote songs and a German theater troupe sung them.
The girl owes us nothing. She played the part for a small time minister and has happily lived through history of Art. She was not even a model for Picasso or Braque or Cezanne. Yet she changed history.
Tomorrow more of Ralph Steadman’s brilliance. That’s what I’ll post.
She was just a small child playing Cockaboody.
Daily post 08 Nov 2013 04:44 am
The list of film on the animation short lis for Best Animated Short Film include:
The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
Feral, Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)
Get a Horse! Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
Gloria Victoria, Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)
The Missing Scarf, Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)
Mr. Hublot, Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)
Possessions, Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)
Requiem for Romance, Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)
Room on the Broom, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)
Subconscious Password, Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment).
The Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in New York and Los Angeles. Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in December.
Paul Julian is one of my favorite BG painters. He did a number of titles on his own for Roger Corman’s horror films. They’re had o see, yet I’ve gathered a number of them. This title sequecence was for The Terror, They are just beautiful paintings despite the fact that some of the color prints have deteriorated. It’s eas to understand whyjOHN Hubley took such a liking for his work on THE FOUR POSTER and ROOTY TOOT TOOT.
I’ve continually grown more interested in Paul Julian‘s work. He’s known predominantly for the Bgs he did at Warner Bros and the art direction he did on The Tell Tale Heart. However, there’s more film work he did independently.
The Hangman was a short film he did with co-director Les Goldman. Maurice Ogden’s poem is read by Herschel Bernardi in a very earnest tone. The artwork by Julian absolutely saves this film which was nominated for the Oscar.
Roger Corman also used Paul Julian for a number of opening title sequences for the low budget films he did in the 60s. I’m going to try pulling some frame grabs from a number of these title sequences so that I can place some focus on Julian’s work in these forgotten films.
I start here with The Terror a film Starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson. Julian uses a couple of pieces of artwork that he works over the course of the sequence with lots of lateral camera moves. Quite expressive work, though certainly not on a par with Tell Tale Heart.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
You can watch a grayed-out version of this video on YouTube. The credits come on about a minute into it.
Corman’s The Swamp Women
In this post taking frame grabs from Swamp Women, the print includes an obviously added on title card using B&W footage. The color film that follows is so deteriorated and choppy, in this print, that it’s hard to discern what color the original art was. So I’ve tempered it a bit to get rid of the magenta look. I suspect I’m getting close.
The imagery is definitely Julian’s. He had an obvious Ben Shahn influence to some of the work although he gets a bit more surreal in his compositions and designs.
There are fewer camera moves in this title. I’m sure the budget was low. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in the hundreds (not thousands) of dollars.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
This first title on the rented DVD looks like it was pulled from a B&W print.
Daily post 05 Nov 2013 04:16 am
It was more than a week ago that I posted some very nice inspirational and preproduction drawings printed in the wonderful Chronicle book, Animation Sketchbooks, edited by Laura Heid, who is not only an artist but an animator as well.
Lēt’s take a look at a few more. Shall we?
Daily post 02 Nov 2013 10:57 pm
Daily post 01 Nov 2013 01:24 am
What a delicate and aweet title for the French animated feature of the children’s book, Earnest & Celestine. Adapted from, the book by Gabrielle Vincent the animated film takes full advantage of the soft and delicate watercolors. the deftly drawn pencil sketches and the wonderful care gone into the book’s illustrations. The images are beautiful, knowing full well that 3d cgi animation would not be able to carefully and ably translate these great features to the screen. Thus far they’ve got this book down beautifully and completely. It doesn’t even go in for overlas moving at divers speeds to make it feel like there’s depth there (I think I counted them doing that three times in the film), yet I didn’t mind.
As for the Backgrounds I found none of them bad. Some were far richer than others, but all together they made for a happy blend, a really well painted product. The layouts were always simple and direct. When there were a few times I longed for something richer, I could only blame my own taste; it had nothing to do with the film making.
However, the story, simple as it is, is so poorly written, planned and told that the film is left with nothing but extraordinary visuals. There’s a gruffness there that comes off more as crude than as character development. And I was very sad for this problem. The artists really did do the work and got the characters to move with some feeling. It’s just that they weren’t there to help the story; they were just going through the motions.
Of course this is just my take on the film. Perhaps I just wanted more and caught the film on the wrong day, or maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I do think so, and I will watch the film again to make sure that it isn’t the case. I do encourage everyone who loves animation to see this film. It gives reason enough for 2D animation to exist. There is nothing in 3D they can do to match it and there’s no reason for anyone to try. The books, the characters are lovely.
It’s just those damned writers. We exist in different planes, and I’m sorry for that.
I’ve had some problems lately and your comments, though not being obvious about it, are letting me know quite well. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately – not a lot of it to do with animation (except that I’m not getting enough work.) It’s shown in my writing, particularly the depth of it, but also in the number of typos. Believe me, I could blame this damned keyboard with sticky keys, missing letters and slow speed. I’m trying to catch them, and hope that’ll be the case more often than not, but for now this is what it is. I apologize if this is turning any of you away from the site, but I do promise things will improve.
This is the first year they’ve made it possible for us to vote on all the animted features narrowing the choices considerably of that we’ll end up with the expected 5 in the competition. If it does nothing else, it shows us what diversity there can be from the 2D films which are not the same old little puppetdolls we get from the cgi films. Rather than the cgi viewmaster look, we have beautiful watercolors in Earnest and Celestine, the expected look from the Miyazaki oevure, amd I haven’t even gotten to A Letter to Momo.
Daily post 31 Oct 2013 12:24 am
- Back in 1959 Sleeping Beauty wasn’t the only animated feature to hit theaters. Universal had adapted The Snow Queen, a 1957 Soyuzmultfilm production, adding the voices of Tommy Kirk, Sandra Dee and Patty McCormick to the English language version. (Dave Fleischer got credit for “Technical Director” whatever that was.) A new score by the excellent composer Frank Skinner was added including a couple of key songs.
The original Russian film was directed by Lev Atamanov
a significant figure in the history of Russian animation. Several of his films
had been adapted and distributed to American television, including
The Golden Antelope which had received an award of merit at Cannes.
The odd bit about The Snow Queen is that it included an introduction
by a narrator which was voiced by Paul Frees in the English version.
This narrator, calld “Dreamy,” walks around a statue of Hans Christian Andersen
and is flanked by a number of books.
The animation of “Dreamy” was very slow and, I guess, “dreamy.”
You can feel Paul Frees trying to mouth the character’s limited mouth actions
and get all the words into the time allotted. It couldn’t make for a good performance.
Now let’s take a look at Jiminy’s entrance in Pinocchio.
The masters at Disney, by the time they’d made Pinocchio, knew what they had to do.
Now it’s all cgi for worse or worser.
Daily post 29 Oct 2013 04:32 am
I was able to switch up my plans to see FROZEN in a theater. It hurt badly.I’s the worst Disney feature I’ve seen in ages. I won’t get into it, but trust mean on this one. It’s a horrible attempt to make a long-form feature. I had to walk out at the 2/3 mark. The drawing wasn’t all that was wrong. Acting, coloring, songs. It’s a mess. I’ll go a little deeper (but not by much) at another time. See the Mayazaki film a second time instead.
Here’s to something better – anything,