Monthly ArchiveAugust 2006
- I’m saddened to learn of Ed Benedict‘s death. Cartoon Brew gives a number of resources to view some of the man’s work and learn about some of his accomplishments. It’s worth a visit to get a sample of his accomplishments. Though I didn’t know him, I’ve been enormously affected by his work.
– Last week I made reference to Aurelius Battaglia’s UPA short, The Invisible Moustache of Raoul Dufy. The film was produced in 1955 and celebrates the life and art of Raoul Dufy.
It was part of the first season of The Gerald McBoing Boing Show, a short lived series on CBS, Sundays at 5:30. This show featured three short films (most done especially for the TV show) with a wrap-around bit featuring Gerald. The Invisible Moustache of Raoul Dufy was one of these shorts.
(Click to enlarge any image.)
Walking in Paris, about 20 years ago, I stumbled upon Dufy’s immense mural La fée électricité, which was commissioned by the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d’Electricité. It was in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Only on seeing this enormous work was I able to really grasp the notion of the film, which I’d seen as a child. I was taken with the technical expertise Dufy utilized to paint the work so quickly. He used a special painting medium created by a chemist and a projection system that allowed him to paint directly over images of his sketches. For the viewer, it’s the immense size of the piece that is so monumental. The colors literally glow around you in the somewhat darkened room.
The film, on the otherhand, seems to exist only in grayed colors. I have a 16mm print which came new, and the colors seemed faded. The vhs copy I have is no better. The delicate script is still quite lovely, but one is always wishing Dufy’s colors could come through.
I’ve posted a number of frame grabs to give an indication of the film, but I urge you to view the reconstructed mural the next time you’re in Paris. (Perhaps a side-trip from Annecy.)
- This blog stuff is amazing. History revealing itself.
Posted on the ASIFA Hollywood-Animation Archive site, today, is a most amazing document. Mark Kausler has loaned his set of bar sheets from the Rudy Ising directed short “Shuffle Off To Buffalo.” and Steven Worth has digitized them.
Bar sheets are the director’s work book used in breaking down a film musical note to musical note. Obviously, as depicted on these pages, found on the Animation Archive site, they were actually recorded on the sheet music, itself.
Over time things morphed, and there were actual bar sheets designed specifically for the director. These generally incorporated music, exposure/timing sheets and a place for action comments. Then, they seem to have dropped the musical notes.
Nowadays they seem to have dropped the workbook altogether. I try to work with them on most of my films. On Doctor DeSoto, for example, I actually built the camera moves on a waltz tempo musician, Ernest Troost, had written. I couldn’t have done this without bar sheets. They allow you to see the big picture – the movie – rather than the frames.
You can see what they look like in the Halas book Techniques of Film Animation to the left.
Here’s a set depicted in the Eli Levitan book Animation Art in the Commercial Film:
The bar sheets I’ve used in my studio look like the doc on the left. It allows me to see 400 frames in one glance. I can cut the track readings from the dope sheets and place them right onto the bar sheets.
The post on the Hollywood Animation Archive is a real find, especially for such an early document. Thank you Stephen Worth and Mark Kausler. Stephen’s also constructed a scene-by-scene visual breakdown and given a QT version of the cartoon to be able to better study the sheets.
What a fabulous chunk of animation history. One-stop-shopping for free.
- Here’s part 2 of the Disney Layout Training Course. Charles Philippi’s lecture on pans. I posted part 1 of this yesterday.
You’ll notice that I posted the first and third lectures of this series. I don’t have the second lecture which was given by Ken Anderson. Hans Perk, who does have the notes for this lecture, promises to post them when he gets the opportunity.
Keep a watch on his site. I will.
- The following is part 1 of the Disney Layout Training Course’s 3rd meeting. Charles Philippi gave the lecture, and it’s a good one. It’s all about pans.
There was a time when I was working for John Hubley on Everybody Rides The Carousel where he had asked me to design a background and setup for a package to be sent out, that day, to Bill Littlejohn for animation. Fortunately, I had just read these notes the day before, and I used what I’d learned. Hubley gave me a nice compliment, and I gave it all to Charles Philippi.
Littlejohn, by the way, did one of my favorite scenes of the entire time I was at that studio. I have the large number of drawings and will someday post some of them. Beautiful animation.
This Layout course is some 18 pages long. Since that’s a job to post all 18, I’m going to break it up into two days. Tomorrow the last half will be posted.
Comic Art 27 Aug 2006 07:37 am
– As I pointed out in the past, I’m a big fan of Cliff Sterrett‘s comic strip, Polly & Her Pals. It’s an exuberant, funny strip that’s packed with a lively graphic design.
Originally, like a number of other strips, the story was about Polly and her dating life and was called Positive Polly . It didn’t take long for Sterrett to move “Maw” and “Paw” into the household, and before long the strip was about them and renamed. Polly and her boyfriends moved into the background.
Sterrett‘s design of Polly & Her Pals had the life of Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, but it owed more to Picasso than cartoonists of the past. He used cubism, expressionism and surrealism at the strip’s height in the 20′s.
Polly was accompanied by the “top strip,” Dot and Dash, two dogs that went through their own, non-speaking adventures above Polly’s panels. This was eventually replaced by Sweethearts and Wives, another commentary on marriages.
I can’t get enough of it.
– New York’s Film Forum is about to start a retro- spective of Frank Tashlin‘s films. Of course, the former director of Warner Bros. cartoons turned to live-action films and became a somewhat eccentric director of unique comedies.
During the VO recording Tony Randall did for my film, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, Mr. Randall told me that he thought Frank Tashlin was the most creative director he’d ever worked with.
He used as a example a two shot from, I believe, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Tashlin had set up a shot with Randall looking in a mirror, and the reflection of the person he was speaking to was also reflected in another mirror. However the mirrors had been arranged so that the two appeared to have their backs to each other in the reflection.
The films are only showing at the Film Forum for a day or two at most. Included, is a program of animated shorts Tashlin directed. These are on a double bill with Artists and Models (a Martin & Lewis feature.) Note that this program plays only for one day. So get your tickets. New 35mm prints.
The following features are scheduled:
Sept 1/2 FRI/SAT WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER?
SEPT 3 SUN: (Double Bill) HOLLYWOOD OR BUST and SON OF PALEFACE
SEPT 5 TUE: (Double Bill) THE LIEUTENANT WORE SKIRTS and BACHELOR FLAT
SEPT 6 WED: (Double Bill) ARTISTS AND MODELS and TASHLIN LOONEY TUNES (scheduled: Porky’s Romance, Scrap Happy Daffy, Porky Pig’s Feat, and more! )
Daily post 25 Aug 2006 08:49 am
– Last night I saw the exuberant new musical, Idlewild and just absolutely loved it. It’s a grab-bag of songs by Outkast members André Benjamin and Antwan A. Patton, better known as André 3000, and Big Boi of the hip-hop group OutKast. They all had a hand in writing and performing the songs. The joint is jumping, and it’s not really hip-hop; it’s a hip-hop take on music of the thirties. The dance numbers, choreographed by Hinton Battle, to me, are the heart of the film making it an original and fresh musical of a movie.
All of the reviews I read were negative and with good reason. The movie is a mess of cliches and inability, but the total effect of the songs and dances and cgi animation (cuckoo clocks, musical notes, a rooster on a flask, et al) makes for a lively and fun mess. It should have been 20 minutes shorter, and it might’ve helped if they really knew what they were doing so they could have pulled it off properly.
But you have to love the imagination and enthusiasm. The end result is fun. I had a great time.
- Speaking of imagination and enthusiasm, I suspect none of either can be found on Tom & Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers. This is a feature length version of Tom & Jerry Meets The Pirates of the Caribbean and couldn’t be a duller idea. Why don’t they put together all those smoking scenes that the BBC is excising from the older cartoons and make a feature out of that? At least the animation would be good.
- Now if you want to see some imagination, click on over to The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive blog. They’ve posted a slew of classsic Disney model sheets. Of course, they’re in great shape (as are all of the art pieces posted on this vital and necessary site.)
- Today I’m posting the Disney Layout Course which they held after hours. The first lecture was given by Tom Codrick on May 6, 1936. I have the first lecture, the third lecture by Charles Philippi and an earlier one held by Phil Dike (though this last seems to be missing two pages.)
I hope it’ll be useful. I’ll post another at a later date.
Animation 23 Aug 2006 07:44 am
- I recently viewed a cgi short that I thought was an impressive effort. The Mantis Parable by Josh Staub tells the story of a caterpillar trapped within a jar, with no way out. A mantis makes its way into the room where the jar is kept and realizing the caterpillar’s problem tries, without much effort, to help. Just as the mantis gives up, he’s trapped by the jar-keeper and placed within a jar of his own. Needless to say, the ending will be resolved by a butterfly.
It’s an attractive film with a very strong style and animation equal to the film’s story. The short has done well – meaning it’s won awards at a number of festivals (Rhode Island, Palm Springs, Winnepeg, Black Maria, Chicago Int’l Children’s Film Festival) and been represented at others. I suggest you look out for it at festivals. Go here to listen to an interview with the director.
Most importantly, to me, a cgi artist has stepped up with his own effort to produce a strong film. I look forward to future projects from Josh Staub.
– Per The Hollywood Reporter, Blue Sky studio has optioned and is developing William Joyce’s book, “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.” Oscar winner Chris Wedge is attached to direct. Remember that Joyce designed Robots and Rolie Polie Olie .
The story (from the publisher) is: The brave good bugs march off to save the garden, but first, they must fight the evil Spider Queen before summoning the Leaf Men to save the day.
It’s a story of ancient elfin magic, epic adventure, and a salute to the power of memory, loyalty and love.
Let’s hope “the brave good bugs” don’t look like Antz or The Ant Bully. Given Joyce’s artwork and Blue Sky’s reputation, we can assume the design will have grace.
- It was a nice surprise to find a copy of the latest Animation Blast in among the bills yesterday.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Amid Amidi‘s been giving us progress reports for weeks and warning that it should be sent out soon, but, for whatever reason, I wasn’t really expecting it. (Just today, Amid tells us at Cartoon Brew, that 1/4 of the issues have gone out.) When a mag takes as long as this does to develop, you sit back and wait on it. The anticipation is on a low boil, and it makes the arrival so much more enjoyable.
It was the case all those years with Michael Barrier’s Funnyworld. The sheer enjoyment of holding the most recent copy of that publication was enormous. (Unfortunately, disappointment always settled in when you finished reading it, so you’d have to go back and reread earlier issues.)
This is true for Animation Blast. I wasn’t expecting it in the size envelope in which it arrived. The magazine has taken a different dimension. It’s a bit larger than my copy of A Contract With God, and it’s about half as thick.
- an article by Pete Doctor on Disney animator, John Sibley;
- an extensive article on Twice Upon A Time (I have a longish story about that one that I’ll save for another day – perhaps after I read this article);
- Jerry Beck‘s article about wartime art by animation artists;
- David Calvo’s article about The Three Caballeros (was this called Three Gay Caballeros once or is it just the song?);
and much more.
The magazine is jam packed with art old and new and has a dynamic modern graphic style all its own.
Go here to see more detail on its contents.
Presently, I’m over the top and have a lot of reading to do. I suggest anyone who hasn’t ordered a copy do it. They’ll go fast. Go here.
– There’s more about the Tom & Jerry anti-smoking story in a number of papers. Apparently, they’re also censoring Scooby Doo’s smoking habits from the H&B cartoons. Here are some of the stories in today’s papers: