Monthly ArchiveAugust 2007
– As I posted last Friday, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Raggedy Ann & Andy: the Musical, I’m going to post a bunch of artwork from this film. I’m not even sure much of this material is of interest to anyone but those who worked on the movie, but since I worked on it, I’m interested.
Here are a bunch of model sheets of the secondary characters. The film opens in a playroom, and lots of toys inhabit these first few minutes. They all suffer from the same problem – too much. There are too many lines, there were too many colors, there was too much flailing-about animation. It would have been better to keep it a bit quieter, but that was never the Dick Williams way.
Here they are, right off Xeroxed copies:
Most of these model sheets were pulled from completed animation. In the case of this
group shot, Dick Williams did these drawings in reworking Fred Helmich’s animation in
the “No Girl’s Toy” musical number.
Dick’s clean-up did a stunningly brilliant job of locking in this character. I’m not quite sure we had anyone else on staff who could have done this character as well. Dick Williams is
an enormous talent, but it was too bad he was limited to inbetweening.
The drawings that were used for this preliminary model sheet were by designer, Corny Cole. What a talent! The character looks as though it could have fallen out of the oriiginal books by Johnny Gruelle. The life in each and every one of these drawings was solid gold. Too bad it ended up such a lifeless and annoying character when it finally hit the screen.
The animation of the pirate ship was split between Corny Cole and Doug Crane. I have
a couple of scenes done by Corny with his Bic pen animation. Someday I’ll post some of these drawings, but it’ll be a big chore to do it. Each drawing is so large that it’ll take three scans for each one and will require photoshop reconsrtuction. Lotsa work.
But they’re beautiful drawings, so it’ll probably be worth it if I can find the time.
– The Seattle Times has an article which features the shop in Ratatouille which displays dead rats in their window. I was taken aback by the scene in the film and felt that it was too ridiculous an image to get us to believe that such a shop existed. Of course, I was wrong and here’s confirmation of that fact. Quite peculiar.
Still I wonder how many other people didn’t know about this window display, and whether one should put images of this kind into a film when you’re sure it’ll pull some of your audience out of the movie. There’s a fine line to draw when you’re trying to keep an audience involved in your film. Once they’ve looked at their watches or question the authenticity of a scene, you’ve lost them for a bit which might turn out to be for the rest of the movie.
Thanks to Upcoming Pixar for notice of this story.
For some reason, I’ve always been attracted to paper sculpture art. There have been a couple of examples of this medium done in animation. Immediately, a few films come to mind.
The best known is Symposium of Popular Song done by Bill Justice & Xavier Atencio. They use Ludwig Von Drake to string together a number of music videos done with paper constructions. I remember seeing this film on its first release. (It played in theaters locally with PT 109 starring Cliff Robertson.)
Michel Ocelot, who has now grown to great heights directing animated features such as Kirikou or Azur et Asmar did a number of elaborate and beautiful cut-out animation films in his earlier years. You can see a clip from The Insensitive Princess on YouTube. His films were an outgrowth of Lotte Reininger‘s extraordinary work and, to some extent, his love of Yurij Norstein‘s work.
Megan Brain has two sites featuring her paper sculpture art, and it’s certainly beautiful. Her blog has more information; her website has more art. There’s also a good interview with Megan at the Character Design site. Her blog was once featured on Cartoon Brew back in 2006. The site and blog have both developed since then. It’s worth checking out (again if you haven’t been there in a while.)
Béatrice Coron is a french artist who specializes in paper sculpture and cutouts. She has a page of simple animations to watch. There’s also a wealth of information about cut out art on her site Eclectic Iconoclast. Plenty of good, interesting links.
Speaking of Michel Ocelot, this year, he’s directed a Bjork music video that combines silhouettes of people (made to look like Reininger characters) against cg abstractions. Have a look:
Photos 19 Aug 2007 08:17 am
In the old days, the elaborate tiles would decoratively detail the name of the station. As a matter of fact, it’s quite extraordinary that there’s such beautiful work throughout the subway system, and even more extraordinary that they still keep it up.
Anyway, throughout this station, the tiles depicted silhouettes of different riders and working personnel. Everything from the student to the station cleaners. I did a little bit of research and found that Janet Zweig, who designed it, says that the frieze, “…celebrates the significance and individuality of the citizens of New York. … It depicts 194 silhouetted people … taken from photographs of New Yorkers in all their variety… arranged as a 1200 foot narrative that contains smaller dramatic narratives within it.” The artwork was installed in 2004. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve been in this station.
While waiting for the N train to arrive, I had to snap some stills.
The brushes this guy carries either makes him a chimney sweep
or a subway cleaner.
Daily post 18 Aug 2007 07:48 am
I thought I’d take this time to announce that the Museum of Modern Art will be doing a full-out retrospective of my work over the Armistice Day weekend (Nov. 9th through 12th).
There will be three programs of films and a fourth program which will feature John Canemaker and Josh Siegel (of MOMA) chatting with me onstage and screening some odds and ends. I’ll post more about these screenings in the near future.
- The New York Film Festival announced this week that Persepolis would be their closing night film. Traditionally, this is the key film of the Festival, and it’s something of a coup for the directors, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud to have been given such a prime position.
This Festival does not have a long history of including animated features, so it’s quite a headline for the Sony Pictures Classics release. Although Paprika was included in last year’s program. (The first animated feature I can remember seeing there was the work-in-progress version of Beauty and the Beast that was programmed as a special midnight screening. The crowd bought it up and cheered endlessly. That was a smart move for Disney to get the word of mouth out on that feature.)
Persepolis, of course, did will at Cannes, winning a jury prize, and making its way into several other important festivals including the upcoming Ottawa Animation Festival.
By the way the Persepolis site now has a “making of” featurette to watch.
- Michael Barrier posts more comments about Neal Gabler’s book, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. I enjoy the fact that Mike doggedly goes after this book; it’s not good and has been given too high a status by the Disney organization. He is the the perfect person to lead the charge.
Gabler’s book has been christened the “official” biography of Walt Disney, yet it’s a poor book. It’s excessively long, while offering nothing original. Gabler seems to want to psychoanalyze Disney, however Walt seems to have an hostile analyst here.
I was glad to learn that Diane Disney Miller is speaking up and offering her opinion. Hopefully, she’ll eventually get the ear of a board member or two. Where’s Roy when you need him?
Jaime Weinman has an excellent column about Duckman, a show that deserves a lot more attention. I think this was probably the finest work from Klasky-Csupo in their meteoric golden era.
– Tom Sito‘s blog, yesterday, reminded me that it was the 30th anniversary of the release of Raggedy Ann & Andy:A Musical Adventure .
To quote Tom’s blog:
___ASIFA/Hollywood is planning
___to have a reunion of the crew of
___Raggedy Ann to celebrate the
___anniversary. It will be at the
___American Film Institute in
___Hollywood on November 17th.
___A simultaneous reunion will
___happen in New York City. A lot of wonderful people worked on this film, many getting
___their first start.
This gives me a good reason to post some artwork from this film in the next few months. So, excuse me if you find it annoying to see artwork from a second rate feature. However, this was a seminal film for a lot of talented people who got a chance to work along some of the masters.
Just check out this list of animators on the film:
_____Hal Ambro, Art Babbitt, George Bakes, John Bruno, Gerry Chiniquy,
_____Tissa David, Emery Hawkins, John Kimball, Chrystal (Russell) Klabunde,
_____Charlie Downs, Grim Natwick, Spencer Peel, Willis Pyle, Jack Schnerk,
_____Art Vitello, Carl Bell and Fred Hellmich left mid-production.
_____Gerry Potterton was the consulting Director.
_____Cosmo Anzilotti was the Asst. Director.
_____Corny Cole was the designer of the film.
These were some of the younger upstarts inbetweening and assisting:
_____Bill Frake, Jeffrey Gatrall, John Gaug, Eric Goldberg, Dan Haskett, Helen Komar,
_____Judy Levitow, Jim Logan, Carol Millican, Lester Pegues Jr, Louis Scarborough Jr,
_____Tom Sito, Sheldon Cohen and Jack Mongovan.
_____I supervised assistants and inbetweeners in NY,
_____Marlene Robinson did that job in LA.
If you don’t know who these people are, trust me they were the backbone of the business for many, many years prior to 1976.
In some ways I think this along with some of the Bakshi and Bluth films led directly toward the rebirth of animated features. There was a long dark period before it.
So to start with the artwork.
This is a scene which immediately follows the Pirate kidnapping Babette.
Here’s the storyboard for the two scenes. It’s a copy of
Corny Cole’s drawing from the director’s workbook.
How small it all gets on a pan and scan video.
Hans guided me to the Ottawa Animation Festival site as I started my search to find out who he is. I didn’t make it to Ottawa in 2004, but apparently there was a retro-spective there for Toccafondo. Obviously, the Italian filmmaker had done enough work to merit a retrospective, and I hadn’t heard of him before yesterday! How astute of Chris Robinson to have scheduled a retrospective – 3 years ago.
I was soon led to the AWN/Acme Filmworks site. He’s part of their group of directors and has a small showreel posted there. For the record, I learned that he was born in San Marino, Italy, on March 6, 1965. He studied at the Istituto d’Arte di Urbino: film animation department, graduating in 1985. He lives and works in Milan. He’s had various exhibitions in Milan and Paris.
Not only are they beautiful films, but the use of music within all is excellent. The composer, Mario Mariano, has his own home page.
The work looks as though it uses live-action film as a jumping off point to distort, reconstruct and recreate the images depicted. The blend of film and music is tight and exciting. Every frame I’ve seen looks like a oil-painted masterwork. Lucian Freud meets Francis Bacon. As Hans Bacher stated on his site, I haven’t located a dvd of Gianluigi Toccafondo‘s work, but I’ll keep looking.
Gianluigi Toccafondo is an artist who happens to use animation as his medium, and I’m thankful to Hans Bacher for waking me up to this work. Isn’t that what great sites do? They link you to great art.
– On Thursday night at 10pm, Ray Kosarin‘s short, Uncle, will premiere on ReelTalk on local channel PBS Thirteen.
As I wrote about this short (click here to read) last Saturday, Ray put it out there and said what he thought was important to say, politically, back in 2003 when it wasn’t popular to go against the system. I applaud hiom for that and for the excellent craft in the making of the film.
I sincerely hope you can get the chance to see it.
Daily post 15 Aug 2007 07:51 am
– Like most cartoonists and illustrators, I’m a big fan of the delicate work of Ronald Searle. I think I first came to admire his work through all those TV Guide covers that I knew from my childhood. His sense of caricature was so exquisite.
Any time I came across his work attempted in animation, I was always disappointed. The delicacy, the composition, the heart always seemed to be out of it. The movie titles for The Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines were a good sample of this. In The Hallelujah Trail, the camera just roamed over stills, but something was missing. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of those sensitive drawings and the brash musical score by Elmer Bernstein, but it didn’t work.
Dick Deadeye didn’t quite capture his style or energy, but it the book on the making of the film is excellent. It’s filled with fine drawings by Searle including a couple of turnarounds.
I’ve become a frequent visitor to Matt Jones‘ Ronald Searle Tribute blog. There’s so much material there that it’s always a treat to visit.
I have an old issue of Cartoonist Profiles which published the following article by Searle in 1969. A good opportunity to revisit.
Tissa is careful not to use too much paper. Hence she reuses old paper for her very rough preliminaries as she figures out her animation.
It’s frequent, when visiting her work space, to see lots of pages featuring char-acters on both sides of the paper upside down as well as sideways. She doesn’t often let these rough roughs out of her hands before she throws them out. I guess I was there at the right time and talked her into giving me these drawings.
She animates the walk, here, on top pegs bacause that’s all she has left of space. Tissa nomally works on bottom pegs. Actually, since this is going to be a sliding cel, it would have been done top pegs anyway.
Georgia, the younger girl, leaves the bathroom and moves to the floor to play with a doll (whose head she accidentally pulls off).
I’m starting to get overwhelmed with all this information about Popeye flying at me from the internet. The release of the dvd (which I still haven’t seen but will soon) has prompted every animation site to offer the new and unusual in the Popeye canon.
By the way, thanks to Ken Priebe for locating a copy of a sister commercial (which Jerry Beck posted at Cartoon Brew). The drawings I offered were Jack Zander’s, but I’m pretty sure the Popeye in this other commercial was not animated by him.
I’d thought it was for Tang, but am surprised to learn the spot was for “Start,” a now-defunct competitor. (I guess having the astronauts drink Tang enabled that drink to monopolize the marketplace.) ____________________________________ (Click image to enlarge.)
- I would like to call attention to one young animation site that has a particularly useful bit of Popeye info: Understanding Animation has posted two parts of a three part history of Popeye. It’s quite a dense bit of information he’s written, very detailed. Like many a blog, it could have used an editor to correct some of the grammar. It’s hard to get the gyst of some of the sentences. There’s also a bit too much praise for John K. in a piece about Popeye, but there’s a lot of reading here.
Part 1 is about the comic strip character and Segar’s creation.
Part 2 is about the Fleischer cartoons and the subsequent developments that made Popeye a star.
This is well worth the read. I look forward to Part 3.
– The site that keeps me in awe every time I visit is Hans Bacher‘s beautiful Animated Treasures 1.
Hans recovers stunning backgrounds from animated films and recreates them using photoshop. (Today he offers a demo.) The Background from The Nutcracker Suite, pictured to the left, is a product of Hans’ fine recreation.
However, it isn’t the how it’s the beauty of the artwork featured. Hans seems to favor the watercolor backgrounds of the thirties and forties (Bless him!) rather than the opaque work of the fifties. His taste is impeccable, and his eye is flawless.
I can’t wait to get my hands on his book, Dream Worlds.
Rob Richards has just developed his own similar site, Animation Backgrounds. It’s excellent to see more of the Disney background work, but so far my taste runs toward Hans’ eye for artwork. I guess my preference is for the watercolor backgrounds of Hoppity than the fine work done in Mary Poppins or The Jungle Book. I love having both sites available to me; there’s a lot to be learned from both of them and the artwork they feature.