Animation &Animation Artifacts &Fleischer 30 Oct 2007 08:19 am

Popeye cycle

– Here’s a good example of something you won’t see animated in cgi. This is an ice skating cycle out of a Popeye cartoon, Seasin’s Greetinks!. It’s, of course, on the Popeye dvd just out, and is animated by Roland Crandall and Seymour Kneitel.

These Fleischer cartoons are so original in their jokes that there’s always a surprise or ten in every scene. The twists and turns are designed only to get laughs; I can give you a dozen examples from this short alone, but I’ll just recommend you watch the film.

It’s not just the stories that take odd spins, it’s the animation as well. There are bits that move in their own idiosyncratic way that are designed purely for laughs. Eccentric movements that would rarely show up in a Disney film dominate these Fleischer shorts.

Check out this cycle. Every eighth drawing is completely off the book. It gives the cycle a hilarious turn and completely dominates the move. It’s probably not the best way to build character (unless, perhaps, only one character moves like this), but it sure makes for some funny animation.

The thing about these Fleischer films is that it moves this way all the time. There’s always something about to take you for an odd turn, and while you’re looking for the big move, you’re just buying these small ones. The effect is cumulative, and the animation in these Fleischer films is just plain wacky.

A cgi animator doesn’t look for the odd twist in every frame. They can, but it wouldn’t make sense to be doing it that way, especially when the goal is to make the animation fluid in the final. The animation is too based on real life, and the individual frames don’t exist in the same way they do in 2D paper animation. There’s more risk in the 2D mode, but the reward can also be more ingenious and gratifying.

But what do I know? I don’t animate with cgi, and I’m just making a supposition based on what I’ve seen so far. Everything’s possible, but it sure doesn’t seem probable from my seat.

Having said that, let me also say that there aren’t too many animators doing 2D animation like this anymore. Maybe that’s the complaint I really have. Invention and daring in our medium seems to be a thing of the past.

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(Click any image to enlarge.)

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Popeye and Olive Ice Skating on two’s

7 Responses to “Popeye cycle”

  1. on 30 Oct 2007 at 12:19 pm 1.David said …

    Nice analysis on the Fleischer style of animating .

    How did you isolate the frames of the characters with only white around them ? I’m trying to do something similar for animation examples in a class I’m teaching, but I’m not coming up with an effective way to do it .

  2. on 30 Oct 2007 at 3:19 pm 2.Michael said …

    David, I did it the old fashioned way. Using Photoshop, I erased the background from the characters frame by frame. It wasn’t as time consuming as I expected, especially since I wanted to see the animation cycle, for my own study.

  3. on 31 Oct 2007 at 12:22 pm 3.Fred Sparrman said …

    Gasp! Michael Sporn refers to Photoshop as “the old fashioned way”?

    THUD! (passes out)

  4. on 31 Oct 2007 at 12:35 pm 4.Michael said …

    Even I get to laugh at that one.
    (By the way, I like your use of onomotopoeia.)

  5. on 31 Oct 2007 at 7:37 pm 5.David said …

    “I did it the old fashioned way. Using Photoshop…”

    Ok, that brought a chuckle too in light of some recent discussions ;-)

    (Y’know the really funny thing is that in five years or whenever The Next Big Bright Shiny Thing™ comes along then we’ll hear people moaning about “the good ol’ days of Flash” and how these new-fangled programs just ain’t the same … )

  6. on 11 Nov 2007 at 11:14 pm 6.Marc Deckter said …

    Thanks for posting this careful analysis – there are so many interesting techniques to study in these Popeye cartoons.

  7. on 05 May 2008 at 1:58 am 7.Flea said …

    The cartoons made by the Fleischer were creative in the way they tried stuff out I like them alot.
    I think Popeye the sailor original black and white were the better ones and show off the Fleischer very well.
    Better stories
    Better set drawings
    The world looks more real
    The cartoons are classics.

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