Animation &Animation Artifacts &Disney &Story & Storyboards 28 Nov 2007 08:45 am

Bill Tytla’s Dumbo sequence

- Yesterday, I posted John Canemaker‘s archival copy of the storyboard for Dumbo; the sequence where he gets washed by his mother and plays around her legs.

I think this sequence, on film, is one of the greatest ever animated. There’s a sweet tenderness and an obviously close relationship between baby Dumbo and his mother which is built on the back of this sequence. It not only establishes both characters solidly, without words, but it sets up the mood of everything that will soon happen to the pair during the remaining 45 minutes of the film. Without that established bond, the audience wouldn’t feel so deeply for the pair during the “Baby Mine” song or care so much about Dumbo’s predicament.

Tytla has said that he based the animation of the baby elephant on his young son who he could study at home. Peet has said that Tytla had difficulty drawing the elephants and asked for some help via his assistant. There’s no doubt that both were proud of the sequence and tried to take full credit for it. No doubt both deserve enormous credit for a wonderful sequence. Regardless of how it got to the screen, everyone involved deserves kudos.

Here are a lot of frame grabs of the sequence. I put them up just so that they can be compared to the extraordinary board posted yesterday. Both match each other closely. Whereas the board has all the meat, the timing of the animation gives it the delicacy that would have been lost in a lesser animator’s hands, or, for that matter, in a less-caring animator’s hands. The scene is an emotional one.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

(Click any image to enlarge.)

3 Responses to “Bill Tytla’s Dumbo sequence”

  1. on 28 Nov 2007 at 9:56 am 1.Brett McCoy said …

    That’s a great sequence. The one that always brings me to tears, though, is the later one where the mother is locked away and Dumbo comes to see her and they intertwine their trunks for moment. But that scene wouldn’t be as powerful if you hadn’t seen the earlier one you describe above.

  2. on 29 Nov 2007 at 6:50 am 2.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    I absolutely love this sequence! One of the hardest things to pull off in cartooning is sincerity and Tytla and company do it marvelously here.

    Sometimes I have to restrain myself from giving a character attitude of some sort. Sometimes just a sincere and pleasant smile is enough. Even broad humor has to be anchored this way. I just put a shot like that in a photo essay in my blog where the hyper poet character says “incredibly happy” with what I hoped was a quiet and disarmingly simple expression.

    I don’t think any cartoonist should hesitate to use genuine sentiment where it applies.

  3. on 23 Aug 2012 at 7:41 pm 3.Serena said …

    I love Disney dumbo and mrs.jumbo

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