Animation &Rowland B. Wilson 29 Nov 2007 09:05 am

Jack Schnerk

- I apologize for the server problems we had yesterday. Our site was down for most of the day. If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, just scroll down.


- Jack Schnerk‘s daughter, Mary Schnerk Lincoln, has put three of her father’s commercial sample reels onto YouTube . This gives me a good excuse to call attention to his work, once again. There are a number of well-known and collector’s item commercials in these reels. Included are spots designed by the likes of Gahan Wilson, Tomi Ungerer, Charles Saxon and Rowland Wilson.

Jack Schnerk was a great animator who deserves considerably more attention. He was a strong influence on me in the first eight years of my career and taught me quite a few large principles about the business. He also told me a few stories of his work as an assistant at Disney’s on Bambi and Dumbo as well as the great times animating at UPA and the difficulties of animating at Shamus Culhane’s studio. Actually, he didn’t tell me about his problems with Shamus; another animator did. Jack complained about the business, but never about how he was treated.

I wish I had more samples of the many scenes of his that I assisted. He worked in a very distinct style – I don’t think I’ve seen anyone elseever draw that way. Somehow, the very rough drawings weren’t hard to clean up, and he didn’t leave the bulk of the work for the people following him. He was concerned about the timing and did every drawing he needed to make sure that timing worked. Most of the time we worked together, he had no chance to see pencil tests. Only on Raggedy Ann did he have that luxury.

Jack had a dark side, that I appreciated, but he also brought a lightness and individual sensibility to the work he did. He took chances in his animation and timing and sometimes failed but usually succeeded with them. That’s more than I’ll say for most of the animators I’ve met in the business.

See Jack Schnerk sample reel 1.

Jack Schnerk Sample reel 2.

Jack Schnerk Sample reel 3.

5 Responses to “Jack Schnerk”

  1. on 29 Nov 2007 at 1:26 pm 1.Ray Kosarin said …

    Beautiful clips, Michael–thanks for linking.

    The American Airlines spot (Wilson?)is a real tour-de-force. Gentle, funny, and so much going on (which is sort of the point) that it could all too easily have turned out a complete mess–but so intelligently choreographed and timed that the eye is always just where it needs to be.

    Also a fine time capsule from an era when agencies seemed to know very well what animation is for.

  2. on 30 Nov 2007 at 1:29 pm 2.Tom Minton said …

    Jack Schnerk really handled the Rowland B. Wilson designs well. It’s too bad Wilson didn’t design more for animation. His stuff had taste and class.

  3. on 30 Nov 2007 at 5:45 pm 3.Tom Sito said …

    When I worked with Jack on Raggedy Ann, I once asked him what was the secret to working as fast as he did? He replied:” If you are working on a scene, and you feel you need to go to the bathroom, finish the scene. You’ll be amazed at how fast you get!”

  4. on 18 Dec 2007 at 12:54 am 4.George Griffin said …

    I had the good fortune to be an inbetweener at Focus Design in 1969 where Jack animated many of those spots. His drawing method reduced the design to bare-bones abstractions, volumetric shapes (rough ovals and rectangles) that compressed the final look into a kind of shorthand. We often gathered around to take turns flipping his scratchy roughs that often included partly-sketched inbetweens. He was an animator’s animator, able to work with subtle characters, like the Saxon taste-tester, or Ungerer’s wiggly cut-out line, because he was more concerned with comic timing, the design of movement, rather than the static frame.

    He wasn’t easy-going, and often could be heard groaning and snarling at his work if it wasn’t going right, muttering “Get in there, stupid.” to his cartoons. This made some people in the studio a little nervous, but seemed perfectly reasonable to me. He loved the witty French farces of director Sacha Guitry.

    Thank, Michael, for the link to his work.

  5. on 18 Feb 2011 at 12:38 pm 5.Meryl Rosner said …

    Just discovered Jack’s demo reel while teaching this morning at SVA…checking out early commercials on youtube…then to your story. Really an uncanny realism that sets him apart! Thanks.

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