Animation &Independent Animation 25 Aug 2011 07:26 am

Note from Borge

- Mike Barrier had posted a great letter from Borge Ring about David Hand and animation timing. I responded with a short note. I thought I’d written that I wish Hand, who had an enormous knowledge of animation, had said more about the subject in his autobiography. Instead, the book was about his life not about the work he did for his life. Borge Ring misunderstood my badly worded comment on the site, and wrote a letter to me about it. A couple of letters later, things were straightened out, and Borge had written even more wonderful stuff about David Hand’s knowledge. I asked to print that note, and Borge gave permission.

    Dave (Hand) was good at rages. They say -When Walt toppled Dave’s well planned day schedule in midmorning, Dave stood at Walt’s office gripping the table with white knuckled hands.blasting Walt.

    Disney later reminisced, “He didn’t know that I never loved him more than at those moments because he cared”

    John Canemaker is bound to have Dave’s Cookham lectures – One of them deals specifically with exposure lengths.

    I remember a remark:
    “6 frames is a hold – 4 frames is neither hay nor grass.”

    He never mentions 3 frames.

    Preston Blair puts in 3s in the endscene of “Dance of the Hour ” – Croc twirling Hippo, but you don’t notice they are threes.

    On request Dave talked about timing to a beat. (the old Jaxon gambit):
    “Disney uses many beats but mostly 12 and 8 – because they are easy to break down into inbtws -”
    An 8 beat (metronome on 180) with keys 1 – 9 – gets inbtw 5 in the middle and later 2 and 4 -
    A 12 beat (metronome on 120) has 1 – 13 -with 7 in the middle

    But Duncan and Littlejohn knew all of this and could have told you if you did not already know.

    Dave was not very conversant with music and his musician told him to think in (numbered) bars of four beats each, and gave the following rule of thumb, “Place all strong accents on 1 and on 3 in the bar and you will never get me into trouble”

    Dave added “You can place your strong accents wherever you choose as long as it makes sense musically.”

    “When lengthening or shortening a passage on your barsheet, never add or subtract less than one beat.”

    When adding a foot to the timing he did not rewrite the barsheet.
    He cut out one line of a virginal barsheet wrote on it and stuck it on to the rim of the sheet. Therefore you got barsheets with “whimpers” sticking out or empty lanes if you had deleted some beats to shorten a passage.
    When the barsheet was final he rewrote the numbers of all bars.

    Dave animated a little film one afternoon – working to an 8-beat. He drew 1-9-17 -25-etc in very thin grey lines then added all inbtws thinly, flipped and went over the whole scene straight ahead with a fat black line.
    He was fast like lightning though he had not animated since 1934

    “How do you choose a director?” I asked
    “You take a very good animator who is known for getting along with people.”
    The new director doesn’t animate, and after awhile they begin to miss his good footage. “Animation developed by leaps and bounds and
    after a year the other animators have passed him in quality.”

    “Have any of you any experience in story?”
    “Oh yes – Jensen and I storyboarded this guy’s script for a feature.”
    “But that isn’t story. That is only continuity And that is easy – that is eh if.

    Hand and Geronimi stuck to their pleasant style of timing when shorts directors like Jack Hannah sharpened theirs under influence from certain other studios.

    All this is memory debris that YOU no longer need – But I know It is a warm feeling to hear the “sound” of Old Gold from someone who was in Walt Disney’s studio when “the things” happened.

    Kaj Pindal and Kimball were railway pals
    “Ward give me the magic feather on animation.”
    “Timing is everything,” was the answer.


    A three stagger 123 -234 – 345 – when shot on twos makes the character look VERY heavy There is one such in “Robin Hood”

By the way, there’s also a wealth of information in Mike Barrier’s interview with David Hand on Mike’s site.

One Response to “Note from Borge”

  1. on 25 Aug 2011 at 9:15 am 1.John Celestri said …

    I love this kind of information. Back in the early 1970s, when I was just learning to crawl as an animator and there weren’t many sources to learn from, coming across info like this was like stumbling upon nuggets of gold.

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