Action Analysis &Animation &Animation Artifacts &Commentary &Fleischer &repeated posts 18 Jun 2013 07:41 am

Popeye and Olive Cycle – repost

– 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, 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, as the computer sees it, 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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Popeye and Olive Ice Skating on two’s

3 Responses to “Popeye and Olive Cycle – repost”

  1. on 18 Jun 2013 at 9:20 am 1.J Lee said …

    The head bob every eighth frame gives Olive’s motion a jerky ‘pushing off’ feel, which fits with the situation, because the joke is she can’t skate — you don’t want gliding-on-ice smoothness here, and that’s what changing the head position avoids (Kneitel and Dave Fleischer also do something moments earlier that UPA would get high praise for originating 20 years later, in changing the background while the characters are moving in place; in this case, transitioning to the frozen pond from Olive’s porch, as her legs move wildly on the skates and she tries to maintain her balance).

  2. on 18 Jun 2013 at 3:08 pm 2.Nat said …

    The Fleischers were so ingenious. One has to wonder what they would have done if their company hadn’t gone bankrupt in 1942. They certainly would have continued to give Disney a run for their money.

  3. on 19 Jun 2013 at 1:19 pm 3.Kevin Hogan said …

    Those surprise “jurks” every 8 beats are both what makes Fleischer unique and uncomfortable to watch. I love the invention and “quirkiness” of the animation, but I know many people who find those things off-putting and distracting. As Mike Barrier said in “Hollywood Cartoons”, the Fleischer Studio was highly dependent upon improvised humor to punch up mechanical animation. This is a unique way to make animation more interesting, but it seldom brings the viewer into the cartoon. Those quirky bits tend to break the fourth wall.

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