Animation Artifacts &walk cycle 21 Feb 2007 07:54 am

He’s Got Strings

- Hans Perk, on his site A Film LA, has been posting the complete set of Drafts for Pinocchio, and after my post of the Jiminy Cricket run last week, I feel compelled to give more from this great Disney film.

I have this walk – Pinocchio with strings, as operated by Gepetto from above. It’s one of the most complex problems I can imagine, and I think you have to be something of a genius animator to pull it off. Needless to say, Frank Thomas did. He mastered all the challenges of the weight of the object to allow you to completely disbelieve you were watching drawings move, yet you were able to get into the mind of the puppeteer.

It’s a brilliant piece of acting. A lifeless creature given life through Gepetto’s manipulation. The scene, of course, contrasts with the “Got No Strings” number where Pinocchio dances among puppets that are manipulated by the professional puppeteer, Stromboli, as opposed to the non-professional, Gepetto. It’s so complex yet done so well that it looks simple.

The drafts list this film as Prod. F3, but the drawings are labelled as F5. I’m not sure what else F5 could stand for since it’s certainly not the seq or sc number. Confusion on my part.

Here they are. Enlarge all images by clicking them.

Note that the drawings read from Right to Left:
.

I love Pinocchio’s hand grazing the ground as he’s moved forward. The thrust of his body is all in the head, butt and upper back, as are most marionettes. The strings are an extension of the puppeteer’s hands.


As the foot moves around the rest of the puppet is spun around, too. It’s a beautiful and graceful turn.


His foot slaps down, and again the hand touches the ground as the puppet prepares to be lifted forward by the offscreen control demands in the play against gravity.


As the back leg goes up and around, the smiling face comes back around to us. Pinocchio’s butt is up there with that foot. A great puppeteer wouldn’t have Pinocchio bent over in this walk, as we see later in Stromboli’s characters.


Finally, Pinocchio comes back to the starting point as if this were a normal walk cycle. What a gem of a piece. There were brilliant animators going at it at that studio. Technically, this can be done by some of today’s 2D animators, but I wonder if the meat of the scene would be as good.

2 Responses to “He’s Got Strings”

  1. on 21 Feb 2007 at 10:17 am 1.Hans Perk said …

    As you also can see on your modelsheets, F-3 was Pinocchio. F-1 of course Snow White, F-2 was Bambi, the film first slated to be the follow-up of Snow White. When Walt decided the animators would not be able to pull off Bambi yet, he put Pinocchio ahead in the schedule. Exactly when the numbering changed, I do not know, but I believe it was somewhere in 1939 – it happened on the shorts, as well (e.g. The Pointer, M-27 became 2227). At the same time, Snow White became 2001, Bambi 2002 and Pinocchio 2003. F-4, the Concert Feature, became 2004, Fantasia. Prod. 2005 was The Reluctant Dragon, 2006 was Dumbo.

    Another thing to remember is the rule for the cleanup artist to sign the drawings. Sometimes this can be confusing. But F-5, that seems to have been some kind of a typo.

  2. on 22 Feb 2007 at 6:27 am 2.Brian Sibley said …

    Thanks for these… Superb and, as you say, an animation sequence that is much underrated – along with the scene of Pinoke in the cage in Stromboli’s caravan where EVERYTHING is literally on the move… Brilliant, brilliant, Frank Thomas!

    Thanks also for the links to the model sheets… I love them, too!

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