Animation &Commentary &UPA 25 Feb 2007 09:54 am

There’s So Much Out There

- Mike Barrier had something interesting to say on his site, and this was compounded by Hans Perk‘s response on his site. I’ve thought about it all yesterday into this morning.

Mike pointed out the Hans was posting the Drafts for Pinocchio on his site, A Film LA. Of course, Barrier was pleased about this but wondered how much it was appreciated. He said that he found the response to some Song of the South drafts he’d posted last September
(pg 1, pg 2, pg 3, pg 4, pg 5, pg 6, pg 7, pg 8, pg 9, pg 10) brought little response to it.

The amount of work that goes into scanning and posting these things is enormous, I can assure you, and it’s disappointing when there doesn’t seem to be much of reaction in the community.

I immediately jumped to Hans’ site to see his response. Hans has been posting many of the Disney Drafts. Everything from Mother Goose Goes Hollywood to The Band Concert to . . . well, Pinocchio.

Hans pointed out that not only was he disappointed at some of the reaction of these drafts but even more so when he places some of the notes for the Action Analysis classes from the 30′s Disney studio. The silence gets to be deafening. He questioned whether there’s a lack of interest in how to best improve the quality of animation – even in the 3D business – without the knowledge of those who came before us.

I had an amazing advantage coming along at the time I did and receiving some of the breaks I had. Of course, I wasn’t just searching for a job. This was always going to be my life. Getting a job working for and with my hero, John Hubley, at that developmental stage of my career, allowed me to ask questions and get a significant response. I knew not to bother him about history. (Disney and UPA were sore spots for John, and I stayed clear of the subject. The one time I mentioned it was after seeing Rooty Toot Toot for the first time, and, having been blown away by the film, mentioned it the next morning telling John what an amazing work it was. His response was to say, “Do you think so?” and leave the room. He wanted no conversation about it.)

(Thanks to Cartoon Modern for this model.)
So, I would gather several questions and rework them so that in asking one good question, it would solve several for me. John always gave good answers to every question about the work, and I learned a hell of a lot.

But most people didn’t have access to John Hubley (or, in my career, Tissa David, Dick Williams, Art Babbitt or a dozen other brilliant people.) But there are these lecture notes from the Disney studio. And there are the Drafts where we can study the films, analyze who did what, and really get to know the significant difference between animators.

Mark Mayerson uses Hans’ Drafts to create these brilliant Mosaics on his site. He makes the work easier for us; we don’t even have to look at the film – it’s all layed out for us.

And then these scenes show up on YouTube somewhere else. You don’t even have to buy the films to see many of them. The Drafts Mike Barrier posted for Song of the South immediately turned up on Thad Komorowski‘s Animation ID site. (Disney, of course, removed it for copyright infringement, but it was there as was the opportunity to see it for a short bit.)

Basically, what all this rambling comes down to is that there’s so much out there. There’s so much to learn, and there’s so much opportunity to learn it. I love Tissa David, who I like to call my mentor. She is one of the great animators, trust me, and in her mid eighties she’s still animating. She says that she still has a lot to learn. If she feels that, imagine how I feel. Imagine how we all should feel.

Yet, there’s this incredible new tool out there – the internet. It gives us so much material and with sites like Mike’s and Hans’ and Mark’s and others (like most of those listed to the right of this post) we just have no excuse for all the bad animation out there. Get to work people; we’re all watching.


Hans points out in his commentary, that not publishing pictures probably gets less attention. Hence there are some pictures here.


The Oscars are tonight. I don’t like most of the animation choices.
For animated feature I see only one nominee that’s been animated, Cars. And I wasn’t crazy about that film. The animation was excellent in places, but conceptually the film’s a wreck.
For animated short, I didn’t think most of the films were good, never mind great. I voted for The Danish Poet since it was the only one that really told an adult story. It was a cheap gag or a sophmoric attempt at filmmaking. (Really, students have told many of these same stories without spending the wads of cash on them.) You all know my favorite was Joanna Quinn‘s film. That got my Oscar.

6 Responses to “There’s So Much Out There”

  1. on 25 Feb 2007 at 7:45 pm 1.paulw said …

    an excellent post Michael.
    sadly i feel this is an issue which goes alot deeper into the industry than many seem to realize.

    in only 3 years in the industry i have known just 4 fellow animators who show the desire for self improvement to sketch outside of work hours on a regular basis.
    personally that still shocks me for some reason…

    how many discussions have we all had with co workers on how a characters nuance or design is a take from a previous film or tv series. yet those same co workers then pack up their pencils after work hours and do nothing to improve their own skills?

    as dick williams said in his book, we need to advance backwards in order to move forwards.

    i feel this not only means we have to take advantage of the materials available to us all now, but also to find the desire which got us here in the first place, the desire as an artist to learn and keep on improving.

    as you said Tissa has that desire in her 80s, so did Chuck Jones, so does Joanna Quinn…

    sorry if this is a bit of a ramble by the way…
    all the best

  2. on 25 Feb 2007 at 9:51 pm 2.Stephen Worth said …

    Animation is a visual medium. Pictures matter. But pictures take even longer to format than scans of text. It’s a lot of work, but I know there definitely is interest out there. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive site is averaging 120,000 articles viewed per month. (Our most popular pages are the $100,000 Cartoon Drawing Course lessons.) We’ve had as many as 500 visitors to our site in a single minute, and we’re nearing 1 million visitors on our hit counter in the sidebar. But that’s nothing… Cartoon Brew’s traffic is double ours, and John K’s traffic is double the Brew. That’s a LOT of eyeballs looking for good cartoon info! And the traffic on all of our sites is growing.

    The internet has changed the way the story of animation is being told. There are hundreds of artists’ blogs and Flickr sites out there, cross linking and sharing information. I’ve seen amazing examples of cross-polinization, where one artist will put up some bit of info and other artists will comment and elaborate on it in their own blogs. This churns the traffic around the “blogosphere” and really makes for a vital culture. The good part is that there is a lot of interest in the people who made the films- probably more than ever before.

    I’ve found that the majority of my traffic isn’t necessarily animation buffs. It’s creative people in many different fields… illustrators, graphic designers, musicians, etc. A lot of art students too. There’s a real hunger out there among creative people for inspiration and instruction. If you give people visual information that inspires them and they can use, they’ll beat a path to your door… or at least your website. Their interest in words is more within the context of the pictures rather than vice versa.

    I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words!

    See ya

  3. on 26 Feb 2007 at 3:27 am 3.Imon Ward-Horner said …

    I have only recently discovered these sites which are full of interest to me as an animator and being someone interested in the history of animation.

    How you people find the time aside from your everyday routines to produce these pages is a mystery to me. It is a real labour of love.

    There…some sincere appreciation. Thanks.

  4. on 26 Feb 2007 at 4:30 am 4.hans bacher said …

    I understand the frustration when there is no or only little reaction to your or hans’ posts. but don’t forget, we publish our knowledge or the collected historical knowledge not to get comments. like in my case – I know that I have a lot of visitors and I am sure they appreciate what they can see on my blog. some of them tell me once in a while, I don’t expect any of them to tell me all the time what they think. it is more important what they do with it. and if there was only one who can use our experience and teaching, it was worth it. I have learned that being a teacher for some years now.
    and – I wanna tell you now – your blog and hans’ are the first ones I check first thing in the morning, followed by another thirty.
    thank you for all your engagement
    my best

  5. on 26 Feb 2007 at 8:16 am 5.Michael said …

    This is all fun to me. As long as it keeps being fun, I’ll keep posting my comments. Thanks for any support; it’s encouraging.

  6. on 27 Feb 2007 at 5:05 am 6.Amid said …

    While I appreciate the Cartoon Brew mention Steve, your facts are incorrect. Cartoon Brew’s traffic is well beyond John K.’s blog. Not quite double but getting there. From Feb 12 (when we started our new Sitemeter that accurately tracks all the traffic to our site) through Feb 26, Cartoon Brew has had:
    115000 unique visitors
    190000 page views

    John has had:
    68500 unique visitors
    99700 page views

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