Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-five shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Milt Kahl in Beverly Hills


Anyone else going to the "Milt Kahl: The Animation Michelangelo" Academy event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday April 27th? With tickets at $5, it is sure to sell out quickly!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Animation Drafts

In the following couple of postings you will find, what I would call "mini-essays" about animation history based on items I have previously posted.

As the astute reader of this blog will have noticed, I have posted a good amount of Animation Drafts, documents listing the scenes in a film. In the 74 shorts and six feature film drafts (see links on right) I have posted so far (go look if you haven't already), we have found that some also name the director and the layout personnel, and some are more accurate than others. There are First and Second drafts, as well as Post-Preview and Final drafts. We have seen that they are not always correct or complete.

What the drafts do have in common is that they name the names of the animators. This is the part that often is the most interesting - and the most thwartingly illusive, because, as I have mentioned before in disclaimers, the drafts were never meant to be historical documentation. The names indicate not only the footage to be credited to a certain animator (or effects animator, e.g. the Pinocchio draft), but also represent the responsible go-to person during production. Only one draft has Directing Animators indicated, and that in only a few sequences (Fun and Fancy Free). At times we are surprised to find that sequences we know to be animated by Frank Thomas in Bambi or Mr. Toad have the names of less well-known animators in the draft. This does not mean the draft is wrong, or that Frank did not plan and animate the scenes. But the persons responsible for final drawings in the scenes had to be kept track of.

In all, we get a pretty good view of the main responsible persons in the animation department. It leaves us with the thought that we are getting to know these people, and not only Fred Moore, Norm Ferguson or the "Nine Old Men," but the likes of Hal Ambro, Eric Cleworth, Phil Duncan, Jerry Hathcock, Hal King, Cliff Nordberg, John Sibley, Harvey Toombs, Judge Whitaker, Marvin Woodward and Bob Youngquist. Accomplished animators few have heard of, like Paul Allen and Lee Morehouse. Animators from Disney's earliest growth period like Johnny Cannon, Tom Palmer, Chuck Counch, Leonard Sebring and Frenchy de Trémaudan. Animators that became famous in other studios, like Ed Benedict, Emory Hawkins, Ed Love, Ken Muse and Ray Patterson. The list goes on and on. The animation drafts give us an unsurpassed "nearness" to the process of animation, especially since most of the films, now available on DVD, can be studied with drafts in hand or using mosaics like those made by Mark Mayerson.

More to follow!

[Note for those of you who want to access ALL the draft postings: the Category Labels only give access to the first 21 postings. To see older drafts you will have to browse the Archives starting in May 2006 - links in right sidebar. You may find other things you like, as well...
***NEWS! I have added new category links in the sidebar: you can now access the shorts by distributor: Powers, Columbia, United Artists and RKO. To see the oldest posts in the UA and RKO categories, choose the links with 2006 in the title.]

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Prod. UM30 - Mickey's Service Station

One of my favorites, and one of the last Mickeys in Black and White, Mickey's Service Station has a great score by Leigh Harline. It was directed by Ben Sharpsteen, and premiered 3/16/35.

We meet a great cast of animators! Milt Kahl, Eddie Strickland, Art Babbitt, Dick Lundy, Fred Spencer, Don Towsley, Jack Kinney, Archie Robin, Bill Tytla, Paul Allen, Eric Larson, Leonard Sebring, Nick George, Ferdinand Horvath and Woolie Reitherman in a role we see him in so often later: action scenes at the end of the film!
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Anticipation & Overlapping Action   --General Review - Action Analysis Class of March 12th, 1936

Don Graham introduces this Thursday evening Action Analysis Class as the "last class for a while," and it seems that the next classes were held in July, some four months later.

In this class he discusses "the work covered to date," concentrating on anticipation and overlapping action, with examples from Alpine Climbers, and referencing Dave Hand's lecture two weeks earlier.

Johnny Cannon pantomimes overlapping actions, and we hear from George Goepper, Jack Hannah, Jack Campbell, Paul Allen, Riley Thompson, Jim Algar and Bill Shull.
Is Paul Allen questioning Fergie's animation?
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I remember the discussions while animation on Vahalla in the 80's, on overlapping actions and follow-thru. They were especially mixed up as the term "overlap" had been used to mean follow-thru. It took years to rid folks of this bad habit, and some never could get used to it...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Need Help Finding Book!

At the Lost Chords lecture/concert in Hemet on Saturday, a good friend of mine told me he missed out on getting a copy of J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt's great book "Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies - A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series." It used to sell for €50 ($65), but now it is out of print. Do you have a couple and can spare a copy for not too far from the original price? Please let me know! Thanks!

More old things soon!

[NOTE! A friendly reader has helped me out, and thus the request in this post is no longer actual!]

Monday, March 09, 2009

Disney's Lost Chords - NEWS FLASH!

This Saturday, March 14th 2009 at 2:00 PM, renowned author (and retired Disney artist) Russell Schroeder will present a lecture and live musical performance drawn from his book "Disney's Lost Chords." This special program is in conjunction with "Disney's Music Behind The Magic," a touring exhibit now featured at the Western Center Museum in Hemet, California.

I wrote about the exhibit's February opening here!
For more information, here is the flyer containing the museum's address, website, etc...
Info as JPGInfo as PDF
Russell will have a limited quantity of "Disney's Lost Chords" volumes 1 and 2 for sale and signing at the venue!

I am looking forward to being there; Russell's presentation is full of visual rarities from Disney's Archives and Animation Research Library. I will HAVE to be there... I'm actually part of the show!

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Beatronome Update

When I made my little Beatronome, a beat-metronome--to tap or play beats as used in animation--for the PC, I used a method to beep the PC speaker, which seems to disagree with certain computers. That is why I have added the possibility to have the program generate regular computer sounds through the sound card. To do this, one has to (re)install the program using the executable in this 1.8 MB ZIP file. PC ONLY!
Right-click and choose "Save As..." etc.

Beatronome Screen Capture

The Beatronome is free of charge, adware free and virus-checked.
I hope more people will try using it, and through that get a better understanding of timing for animated pictures. What I REALLY hope is that users will post their findings when they check the timing of films - and maybe find something curious...

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tytla Speaks on Forms vs. Forces (II)   --Action Analysis Class of June 28st, 1937

The second half of this most fascinating Action Analysis Class.

Geiss, Magro, Klein and Culhane speak up just as they did the week before. We also hear [whom I suspect to be layout man Dave] Rose [(1910-2006)] and Tytla's First Assistant, Bill Shull (1902-1989).

In this part we not only hear more about the subject at hand, we also get an insight in Tytla's days in animation at Paul Terry's studio on the East Coast before he came to Disney. When Tytla elaborates on the many possibilities Walt Disney provided for his artists, we learn that Paul Terry made money and not pencil tests, and that Tytla and Art Babbitt were derided when they tried to do model drawing, as "anyone who goes to art school is a homo, Bolshevik"...1
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(1For good measure let me mention that this last bit about the model class attempt is also found on page 176 of Neil Gabler's less-than-great book, as a quote from an article about Tytla written by John Canemaker. No mention of this Action Analysis Class.)

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tytla Speaks on Forms vs. Forces (I)   --Action Analysis Class of June 28st, 1937

A week after the previous Action Analysis Class, the one I posted two days ago which dealt with drawing forms vs. drawing forces, Don Graham invited the master himself, Bill Tytla, to comment on the previous Monday's lecture notes.

Here is the first half of the notes to this very exciting class, which should be part of any animation school's required reading. I wish I had these notes back in the 70's and 80's when I began sharpening my teeth on the medium. On the other hand - would I have fully understood them then?
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It doesn't get much better than this!
Comments are welcome as usual...

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Kay Nielsen Book Update (again...)

The publisher of the book on Kay Nielsen by Colin White now has a publishing date of September 2009 on its site. It is supposed to be available in English simultaneous with the Danish edition, published in London and Chicago.

I remember how embarrased the ushers were at the Nielsen exhibit in August 2007 that the book wasn't out yet, as it was supposed to be a companion to the exhibit. A great exhibit, by the way - I remember taking three hours off of working on the Goofy Home Theater short that Saturday to go see it, and it did not disappoint.

Since then the publisher kept pushing it forward...and forward..and forward. Well, let's just hope for the best...

[November 2009: the release date is now February 2010...]
[April 2014: May 2014...]

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Animating Forms vs. Forces   --Action Analysis Class of June 21st, 1937

This Don Graham Class gets into another very interesting issue: drawing forces instead of forms. Of course, it takes Bill Tytla as prime example of drawing forces. Here are some interesting insights into what was discussed during the final phases of Snow White.
They had come far since Steamboat Willie, animated only nine years earlier... The latter part of this evening discusses a live-action fall.

Among the audience we notice Jacques Roberts, Joe Magro, [Phil or Izzie] Klein, Bob McCrea, Cecil Beard, [Gilbert?] Rugg, Art Elliott, [Alec] Geiss, [John Vincent] Snyder, Leo Salkin and Jimmie Culhane. It is interesting to see that some of these folks are hard to trace to the Disney studio. They may have left there while assistants: e.g. does Geiss not have any Disney credits on Alberto Becattini's pages...
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In the last ten days there were only four comments, which I find quite disappointing, especially since most of my postings are from materials I have purchased for a considerable amount of my own money. Is there really nothing to say about these things? Preparing and posting this stuff takes up more of my time than it should...

[If you did NOT come from Mike Sporn's blog, you must check it out!]

[Tytla commented on this himself! I post it here!]

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