Saturday, 27 November 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 8

Here is a new entry - directed (again) by Ham Luske. 
Alice has now been rejected by the flowers, who were once kind to her - and then she notices these letters in the sky, and maybe she thought it was a call for help - so she then encounters the Caterpillar, and he seems really calm and very intelligent, and Alice thought he was very useful for help - but, the Caterpillar only made things much more complicating for Alice. 
It's hard to say which animator is the star of this sequence because most of them don't do a lot and all the animators have their share; Eric Larson (who was long-credited for his work on the Caterpillar), animates a fair bit of the character, mainly the early scenes of the Caterpillar with acting shots of the Caterpillar smoking letters with his hooker while Alice is still trying to get advice from the Caterpillar. Basically, The supervising animators of the Caterpillar are Eric Larson and John Lounsbery, and the animators that are being supervised (or supported) is Phil Duncan and long-shot scenes by Judge Whitaker, and the Caterpillar as a butterfly by Harvey Toombs. While Alice is supervised by Milt Kahl and Ollie Johnston with shared scenes by Don Lusk, and minor scenes by Les Clark, Ken O'Brien and Hal Ambro, oh Ken O'Brien appears to be uncredited in this film, he the only uncredited animator on the film? You'll find that out much later in the film!
However, each animator handles the Caterpillar differently; Eric Larson gives his Caterpillar a much calmer character, and he does a good job with the acting scenes, and I must say the gags with the Caterpillar's hands stuck on a hooker and the Caterpillar pats it and lets go is pretty amusing! Phil Duncan does a fine job with the Caterpillar reciting Alice the story of "How doth the little crocodile..."; and what interested me is the fact that when Caterpillar puffs out the smoke out and the Crocodile and fishes come out; I'm not sure if this was either character animation or an effects artist doing it; maybe Duncan did the animation and an effects artist cleaned it up and placed effects on them, I noticed that Phil Duncan made the Caterpillar's nose a bit larger than the rest. In fact, what interests me is the fact that when the Caterpillar smokes letters like "you = U", and "Are = r", and "why = y", and I love the fact that the story artists used that; it makes the audience communicate the story and it's clearly understandable, nowadays we use it a lot on Facebook messages or mobile phone texting (I use that sometimes, when I use quick messages), and I wonder if this film inspired the public to do that? However, my big question is that why isn't there any effects animation credited when the Caterpillar puffs out of his hookah while communicating to Alice, there must be an effects animator who worked on those scenes! 
John Lounsbery (who handles the later Caterpillar scenes), does an excellent job with the character and it's a shame that we don't see him handle the character much (although, you'll see Lounsbery much more throughout the film), and I think his handle of the character was fine and what interests me the most is probably shots 40.1. and 40.2.. The caterpillar's personality is rather calm and he seems to control his temper very well, and isn't over sensitive; but the only thing that he probably reacts the most is when Alice is disgusted of the fact that three inches is a terrible height, which insulted the Caterpillar! The shot was so so brilliantly animated and acted; and the timing is SO spontaneous, and the moment when the Caterpillar hears "3 inches is such a wretched height", and the moment when she said "wretched", the Caterpillar immediately reacted, and the timing was so quick and I'm glad it was done the way it should've been!

I've grabbed a few frames in the two scenes, and this was how Lounsbery handled the scene; the timing was just so perfect, and I loved the fact of how angry he was and Johnny did the best timing he could've possibly done! Yes, this scene was mainly animated by John Lounsbery, because there's a bit of Alice animated by Don Lusk! 
The caterpillar (I think) has a wonderful personality, and he is just so calm, while most of the other characters are just "cucoo" and hostile, and the Caterpillar is just much calmer than the other characters and he certainly knows when to control his temperature (except when someone insults about his height), and the voice actor of the character is Richard Haydn, who is a British actor, who was known for playing Edwin Carp, etc. On Wikipedia it says that his film career goes back in 1938; and he worked on a number of B pictures, and appeared in popular television shows like The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. His voice of the Caterpillar was very low and grumpeish and that's what made the character even brilliant.

Here is Richard Haydn (who sort of looks like the Caterpillar - could it have been the model)
Alice's voice in the film was pretty good by Kathryn Beaumont (who reunited with Disney portraying Wendy in Peter Pan), and the animation is also very good as well. We see more of Milt Kahl who animates a confused Alice who is confused about this whole "Wonderland" place, and she tries to remember a poem and thinks she's going crazy! Just some fine acting scenes of Alice by Kahl was pretty good, although he altered the character's face slightly in shot 41.2. and she makes Alice more cuter looking, and widening her cheeks and mouth, and almost making her more Betty Boop like.
Ollie Johnston comes back after a short break, and this time he changes the character, and giving her the right design, and I must say I like shot 38 a lot, when Alice is distracted when the smoke keeps springing past her and almost goes lost and then remembers what she was going to say. Brilliant acting! 
Also, what I noticed on the draft was some mystery and on shot 34.2. when Alice is returning to the Caterpillar, those scenes were animated by Don Lusk but on that shot I noticed that the draft animator was credited as "LUSKE", and since Ham Luske is credited as director in this sequence and he probably links to that scene. I wasn't sure if it was probably a typo to Don Lusk or Ham Luske animating that scene, but it's most likely to be a type and Don Lusk doing that scene - but I'll still keep that up there!
I've wondered that when the Caterpillar is steaming up and turns red, I thought it would be a difficult achievement for the ink and painters because they'd have to change the colours slightly, from pink to red (while the Caterpillar was already blue), and I liked the the fact of how the Ink & Paint girls achieved it. I like it when Don Lusk handles the shot of Alice shouting back at the Caterpillar with great monument weight towards the character, and the then the Caterpillar vanishes and becomes a butterfly. Gee, wouldn't a normal caterpillar have to hatch in a cocoon before transforming into a butterfly? 
Well, I'll leave it for now - more to come on Friday!


Eric Noble said...

Very interesting! If you look at each drawing carefully, each animator has a distinct style, and within each style, each drawing looks different.

Well done Steven. This isn't my favorite scene, but it is well-done.

John V. said...

I always assumed the caterpillar was making a cocoon out of smoke (scene 41) to transform into a butterfly.

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, each drawing does look different, that's why each animator does it differently!

Zartok-35 said...

John Lounsbery is, unfortunatley, a veryn underrated talent on this film, which is suprising considering his many contributions. I too really like his angry catterpillar scenes!

Very good, keep it up!

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, I think he's been ignored by historians on his presence in the film!

Marvin Tatum said...

Milt Kahl is excellent at making Alice just cute! Scenes 13 and 17 are my absolute favorites! :)