Friday, 31 December 2010

New Years, Eh?

Hey folks!

WOW! 2010, what a great year it has been for me. I spent my final day today of 2010 free-running with friends, and had so much fun and I will be going to a New Year's Party soon, what a great way to end the day and year, don't you all agree?

What I'm happy the most is that I've created this blog back in June, and just look at how much I've developed and developed, with better and more interesting articles (in my point of view), and I'm just grateful for the feedback, and I hope that it will continue through 2011. Let's hope Blabbing on Arts and Culture will be even more successful in 2011, and yes I'm still going to on as I've got Fantasia to finish off, and some more articles, I don't see any end in sight at all!


Thursday, 30 December 2010

Bill Peet on Alice in Wonderland

Recently, as I've completed my Alice in Wonderland mosaic, I still feel the need to tell a bit more about Alice, although this time it's about Bill Peet's involvement in the film, and talk about his involvement in this post. So, you thought that this was the end of Alice, well it's the end of the mosaics, but not the end of "blabbing" about it. ;)

Bill Peet is a very good story man who worked for Walt Disney for 27 years, and was probably one of the best storytellers at the Disney Studios. He started out in 1937, when jobs were difficult to find, and then Peet manged to find a job at the Disney Studios, but started out with a tedious job as an "in betweener", he was at the bottom of the line, and he got the least interesting jobs to do, and he disliked it a lot, he said it was like "drawing robots". He eventually gave up and stormed off the Studios, and was then transferred to the story department, and remained there from Pinocchio until his departure at the studio. He eventually became really successful in the Story Department, and he was given to privilege to write and storyboard the entire 101 Dalmatians film, and the same on The Sword in the Stone. He left Disney in 1964, and went on to become a children's author writing successful children's books.

But, in-between that period he was one of the many people in the Story Department working on Alice in Wonderland, and there are photos to show that he did do work on the film, and also the fact that he received screen credit.

Bill Peet with child-actress Kathryn Beaumont, who voiced the title character.

Here is a bit from Michael Barrier's 1978 interview of Bill Peet, which is from Bill Peet's website (and the pictures):

"I worked on it for quite a while actually, and some parts of it were kind of fun to work with, but the whole thing was a hodgepodge. Different storymen kept re-doing different segments of it, and the last version was the one they used. It wasn't the best version, it was just that they kept doing it over and over until Walt said, "[Hell], get the thing out of here.' That's one he didn't want to do, either. He said once, "That's one we had to do," and I thought, well that's great reasoning. He wanted all the classics under his belt. I think he wanted his name on top of all the classics; he wanted to gobble them all up!"

That was a pretty interesting talk about Peet's involvement here in Alice in Wonderland, he says that a lot of different storymen kept on re-doing the sequences, and changing versions. Probably they were trying to do the best sequences, and Bill Peet thought it was really annoying. I'm not sure if Peet meant that Walt Disney felt that he had to make the film and wasn't keen on it at all. What he does mention, is that Walt would like to be greedy and get his name on ALL the classics, even if he didn't much involvement in it. I think Peet also meant a bit about that he felt the Disney crew weren't getting enough credit for their work, or not recognized for their work by the public enough, and to think that the public always thought that Walt Disney did everything in the film, and even animating! Peet also mentioned the fact that Walt Disney couldn't "write or draw", and it is that Walt Disney was dyslexic.

Here is another interview from Hoagan's Alley who interviewed Peet, and he talks a bit about his involvement in Alice in Wonderland:

PROVINCE: One of my personal favorites that came out some time later but was not one of the most popular was Alice In Wonderland.

PEET: I worked on just about every part of that. The strange thing is that the person who worked on it last received credit for a lot of my things. I developed the Caterpillar stuff, the Mad Tea Party, the “half a cup” gags and things like that. We wondered if it could have been a little better in many little ways. We all disagreed with the way it ended; with a montage. I didn’t like it. I had developed a labyrinth, and I was fascinated with the idea of the guards chasing Alice through this thing. It could have been a hell of a thing with the music, like trying to escape from a bad dream. but they decided to have everyone jump into the tea pot in a montage. Montages don’t do anything, and you don’t want to end with a conglomeration. You want suspense, where she’s beating on the door with just a minute left and just barely gets out of there.

Ah, so is this another Peet claim, eh? We got that in Dumbo. This time, his story here was different from the other interview that we heard. He claims that all the other story artists received credit for MOST of his stuff. But, didn't he say before that different storymen kept on repeating and rewriting the different sequences of the film? Maybe Peet first planned the sequences, and then the additional storymen re-did them, and Bill had storyboarded the final ones.

He also talks about his works on the chase sequence, and that he created a labyrinth of Alice running through the maze from the chasing guards. It's certainly different from the previous interview when he was being interviewed by Mike Barrier. He doesn't mention Walt Disney here, and the fact that the storymen re-did the story sequences in the film. So here, he has two different stories about the film. Although, they don't really sound like much claims to me, as he did claim to have re-animated a Bill Tytla scene in Dumbo, but here he really concentrates about him being a story man in the film. Was it probably because Dumbo was a much more better film than Alice and he wanted to claim that he did an important role in the film, or am I going completely different directions.

Let's here about what you think!

Here is a completed storyboard for the "Tulgey Wood" sequence, there doesn't seem to be any change with the dialogue here. It pretty much matches the film film here, except maybe the actions are different.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ronald Searle - Artist

Today I want to make a look at one of the most famous and influential cartoonists of all time, Ronald Searle.

I really like Ronald Searle a lot, his drawings are very good and amusing, and he has a lot of potential in his drawings and I like how rough he uses his drawings. He has penned so many drawings in his life, and he's currently still alive at 90, he is best known for his drawings and author of St. Trinians and he was written a few book series of them, it has adapted into famous comedy films in the 1950's and poor recent remakes.

Now, short bio:

Ronald William Fordham Searle was born on March 3, 1920 in Cambridge, England - he started drawing when he was 5 years old and left school at the age of 15 (that's how it was these days), and he used to draw cartoons for his local school newspaper in Cambridge, while training at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. While he was writing comics, he started his first career of cartooning was very short, but he drew and written the first St. Trinians' story in the magazine Lilliput in 1941.

In 1942, he was stationed in the Army during World War II, and he was fighting against the Japanese in Singapore - he was later arrested and prisoned in a death camp in Singapore for the rest of the Second World War. He was liberated in 1945, and was reunited with his family in England, and he produced much, much artwork in the 1950's on Punch and his cartoons have spread overseas in the USA - and his work had influenced in the Walt Disney film One Hundred and One Dalmatians and his artwork has influenced Art Director Ken Anderson. For example, in an early scene where Pongo is sitting by the window sill, and pokes through magazines, and one of them is Lilliput - a magazine that Searle has illustrated a lot of.

Here are some of his famous drawings for St. Trinians:

Come along, prefects, playtime over.
St. Trinians.

St. Trinians

St. Trinians

Well actually, Miss Tonks, my soul is in torment.

Some little girl didn't hear me say 'unalarmed combat!'

Now I'm going to show you some of his cover artwork, for the magazine Lilliput - where he designed many front cover artwork for it.

Lilliput cover.

Lilliput cover from September 1950.
Caricature of Jackie Gleason for TV Guide cover in 1969.
Caricature of TV character Gomer Pyle. Date (?).

Now, here are a few of his additional drawings he's done that I like:

Here is a Mickey Mouse drawing I like a lot!

Palm Springs.

Ronald Searle.

Here is another one that I think amusing.

I think I will leave it here for now. Although, recently at the start of the summer this year, there was an exhibition about Ronald Searle in the Cartoon Museum in London - and I went to the exhibition - although it's now closed and they released new exhibitions once every few months I believe.

He's a very famous artist - and any of those people who love cartoons and comics, and are very knowledgeable about them should easily know Searle and recognize his style of drawings. He is a very famous artist and has inspired many artists.


Spent hours editing labels and correct British time in ALL my posts I written - edited labels into categoric labels to make a follower easier to understand - and corrected the right time zone I posted. And, I added bits and designs - now it should look good as new!!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Another Feature Mosaic On It's Way

I know, I've already completed Alice in Wonderland, but I still feel the need of producing more of these mosaics, over the next weeks and months, I will be showing you Prod. 2004 - Fantasia.

Here are the first few of these mosaics:

Ever since Hans has started to post the draft to the film (and sadly he's nearing completion of the draft), but just here my mosaic will start. The crowning Disney achievements, I've always considered was indeed Fantasia. It's my favourite Disney feature and production of them all on par with Pinocchio. If Pinocchio was never made into a mosaic, I'd make it immediately, but it's nice that Mark Mayerson has already made one three years earlier.

However, I've already made these mosaics for the film, and by very, very early in 2011, you'll see Fantasia. Bur, right now I'm just showing you the introductions.

That's how the film starts off with, I think it starts perfectly - the curtains are rising, and the Philadelphia Orchestra team are entering about to get ready for a very long session for playing the entire part for Fantasia. The instruments for the sections like the brass, the woodwinds and the percussions are tuning up their instruments and getting prepared, and then as it's all been tuned up and they're ready - Deems Taylor comes along and he starts his introductions to:
How d'you do? My name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski and all the other artists and musicians, whose combined talents went into the creation into this new form of entertainment...Fantasia! "
Great introduction to the film, as he's greeting the audience to settle and to enjoy the film, and also thanking Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and his animators and artists, and the musicians who made the film possible.

Deems says his introductions about the Toccata and Fugue and what the audience will see, and the fact that it wouldn't be their imaginations; they have to believe that what they are seeing on the screen. He says, that so many additional objects may be popping up on the screen like thunder bolts, masses of colours, or shadows.

Toccata and Fugue is clearly in two parts, the first part is the Toccata and it's all been filmed with Stokowski conducting the piece, and the orchestras are playing their oboes, clarinets, or violins, etc - all in silhouette. I love hearing the instruments here of the beautiful harp done by a woman in silhouette, and the trombones and bass drums playing. Yes, I must say I'm pretty knowledgeable about music as well as animation. Of course, I know that Johann Sebastian Bach composed this piece, and he was widely known for it. Although, the name Toccata and Fudge in D Minor is just a version for it, the real name is Toccata and Fudge.

When I was a wee lad (8 years - well I'm still a lad - a big lad, you could say), and I used to watch the film frame-to-frame everyday including the Deems Taylor dialogue, and I used to pretend I was one of the people in the orchestra and I was playing the instruments. Although, at the time I had no musical talent - although today I play an instrument. I play a bit of the guitar, and once in a school performance last summer, I was one of the "orchestra" playing Bill Haley & His Comet's hit song "Rock Around the Clock", and it was fun playing it, although it was a hodge-podge because I had to move the chords very quickly and I had to sit down doing it and the audience couldn't see what I was doing, also what was a pain that I had no amplifier for the guitar, and they couldn't hear what I was playing, because the drums and keyboards at the back were very loud. I actually have a picture of me playing the picture, although I won't dare post it on this blog.

It's nice to see that the live-action stuff was directed by animation sequence director Sam Armstrong, and his long-time assistant Lloyd Richardson (whom we saw in Alice in Wonderland), and you will know that all the Deems Taylor footage of him doing instructions about The Rite of Spring (directed by Bill Roberts/Paul Satterfield), or Dance of the Hours (directed by T. Hee/Norm Ferguson), and Armstrong directs all the live-action footage in this film, as well as the animated segments -- so much stuff he had to do on Fantasia.

Interesting that the layouts credit Lee Blair (Mary Blair's husband) and Elmer Plummer, although there is no layout drawings here, as it's all live-action. Although, the artists did do conceptual designs of what the orchestra and the hall would look like, and that's probably most why they were credited for the live-action scenes.

Probably, the most annoying fact about these two sequences (and the entire film), is the fact that Deems Taylor's voice has been re-dubbed by Corey Burton. Sure, I don't mind Burton's voice in the films; but I never understood why Taylor's voice HAD to be redone? The editors and restoration team of the film claim that Taylor's voice wasn't clear enough to hear, but I think that's just a lame excuse. C'mon, I was 8 years old when I first saw it and I could hear pretty darn well with what he said (even though I didn't have the best hearing back then). So really, I think it's a mistake and the Disney restore team should bring back the original Deems Taylor's voice because THAT'S his real voice, Deems' voice is not Corey Burton's voice.

So, for the future postings - I hope you will enjoy these new Fantasia mosaics!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Cliff Nordberg - Animator

Over the past two days I've been celebrating Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and I had a lot of fun playing games with my family in the living room, and enjoyed laughing. But, now as it's 27th December, I do feel the need to get back to my posting curriculum.

In the meantime, Joe Campana has sent me some info not long ago, and I do feel the need to share the world on one of the unknown Disney animators - Cliff Nordberg.

Photo of Cliff Nordberg. (I can't make out what the object is with the white spots). Date unknown.

Now, some of you people right recognize the name Cliff Nordberg in Disney features from the 1950's, 1960's and well up to the 1970's. A lot of people don't really recognize his work on the screen. As far as I know from Cliff, he was known to do quite a lot of lively performances on the characters, and broad as well. His characters he got to animate we're always full of character, and so energetic--and they were very funny to watch. In early features, he appears to have worked closely with animator Ward Kimball at the time, on Alice in Wonderland, Pecos Bill, Peter Pan, etc.

However, you'll see his name in the credits like Make Mine Music, Song of the South, Melody Time, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Ben and Me, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Pete's Dragon, The Small One and The Fox and the Hound.

Now let's start at the beginning.

Clifford Adolph Nordberg was born on the 19th April 1917 in Salt Lake City, in Utah, and was raised by his parents Adolph Emanuel Nordberg (11/24/1896 - 10/20/1973), and Ida Josephine Walker (2/11/1898 - 7/20/1979), the couple had been married since 26th July 1916 and married since Clifford's father's death in 1973. I believe he had a younger brother and sister, one named (Melvin?) born in 1920, and Dorothy born in 1922 - I don't know if they are still alive or not. Not much is known about his childhood, but he lived in Utah in the Salt Lake City area for most of his childhood and teen life, and moved to Glendale, California in 1938.

Cliff married her then girlfriend Olive Molley in 1940, and remained married until Cliff's death. The couple had two children, one named Gary Clifford (who was born a year earlier on 8/25/1939, but died in 1992), and another son named Eric David, who was born on 2/15/1954, and is still alive, I believe.

In around 1937/1938 - Cliff Nordberg was offered a job at the Walt Disney Studios as an animator (although IMDb only mentions his earliest work on Make Mine Music - and Alberto's page mention his earliest animation work was Californy 'er Bust the Goofy short directed by Jack Kinney - maybe Cliff did a few scenes to start of with). My guess is that Cliff started at Disney as an assistant animator or in-betweener.

It wasn't until in Make Mine Music when he was promoted to character animator and he worked on segments in the package feature, most of his stuff are in Casey at the Bat where he animated a lot of the crowd and supporters, and he did a few scenes in the jazzy song All the Cats Join In. He also worked on Song of the South, and two segments in Melody Time: Pecos Bill and Little Toot.

He did a lot of work in the 1950's and worked on the Mice in Cinderella, Dum and Dee, the Mad Hatter and March Hare in Alice in Wonderland, Indians in Peter Pan, the unlicensed dogs (inc. Nutsy in silhouette) in Lady and the Tramp, and Ben and Me. There is a little bit about Nordberg written in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's The Illusion of Life, and was one of the contributors on the book (even though he died while it was written):

Storyman Ed Penner unusual story problem in "[The] Lady and the Tramp", with the sequence of the dogs in the city pound. The inescapable fact that the unwanted animals are put away at these places was a key part of the story and the thought had to be planted in this sequence . The pathos of melancholy dogs behind bars is one thing, but taking an animal to the gas chamber bordered on the morbid and over-dramatic in out medium. How could it be presented so that it was unmistakable, yet done with a light touch?
Ed's solution: First, build a parallel with the live-action prison films that had been so popular just a few years earlier (The Big House, The Last Mile), making available cliches of dialogue and attitudes.
"Look guys, they're takin' Jo-Jo."

"Yeah, he's taking the long walk."
"Oh, well, a short life and a merry one."
These are familiar terms the audience understood. Second, show the dog only in silhouette, as a shadow, to minimize identification. Third, change the dog's name to "Nutsy", and, fourth, give the animation to Cliff Nordberg with instructions, "Make it funny!"
Only Cliff could handle such an assignment. He had become known for his ability to create the unexpected, screwy actions where ordinary movements would have sufficed. His talents gave a zany quality to mundane situations and were just right for this delicate spot in taking his last walk, but he was so comical about that no one could become overly concerned.

What they were trying to say is that Cliff Nordberg was good at these assignments and that was an example of his work. He would make something was would be a tragic but with a "light touch" in it. A lot of his animation is fun to watch because he's great at action scenes and making them funny.

He continued doing animation work on features and uncredited work on Sleeping Beauty, and then worked on a lot of the farm cat Sgt. Tibs in 101 Dalmatians and Creulla's henchmen Horace and Jasper Badun. However, in the 1960's, his animation may have declined because in The Sword in the Stone, he wasn't given a lot to do, and most of his scenes were minor stuff and lacked weight, and didn't have the style Nordberg used in his films, he was mainly given the scenes of the dishes washing itself up when Merlin put a spell on them; he did the action scenes of the Wart as a bird and chased by a hawk. However, after Sword, he seemed to have disappeared from features for a while and working on other Disney projects in the 1960's.

The 1970's saw him with highlights, he went back to work on Robin Hood, and was given a lot to do on The Rescuers, the crocodiles chasing the mice when they are in danger, Evinrude the dragonfly being chased by a swarn of bats (also animated by Art Stevens), and did Ellie Mae and the Swamp Critters rescuing Penny from  the evil Madame Medusa. Around 1978, his career was already in highlights, he was promoted to Directing Animator on Don Bluth's The Small One and was given great scenes like the three merchants, and a Stromboli take of the auctioneer. It was the last film he worked on which he personally saw before his unexpected death.

Here is the auctioneer from The Small One. Animated by Cliff Nordberg.

At the time, he was probably the oldest staff on the animating crew at Disney Studios who was still animating, while others on Snow White or Pinocchio, were either dead or retired, while Woolie Reitherman was still producing films until his retirement. Cliff Nordberg's last film he got to work on was The Fox and the Hound, and he was an Animation Director. IMDb, mentions that he did some uncredited work in Richard William's animated-film The Thief and the Cobbler which was years in production.

Although, sadly Cliff died on December 20, 1979 - during production, aged 62 in the Los Angeles County. I don't really know how Cliff died, neither did Joe Campana (who is still trying to find out why?), and my guess is that, well a lot of people at the time were heavy smokers and drinkers, and ended up in poor health (and some died of cancer). Would Cliff be one of those people?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day, Folks!

Hello all,

I know, Christmas has passed - and now here we reach Boxing Day. Well, I think the Christmas spirits haven't fade away, and I don't have time to be writing my long articles, but I do want to share a picture that looks tasty to eat on Boxing Day.

Now, Happy Boxing Day folks and I hope you've enjoyed Christmas - and this picture of this terrifying ostrich wants me to eat it so I won't see it again! (Yes, I have a phobia of ostriches).

Yes, I found it on MySpace - but there's lot of pictures on Google of this. It looks real, but it's obviously fake because in real life, ostriches don't have teeth and some daft editor added teeth to go with it, but it's clever. Now, go away and let me enjoy my dinner. ;)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Hey folks - no major article today, why not? It's Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone and a happy new year. 2010, feels like it's been a great year for me, I set up my blog, took up free-running, meeting new people, good school work, etc. Let's hope that 2011 will be even better. ;)

In this case, let's all sing a song; and a favourite tune of mine:

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
we wish you a merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring
To you and your king
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Oh bring us some figgy pudding

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer

Good tidings we bring
To you and your king
Good tidings for Christmas
And a Happy New Year
We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
So bring some out here
Good tidings we bring
To you and your king
Good tidings for Christmas
And a Happy New Year

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring
To you and your king
Good tidings for Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas folks, from the owner of Blabbing of Arts and Culture, me!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 16

I'm afraid that now, we have reached the end of my postings for Alice in Wonderland. But, since this is the final film; let's make the most of it...

Now, Alice is in deep trouble towards the Queen of Hearts, after being framed by the Cheshire Cat. After Alice insulted the Queen, and then it was the final straw - she was ordered to be exterminated once and for all; and show no mercy. The King of Hearts does nothing about it, and follows along with the Queen of Hearts, and the army of Cards come over and try to capture her.

The layouts for the chase sequence is wonderful, and also Alice is running back from where she came before, back through the maze; and the cards have to be careful going through the hedge maze, while there's so many cards going through. The Queen, The King and the cards aren't the only group of amateurs going after Alice so she will be in time for her execution. They are supported by numerous characters that appeared in the film earlier, like the Mad Hatter, March Hare,, White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The Caucus racers,  The Walrus and the Carpenter, and the little oysters, but all these characters were animated by Judge Whitaker and Cliff Nordberg, with Alice running away by Harvey Toombs and Don Lusk; and long shot scenes with cards, and anonymous characters by Whitaker and Nordberg as well. We see a lot more of George Rowley doing effects, and I must say that the final scene of the Wonderland sequence with the group charging at Alice and then it all turns into whirls, and they was a very impressive achievement. I think it inspired future directors today to use that system a lot, and Alice certainly was one of the earliest films to use that technique, but they just don't get credit for it.

Don Lusk (again) does a few long-shots, and action scenes; while Harvey Toombs does the reaction shots, and Eric Larson animates the final scenes of Alice in her real world. So Alice was really animated by Don Lusk, Harvey Toombs and Eric Larson, with long-shots and shared scenes with the anonymous characters by Judge Whitaker and Cliff Nordberg. 

I must say that the music for the chase scenes are very exciting and wonderful, another point for the Academy Award nomination. It's exciting, and follows the scenes, well-timed and certainly no bad jumps to the music at all!

Probably the only character that was helpful to Alice is the Doorknob, and he doesn't seem to be against her, and helps Alice a lot, and this is what happened from the very beginning of the story, Alice was asleep the whole time, and the Queen and gang are still charging after Alice, and Alice in the dream  is begging for the sleeping Alice to wake up. In the chase scenes, the group was left to do duties: capture her, and execute her. While, Alice's duties was to run away from them and get back home.

Alice was worried that she would possibly be killed in Wonderland, or killed in her dream, but I don't think she was worried about being killed in her dream though, probably scared of the fact about being killed in a dream. Bits of the shot where the Queen is charging after her and going to kill her, might relate to a very-recent film that came out this year called Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio. They said in the film, that some people when they are die in the dreams, they won't wake up in real life. It's a strange film and confusing to follow, but it might link to Alice in Wonderland.

As Alice has woke up after that long, complicating dream and when her sister's voice echoes "Alice!", and asks her to recite her History lesson (about William the Conqueror, as mentioned at the start of the film). Alice has not quite recovered from her dream, and when Alice's sister said "recite your lesson", the word made Alice remind that little poem that the Caterpillar asked her to "recite", and she probably thought that Alice's sister was the Caterpillar. Already confuses, Alice's sister already takes Alice as a lunatic, but then doesn't bother to ask Alice what on earth she's blabbing out. Alice's sister says no more, and then they walk back home so they will have their dinner. And that's the end of the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.


Alice in Wonderland when it first came out, wasn't really a financial success or a critical success, it met rather lukewarm towards critics and audiences, and literature critics criticized the film for "Americanizing" the film. Disney, however, was disappointed of how Alice met afterwards, he had spent years and years of making Alice in Wonderland into a film - and this was how the critics, the box-office and audience re-payed him. Although, he did admit that he wasn't personally keen on the film, and felt that he had to produce it. Although, eventually some years afterwards, Alice in Wonderland had found itself an audience, and was finally re-released for the first time in the cinemas.

Although, I do like Alice a lot, I think it's a fine Disney feature, that I don't have a problem with at all! The animation is decent and some of the finest that the Studio's ever done. Although, the film does face a lot of story problems, though because some sequences rambled a lot and paced the story a little. But, I think it's  more philosophical than any other Disney feature ever made on par with The Sword in the Stone. At the time it was made, it was the only Disney feature to have voice-actors and actresses to get credited with the character they provided until The Jungle Book, and also the only Disney feature at the time to have end credits right until The Black Cauldron which came out some 44 years later.

I have to say, I had fun making these mosaics, and I still want to go directly to the next film; and I will do in a few days. What I enjoyed about making this Alice mosaic getting to view the film a lot better. I've now watched the entire film, and when I'm print-screening a frame of a scene in each sequence, I got to look a lot closely at how the animator handled the character, and at how differently it was handled. It's been a fun ride folks, and I'm not going to take a break from mosaics! There's still plenty more. That's Alice done, I've completed my first "feature" mosaic, my first was Pecos Bill but that counts as a short, though. Now, anyone can go back and look at all the 121 pages of my Alice mosaics, as well as Hans Perk's posting of the drafts.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the Disney Studios who brought this film up and made the film possible. Also, I owe a big thanks to Hans Perk to posted the complete studio draft to the film exactly three years earlier, without him it wouldn't be possible for me to make these beauty mosaics. Oh, I will also like to thank Mark Mayerson for inspiring me to make these mosaics, and I've started them myself. I'd also like to thank everyone who took time to comment. Also, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Now, that's Alice finished. Next up....Fantasia!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Alice Animators

As we are reaching the end of our Alice mosaics; I do feel the need to talk a little bit about the animators on Alice in Wonderland; those who animated the "title character" Alice, and I'm going to take a look at how they handled the character; and the fact that some animators controlled the character rather differently.

Of course, Alice is the main character from Lewis Carroll's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and the character was modeled from one of Carroll's "child friends", Alice Liddel. She seems to be portrayed as a very young girl, and I'd estimate in the book, she was roughly aged 7, while in the Disney movie, she looks like she's around 12 or 13 years of age, which is a difference between age. That's a change that the animators did, the character has been altered many times, and very few people from the public have suspected that. I've even noticed that some shots she looks really young and the other shots she's older.

Perhaps we shall take a look at it:

 Les Clark.

Firstly, I want to look at Les Clark, who animated a lot of the character early in the film. Here is an example of his work in this scene where Alice first encounters the Mad Hatter and March Hare during the Mad Tea Party sequence. Clark animates Alice how she is was designed and doesn't add anything to it. It's simple, easy to follow; and the acting scenes Clark got to do is wonderful. Here, Clark doesn't exaggerate the character a lot, but he certainly makes the character believable, and in that scene where Alice notices the teapots, you can really tell that she's amazed with something unusual that she's never seem in her life, and her eyes slightly widen, and it's brilliant. Clark doesn't exaggerate at all, and animates the character JUST right. That's what I like.

Marc Davis.

Marc Davis handles the shots where he animates Alice is just wonderful to see. She has appeal, and is also really believable, and the acting and poses are wonderful. I like how Davis animates her eyebrows, really neat. Animators who like to animate a lot of zany stuff like (Kimball, Woolie, Lounsbery, Nordberg), they would use a lot of exaggeration on the eyebrows and have a lot of fun on it; while Marc had to be careful with the character, with the acting and that's why rotoscoping was brought along. Although, compare this from Les Clark's Alice in the last frame; this is a close-up of Alice and she does look slightly older here, or taller perhaps. Well done Marc, you did a fine job of Alice here! ;)

Don Lusk.

Don Lusk's animation is interesting, very interesting indeed. In the scenes he was assigned to, he doesn't take too much control of the character even though he animated a lot of scenes. What I mean is, that Lusk animates a lot of minor scenes and often shared scenes with characters animated by different people, and even animates the character in the same scene, but doesn't show up the camera PANS towards her. Here, Don animates the character rather young looking, and animates Alice differently, he makes her shorter, and makes her look younger. I don't know if Lusk was trying to follow the original John Tenniel illustrations, but we should ask him what it was like animating the character, since he's one of the fewer artists in that era that is still with us.
 Don Lusk.

Don Lusk mainly animated a lot of long-shot scenes of Alice (long-shots mean that they show a character but from a long distance), and Lusk does a lot of Alice but really small, I've shown an example up here. Lusk also got some big scenes like Alice going down the Rabbit-hole, but other than Alice. Don animates a lot of minor scenes of Alice throughout the picture, and is in the backgrounds throughout the entire picture, which is annoying because we don't see a lot of what he can do.

 Ollie Johnston.

Ah, now here is Ollie Johnston who animates quite a portion of her in the picture (even though he animated a few scenes of the King). Now, I have to admit: I was pretty disappointing of how Alice turned out to be, as she was animated by Ollie. Ollie was such a great draftsman; and a tender guy in real life, but I just thought he could do better than this. Now I'm not going to be too critical, because there were scenes of Alice done by Ollie that were great. But, in most of the Alice shots done by Johnston, and he does it in his own way. He gives the character a rather more round head; and she just looks stiff, and it just doesn't really look appealing. But that's my opinion.

Ollie Johnston.

In another shot, that I saw Ollie handle that puts me off, and when Alice grows and grows and becomes taller than an oak tree; what puts me off is that he draws the character with a rather small head and gives the character a very LONG neck. It's mostly everything that puts me off about the scene. The face is just not shaped right, the hair just feels too shape and two-dimensional, and even the long neck! Urgh, no wonder she's a "serpent"!
Milt Kahl.

I must say, Milt Kahl animates a brilliant Alice, probably the best one I've seen in the picture, he uses so much appeal in the character, she's believable, appealing, movable, etc. But, in this scene where she hears a voice from the Caterpillar as a butterfly off-screen, and that frame of Alice is a bit clumsy, it's really the face, she seems too round and rubbery, and I always thought she looked a little bit like Betty Boop, there. Although, Milt handles her hands there pretty good.

Milt Kahl.

Now here, that's a better drawing of Alice, that was animated by Milt Kahl. Although, he did do animation of the Dodo earlier in the film, but that was only a few scenes, and I was never really a big fan of his animation of Dodo, but I must say that his animation of Alice in the Croquet and Trial sequence really fits well; and in this frame of her standing in court, I love her smile there, the lips have appeal and Milt uses a lot of strong appeal. I think he got the best Alice scenes in the film, which is the Croquet game. Although, Milt never really seems to be talked a lot of his animation of Alice, but talked a lot about his animation like Prince Philip in Sleeping Beauty, Madame Medusa in The Rescuers, Madame Mim in The Sword in the Stone, Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, the title character in Pinocchio, and a few others.

That's all I'll review about the Alice; sure I've excluded Hal Ambro, Eric Larson or Harvey Toombs, but these were the five people that I thought were more interesting to review.

Watch out for tomorrow as we are going to see the final entry for my mosaic for Alice in Wonderland.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 15

Here is a bit of fun here; and a lot of climaxes here -- yep, this is Alice in the Trial sequence directed by Wilfred Jackson.

I'm afraid that we are getting near the end - and I know that over the recent postings that not an awful lot of commenting happened; but I shall try not worry; because we are getting near the end; and some people may be a  bit tired; or busy for the Christmas holidays; and I will complete this mosaic on Christmas Eve; just in time for Christmas. I hope everyone will have a wonderful Christmas; and I'd be interested in what you did? Anyway, enough with the quote, and more on the commentary:

This sequence here has got some great gags here; and a lot of stuff happening in one sequence; and it lasts roughly 4/5 minutes. Perfect timing to fit for a feature film. However, I've always thought that this sequence was somewhat underrated because; a lot of people sometimes watch the film and don't really finish it; and when when I was younger I have overlooked it quite a lot of times; because when I used to own an old video tape cassette at home; and roughly after the "Painting the Roses Red" song; or in the middle of the "Croquet Game" sequence; I'd move on to the next thing; but I certainly have watched it frame-to-frame a few times; but at times I never saw the proper ending, that's why I don't remember the Mad Hatter or March Hare in this sequence or the Cheshire Cat; probably because I simply forgotten about them.

Watching this sequence is fine; and it all goes by quick and it all goes well. The Queen of Hearts is seen to be the Judge of this case; with the White Rabbit as the clerk or scripture; the King of Hearts is the Prosecutor who asks the witnesses questions; and---are the Caucus racers' on jury duty? Because it looks like them; as we saw them earlier.

More Queen of Hearts is animated by Frank Thomas; and some action scenes by Cliff Nordberg (who handles many characters in this sequence), and Milt Kahl animates more of Alice with two scenes each by Harvey Toombs and the uncredited Ken O'Brien, also a long shot by Don Lusk, and large Alice by Ollie Johnston. White Rabbit by Marvin Woodward and a minor scene by Woolie Reitherman; and Cards by Judge Whitaker and Marvin Woodward. King of Hearts by Ollie Johnston, Hal King, and (shared scenes with Queen), by Frank Thomas, and action scenes by Cliff Nordberg, Jury by an uncredited George Kreisl. Huh, funny enough (as Hans pointed out before), Hal King, actually got to animate the King. HA! I wonder if Hal ever thought of that coincidence.

Wilfred Jackson seems to get a lot of fun in this sequence; and I love the scenes of the Queen of Hearts losing her temper; and Frank Thomas looks like he had fun with the character; and I wonder how he felt animating those scenes, because he took control of the character, and did it his own way. The Queen is really impatient in the Trial because she's waiting for sentencing Alice to be executed; and which isn't fair, and the King was being reasonable by pointing out that they've not asked any witnesses at all, and that's good point because how can a trial work without witnesses. Although, the Queen is just mad with power; and her talent is executing people without trial.

Hal King's King of Hearts works out fine; and he handles the character well; and he does a good job like Ollie Johnston's, although I just think Ollie's King has a little bit more appeal-well; that'll probably not make much of a difference though. In a few scenes of the King by Frank Thomas; notice how that he handles the King with very thin legs, and feet; and it looks as if he's wearing slippers, haw-haw. Again, the King taps the White Rabbit on his shoulder, and waves to the audience and no respect for him. Although, I think one "Hooray" from a guy at the back would be enough for a film; although what I would've liked to see and it's a very old joke, is a guy doing a cough or a sneeze in the background. The animation was reused from the last two sequences, Painting the Roses Red.

Alice (again), is handled brilliantly; she's confident, and more human than any Disney heroine we've seen before; and at times she does make mistake, and she's indeed very naive. Since, when the Queen got a new crown with the beeds, and the beeds turn to the Cheshire Cat's grin, and Alice yells out "CAT", again and then the Queen replies it; when the Dormouse goes around yelling and panicking "cat, cat!!". No guess it was Milt Kahl that character, with brilliant acting scenes, and you know--before making the mosaic I wasn't mad about Kahl's Alice because I didn't look at it properly, and I just chose Les Clark as a favourite, and I have to say (I've changed my mind); I think that my favourite Alice animation out of the entire film has to be Kahl's, for its strong use of appeal and brilliant acting, and also I love how Kahl handled her face and lips, great stuff!

Alas, Cliff Nordberg returns to the film (and did you guys think it would be the end of him in the picture??), well no; he comes back animating the Mad Hatter and March Hare characters; and he does a fine job with the characters. It's full of personality, very lively and great comical performance. I also like his handle for the Queen and King of Hearts, although he only animates those two for action scenes, but let's see if he handles those characters again in the final sequence.

We can see that there are two uncredited animators in this sequence: George Kreisl and Ken O'Brien (whom we have seen earlier in the picture), interesting how Kreisl handles the Jury scenes; and only does three scenes - although it works fine, although I never thought it looked like this came from Alice in Wonderland, those Jury characters reminded me of some cartoons directed by Jack Kinney. Although, Kreisl didn't work for Kinney back then, he was working largely under directors Charles Nichols and Jack Hannah on Pluto, he was one of the many Pluto animators. I'm not really much of a fan of the Jury scenes, even though we don't see much of them, so I don't have much to go on.

Ken O'Brien does two shots of Alice shrinking as she's taunting on the Queen of Hearts calling her "a fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant". Yes, the Queen is a fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant. But, it was a rather foolish thing for Alice to say it at the wrong time because she was shrinking after eating the mushrooms, and she said it at the wrong time.

Oh yes, there are story climaxes here, Alice realises that she still has the mushrooms which she kept in her pockets earlier when the Caterpillar gave her quick advice for her to grow back into normal size. Alice, then eats all the mushrooms, and grows so tall that her head hit the ceiling. Ouch. When Alice is so huge, she seems to lose her fears against the Queen; and it all goes the opposite. Earlier, Alice was afraid of the Queen and the Cards, but now the Queen, King and Cards are afraid of her because of her height, and worry that she'll squash them like a flea or something.

Although, some people may think that there is a story problem because since Alice ate the mushrooms; how did she shrink without eating the other mushroom. Well, I'll explain that: remember when the Caterpillar said about the mushrooms "One side will make you grow smaller, and the other side will make you taller!". Well, in shot 100 when Alice ate both the mushrooms; well I think that explains why! She's ate both mushrooms and then the first time it made her grow TALLER; and then after a few moments, she grows shorter. Does that help you? The story is a complex structure, and Alice eating the mushrooms is philosophical in the story.

The Cheshire Cat once again comes back, and he seems to be mischievous than ever, and betrayed Alice by repeating the mean names Alice called the Queen, which then leads to the Queen's volcanic-temper and the Cards chasing after her so she can be executed in time.

Shot 98 with the Queen ripping the curtain and covered in jam is a very amusing shot.

Marvin Woodward's scenes of the White Rabbit are fine acting; when he's reading the scroll; and it's so long, that the Queen orders him to skip to the very end; when the White Rabbit probably left out the boring, but key parts of the unfair trial.

I want to take a look at two frames, from two different scenes. First, I want to look at how Frank Thomas handles the King of Hearts; even though it's only about two or three scenes; but I notice that the scenes he animates them that he animates the characters with feet; and Ollie Johnston and Hal King never seem to animate the feet in the character. Cliff Nordberg probably adds feet as well. However, the way that Thomas handles the King's feet is so thin and tiny; and it's worth a snigger.

Shot 41. Heh-heh, it looks like the Queen is about to spit at him!

Secondly, notice that in Shot 88, when the March Hare and Mad Hatter tremble over the Queen of Hearts chasing after the panicking Dormouse, and I notice that the March Hare has drawn the back of the Hare's head very thin and small, and I really find that off-putting, seriously, although I guess that Cliff Nordberg (the animator on that scene) had struggles working on the White Rabbit behind or climbing up and that's probably the best he could do.

Shot 88.

I'm afraid that this post is done, and we are very nearing the end. Alice is now in the high jumps, and we will continue with the final adventure.