Saturday, 1 January 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (I)

Hey folks - as to the a new start of a new fresh year, how about an entry for the Toccata and Fugue mosaic for Fantasia.

This is indeed an interesting posts - a lot of effects animators here in this sequence. It roughly lasts around 4 minutes, and yet the mosaic for this sequence is only 4 pages (the draft only has 3 pages). Leopold Stokowski  has now conducted the Fugue segment and that's when the Fantasia journey officially begins - animation!

This segment (and The Nutcracker Suite), are probably the the only two segments here that have no plot here. Here this sequence, this is no story to it, and there isn't any character animation here, and the layouts and effects really just show some strange objects that come floating around during the scene, and then they go away. Here, are a lot of random objects that come floating around that wouldn't be expected to hear, but it fits all well perfectly (violin bows, spots, bass strings, waves, sparkles, etc.), I don't really think that this sequence is supposed to have a plot at all, it's just trying to show you what the objects would be doing while the music is playing, it's really complicating here of what really is going on!

No guess that it was director Sam Armstrong directing this; because all the segment directors here are clearly directed for a different segment, and Sam Armstrong appears to have done more work than the segment directors, which meant that he also worked on The Nutcracker Suite and the Deems Taylor and orchestra live-action footage. Sam is a genius!! The stuff he directs are just so artificial and brilliant, and his work and staging on Toccata and Fugue is just superb - and so are the effects animation, it times well, it certainly goes with the music. It's just brilliant, a true masterpiece.

It's safe to say that the star effects animator is indeed Cy Young, who is a Chinese animator who opened up the Disney effects animator. He obviously did more effects scenes than any other effects animator here, and including those the uncredited ones in this segment. He did a lot of the earliest effects scenes (excluding the first scene by Sandy Strother), and I really like how he created the effects here, that have probably not been seen the first time, and invented brilliant techniques here.

In Michael Barrier's Hollywood Cartoons, it's said that Cy Young was actually leading the storyboards for the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor sequence. Oskar Fischinger (who is long-credited for the project but remained uncredited), and he was supposed to work with animator Cy Young, although both artists didn't get along well, and both had troubles communicating towards with each other. Young had difficultly with speaking English, and Oskar left the project when many of his designs were altered because of Young and the other artists, and Cy Young remained on the project and went on to receive screen-credit and animate many of the Toccata and Fugue.

What's interesting is that Oskar Fischinger is responsible for the project and his designs were heavily influenced here, and he never received screen-credit, possibly because he didn't get on well with any of the other artists of the project. Yet, he isn't credited for any work on the Fantasia draft. Did he originally animate the stuff, or just develop the effects and the effects animator animated them? Although in some of HIS films, he did animate some stuff, and it's surprising that he animated nothing in the draft.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has Cy Young, Dan MacManus, Art Palmer, Cornett Wood, Ed Aardal, Josh Meador and George Rowley in the screen-credits. I was pretty surprised to see that most of these animators contributed very little here, Dan MacManus and Art Palmer is only credited for at least three scenes, and the fact that Cornett Wood and George Rowley only got one scene in this segment. Both Ed Aardal and Josh Meador only got one-shared scene in this segment, and yet they made it to the screen-credits.

Shot 24 animated by Aardal/Meador always reminded me when I was young of a demon-type villain entering a cage, while the draft mentions "Giant rock in rocking motion disappears down tunnel." Mmm, I never thought it looked like a rock at all, as the light reflects on that object it shows that it's green, while he is dark when not reflected. I wonder who animated the tunnel "Aardal?", and Meador doing the rock? Some reason, that scene used to frighten me, probably the music.

Now, sadly I couldn't identify the unknown animators like: D. Stark, or M. James; I've tried Alberto's page or the Disney telephone directories dated in 1957, but none of this was helpful to identify on who those animators could be. So, I'm afraid that it's a mystery (unless if someone owns a Disney directory dated 1940), it would be very helpful. If anyone can try and identify on who those unnamed animators are, I'd be grateful to know, and if you know, please ask me.

Although, IMDb credits listed an uncredited animator as "V. Jones", and I known that it was Volus Jones. Although, what is he doing here on an that segment, where the effects animators are: he worked as a character animator on most of the Donald Duck cartoons from the 1940's to the 1950's, I couldn't expect him to be there. Although, Shot 15.11 is credited as "V. Jones", and also Cy Young, maybe Volus Jones was Cy Young's assistant for the scene.

I like George Rowley's scene of the flashing lights, and spotlights (that looks like the ones from Hollywood), it's fastly timed and well done. What interests me is that the waves going up as Stokowski conducts it, and no effects artist was credited, and it looks as if it had been done by an effects animator. Maybe because the scene also showed Stokowski conducting, and there was live action there, and didn't add an effects animator, or maybe it was just done by "Spec. Efx".


CVM said...

A number of these designs are Oskar Fischinger's, some altered more than others. For no. 21 in particular, there are b/w pencil sketches in Oskar's papers in his estate.

When Fischinger left the project in disgust (his designs were being radically altered, for one reason), he requested his name be removed from the credits.

Fischinger Research pages at Center for Visual Music:

Steven Hartley said...

Thanks for the info on Oskar in "Fantasia", I knew his designs were altered, but I didn't know he wanted his name off the credits.

John V. said...

You do realise that you've been writing "Fudge" half the time, including on the mosaic itself?

Steven Hartley said...

Whoops - I've fixed the spelling errors and the mosaic. ;-)

Thanks for noticing, John. I always get that spelling error of "Fugue" as "Fudge", it's just an error that I always seem to make.

I was obviously typing too fast - and I checked the spelling errors underlined in red, and I didn't even check the "Fugue" errors. But, now I've fixed them.

John V. said...

re: scene 24 - it disturbs quite a lot of people, actually. Some say the "rock" looks like a gravestone.

And as for Volus Jones, on the draft for "Mr Duck Steps Out" he has only one scene, animating a close-up of popping corn, so we have seen him doing effects of a kind before.

Steven Hartley said...

Now that you mentioned it - it does look like a gravestone, I'm not the only person who's disturbed by it.

Mmm, I've not seen the Mr. Duck Steps Out draft yet, I'll take a look.

Eric Noble said...

Excellent job!! I love the music in this segment, and it's a nice bracer for what is to come.

John V. said...

The "Mr Duck" draft may not be completely accurate. There are a few scenes missing, so maybe some of the scenes were reassigned to different animators as well...