Sunday, 9 January 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (IV)

Here is a new entry for my Fantasia mosaic - and this time it's two sequences in a mosaic - and it lasts a total of three pages - don't worry we will get to The Sorcerer's Apprentice soon and that will be more than a few pages, and I'll post the entire sequence. ;)

Perhaps I shall start of with the Dance of the Reed Flutes sequence. It's one of my favourite in the segment and throughout the Fantasia film. The musical piece by Tchaikovsky is very cheerful, and the animation is very beautiful, and I just think it's one of the best in animation. However, I don't think this sequence is recognized enough and got credit, but in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's The Illusion of Life, they praised the animator Cy Young who worked on the sequence, and proclaiming that it was "Cy Young at his best." I agree, I think this is probably Cy Young's best work he has ever done on Fantasia, he is indeed an unknown effects artist, but he has been recognized more in later years such as in John Canemaker's Paper Dreams, and even in my article I written quite a while ago.

This short sequence, always reminds me of spring time, in fact most of the Nutcracker Suite reminds me of the season changes and I wonder if that has any part of it, because in the final sequence with the fairies, the beginning clearly shows it as autumn, and then the final parts it shows it as it's winter.

The obvious star animator of this sequence is Cy Young - who has been long known for his work on the flowers landing on top of a river stream, and it times well, and it does look very beautiful. Probably my favourite scene in this sequence done by Cy Young, is shot 17 when the ballerina flower is on the spotlight, and whirls and dances, and the flowers in the background outside the spotlight are dancing in the dark, it's just so beautiful and it looks like the flowers that are in the background are holding a lighter and are waving it in the air.

I find the idea clever of the flowers that are floating at the river stream, and then they dance like spinning tops. That's what I like about about that scene, spinning tops, and it moves well.

What I find interesting is that in the draft, there is an artist credited as "PRATT", and it obviously could well be Hawley Pratt because in Alberto's page he is seen to have done character designs on Snow White and Pinocchio, and a bit of animation elsewhere. Interesting, I wonder if Hawley Pratt did any of the flower animation or the effects? Hawley Pratt went on to have a bigger, and successful career after Disney's, and becoming a layout artist and production designer for Warner Bros. and working on dozens and dozens of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts.

The beginning of the sequence with a raindrop hitting the river, reminds me of one of the rarest cartoons that was directed by Cy Young before working for Disney, and it shows some raindrops touching the stream, and it's Mendelssohn's Spring Song.

Perhaps I shall move on to the next sequence, the Arabian Dance: Now that the flowers have fallen themselves to the waterfall, and I suppose that we got under water where we see fish, plenty of fish. There's plenty of fish in the water...;)

We should all know here that the star animator of this sequence is Don Lusk, and of course, I've written an article about him a couple of months ago, and to find out the fact that he is indeed still alive in good shape. He animates most of the fish animation, except for two scenes which appear to have been animated by effects animator Jim Will, another artist that we don't know. Sandy Strother appears to have done all the effects animation here and the bubbles, with a bit of John Reed. I feel that Sandy Strother doesn't get credit for her underwater effects here, because it was one of the earliest that was achieved back in 1940, and I loved the effect of how the fishes swim away and there's a reflection at the camera. Of course, that was first achieved in Pinocchio, when Pino and Jiminy Cricket are underwater and are asking the fish creatures if they've seen Monstro the Whale, and they scram with fear. Strother, just is an effects animator that appears to be in the backgrounds, at the Disney Studios. Although, I believed that he later worked for UPA for the Mr. Magoo feature film, 1001 Arabian Nights.

As I've mentioned about Don Lusk's involvement in the film, in which the Arabian fish is dancing, that the scene was more than 100 feet, and it could require mountains and mountains of drawings, and it would be divided into a few shots, and that's how it's done. Don Lusk was obviously busy animating fish then, and it was one of the most difficult to achieve back then, and only Don and a few people in this sequence knew how to achieve this.

In this sequence, I'm not really sure what the fishes are doing, the sequence says that it's an "Arabian dance", so I guess it's some dance they came up with. Although they appear to be timid, as they have a glance at the camera angle, and instantly swim away, leaving the glorious effect. When we see more of the fishes, they appear to be "posers", and then a group of fishes release their tails and there comes a beautiful, stunning fish that comes up and shows herself, and then the black fishes hide her, and reveal her a bit more, and then it ends, with masses of bubbles.

Mmm, the fish (what appears to look like a goldfish), always looks a bit like "Cleo" the goldfish from Pinocchio, I wonder if that's one of the reasons why they assigned Lusk to animate the fishes, and the fact that Don Lusk did do a lot of the Cleo animation in Pinocchio.

To take a good look at the Arabian Fish Dance, here is the video:

More to come on Friday - and always feel free to leave a comment, I won't bite.


Eric Noble said...

Fascinating. The special effects department must have been working overtime on this film.

Steven Hartley said...

I'm pretty sure that all the artists worked overtime on the film - since the "Ave Maria" sequence was completely finished filming on the day of the premiere.