Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (VII)

Here is Deems Taylor's introduction to the memorable segment of Fantasia - The Sorcerer's Apprentice. He explains here that the story came first and the music came later - it happens in a lot of music pieces. Often the music can go with the story, like Peter and the Wolf.

If you fast forward the film, and you notice that Deems Taylor leans back and forth.

Some reason, I find the shot of Stokowski starting to conduct a bit creepy; it just reminds me of one of the students leaning in a wall in The Blair Witch Project - I know, it's pretty silly why I think that.

Here is my mosaic for probably the most memorable segment of Fantasia. Yes, this is most memorable segment because the music here is memorable, and the animation is superb, and one of the big reasons why it's memorable is because our Disney star Mickey Mouse is in it.

This sequence is also what led to the creations of Fantasia - again, it all started with a mouse. Here, Mickey Mouse is more updated with it's original looks - because Mickey Mouse was starting to decline its popularity and Walt Disney didn't want his world's famous character to disappear from the public - and now Donald Duck was starting to become very popular. So, Disney decided to make a Mickey Mouse comeback, and that it would be very special and that the public will remember for years to come.

So, Walt wanted Mickey Mouse to be more appealing, and more up to date, and this time they gave Mickey's face a rather skin colour, than pale. His eyes, now had "pupils in Mickey's pupils", and the redesign of Mickey was done by Fred Moore. Perhaps what Moore is long-credited here is the redesign of Mickey Mouse, but in the credits, Fred Moore is credited as Animation Supervisor, and yet in the draft he isn't credited for animating any scenes in this segment. My guess is that Moore probably did some rough animation on the scenes, and the animators did the final ones, or maybe just the fact that Moore was really supervising the character, and making sure the animators are doing the job right.

It's no guess that was Bill Tytla who animated all of the Sorcerer here - and I always find it interesting that the Sorcerer in Disney scripts is named Yen Sid (Disney backwards), but in the draft no "Yen Sid" is mentioned at all. Bill Tytla handled every single scene of the Sorcerer here (inc. long shots), but I don't know if Tytla did the in-betweens.

I have to say, I think that at the time we get to this segment - there's finally a story. The story here is fun and interesting. It goes Mickey as an apprentice to the Sorcerer, and is training to become one - and he's always tried and exhausted of during his duties.
While the Sorcerer had enough of magic for a while, and then goes for a nap. Mickey gets his time to shine, by putting on the Sorcerer's hat (while the hat was off), and then he sees an example - a broom. He turns the broom to life, and makes him to Mickey's chores. Mickey is happy, and then finally gets rest and feels he has the power. Mickey dreams that he was in power and that he would control the oceans, the stars, planets, comets, weather, etc.
Mickey's dream is interrupted by floods of water in the room, and Mickey realises that he's in BIG trouble, he panics and tries to stop the brooms from over pouring the water.
Mickey then kills the broom, and feels that THAT'S over. But, as the pieces of broom that had been chopped to wood, suddenly start multiplying, and that means BIG trouble for Mickey. The whole broom army goes awry, and Mickey finds the sorcerer's book to try and solve the problem, but is too late and then whirlpools form.
The Sorcerer returns to notice that floods of water are all over the room. He stops this by stopping the waves Moses' style. Mickey, guilty, hands back the Sorcerer's hat and broom and gets back with his duties, and runs along to congratulate Leopold Stokowski for dedicating him in silhouette.

It appears to be that most of the animation of Mickey Mouse was animated by Riley Thompson. Riley animates the character a lot earlier in the film; he animates the dream sequence, and the scenes of Mickey as an apprentice. His animation is decent, but a lot of it is widely remembered - particularly the dream sequence. Riley uses a lot of power for Mickey here, and very appealing. He is a decent Mickey animator, who is underrated. Although, he later worked as a director - although I thought that he was a poor director - I never liked The Nifty Nineties or The Little Whirlwind - they just never made any sense to me, even though there were some talented guys working on it. You could say that Riley Thompson was the main Mickey animator in this sequence - my favourite animation he did was the dream sequence, a lot of weight and Mickey has the power there. So, three cheers for Riley Thompson here.

Les Clark's animation of Mickey Mouse bringing the broom to life, and with the broom is brilliant. I've got a few frame grabs on Shot 14 where the broom quivers and brings the broom to life. The animation is wonderful. It times well, and it's unique. It would've been difficult to handle the broom and Mickey at once, because Mickey is trying to make the broom move, and it quivers. I wonder if Clark animated the characters separately. Although the draft credits two other effects animators Ugo D'Orsi and Dan MacManus. My guess is that D'Orsi did some of the broom coming to life with the shine and gloss coming out, and MacManus doing the shadows.
Here between panels 1 and 3, Mickey starts to bring the broom to life, after making the broom come towards him. Between panels 4 and 6, the broom has arms, and Mickey creates the broom with arms. Between panels 7 and 9, the broom starts to pick up the buckets of water. By panel 10 and to the end of the frame grab, Mickey starts and prepares his walk as the broom follows him. The rest of the shot, I didn't put on frame grabs, but next time I do a long scene, I'll do more than one page of these. But, here I thought that this was the important stuff here.

At the time, The Sorcerer's Apprentice was in production, Walt Disney wanted to hire his greatest animators with talent to work on the film - and at the time, the Nine Old Men were only new at the time when they got to the Disney Studios, and Les Clark was the only one of the members who was experienced, and that was working on Sorcerer's Apprentice. However, the Mickey animators have a lot of Riley Thompson, with a bit of Les Clark, and also includes quite a lot of unknown animators such as Marvin Woodward and Ed Love. However, Preston Blair is pretty much well known in the animation industry as he did a lot of cartoons for the MGM Animation Studios (and not Tom and Jerry). Although another uncredited animator that animated on numerous shorts for Disney at that period was Bob Wickersham. He animated a lot of Mickey in Thru the Mirror, and a bit of animation of Mickey here of Mickey trying to pour the water away. Bob was really known as "Bob Wick" in his comic work.

It appears to be that one of the Mickey animators is also effects animator and one of my favourites Cy Young. He really does the scenes of Mickey holding onto the book, and some of the brooms marching into the water. Although, he is uncredited, but I think we have seen enough of Young in 'Fantasia' already, haven't we?

Ed Love's animation of the brooms multiplying is amusing - I'm not saying that the drawings and the animation is funny - but I'm meaning funny in terms of visual storytelling. For instance, Mickey has chopped the broomstick into tiny pieces with an Axe, and those tiny pieces suddenly start forming and multiplying into dozens and dozens of broomsticks, with means ten times more trouble for Mickey. Those scenes were later parodied in The Simpsons. 

Love is another Disney animator who has been in the backgrounds of Disney animation for a long time, he began his Disney career very early in the 1930's, and left during the infamous Disney strike to work for MGM and other companies.

Arguably the effects animation director of this segment is Ugo D'Orsi - I know, I've explained a bit about him in my article about him on the water effects here. His effects animation in this sequence is extraordinary. Since, the film started production around 1937/1938, and Ugo achieved the effects fantastically and they look just similar than the water effects in Pinocchio, or perhaps more visual. I'm not sure, but I believe that the water effects was first achieved in this segment, and then in Pinocchio the crew did the effects for the film.

In the credits for The Sorcerer's Apprentice there are only three effects animators credited: Ugo D'Orsi, George Rowley and Cornett Wood. Of course, as you can see in this mosaic - Ugo D'Orsi does most of the effects animation here. His effects animation appear to be really heavy and spectacular like the waves and the great water effects. George Rowley does a lot of the effects in the dream sequence of the comets flying past, and the stars. His effects are very nice, and I very much like the whirlpool effects that he did. Cornett Wood's effects is interesting because, he doesn't seem to do a lot of the heavy effects of water or planets twinkling. He seems to do a lot of the background effects like shadows, and also does a lot of effects reflection of light on Mickey's face which is interesting. I guess that some effects artist has to do those effects in order to be in the screen credits.

In Scene 68.1. where Mickey swims to find the Sorcerer's book and tries to climb it - and the scene is credited to both effect animators: Art Palmer and Ed Aardal. This puzzles me because I don't know which one of them did what? My guess is that Ed Aardal most likely did Mickey Mouse because later on he moved on to do character animation (as we saw in Pecos Bill), and Art Palmer does a lot of heavy effects. Any takers?

Alas, I can't forget: Bill Tytla's animation of the Sorcerer. His animation of the Sorcerer is brilliant. At the end of the sequence, he gives the character a lot of strong emotions over Mickey's mischievous behaviour of stealing his hat. The character has a lot of personality and confidence, and all thanks to Mr. Tytla - who is an expert on the character's emotions. Yet, Tytla deserves praise for his work here. Marvin Woodward handles the last Mickey Mouse scenes in the film, and the acting is good, and the animation, and yet he doesn't get credit for it. Marvin does some fine acting scenes, and yet the Nine Old Men didn't work on that, and Woodward should've got credit for that.

What's interesting is that Preston Blair is only credited for 7 scenes here, but yet some of the screen footage is long, so I suppose that's why he is in the screen credits. Although, Blair did do a lot of work on Dance of the Hours and was one of the key animators on it - but it didn't mean that he was too busy on that segment, because Sorcerer was the segment that began Fantasia.

Oh, and plus I can't identify on who the mystery effects man "Dawson" is, I've checked Alberto page, and not a bean of information was found.

I'm afraid that's all folks. It's not certainly the end of the Fantasia mosaics, as I've still got a lot to go through, but I hope this info has been very informative for you, and---I shall look forward to your responses. ;)


Eric Noble said...

Bill Tytla is a master animator!! His animation of The Sorcerer is magnificent. Such subtlety and strong exaggeration in it. He is an inspiration to me.

RB (Caterwaul Studios) said...

A massive post Steven! Enjoyed it thoroughly. Interesting bit about the wizard. And, of course it's always a pleasure to see more of Mickey Mouse.


Steven Hartley said...

Eric - Yes, Bill Tytla is one of the best, and we all at least get inspiration from him. He certainly does put a lot of feelings in his work.

RB - Agreed. It's always great to see Mickey on the screen - again, this is what Mickey Mouse is famous for.