Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XII)





Here we get to the most exciting sequence of The Rite of Spring segment - the fight sequence between the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Stegosaurus. All brilliantly animated by the one and only Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman.

This sequence is basically a continuation from the last scenes in the previous sequence. All the dinosaurs have been alerted that danger is coming while the T-Rex is striking over and is trying to kill some of the dinosaurs by eating them. All the herbivores scramble away, while the Stegosaurus is the only one brave enough to fight with the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

What's probably most well-known about this sequence is the fact that it was animated by Woolie Reitherman. Woolie was long credited for his work in this sequence, and we all know that Woolie is famous for his "re-using" while being a director (e.g. Maid Marian dancing in Robin Hood, original animation of Snow White), and Woolie was very well-known for animating his action scenes. While his dinosaurs have a lot of action and heavy stuff here. Also, Woolie was favourite for the chase scenes. Woolie was always stuck with the chase scenes because nobody else wanted to do them and Woolie really wasn't at all bothered about them, and did them. We know some famous Woolie "chase" animation sequences he worked on: (Monstro the whale in Pinocchio, Hook and the Crocodile in Peter Pan, etc.)

This is probably Woolie's most famous sequence, and my guess is that my probably planned the entire sequence by himself. We even see some action scenes by John Sibley who animates some of the dinosaurs trying to escape from the stomping T-Rex. Paul Busch animates the primary scenes of the dinosaurs watching the fight. Woolie's animation is superb and he has put a lot of "monumental weight" into it. The action is brilliant, the timing is excellent. Of course, working on a Fantasia production like this would be difficult in terms of "music animation timing", but Woolie really worked hard and didn't slack at all and here is the effort he brought here.

I've always found this sequence, in someways (disturbing) because there is a fight going on - and this isn't going to be done in a comical way, this isn't a "Donald Duck fight", this is a real dinosaur stag fight. Although, what does make it less disturbing was that the animators didn't add in the blood and gore to avoid the film censors. Although, as the stegosaurus dies - I think that this is probably the first time we actually see a character in a Disney film to die instantly. So, we've seen Bambi's mother die but that was off-screen. Showing the dinosaur dead is actually shown on the screen - and this is probably the first time in Disney where a villain actually wins.

What would have made this sequence very difficult is the fact of "animating the dinosaurs". Who on this planet knows how a dinosaur walked millions and millions years ago? The animators and crew had to use their brains and head to figure out on how the dinosaurs would walk and what would have came out similar. The animation is far from "Pluto" or "The Seven Dwarfs". Woolie Reitherman and the dinosaur animators (Duncan, Busch, Sibley, etc.) have really put a lot of effort, thought and research on what could've been possible of a "dinosaur walk".

What's interesting in some of the close-up scenes of the dinosaurs (either Stegosaurus or Tyrannosaurus) there are two effects animators credited (Jim Will, Jack Harbaugh or Frank Follmer), and my guess is that one of those animators did the rain scenes in the background and the other effects animators did the shading of the dinosaur's reflection. Of course, shot 50 as a shot of a thunder bolt striking and it's certain that either Jack Gayek or Jack Harbaugh handled that effect on that shot.

What I've noticed during the fight sequence is that some of the scenes appear to have been repeated from a previous scene or flopped. I wonder if Woolie contributed on those scenes and this being one of his earliest reusing contributions.

Oh, did you know that Ken Peterson (who later went on to become Head of the Disney Animation Department) was Woolie Reitherman's assistant on the dinosaur fight along with Xavier Attencio. That would have been difficult for them to clean-up Woolie's drawings because Woolie was known to have made messes in his rough drawings - and some of the assistants couldn't even get a new sheet of paper, they had to clean-up directly on the animation paper. It was hard because Woolie was a great draftsman and it wouldn't be necessary to mess up someone's work.

Some of the scenes of the Stegosaurus' tail in close-ups reminds me of the Monstro's tail scenes - coincidentally enough that Woolie animated those scenes.

That's all I've got to "blab" about - if you've got anything interesting to say, feel free to comment - I won't nibble or bite.

Oh, Rite of Spring topic: In school I was invited by the Music group to see the performance of the original ballet of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in June 8th 2011 - that'll be a very exciting experience for me. Although, I don't take music anymore (as there was very few options to take in my school year), but at least I was invited. ;-)

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