Thursday, 28 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXV)

Here is the final sequence of the Dance of the Hours segment - it includes the alligator dance and the finale sequence where all the elephants, hippos, ostriches and the alligators all reprise together into the final dance. I must say that I do want to get this mosaic finished by May 13th because I have a Duke of Edinburgh Practice Expedition which happens on 20-21st May.

This is probably my favourite part of the segment because all the dancers appear in the finale - straight after the alligator dance. We see lots more animators from the previous sequences come back again - and even the first time seeing the likes of John Lounsbery, or Art Elliott. Probably the most memorable animation in this segment is John Lounsbery's alligator ballet. The timing and staging of the animation is brilliant including the angles in Lounsbery's scenes. Shot 23 with the alligator jumping off the pole, is another one of Lounsbery's squash and stretch.

It's good to find that we see more of animators like Norm Tate appearing again (as Tate appeared one scene earlier) he animates some of the finale scenes of the Hippo and Alligator chase, including a scene of the elephants holding on to their tails and dancing. Art Elliott appears in three shots here although he doesn't get much footage here. He doesn't seem to do any acting scenes and maybe that's why he wasn't brought much. Although, Fantasia was a difficult film to animate and maybe that they needed animators to do few footage - and he ended up in the credits. I always thought for some reason that Elliott was an effects animator and he is a character animator instead, I don't know why I thought of that.

Each of those animators appear cast again: John Lounsbery animates a lot of the alligators here and he's the star of the sequence, obviously. Hicks Lokey, Norm Tate, Howard Swift, Preston Blair and Art Elliott animate Hippos and Alligators combined in the scene. Hugh Fraser animates the alligators, ostriches and elephants.Harvey Toombs does a scene here of the elephants and alligators. Howard Swift seemed to be the main animator overall the Dance of the Hours segment, followed by Preston Blair and John Lounsbery.

Hicks Lokey animates a very funny shot of the alligator and the hippo with the hippo running up and the croc tries to catch it - but ends up being squashed by the hippo. That is a great shot in terms of weight. The hippo obviously weights tons more than an alligator, and that's what makes it entertaining. Although, what's interesting is shot 50 by Preston Blair and the alligator seems to have a lot of strength to hold the hippo, while the Lokey alligator struggled. I think Hicks Lokey handles the shot better because it shows that Ben Ali Gator is struggling to lift the Hippo up. However, when Blair handles the shots, the alligator seems to do some very quick movement and changing round the positions of the hippo and then finally drops to the ground. I suppose, that he finally had the strength for the final dance and then drops the ground and concluding the finale and the show. It goes to show that there are unknown animators back in those days who were as great as the Nine Old Men were.

John Lounsbery animates a very beautiful shot in scene 28 with the alligator moving the hippo carefully in a circle like a ballerina in a music box - when I showed that to a therapist, she described it as "cute", I described it as excellent timing. It's a very long scene which is 39 feet long and more than 600 drawings there, and also 26 seconds in. Lounsbery seems to have animated loads of several shots with the small footage output, but he gets a very large output for the 39 feet and 37 feet scene (shot 15). He has contributed so much to this sequence, and he was the only member of the Nine Old Men working on this segment.

Norm Tate's scenes are interesting to me, I always thought that the shot with the pole, with the hippo and alligator peeking in and out is a funny shot. It really fits well with the music and good music and animation timing. Tate had to be careful that it was a comedy shot and not concentrate on its broadness, but the music as well. Norm Tate is an animator that we don't hear much about these days, but he was a Pluto animator in the early '40s on the Clyde Geronimi shorts. He was Shamus Culhane's original assistant on Pinocchio before taking over the final animation. He later had a career in advertising and died in 2006 at the age of 91.

Hugh Fraser pops back up and he animates the alligator struggling to get the elephant stuck on the two narrow poles. Good comedy here, and Hugh was a squishy animator, who also animates the ostriches here, also.

Cornett Wood takes over the final shot of the finale sequence, and the whole segment ends with the doors colliding each other with a BANG! Since I was 8 years old when I first saw that, I sure thought that it was a funny shot. T. Hee couldn't escape the sound effects here. It seems that Wood was the main effects animator here or Brad Case and haven't had luck of their names in the screen credits.

Well, that's the whole segment completed. Next up is the final segment which is the scary Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria segment, we are nearing completion I have to say.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXIV)

Here is a new sequence for the Dance of the Hours segment and this time the hippo ballerina goes to sleep and a ballet of elephants step in to do their dance of the evening. This is a very interesting sequence, with a number of gags with the bubbles.

The elephants have stepped in and they are doing their own dance, by squirting out bubbles out of their trunks. Of course, we know that elephants squirt water, but here I they inhale the water from their trunk, but they don't seem to squirt out water - only bubbles. How does that work for an elephant? Did they just blow the bubbles out with their trunks gently or something?

Is is a short sequence, and a heck of a lot of long footage scenes in there also. What's very interesting is to find a lot of character animators here in a few shots. Harvey Toombs animates more shots here but not as much footage as others, perhaps. Interesting casting here on who does what in the elephants sequence.

The elephant animators here like Ray Patterson, Frank Grundeen and Howard Swift animate the hippo sleeping when there are elephants in the scene. Hicks Lokey animates the scene of the hippo yawning and the bubbles inhaling when there are no elephants present in the shot. Ray Patterson handles the shot of the elephants entering with the hippo sleeping, Howard Swift does the elephants walking to the hippo and blowing bubbles at the sleeping hippo. Frank Grundeen animates a funny shot here of the elephants with tons of bubbles as the hippo is sleeping and not noticing anything. It was funny looking that shot, not as I call it, "funny moving". Like a lot of animators do in this segment.

What's interesting here is that there are quite a bit of animators here that work on this sequence and don't come back in the "Finale sequence". Here, Ray Patterson only animates two scenes here, and ends up with about 59 feet of animation. Here, Grant Simmons is only credited for one scene of the elephant's foot caught in a bubble. It was a 25 feet scene. Simmons only animated roughly 16 seconds out of the original 122 minute Fantasia. I always found it odd that Simmons did only one scene in the segment when I first saw the draft and somehow he ended up getting screen credit. While, Van Kaufman and Jerry Hatchcock got more footage than him. Although, I guess it's not only the footage but the quality of the animation, and Disney standard to merit the screen credit.

A lot of gag stuff with the bubbles here in this sequence. In shot 28, animated by Harvey Toombs - the pool from where the bubbles were blown, one of the elephants blew a bubble with a fish inside it. That was an amusing shot because the fish was inhaled inside the elephant's trunk, and wouldn't have a clue why it was in a bubble. Shot 28.1 shows the elephants walking up to the sleeping ballerina and blows bubbles out and tiptoe away, I don't know what the gag is there.

Shot 30 is a tour-de-force shot with the sleepy hippo yawning so big that the bubbles all inhale inside her mouth. That is a forceful shot, Hicks Lokey does a good job on that shot. It is believable that she is so large that she could inhale all the bubbles inside her breath. That is a good, exaggerated gag with the bubbles. Hicks deserves a round of applause here.

Shot 34 has got some fun stuff with the elephants dancing with the bubbles, they produce bubbles orbiting their bodies and they spin around, and it seems that the bubbles have the force to attach to the bodies, like a magnet or a gravitational poll. It's like the bubbles have tutus on them - I wonder if that was part of the gag. Another elephant walks by and blows bubbles around, and kicks them away. The bubbles goes by his legs, as he misses the kick and he ends up doing the splits spontaneously. That was an amusing shot, but to me the facial expressions but it's not the best looking, I dare say.

Shot 36, is a very expressive shot with the bubble stuck in the elephant's foot and he tries to put in all his effort to get the bubble out of his foot by shaking it, but fails. He keeps up a line of elephant dancer and continues to dance with the bubble still stuck in the foot. Grant Simmons handles the shot pretty good, although the shapes of the head in that shot is not the most appealing, also. Although, it's a shame that he doesn't have any more footage to animate.

In Shot 41, the scene by Howard Swift of the elephants piling up on a poll is funny, but the elephant inside the bubble by Harvey Toombs is funnier. It's just so exaggerated, although it isn't explained in this sequence why the elephant got caught in the bubble. Could that have something to do with shot 36 with maybe the bubble expanding because of the cape's gust of wind.

In fact, I don't really understand how the curtain (the alligator's cape) could give a force to blow all the elephants away from the garden. Yet, only the hippo in the air stayed afloat in the air for a while before descending back down to the ground. Oh yes, there is a bubble gag there with the bed. Pretty funny Aardal effects.

Interesting to find Frank Grundeen here as he's the one associated here on Dance of the Hours. Also, that we found him animating a few shots on The Rite of Spring. He seems to have animated more footage on Spring than Dance here. Although, I guess that it's the quality that deserves it and that he already appeared in a different segment. Although, I have to admit that his animation here is not the most attractive animation here.

Well, that's my talk done and I may come back and post another mosaic on either Thursday or Friday. I'm back to school tomorrow for a new term, but I will be back again on Thursday because of the famous Royal Wedding with Kate Middleton. Everyone in the country was given a day off for that special day. I've also got a wedding to attend on Saturday, my step sister's wedding. So, I should be around besides Saturday. See me posting back on Thursday.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


I'm going away to Carden Park Hotel in Chester for 4 days. I may not update my blog until April 25. Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

20 April Anniversary Notes

Like on April 15, there some pretty rotten memories on that date that happened in the past. For instance, it was Adolf Hitler's birthday and he was born on April 20, 1889. We all know him as a Nazi leader and later became Chancellor and President of Germany in 1934. He wanted Germany a greater country with the "Aryan" race ruling the country. Of course, he wasn't blonde haired or blue eyed himself, so he couldn't talk! He persecuted Jews, Communists, Homosexuals, gypsies, etc. because he thought they were responsible for the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 during the Weimar Republic years. He was a mad man, who went mad with power. So, he started invading countries and Josef Goebbels made propaganda posters about how great Germany was and how bad the Jewish were - very, very tough times. The sad thing about that date was Hitler being born, and later became a wicked, vile, horrible person.

Another sad event that took place is the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. There were two killers who attended the school named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who stormed into the school and opened fire with their guns and weapons and the facility results ended up with 12 students and a teacher killed. About an hour after the massacre started, they turned the guns on themselves with a total of 15 people dead.

It was a horrific event that occurred as those two teenagers were regarded as unpopular kids at school - or one of the "outcast" people. They were bullied by jocks and sports guys. They never had girlfriends and were isolated from the popular kids at the school. In my opinion, if that didn't happen - there probably wouldn't be a killing spree at the school. It wasn't the first time that they committed a crime, they were caught red handed in 1998 for breaking into a van and stealing equipments. They were sentenced to community service, while Eric was to control his anger and take anger management classes.

Anyways, these are sad events, and let's see what there is on the brighter side. I discovered that George Takei was born on that date in 1937 - and became a successful Star Trek actor.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXIII)

Here I'm going to post another sequence - but it's a rather short one and I may not go into lengthy details that I usually do.

This is the afternoon sequence of the Dance of the Hours segment in Fantasia. To tell you, this is a sequence that I least look at in the segment because I prefer the other ones. There doesn't seem to be much gags as there are in the other sequences, but the footage is very long. You can say that the main guy on this sequence is Preston Blair and he does a good chunk of work - while he previously worked on The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

The ostriches are still fighting over the piece of grapes and they all equally lost when the grapes fall down to the pool where the hippo is sleeping and all the ostriches panic since there are bubbles snorkling out and they flee away. Until the hippo eats the grapes, puts on make-up, dances and then takes an afternoon nap when it reaches evening.

There seems to be two camera cuts in this sequence - and I don't recall camera cuts in the Fantasia draft so far. I'll need to wait and see if there will be anymore. Interesting how Norm Ferguson actually animates two scenes here of the Hippo putting make-up on her face and putting away the make up. Fergy is not credited for any of the directing and only T. Hee is. This is similar in Pinocchio when T. Hee was directing the sequences and Fergy was animating a few scenes. I assume that Fergy was just supervising the animators while T. Hee was in charge of the production. Maybe, Fergy was just animating scenes what he found in the lot. In total, Fergy animates roughly only 10 feet of the segment with the hippo putting away the make-up and that's about it.

It's interesting to find Van Kaufman (an uncredited artist) animating two shots of the hippos with the make up and placing the tutu around the hippo's body. Kaufman was another unknown animator who we have seen before handle some good animation. I believe he served in the military after departing the Disney Studios in 1941. He handles the hippos here pretty well even though he was a lesser-known animator that we hardly know about.

The star of the sequence is obviously Preston Blair and he mainly handles the dance scenes. Notice how the scenes he animates - the shots are few - but the footage is very long. He averages about 30 feet of animation in each scene. Van Kaufman handles the hippo holding the makeup and giving it to the main hipo. Fergy handles the ballerina with the make-up on and putting away the make-up. Then, Preston Blair handles the dancing movements.

I have to say, that some of the hippos dancing is pretty amusing - it's not what the audience would expect in Fantasia - that's why there are funny animators and guys working on the segment because they know what to do. I particularly like shot 23 a lot with the hippo's weight spins upwards and then spins back down to it's normal weight. That is wonderfully timed although I'm afraid that I didn't get time to do breakdowns on that scene - but if you do watch the sequence and take a look at the scene you can study the movements of what Preston Blair animates. He does some very excellent timing on the gag here. I like it very much. That is probably the best part of the sequence.

Preston Blair later did some work on Bambi and then leaving Disney in 1941 to work on some MGM cartoons. I hear about that Preston Blair which helps you how to animate and the movements, which is strongly suggested by one of my commenters, Eric Noble. I will try and take a look out for the book and see the pages on the ASIFA Hollywood Archive blog. The book does seem a help, and hopefully it will improve on my drawing and analyzing skills ;-).

I must admit that I'm not a fan of the close-up zooming in on the hippos' tonsils showing when she is yawning. The close-up just doesn't feel right, and do we need to see her tonsils showing? Although, it is also exaggerated, but if you want to see an exaggerated yawn - look at the next sequence when she yawns so big that bubbles enter the hippo's body. That was a Hicks Lokey scene.

That is really my commentary on the mosaics done and if you have something to say and please tell me because I'd be happy to hear.

[[I've reached more than the 50'000 web hit mark - let's see if we can get to 100'000 anytime soon?]]

Monday, 18 April 2011

Drawing Disney

This isn't a post that I was supposed to do ages ago, but over the past few days I did some drawings from Disney films such as Lady and the Tramp, The Sword in the Stone and The Fox and the Hound. There are a couple of frames in the films that I took a look at and I carefully tried to copy what it looked like. I thought that drawing the tough dogs in Lady and the Tramp would've been difficult, and I carefully copied it from the screen - no tracings and it gives a great effect.

I didn't choose specific scenes to draw - I just found some stuff on YouTube from the films that I quietly got on and drew, although I'm probably most proud of drawings that I did in Lady and the Tramp where the Tramp fights the outnumbered tough dogs to defend Lady. That was animated by Woolie Reitherman and Woolie rocks my world (when it comes to animating). I felt that my drawings of the dogs that I copied over at my computer screen felt real, and I want to share it to you.

That there is a scene where the Tramp warns and encounters the tough dogs, and they are preparing to fight and growl. It is a tour-de-force shot, and I liked it a lot. I didn't think that I could copy the drawings, but from what I drew, it really does look great. You do have to agree with me.
This is a small scene from The Sword in the Stone where Merlin, Archimedes and the Wart are leaving Merlin's cottage to head to the castle, while the Wolf unsuccessfully tries to chase after the Wart. Merlin says the line, "By the way, what direction is this castle of yours?" Archimedes (the highly educated owl) raises his eyebrows one way to another. I like the rough drawings in that scene, and it was animated by John Lounsbery. Sorry, if I drew Merlin's hat pretty bad. I did this very quickly.
This is a scene in The Fox and the Hound where the Chief tries to chase after Todd, on the highway railway tracks, Chief is run over by an incoming locomotive and falls down and injures himself. In this drawing, this is Copper when he discovers that Chief is hurt and very disappointed that Todd caused this incident.

This is another great action scene where the Tramp is fighting one of the dogs, and he bites one of his legs like eating a bone - this is a cross between violence and a gag and Woolie Reitherman is very good at assignments like this. You may think that I haven't drawn all of the dogs there, well I got a framegrab online and that was a scene that I found. Of course, I added bits on the dog to add some stuff, but I had to be careful, and adding it does add the final touch.

This is another Archimedes drawing done in the same sequence as I drew the owl. Also done by Lounsbery.

This is a great sequence in The Sword in the Stone and it's the sequence where Merlin and Wart transform into squirrels and learning about the life of a squirrel - but it turns out that their learning period was cut short when they are attracted by female squirrels, as Merlin points out that female and male squirrels are mated for like. That I didn't know, but I know that swans are mated for life - but I never heard about squirrels.
The scene was brilliantly animated by Frank Thomas - who animated most of the squirrels here. To me, I think this animation that really gets me from Frank Thomas. I think that's probably his best on this sequence. This has tender acting here, when the Wart is hiding behind Merlin's tail and the girl squirrel is looking for Wart and Merlin sort of tricks Wart into believing him and he points to where the Wart is hiding. I did some drawings here - and mind you that I ended up rubbing out some of the female squirrels because it didn't feel right, and then I did what I could do. My Merlin squirrel probably looks clumsy but I did what I could do.

This is a scene in The Fox and the Hound where Boomer, who is a scatterbrained woodpecker (voiced by Paul Winchell, who also does Tigger), and he is after Squeeks the caterpillar. The shot is only roughly 8 frames long (if it's true - I will need to see the draft soon), and his intelligent, wise friend Dinky, a canary are trying to go after Squeeks for breakfast. If I'm not mistaken, this is a Cliff Nordberg scene and it was his last film that he worked on before dying of a heart attack in 1979 after his rough animation was completed. It was reported that while working on the film, he was at the top of the footage report list, since he was the most experienced animator on the film. I believe that Jerry Rees, John Musker and Brad Bird also did some work on Boomer and Dinky, and Squeeks the caterpillar.

This is all my stuff that I've posted here. I'd really appreciate if I hear your comments on my collection of drawings that I did Disney style.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bill Peet on "The Jungle Book"

Ages ago, I was looking through one of my older articles and I found that I wrote an article that I wrote about Ward Kimball's involvement on Snow White and, also ages ago - I was going to write to write an article about Bill Peet's involvement in The Jungle Book and suprisignly enough - I never got around to do it. But now, I think that I'm going to start writing articles that I should've written in the past that I wasn't able to do -  but now I feel that I have the confidence.

We all mostly know that The Jungle Book was the last Disney animated feature supervised by Walt Disney, himself. Also the fact that it was the end of the crowning era. The film was a very upbeat and more enjoyable compared to the dark, mysterious Rudyard Kipling novel. Of course, that was what Walt Disney wanted the version to be and originally when Bill Peet was going to supervise the entire story - like he did on 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone, his version was different from Walt had in mind. But, that's what we heard of - but in the story meetings - he seemed to have been very critical with the story and how it was going. I'm going to show some extracts from Bill Peet's autobiography in The Jungle Book pages:

When I had six or seven boards worked out, I presented that first phase of the story to Walt and the guys. Everyone was excited about the animation possibilities, and Walt was so pleased he came over to shake my hand. He also liked my idea for the song "Bear Necessities", something for Baloo the bear to sing---so I was off and running.

But when the time came to select voices for the characters the picnic was over. The voice I recorded for the leopard annoyed Walt. "That sounds like New York. A Brooklyn accent. That wouldn't fit into this Kipling thing." "He's a good actor," I said. "Why don't you try him again and see if he can get rid of the accent?

When we met for another story conference, I put the new and improved panther voice on the record player, and he listened, Walt was glowering at me. "Not one bit better," he grumbled. "Still Brooklyn!" "Okay" I said, "let's forget it. That took only half an hour on the sound stage. I'll find another voice. No problem."
There was a long silence while Walt kept glowering at me. Finally he said, "Can you animate the picture?"
In an attempt at nonchalance I replied, "Why not? I made an animation test while I was working on 'Pinocchio' just for the fun of it and it turned out surprisingly good." "What was it," Walt snapped, "the bouncing ball?" The bouncing ball test was the very simplest exercise for beginners, so of course Walt was being sarcastic. "No bouncing ball," I replied. "In fact it was quite complicated. It was an octopus in a panic scrambling over the wreckage of the sunken ship with all eight legs flying in all directions." Walt had no answer for that, and the conference ended with another long silence.

Walt was still fuming as he left his chair and headed for the door. Just before he made his exit he turned to us and said, "If you want to see some real entertainment then see Mary Poppins!"And that was the last time I ever saw Walt.
The conference happened to land on January 29, my birthday, and it was after five o'clock when the meeting ended, so it was dark outside. And as I headed for the parking lot, the guys kept their distance. It was the old, silent treatment again.
That evening, Walt's anger couldn't have been any greater than mine, as I drove home I was wondering if he intended to kick me downstairs again. Oh no, not this time, I said to myself, because I've got a present for you. Happy Birthday! I'm not ever going back there!!!
When I told Margaret of my birthday present she was not the least bit surprised. She was aware that keeping Walt happy and doing the books on the side was walking a tightrope and after twenty-seven years it was time for a new beginning.
In his autobiography, this was really about Bill Peet's last day as he was working on The Jungle Book. At first, Walt Disney liked the idea of Bill Peet's story - but the problem came in another story conference when there were story problems and that they had "the old, silent treatment". Walt Disney seemed to have been in a grumpy mood in that meeting that seemed to have put Bill Peet off the mood.

A lot of historians say that Peet only left the Disney Studios because of a heated argument with Walt Disney on The Jungle Book and that they couldn't make any agreements. But here, in that meeting - Bill Peet was worried that Walt would put "him downstairs" in a different department - and Peet didn't want this to happen and he quit the Disney Studio as a result.

From what Bill wrote, he doesn't add that there were changes on the story, because apparently, Walt got more critical toward s Bill because of the critical reception on The Sword in the Stone and he wanted a better, improved version of the Kipling story. In that case Bill Peet made a darker version of the film that Walt Disney wouldn't want to see himself and that the audience didn't want to see. He wanted some entertainment going on his film. But, Bill doesn't write that - it seems that they couldn't make an agreement on how the story should work.

From pictures that I've seen from Bill's version - the gags and dialogue seem to be similar to his other projects that he's worked on, but less character development between Baloo and Mowgli. Some of Peet's work on the film actually survived like when Kaa first encounters Mowgli and tries to hypnotize him while Bagheera was asleep, and also contributed to the Trust in Me song. Bill Peet should have got some credit for the film as he was the guy who started the project in the first place, and that he seemed to have contributed chunks on the film. There are some great storyboards of what Bill did on The Illusion of Life but it wouldn't be easy for it to be scanned.

In one of the meetings, Walt Disney dislikes the voice of Bagheera saying that it's "too Brooklyn", but in the final film, Bagheera was voiced by Sebastian Cabot and the voice also sounds Brooklyn or some type of accent - it doesn't sound Kipling also. Although I suppose that Walt was in the meeting following the Kipling version and after Peet left - he did it the way he wanted it to be done. Walt wanted none of the mysterious stuff that was in the original Kipling text and wanted this to be a fun, adventure story that all the audience would enjoy.

That's my commentary done for Peet's work on the film. Any other advice or agreement?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXII)

Here it is - a new sequence and a new segment. Let's give it up for Poncheilli's The Dance of Hours. Here is Deems Taylor's introduction to Dance of the Hours. Which is probably my favourite segment of the film that I enjoy watching. Each sequence is divided into different times of the day. For example, the ostrich ballet sequence is in the morning, the Hippo ballet takes place in the afternoon. Elephant ballet in the evening, the Aligator ballet at night, and the finale of the "somber hours of the night."

Rise and shine - this is the first ballet of the Dance of the Hours segment. I really like the segment in Fantasia because it gets some time for some comedy and laughs into this. Although, it would've been difficult to get gags into the music. But T. Hee and Norm Ferguson are the heroes for this segment. Of course, seeing ostriches doing ballet would be extremely ridiculous and who would think of seeing hippos wearing a tutu. Although, it would be cute seeing that but not in reality.

The sequence is a great place to start of with - the morning. That's why the piece is called Dance of the Hours because it shows ballet dancers dancing throughout the hours of the night. However, here the Disney studio decided to use animals for the segment which would be more interesting than just ballet dancers. This is a good chance for the comedy and expressive animators like Hugh Fraser or John Lounsbery to be working there and see what they bring on the screen.

It starts off inside when the closet gates open and then we truck down the hall and the curtains rise. It's morning time - a good time for the ballet dancers to start off their day. But, of course what do we see? Ostriches. Mmm, this would be strange for an audience looking at an ostrich - so let's see what they would have to do for the morning.

The ostriches wake up and they start to do some ballet exercise before they go and grab some breakfast. The leader of the ostrich (with the pink ribbon) grabs a cornucopia with fruit inside and feeds it for the hungry flightless birds. The ostriches turn greedy, and they try to snatch some of the fruit inside the cornucopia. They head outside to the pool which appears to look like Ancient Greek gardens to me with.

Of course, the mosaic may look short and some of the animators may not have a lot a shots. Although, it's the footage output that gets a Disney animator in the credits and to see that their animation is Disney standard. There are a lot of long-footage scenes that are more than 20 feet on the screen which is more than 300 frames on the screen. All the animation of the ostriches is well animated and it makes the audience believe that they could dance like ballet dancers. However, the animators used a lot of ballet footage to study the movements for the ostrich animation. Here, we have Howard Swift, Hugh Fraser, Norm Tate and Jerry Hatchcock doing the ostrich animation with one minor scene by George Nicholas.

Each animator is cast to animating different actions on the sequence. For instance, Howard Swift animates the acting scenes of the ostriches waking up and warming up. He later comes back and animates the ostriches with the fruit and trying to snatch it off. Hugh Fraser handles a lot of the dancing ostriches here, and he gets a lot of footage here. Norm Tate animates one scene of the group of ostriches gathering up and playing their feathers on top of the leader ostrich. Most of the ostriches here seem to have blue ribbons, while the main ostrich has a pink ribbon on it's head. I can't judge on if they are males or females.

Everything I like about shot 17 here - it was animated by Norm Tate here, and Norm is another unknown animator but he went on to have a career in advertising. He was another Pluto animator and worked with Gerry Geronimi on some Pluto shorts and we have seen him before on Pinocchio animating Honest John and Gideon. We will see him animate more on the Finale sequence later on this segment.

Here in shot 17, the animation of the scene is just brilliant - excellent staging and timing. It all fits well and it's a beautiful scene. I've done some breakdown here on that scene. It's a great scene - and it looks really real, even though it's impossible for ostriches to do that - since they are flightless birds.

Here, I've created two pages for the scene because I wanted to analyze it a bit more and it see the movements here. Between panels 1 and 6, the ostriches gather around the ostrich leader in a circle. By panel 7, the ostriches begin to spiral around the ostrich leader. By panel 15, the main ostrich is hidden only showing her pink ballet shoe. On panel 17, the main ostrich shoots out and into the sky with feathers springing out (animated by effects artist Brad Case). The ostrich continues to keep on springing up until the final shot. What makes the scene so believable and weight into it is the fact that ostriches are flightless birds, and the ostrich doesn't fly off - it falls back down. Kudos to Norm Tate!

Shot 18 is an amusing shot with the ostrich's legs reaching to the ground and does a split in the ground, with a drum bang. That was a sound created by the Disney Studios, and it's not in the original Poncheilli piece. It would have been deliberate to make it work, but it's sort of editing the piece. The animation in it is amusing with the legs hitting the ground. Hugh Fraser and Howard Swift animate the ostriches a lot like Donald Duck.

To be honest, I don't really know what Jerry Hatchcock is animating in the scenes. He seems to be animating scenes shared with Howard Swift, Hugh Fraser and Norm Tate and not animating a scene of his own. Which I find odd. Was Jerry Hatchcock animating the ostriches in the background or was he probably inbetweening the ostrich poses in the animation papers. I don't really know why he would end up in the draft if he was an inbetweener. But in the first shot of the ostrich (shot 15) there is only one ostrich here animated by Howard Swift and Jerry Hatchcock. In that case, then he was going through the poses. That's why he was an uncredited animator. Although, he may have gone through a scene. I assumed that he animated the ostrich's feet in 20, and Hugh Fraser animates the ostrich in the background.

I don't know Jerry's style well in the animation, but he was another squishy and expressive animator who worked on the Crocodile in Peter Pan and animating on Pluto. Although in his Sleeping Beauty work he seemed to have animated scenes of the Prince, which would be surprising. I don't know what he animated on Lady and the Tramp though.

If I'm not mistaken - Hugh Fraser also animated the ostrich in the El Gaucho Goofy sequence in Saludos Amigos.

That's my talk done - more to come, and I hope to see some comments!!

Friday, 15 April 2011

15 April - Two Disastrous Events

Hey readers,

Today reminded me while I was in town today that it was April 15 - and I realized that it was anniversaries of events in which people lost their lives and that were a disaster at the time. One that was in Liverpool and the other that took place in the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps that I shall explain what happened:

15 April is a famous day for these events and it seems to be the date with shocking events. I looked up on Wikipedia on that date and there seems to be other dates with sad events - but also events that were good. For example, the light stuff is that one of the many death camps in Germany to execute Jews named Bergen-Belsen was in fact liberated on April 15, 1945 - and they were free but there were still thousands of Jews who died in these camps, Anne Frank actually died in the Bergen-Belsen camp. Back in 1983, there were Disney news - Tokyo Disney was opened in Tokyo, Japan.

But now, I'm going to get across the main events. The sad events that will go down in History:

The R.M.S. Titanic.

THE TITANIC WENT DOWN IN HISTORY: We all know the stories of the famous luxury ship called the R.M.S. Titanic which was at the time the largest luxury ship built in the world. A lot of people described the ship as "unsinkable". However, unfortunately they pushed their luck when at 11.40pm on April 14th the ship hit an iceberg when lookout Frederick Fleet rang the bell three times and called the bridge and exclaimed "Iceberg, right ahead!" Of course, it was very dark outside and it was difficult to spot icebergs, especially without any binoculars.

We all know that there is a sad ending to the Titanic - when it sunk in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, there are many reasons why the passengers died in the Titanic. Well, while the lifeboats were being prepared and launched - a lot of people refused to go into the boats because they thought that the sink would still stay afloat and that it still wouldn't sink. Many lifeboats left the ship only half full, and the rule was "women and children, first" which was men's attitude of politeness to ladies and that children were only young, so the ladies were responsible to look after them. Although, many women refused to step on the boat because they didn't want to leave their husbands when they weren't allowed on the ship. Also, there were many 3rd class passengers who were from a foreign land and did not understand English, and couldn't find their way up the top. However, there was evidence that there was another ship nearby and that it was the Californian and they were so near that they could rescue all the remaining passengers in less than half-hour.

This why this was such a disaster, and there was a great mourn of all the passengers who died from the freezing Atlantic water during the Titanic's fate. It's 99 years today since Titanic sunk down in the mysterious seas. Next year, will be celebrating 100 years - and I'll probably watch the film in 3-D.

Liverpool fans in the football pitch in the disaster event. This was very shocking when it reached the news.

Another disasterous event that took place on April 15, was not long ago and it took place in Liverpool, and IT TOOK 96 LIVES AWAY AND IT WAS THE HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER. This was a shocking event that took place in Liverpool, on April 15, 1989. Which is 22 years ago today. This took place at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. Liverpool F.C. were in the FA Cup semi-final playing against Sheffield F.C. - a lot of people were entering in the stadium and there was only a capacity of 14'600 people, but it over-flowed. Back in those days, a lot of people stood watching football, there were no seats. They stood on isles. As a result, a lot of people got crowded, and some people were falling from the isles, and it led to a human crush on the barriers in the football pitch - killing 96 people.

After that, it was immediately reported that seats in football stadiums were to be added. Some reported that the police were to blame who were guarding the stadium for passes. It was reported that the police control was weak. It was a very shocking event that happened which will always be devastating for those who saw it and to Liverpool fans, as well as the residents of the Merseyside.

At the point - the famous British tabloid newspaper The Sun wrote an article called "THE TRUTH" about the Hillsborough Disaster and what they claimed wasn't true. Liverpool people were offended by the article and refused to buy copies, and it led to the owners of the newsagent to have no choice but to give away copies for free - and it still was no use. They claimed that "fans beat up the police", "urinated on police" or "picked pockets of victims". Which became a controversial, and the managing editor later admitted that it was worst mistake they ever made.

Although, there have been events that happened on those dates - for example: around Europe last year were the volcanic ashes in the air because of the Icelandic volcano eruptions and there were a lot of flight delays because of the ashes. I remember that very well, as it was only last year on April 15, 2010 and I was visiting my grandmother at the time because our grandfather (the Dove logo designer) had passed away the day before. I wouldn't say that the volanic ashes were a disaster - but it was risky for a plane to be around and it took a while for the ashes to go away. There were other events like minor plane crashes or earthquakes - but without doubt - the Titanic sinking and the Hillsborough disaster were the most shocking disasters on that date.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

"Good Ol'Fashioned Family Racism" - Another Blab on Dumbo

Looking back at one of my earliest postings AGES ago - I noticed some stuff that I should've added back then that I must've forgot to do and I'm always changing my schedule. Like when I decide what topic to post - I leave it until next week if I have a mosaic or news to put up. Sometimes, I have an idea what to post and I forget what it was - and I have to make one up on the spot to make up for it.

Back on July 30 - I wrote that I was going to write about the controversial of Dumbo and to tell you the truth - I simply should've wrote that since July and I said that "I'll post it some other time". Well, it's about time I get started!

Dumbo is one of Walt Disney's shortest, earliest and by far one of his greatest movies he's ever made. It has a very simple storytelling with a lot of heart with a baby elephant who puts up with humiliation over his large ears -but he's persecuted by the group because of the ears, they'd call him a freak. But, his loyal friend, Timothy Mouse won't let this keep going - he'll find a way that large ears do come in handy. Although, they had to make it snappy if they want to be a success and not humiliated any longer.

True, the film has so many memorable sequences, with wonderful character animation, brilliant songs - the movie is itself a gem. Also true, the movie was criticized over the years because of the fact that there were black stereotypes in there. For example, the biggest black stereotype in the films were the Crows. They were even voiced by black actors. The crows were ghetto and they talked in a "black stereotype" way.

Of course, they were the characters who at the beginning mocked Dumbo with the big ears and Timothy had no trust to them. Although, when he tells them off saying how lonely the baby elephant is. The crow leader comes to help them. However, they still planned to trick and knew that he could fly. So, they pulled out one of the little crow's feathers and dubbed it as "the magic feather". Although, during the circus sequence, when Dumbo falls off an ever-high building - the feather falls off and since they were close to landing - Timothy had faith that Dumbo could fly and knew that the feather was a trick, and it was. Besides, the feather was obviously a trick because Dumbo already flew up the tree before he even got the feather.

During the production of the film, the Disney Studios named the Crow Leader as "Jim Crow", and of course - he isn't named that in the movie - but that is what he was known as production wise. The director of the crows sequences was Jack Kinney and the man who animated most of the crows was of course Ward Kimball. I've read somewhere that a "Jim Crow" is something to do with civil rights - but I don't exactly know what it means - and I guess that the Disney crew used some play-on words for the character - but it is unsettling. But, since the cartoon was made in 1941 - that's how the world went round back in those days.

Jim Crow didn't appear again until some 65 years later in Family Guy.

The crows have been controversial over the years and they have even been recognized in a Family Guy episode in 2005 called "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", and Peter and Stewie are in Disney World in Florida - and Peter can't find missing - and oddly enough he spots the crows that seem to come out from Ward Kimball's animation paper and into reality. Peter asks if they've seen his son around, and Jim Crow is stereotyped in what he says in the movie and says "I sure ain't your boy, no how?!", and then Peter remarks, "Ah, that's good old fashioned family racism.

Of course, the voice of the crow was in fact done by Cliff Edwards, and he was a really famous star back then - a year earlier he was recognized as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio and provided the voice of the crow leader. The rest of the voices in the crew are unknown but we do know the fact that they were voiced by black people. Bill Peet claimed to have directed the recording session - but from pictures I've seen - it's clearly Jack Kinney directing the sequence.

Although, I must admit that I've never really had a problem with the crows - they were pretty funny characters to me although I suppose that there are certainly are stereotypes in it - but you have to accept the fact that we are talking about 1941 here and there weren't many civil rights for black people back then, and it wasn't really strict to do this.

It may have been a pretty medium length post - but I just wanted to talk a bit about the crows. However, I may come back to Dumbo for a bit and talk a bit more about it's animation and not just "blab" about it again but I might analyse the animation, and I might talk a bit about the roustabouts. I suppose this would a be a second chance for commenting.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXI)

Welcome to the final sequence of Disney's No. 6 "Pastoral" Symphony adaptation. After this - the next segment will be Dance of the Hours. So, let's roll the cartoons and the commentaries.

In the previous sequence, there was a storm organised by Zeus, a powerful Greek God and Vulcan, who "plays darts with him", as to what Deems Taylor says. The storm has just finished, and the centaur blows the horn alarming the valley that the storm is finished and everyone can come out from hiding. All the centaurs enjoy the remaining part of the day until sunset arrives. It seems to me that all of the creatures, including Bacchus and the centaurs are making the most of their day until sunset arrives and the Goddesses arrive. Like the Goddess of the Rainbow, the Stars and Sleep.

There are quite a bit of specific animator casting here, but I'll explain that while I'm going through this paragraph. First, I should point out and it should be obvious that the animator who supervises the entire sequence is Don Towsley. He does most of the main animation here - from the cherubs and the donkeys to some of the centaurs, and even animates the God of the Sun, Apollo and his chariot. It's not hard to see that Towsley supervised the sequence here because he was the Supervising Animator of the sequence. From here, I think that each sequence was supervised differently by the directing animators: In the first sequence with the fauns and unicorns - Eric Larson and Don Towsley planned the entire sequence. In the second sequence with the centaurs and centaurettes - it's totally Fred Moore and Ollie Johnston. In the next sequence, the party sequence - it has Ward Kimball handling it and also some Eric Larson. The following sequence after that, has Art Babbitt who plans the entire Zeus and Vulcan shots with Fred Moore doing the Bacchus animation (or Jim Moore) - and the last sequence is supervised by Don Towsley with one shot of Bacchus by Ward Kimball.

A lot of animation casting here. A lot of the key scenes are probably the Goddesses here because they are controlling the day and that they affect the centaurs and creatures. For example, when the God of Sleep arrives - all the creatures in the valley are sleepy and they go to sleep. In the Goddess of the Rainbow, it gives the unicorns and cherubs lots of joy. Each of those goddesses here create an atmosphere here. Jack Campbell handles most of the goddesses - with Don Towsley doing Apollo - the God of the Sun, and George Rowley handling Diana - the Goddess of the Stars.

Before the draft was put on - I expected that Jack Campbell would animate a lot of centaurs and centaurettes - but he does some of that animation. Although, before the draft of the sequence was posted, I then decided that he probably handled the goddesses, and I was right. It wasn't a surprise that Jack Campbell did the centaurettes with their breasts showing (a strong use of rotoscope), but I'm pleased to see that he does the Goddesses - which are important in this sequence. I thought I read somewhere that Eric Larson was involved around those lines.

It's good to see a bit more of Don Lusk as he was animating one scene from before, handling the baby unicorns. But, the footage he animated was short - but he had little to animate because he was too busy animating the Arabian Goldfish in The Nutcracker Suite which is the sequence he will always be credited for. John Elliotte seems to handle most of the centaurs and centaurettes - and taking a look at it in the mosaic, the centaurs appear very little in this sequence, so John Elliotte was used here. John Sewall was used to animate one scene of the Centaurs and the fauns walking up to the sunset. Bill Justice handles some scenes of the Cherubs here - including one scene of the cupid splashing water on his feet and snuggling up to sleep in the clouds. Although, most of the cherubs are animated by Don Towsley who animates the shots with the cherub and the baby unicorn.

Berny Wolf seems to handle the fauns from early on in the sequence, but the fauns also appear very little in the sequence as well, as well as one scene by Walt Kelly who handles most of the fauns. Is shot 40 of the faun sitting in the rock a re-use or just animated similarly? I have to admit that in shot 16, with the faun looking out with drips of water landing on his nose that the animation is quite appealing here. I don't know why, but I felt that Wolfie was better off at animating the fauns than his centaur-centaurette animation. Although, in that shot it looks like their eyes are Asian of some sorts.

Very interesting that (again) numerous shots with effects animation in it - don't attribute names to effects animators. While, some scenes do. Is it probably because that the secretary wasn't much bothered with writing in all the names, or this could be an early draft? But the draft says "FINAL". It seems that there are a lot of Ham Luske sequences here that don't really bother to put too much details here - but what is good to see is that scenes with the characters and PAN along have it's own footage account - like if the scene was 15 feet and the character only appears 8 feet of that 15 foot scene - it's helpful information.

Here Ward Kimball animates that one shot of Bacchus pouring wine with rainbow reflections and drinks it. Comparing the shots that he and (Fred-Jim) Moore animated - Ward gives his animation a much more appealing taste to it - while the Moores don't seem to give it much thought on it.

At last, shot 55 is animated by a "Wetzel", although I wasn't sure who that could've been - but I assumed that it could well have been by Judge Whitaker - because "Wetzel" is Whitaker's real name. Although, it may seem unlikely for him to be turning up on Fantasia - because he probably couldn't animate that still. Albertopage lists him at the Disney Studios as early as 1939. There is also another possibility that the "Wetzel" could well be "Ross Wetzel" - but Alberto doesn't have any records of him animating at Disney. So, I'm going to keep it as it is. If someone has any records of a Ross Wetzel at Disney then please inform me.

I should also point out about the Art Direction. Here, the layouts look very stunning here and I like it a lot. From old Disney layouts, at this time - this was the most distinctive layout style in a Disney film ever. The backgrounds of the various colours (as I should've pointed out earlier on) was mainly credited to background painter Ray Huffine. Ray had used every colour that he knew to put into the backgrounds of this segment. Because Walt Disney said to his background painters that they could use any colour they wanted. Although, Ray thought of an idea while one lunch break and found poison berry jam in his sandwich made by Mrs. Huffine (not to kill him), and Ray was like "Ureka!". So instead of green leaves for the trees, he used red leaves - Ray had a lot of fun by mixing the colours he wanted. That's what Art is all about. If you think that Ray Huffine information was gibberish - then talk to John Culhane about that - he said it!

Well, that's my entire Pastoral Symphony mosaic completed. Despite the delays, hope you enjoyed it. Next up (one of my favourites), The Dance of the Hours!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Two Notes - Animation Notes

Here today - I stumbled across the animation blogs today and I noticed some interesting stuff going on. I have some good news and also some sad news - perhaps I'll get the sad news first, and swipe that off so we hear the good news.

Sadly, veteran Disney Imagineer and artist Collin Campbell passed away at the age of 84 on April 2nd (only finding out today).

Collin Campbell (1926-2011).

You may have seen his name somewhere on the Disney credits - you'll spot his name on Lady and the Tramp as a layout artist and for layout styling on 101 Dalmatians. You I think did some of the color lighting on the backgrounds along with Don Griffith, Walt Peregoy and Ernie Nordli. Perhaps his career at Imagineering has been pretty much successful in his career. Although, I hardly know much about the man and I learnt from Didier Ghez's blog that he did concept designs of the Disney-MGM theme parks and they are very beautiful.

Collin Campbell's artwork.

Sure, I hardly know anything about the guy - but I feel the need to show some "respect for the dead". RIP Collin.

First of all, animation historian Michael Barrier seems to have begun a weekly rota of posting interviews. Today, he's posted an interview to a comic artist and early on in his career - a Disney animator. Yes, Michael Barrier posted an interview that himself and Milt Gray recorded with Lynn Karp in 1990.

Lynn Karp is a Disney animator who is credited for working on feature films like Pinocchio and Fantasia, and he also did some work on Pluto. Karp later became a comic-artist working on some comic strips and here he talks about that he worked on some Tom and Jerry comic strips and also working with Hank Ketchum on some of his Dennis the Menace strips - not The Beano's Dennis the Menace. But what Karp said in the interview or claimed is that Hank Ketchum was a Jew.

Lynn Karp mentions that he was an animator that mainly worked on those cute and sweet stuff - basically characters that Eric Larson was involved in. Lynn said that he worked with Eric Larson all the time, and that was a fact that I knew because in the Pinocchio drafts and mosaics - he worked with Eric Larson animating Figaro the cat and Cleo the goldfish. Although, what interests me is that he seemed to have learnt the technique and the business straight away without training. He worked with Bernard Garbutt on the animals in Snow White and that Bernard was a very good draftsman (and he was) and the fact that he didn't know the animation business too well and wasn't too professional. Perhaps, that he was really good at drawing and may not be great at animating. There's a big difference between a single-hand drawing and 24 frames per second.

Lynn also mentions that he worked with Walt Disney during sweatbox sessions. Sweatbox sessions (which I believe) is a room where Walt Disney and some of his crew look at an animation test and Walt reviews it and gives advice on whether or not to do some changes or reworking. The reason why they are called sweatboxes is because that there was no air-conditions in the room and people tend to sweat in their on a hot day. Also, that's what I heard that it meant - it may not be correct.

Karp also mentions about how that he seemed to work on a lot of Bambi and animating the main characters: Bambi and Thumper. Although, Lynn wasn't in the screen-credits in the final film and I wonder why? There were a lot of assistant animators on the film that also animated - although I suppose Lynn had most of his scenes reworked or something? He mentions that he did a minor scene of bits of snow landing on Bambi's head. Is this true? We'll just have to wait and see if the Bambi draft might be posted sooner or later.

Anyways, you can see it all there in the interview, and the link is right here. So, take a look and see what he has to say about his Disney and comic strip years. I have to admit, I thought that the first time I heard him a long time ago that he was a girl because "Lynn" was a proper girl's name - or could that be his nickname?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Moore Confusion

In yesterday's post on my Fantasia mosaic of the Pastoral Symphony segment. You noticed that the character was animated by two Moores: the illustrious Fred and the unknown Jim. Of course, this is very confusing for me and I wonder if that it would be confusing for over people.

However, here in the draft of the "Storm" sequence, the animation of Bacchus is clearly credited to Fred Moore because the draft in the artist column is typed as "F. MOORE" which is very revealed that to be a Fred Moore scene. Although, there is one shot of Bacchus and his donkey that was animated by Jim Moore, and the draft is clearly typed as "JIM MOORE", which meant that it was obviously a James Moore scene.

BUT, in the previous sequence with the Centaurs and Centaurettes falling in love. The draft shows a few typos, the scenes of the Centaurs and Centaurettes were attributed to Fred Moore and that he was long credited for. There were some spelling errors typed such as "M. Moore" or "J. Moore", of course on my mosaic I typed the "J. Moore" scene as Jim Moore because I thought that the scene obviously typed it as the artist. But, most of the scenes were animated by Fred Moore - and the reason why it's confusing for me is because that there are both Moores on the sequence who seem to work on the same character but with different initials that at times appear to be typos.

In the next sequence on the draft - neither Fred Moore or Jim Moore are credited for any animation - and it appears to be that Jim Moore is only properly credited for one scene in the segment - and animating one scene with Bacchus hiding under the wine pat until the thunder bolt strikes it. Of course, if he only did that scene - then he wouldn't be in the screen credits because other uncredited guys like Amby Paliwoda or John Sewall animated more than him.

However, some reason in a way - I feel that Jim Moore originally animated Bacchus and his donkey in the Storm sequence - because he handled the scene and the rest of the scenes had a "MOORE" credit - but those scenes were clearly credited to "F. MOORE" which is Fred Moore. But I wonder what the secretory was thinking while writing these draft pages. Personally, I thought that Jim Moore could've done more Bacchus and him animating Bacchus is an appropriate choice because he did some animation of Goofy before. Although, some reason there are some Fred Moore scenes in there that don't look too much like his work. They don't seem appealing or fancy enough to be his work. But some of the shots actually do look like his work. Maybe, that Jim actually did a few scenes but only the scenes with Bacchus in primary scenes but the secretory did several typos here. If that isn't true, then I'd assume that they must've been drunk or something.

Any takers people?

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XX)

Here is a new installment of the Pastoral Symphony - here is the action sequence of the entire segment. I hope you enjoy my commentary.

From the previous sequence, all the centaurs and centaurettes were throwing a party and they were enjoying their time dancing and drinking. Their guest Bacchus (the God of wine) was invited and is obviously wasted and tries to "score a centaurette". All goes well, as he accidentally kisses his donkey by mistake and all the girls laugh - until a huge shadow comes past them - dark clouds. That was bad news for those enjoying the party. The party was interrupted by Zeus, who is one of the most powerful Greek gods. He controls the weather and thunder bolts. He has a friend named Vulcan who helps produce the thunder bolts by using a blacksmith hammer. Who apparently "plays darts with him".

The music here is very forceful itself - the music timing here is brilliant here - like when the thunderbolts strike as Bacchus and his donkey miss. Although, I suppose the music in the original Beeethoven piece had some reworking done by Stokowski.

Zeus mainly aims to shoot at Bacchus and his donkey - I don't know if that was a Disney concept or urban myths of Zeus against Bacchus. Trust me, I'm not a religious person at all and often I don't know too much about this, I'm just trying to know as much as I can put here.

After a while, Zeus is tired for targeting Bacchus with the thunderbolts and as that it is morning he decides to go to sleep. Some of the small thunderbolts of Zeus throwing away while getting ready to sleep is clever because it reacts with a small eruption on the ground - while the powerful eruptions he used to aim at Bacchus were so powerful that the barrel of wine crashed and even almost strikes on Bacchus and his donkey and the reactions to the ground, as if a meteor hit the Earth.

What makes itself very interesting is the draft itself and the scenes of what the animators did. It wasn't difficult to spot Art Babbitt animating Zeus and Vulcan here because that was what he was also long-credited for (as long as his other Disney material). Art Babbitt does a good job with handling the characters, and there's one particular shot that he animated that I personally like a lot.

It is a very forceful shot that was animated by Art Babbitt, and the effects were done by Josh Meador. What makes this a very brilliant shot is the weight, the character has a lot of weight and even the mallet he uses to toughen up the thunderbolt has weight too. All the zincs spraying out gives the final touch and very forceful - three cheers for Josh Meador for making those marvelous effects. In frame 4, the thunderbolt being placed on the anvil is sort of a small speedline that I've never noticed before in the scene, ever.

Some animators have some effects casting here: Josh Meador and George Rowley seem to handle the thunderbolt animation - with Josh Meador contributing to the wonderful effects animation. Cornett Wood handles the clouds blowing with the force to blow Bacchus away. Although, I thought that the clouds would have been done by a character animator before. Jim Will seemed to have been the main effects animator doing the primary effects stuff, while Harry Hamsel animates most of the wine pouring down the valley. Although there are quite a number of shots with effects animation in it that have no effects artist attributed to the scene.

I also should point out that in Shot 15 - that there is finally a draft that mentions effects animator Robert Martsch. Why am I saying that? Because his name was written off the Pinocchio draft and not included the Snow White draft - which are two feature films that he is long credited for. I know that Bob Martsch was an effects creator at the time and not just animating it - but there is an actual scene that he does animate. Although it's also credited to effects animator Brad Case. I'll assume that Robert Martsch shot the dark clouds forming and then Brad Case did the final animation, either way - or that Robert Martsch did the animation and Brad Case doing the inbetweens. Any takers?

You'll find that the character Bacchus is casted by a different animator - Fred Moore. Yes, Fred Moore is credited for animating Bacchus here and his donkey and not Ward Kimball doing the scenes. It seems that Fred is doing the exciting action scenes here while Kimball animated Bacchus in acting, comedy scenes. It seems obscure for Fred Moore being here - of course, some of his style is here. Although some of the scenes that he animates on Bacchus are not the most appealing ones - some of them are what I refer to as "drunken Freddie" scenes. Fred did often drink on the job and that some of his later animation of Mickey Mouse got cruder.

What interests me the most is that another unknown animator - James Moore animates one scene of Bacchus when he runs under the wine vat until the thunder strikes it. It's confusing how there are two Moore's animating on the same character. How did this work? Did Jim Moore animate more Bacchus? I'll tell you about my thoughts tomorrow in my installment. Stay tuned.

Bob Youngquist appears again, and he animates the cupids as he did in the previous sequences - although he doesn't animate a lot of scenes - but he gets to handle them primary in this sequence. Although, shot 30 with the cherubs hiding in the temple have some pretty crude facial expressions. Some of the animation here seems a bit unappealing here. Although good thing that the animators here don't animate their "privates" here - because they wouldn't be allowed to. Is it me or was Bob Youngquist not a very good animator or one of the "bland ones" - because some of his shots here are not so convincing. However, shot 29 of the cherubs blowing in the wind is a pretty forceful shot if you ask me.

Well - that's my talk finished and soon I will post the final sequence of the Pastoral Symphony segment.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Chuck Jones' Tom and Jerry

Hey folks,

If some you know that I've posted an article about Tom and Jerry EONS ago (my second post and very first article) well, during this week - I've been watching some Tom and Jerry on the TV and I came across a series that was from the 1960's and that I hadn't seen in a long time. It's also the series which I thought sucked! This is the Chuck Jones version of Tom and Jerry.

Ok, Why do I dislike the Chuck Jones series so much? Well, I have a couple of reasons to explain that. First of all, I really dislike the redesigns of the characters: Tom and Jerry. The animation is terribly clumsy and when there's a gag on - it's poorly timed. Although, the layouts and designs were pretty cool - but I just thought the characters, story and animation were the bad stuff in the series. Although, it's a shame that there were some great animation guys like Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble, Ken Harris, etc. working on it. Although, I must say that there some cartoons that I quite like - but the rest to be just blow!

First of all, I want to talk about the way the characters look. I simply can't get used to the designs and styles of Tom and Jerry here. It is just me or do they just look plain ugly to me. Tom's body often had a shaded colour - but his shade is plain white - completely pale. In the Fred Quimby era, Tom was a very appealing character in terms of wit - and his design was very solid. While here in the Chuck Jones era - Tom's face seems very unattractive and looks like an ape. Jerry has always been a very appealing and cute character during the Quimby era - and a favourite to the character. Also, in the Jones version - he's also pretty ugly in this version.

The gags were are pretty clumsy and poorly timed. I'll explain to you what I mean. In one of the cartoons, The A-Tom-inable Snowman there is a scene where Jerry is inside a cuckoo clock and he disguises himself as a cuckoo - Tom goes up to it to try and make a plan to catch it by waiting every time the cuckoo comes out. Instead, a bomb comes out. There is no big reaction compared to the Fred Quimby era when there's a huge explosion that happens and there's a funny look at what happens to the characters after the result. Here, the only reactions is that the bomb goes off in Tom's mouth and it makes him look unwell. To me, the slapstick just isn't right. But of course, this is Chuck Jones' style here and he does how he feels it should've been done. While when William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's direction is different from what Jones does.

Tom's mouth erupting from the bomb.

What I do notice well is the music. The music here doesn't seem to follow much from the action scenes and it doesn't have any feeling to the scenes - compared to what the old Tom and Jerry shorts had. The music to me, feels like it was written as a piece and then added into the final piece. But, it seems unlikely from my view. 

Like I've mentioned before, there are some of the Tom and Jerry cartoons here - that I thoroughly like. Probably the short that I do like is the cartoon The Mouse From H.U.N.G.E.R. and it was directed by Abe Levitow. One of the reasons why it's probably my favourite of the Jones' version is because it was the first of the Chuck Jones cartoons that I had seen. Of course, when I was a kid - I enjoyed it. But now, I'd probably think it would flaw. It reminded me of a spoof of an early James Bond movie with Jerry as a Sean Connery agent and Tom as one of the villains like Dr. Julius No. Mel Blanc does the voice of the Indian Statue screaming.

It is a fine cartoon to me - and I don't have much a problem with it. I find it clever in a way that Jerry as a spy that his headquarters or movie theater takes place inside a cash register box - like the Mice's headquarters of the Rescue Aid Society from The Rescuers. The gag of Jerry with his secret pack of hand grenades and weapons in his jacket and he ties his jacket tight with explosions inside - is a clever gag itself. But, it is poorly demonstrated here.

The scene with the girl mouse as a bomb disguise is probably the best part of the short. It is sort of one of those James Bond girl traps who trick Bond into being one of his girl agents but are part of his enemies. The scene with Jerry pucking his lips is probably very unappealing, but the scene with Jerry's reaction to the bomb and he says "WOW" with smoke coming out - has good timing here and it's a very funny shot.

While Tom (or named "Tom Thrust" in this short) is displaying a boobie trap in a room to get to the located refrigerator where the cheese are. Tom waits outside, and Jerry makes a trick by using a recording disc with footsteps - and Tom worries that he hadn't been exploded - and he runs in and gets exploded by bombs. To be honest, that is some clever story references. That is why I like the short, because it seems to have more effort here. Even the end of short explains it's a spoof of James Bond with the agent number "001/7" and named "Jerry-Akin".

Besides that short, pretty much the rest of the shorts flaw to me. Of course, I don't mind Chuck Jones' work at all and I like his Looney Tunes work - but to me, I think that he went downhill on Tom and Jerry here, it's not one of his finest achievements and it won't ever be. Although, there were talented guys working on it -- a lot of talented guys in that period had their careers going downhill working on dreadful projects like Ernie Nordli doing layouts for the awful Road Runner cartoons in the DePatie/Freleng cartoons. Or even Friz Freleng producing the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts - they really did suck, I know.

Of course, this is NOT the worst Tom and Jerry version I know - I've seen loads worse before - like the recent Tom and Jerry Tales. Of course, none of the cartoons can ever top the original Fred Quimby/MGM shorts - the original version will always be the best.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Hello folks,

This week is the Easter holidays for me - so it means that I will be posting during two weeks - but during that period - I will be away at Carden Park Hotels in Chester for four days, so I may post then, we'll see.

Today has been a good day for me - as I'm off for the holidays - and that it's also my mother's birthday today. So Happy Birthday Mum!

In the meantime - summer's officially here: Ahh, sunshine!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XIX)

Hey folks, I know that I may have been busy with other stuff - but I spent about two days making this mosaics - but I wasn't making any rushes. But - here is the Third Movement of the Pastoral Symphony segment of the Fantasia programme.

To me, this is a rather jolly sequence. Although the previous sequence, may have been soppy - but I thought it was the best sequence of the Beethoven segment. However, this here calls for some fun. The centaurs and centaurettes have all found their love ones and now it is the evening and they are planning a celebration party. With lots of wine and drinking, and dancing. All the fawns are invited and even the God of Wine, Bacchus is invited and his donkey (who is apparently named "Jacchus" - as in a pun of what a Greek name for a "jackass god" could be). Although the unicorns and the cupids don't seem to be invited.

True, the music here is very spiritual and exciting - they are all having fun and it makes you feel that they are having a great time. Also true, some of the animation here of the centaurs and centaurettes are pretty shoddy here. Some of the centaurs look very badly drawn by the second-stringed animators. Even some of the centaurettes are pretty badly drawn. Shot 17 of the centaurs and centaurettes skipping down - and Lynn Karp gives the Centaurette very thin arms. I have to admit that shots 32 and 33 are scenes that I'm not the most keen on in terms of animation. The timing of those shots is fine, but the faces just seem a bit unrealistic. Shot 33 animated by Don Lusk but doesn't seem too fitting. In fact, Shot 17 with the centaur holding a barrel of grapes and pouring it just has the most shoddiest animation out of all the segments in Fantasia. Ignore the Walt Kelly faun, that's fine animation. But the Eric Larson centaur (to me) is the first piece of animation in this film so far. The way it is staged and drawn just feels incredibly clumsy. It embarrasses me. There doesn't seem to be details on that character and feels weightless and not believable to an audience.

Now all the animation of the Centaurs and Centaurettes are bad - I must say that some of Jack Bradbury's centaurettes dancing is pretty good and he seems to put a lot of weight onto it. The hair moves and Jack makes it really believable. Although, despite Larson's poor drawing of the centaur - he does some very good shots of the centaurette with the veil. Larson does a very cute scene of the centaurette in shot 39. I wonder if John Reed does the veil animation there.

So far, we see that Jim Handley takes over the directing while Ham Luske is still supervising. I still don't understand about how Ham Luske was casting during this production. He always seems to be co-directing the sequences and not doing it by himself. Was he possibly the supervisor of the whole production and allowed his assistants Ford Beebe and Jim Handley to direct the sequences - so did he just team up with them. Ham Luske does usually seem to team up with other directors, in Willie the Operatic Whale (a segment from Make Mine Music) Ham Luske co-directed the segment along with Clyde Geronomi.

What's very interesting here is the fact that some of the scenes have a lot of artists attributed. Shot 24 with Bacchus, the zebra-centaurettes and fauns approaching have 7 artists attributed to the scene. It has Bob Youngquist, Lynn Karp, Walt Kelly, Ward Kimball, Ed Aardal, Paul Kossoff and George De Beeson. Alright, I will do my estimates on who did what here: Of course, Ward Kimball animates Bacchus here as that's what he's famous for. Walt Kelly does the faun animation, Lynn Karp does the slave centaurettes, Bob Youngquist animates the cherubs hanging from the sky. I assume that George De Beeson animates the petals falling from the previous scene. Either Aardal or Kossoff doing the shadows, and one of those effects artists doing the wine pouring. How about that?

I must say that the animator who probably contributes to the best animation here is Ward Kimball. Yes, Kimball has been long-credited for his Bacchus animation and his donkey - and Kimball does some excellent animation. Kimball gets the idea of how to handle a guy who is drunk and he would stage it. Ward gives the character a lot of boose and character into it. While the dancing centaurs and centaurettes don't have much character. Jack  Bradbury gives the centaurettes some character at the ending scenes along with Eric Larson, Berny Wolf and Bill Justice.

But, Kimball's animation here is the highlight of this sequence. He seems to give more realism in his drawings than all the other animators do. His Bacchus animation has a lot of weight here and it's even well-timed. Of course, he was the Supervising Animator on that segment, but he also does some scenes of the fauns too, like the final scene with the fauns running away and Bacchus kisses Jacchus by mistake thinking it was a centaurette.

Ward seems to have got a very difficult assignment on that sequence. He had to get the actions right to the Beethoven music. He had to make it entertaining at the same time. Sure, Bacchus might have been a fun character to work on but I think that Kimball also must've found it challenging. He just the best acting scenes here. It seems that Kimball's work is one of the fewest animators on that sequence who makes the animation expressive (along with some scenes by Eric Larson and Walt Kelly).

I must say that I'm also very proud to see that Walt Kelly also does some very solid work of the fauns here. He does the main scenes of the fauns pushing Bacchus from slipping of the donkey and to keep his balance in control. That shows some good weight here. Kelly found animating at the time quite hard since he found it hard to copy the characters off a model sheet. Kelly's work is better than the other animators who handle the centaurs and centaurettes here. Shot 23 of the fauns blowing their horns is pretty expressive and forceful here, it seems that Walt Kelly was putting in a lot of effort there. His fauns don't look ugly than they looked before, they look better. Of course, the fauns are very "Kimball-looking", I assume that Ward probably supervised the animation of the characters or designed them.

Like I've said two Fantasia mosaic postings ago, I said that Bacchus was only animated by Ward Kimball and Fred/Jim Moore - while I noticed that while making this mosaic yesterday. Shot 30 is attributed to Walt Kelly, Milt Neil and Miles Pike. Milt Neil's credit would've been the censored Sunflower scenes, and Miles Pike was the effects animator. So, Walt Kelly would've handled Bacchus, the donkey and the fauns. That's pretty impressive for Kelly to handle all three characters. So I was wrong, Kelly did animate a scene of Bacchus.

Of course, Milt Neil's names appear again, but they are not in the restored film - his animation is the "Negro centaurette", and the character was wiped out afterwards. So, Milt's animation is no longer in this sequence - instead he handles the Cherubs. Milt Neil's only surviving animation in the film is a scene later on with the Cupid washing up the coloured water - and the previous sequence. So much that he contributed to the second movement.

More to come, over the Easter holidays. Stay tuned!