Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Snow White Mosaic Part 3




This is continued from yesterday's post.

While I was making the mosaic and looking through the draft at the "Description of action" section. I noticed that there were quite a number of scenes that were in the picture, but got into the Cutting department. Some scenes that survived the picture were not attributed into the draft for some reason - and further more, there were surviving scenes where there were no animators credited. So for me, it's been a difficult mosaic to create and that's why it took me more than a few days. There must have been a lot of editing on the film before it was completed, especially in this sequence.

The scene starts off from the previous dark sequence. From the previous shot, there is a cold scene of the Queen demanding to the Huntsman "Bring back her heart in this", the next shot after that is a bit more relaxing and brighter. The audience know that Snow White has been taken to the garden in favour to pick up some flowers for an unknown reason to her, and she doesn't suspect anything. In fact, she doesn't even notice the Huntsman is standing there. This is what I feel is a Story problem: the Queen is saying to her "Take her far out into the forest", and yes, Snow White is in the forest picking up flowers but she doesn't notice the Huntsman is there. Was she there in the first place when the Huntsman found her, or was Snow White taken to the forest by the Queen, with the Huntsman following on a while later. It is not explained, and that is why it's confusing me.

While Snow White is picking up pretty flowers, there is a little bluebird crying for help, and Snow White notices it and cheers the bird up with her sophistication. This was great timing for the Huntsman, as he could kill the princess on time, without her running away or noticing, or anybody witnessing the incident. As Snow White turns around as she is overlapped by the Huntsman's shadow. She cowards herself, with fears of her being killed. As the Huntsman is ready to stab her, his emotions rise back again, and realizes that she is too beautiful to be killed. He immediately drops the dagger, and apologizes to Snow White for that incident. Snow White is puzzled, the Huntsman informs her that the Wicked Queen is jealous of her, and wants to be the fairest and the most beautiful if it's the last thing she does. In order for Snow White to be safe, the Huntsman advices her to run into the woods or any other land and never return to the castle, as it's more dangerous.

Snow White is very frightened of the fact that the Queen is attempting to kill her, and as she runs into the woods - her fears are worse than ever, when she comes across scary looking creatures, and sworn by bats. She realizes that going back to the castle would make things worse for her, and she still has to keep going until she could reach an end point in the scary woodlands.

There has been an awful lot of pacing going on in these sequences, and the draft information here must have been an early document. The director of this sequence (unfortunately we do not know who) has made a lot of quick pacing, and moving around the scenes from the original storyboards. From the style of Ferdinand Hovarth - you could say that he did the conceptual designs of the hideous faces of the trees. The hideous faces in this scene are probably the highlight and the main pinnacle to the scary woodlands. It's a shame that there is no animator credited on that, but it is most likely to have been done by an effects animator.

There are four animators who take control of animating the heroine. Grim Natwick takes control of Snow White by animating the scenes of Snow White picking up the flowers (which has been reported to have been Natwick's scenes), and the scenes of Snow White and the little bird with Eric Larson animating it. Ham Luske takes control of the Huntsman in this sequence and some Snow White scenes. Jack Campbell is the main animator on Snow White in the scary woodlands, in which appears to be that his assistant Tony Rivera is doing some scenes for him, he appears to get one big scene of his own like on shot 23.

It always seems that Grim Natwick is cast on the emotion scenes of Snow White, he animates literally all of her before she runs off in the woods. He really makes the character very believable, and that's why Grim is one of the best animators. He gives Snow White the sophisticated quality of the character, he really gives her personality - like with Snow White and the little bird.

Jack Campbell gets a huge chunk of Snow White animation to do when she if in the woods. Campbell does an excellent job of Snow White in different ways. The way he animates Snow White in the woods and struggling is a sacred feeling to the audience on how you would feel if you were stranded in the woods. Campbell shows Snow White's emotions here, of her screaming at the hideous faces or the eyes glaring at her. Again, Campbell doesn't animate the character the way Grim Natwick usually would do it. Campbell does do an excellent job with Snow White in the woods, but what makes it excellent is the movement of her in the woods. Taking a look again, shot 13 of Jack Campbell told to run off in the woods, is excellent acting. She has so many items loading into her head, and the Huntsman telling her to run into the woods, means that her conscience is telling her to run away immediately. That is a great, executed shot.

Shot 21, is a clear example on how Ham Luske draws Snow White like a child, while Grim Natwick and Jack Campbell show more realism.
It appears that Eric Larson takes control of the scary creatures that are to do with movement in the animation. I have to admit, the scenes of the log turning into alligators is not one of my favourite scenes. It just doesn't feel real to me, and the audience just wouldn't believe that they are reptiles, they just look like a log. Eric, also takes some control of the little bluebird. Eric didn't need to do much on the animation, except how that the little bird is lost.
Taking a look at Campbell's animation on Snow White, I noticed that in the shots where Snow White reacts to the creatures surrounding her. The reaction shots make her look ugly to me, don't believe me - then take a look at shot 42A, her nose there look's like a pig's snout. Shot 28 with Snow White's hands is poorly animated, the hand just really feels so cartoonie, and the animator couldn't have escaped the cartoon side of animation. Explaining that, the animator probably had difficulties with the shots, as they were probably difficult to animate with her turning around, and Jack Campbell probably just gave it his best shot. His scenes of Snow White whirling is just very well animated and timed.

The audience probably didn't think the character looked too ugly in the scenes, is because they are so quick paced, and they won't have enough time to see the details of Snow White because the shots just go by very quickly, and less than 24fps, even less than half a second.

This was the sequence which was apparently reported to have scared so many youngsters that they couldn't even control their bladder while sitting on the cinema seats, the rest of the information is read on the Internet Movie Database:

Was the first of many Disney films to have its premiere engagement at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. At the end of the film's initial engagement there, all the velvet seat upholstery had to be replaced. It seems that young children were so frightened by the sequence of Snow White lost in the forest that they wet their pants, and consequently the seats, at each and every showing of the film.

How lovely.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Snow White Mosaic Part 2

It's only a short sequence today - so it may be not so much commentary. Besides, I still have a long way to go on finishing off the "Snow White in the Woods" sequence, and it may take some time.

This sequence has now reached a story part. The Wicked Queen has realized that Snow White in rags hasn't stopped her beauty, and even the charming and sophisticated Prince is still attracted to her. Which makes the Queen even more jealous of her beauty and this time she has another plan - a very obnoxious plan. You see, the Queen is a very obnoxious and cold character, that her step step has gone too dramatic - she plans to kill Snow White.

She then orders a huntsman and hires her to kill Snow White. At first, the Queen explains to the Huntsman in the throne room and she's sitting in her throne chair. She simply asks the Huntsman to take her away from the castle in the forest, and tell her to pick up wild flowers as a distraction so that the Huntsman can kill her on time. The Huntsman was immediately about to reject, and thought the Queen was going too far with the plan. So, the Queen threatens to the Huntsman that if he fails his job badly, his fate will end up into execution. The Huntsman, feeling very helpless and feeling weaker, says "Yes, your majesty". BUT, the Queen was further evidence so that in case the Huntsman doesn't try to trick her - the astute Queen orders her to bring Snow White's heart into a box where the sign appears to be a "heart box".

This sequence is rather dark and cold to me. Of course, a lot of the audience praise it for storytelling. The personality of the Huntsman is very good, and the Queen is as wicked and as wicked as she gets. But I always felt the story part was too cold. The Queen couldn't have thought of anything else fair and instead kill her own step daughter. I wonder if the story department had that problem in this sequence. I suppose the director had to make some pacings in the film, and that this sequence was the right time for it to be shown. In my opinion, I felt that the Wicked Queen ordering the Huntsman to kill Snow White was too early for the picture.

When I was re watching the film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and I was making some studies and analyzing, I was surprised to find out that the Wicked Queen appears very little in the film, until she is turned into a Witch. We rarely get to find out much of her personality, except that all we need to know is her jealousy of the princess. There is no background detail - and all we need to is her jealousy towards Snow White, and how she feels that she's the Queen and as if she should be fairest of all the kingdom. Well, there is the saying "Some you win, some you lose", and the Wicked Queen probably doesn't care about that, and what really makes her determined is that she should be the fairest of them all.

Art Babbitt appears again and he animates the Queen. Babbitt had to animate the Queen very carefully, because she was a character that would move very little, and Shot 2 will give you an example of stiffness of the Queen. That's what probably made it very complicating for Art Babbitt, and he must've studied a lot of live-action references for the Queen.

The Queen was a very fragile character to animate, it could be easily messed up while animating, while for example: the forest animals or the dwarfs would be easier to animate, and not too much screwing it up. Art had to make sure, that the animation of the Queen had to be right. Art Babbitt's Queen in shot 4A look very much like Greta Garbo who was a popular celebrity in the 1930's who would often avoid the public.

 Here is what I thought the Queen was a type of Greta Garbo take. Of course, I don't think Babbitt did that on purpose or even thought about that. He probably just did it off the model sheets.

The Huntsman is pretty well animated and he was animated by a Gray? Well, I've been looking at two possible Grays are Max Gray and Erroll Gray in Albertopage - but they only list those animators as early as 1939, so I didn't know which possible Gray there was. But it says that Max Gray was a character animator on Donald Duck while Erroll Gray was doing assistant work, and I thought that Max would be a more likely result, but it's not the final case.

Shot 8 is what I call excellent animation. Oh, and another note: what made the Queen a very hard character to animate was witnessed by Bill Justice who was the inbetweener on the Queen.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Animation Casting on Dumbo and Bambi



A few days ago, while I was at school. I was looking through the book Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier, and I was reading bits through pages, on what I find interesting. There was one section that really interests me which is about the way animators and people were cast on films like Dumbo and Bambi.
I'll start off and explain on what I mean, in this extract from the book by Walt Disney on a story meeting in Bambi.

Dumbo, he said at a 27 February meeting on Bambi was "an obvious straight cartoon," and so a natural fit for certain kings of animators. It's caricature all the way through," he said. "I've got the men for it"-animators, he said, who "don't fit here," on Bambi. "Tytla, I'm afraid of, on these things. I'm afraid he is going to get tied up to a knot...He's a caricaturist. Fergy [Norm Ferguson] is a caricaturist, too. Other familiar names - Art Babbitt, Ward Kimball - floated into conversations, categorized in the same way. These were not animators, Disney was saying, whose work could rise to the elevated level that Bambi required. "Caricature" - the banner he he had raised in his December 1935 memo to Don Graham - had acquired a slight but unmistakable shabbiness in his eyes, compared with "straight drawing."

What I find interesting is what Walt Disney is describing and judging on the animator's work. Of course, Dumbo is a very cartoonie film, and it maybe easy to animate. But the scenes like the roustabouts in the tent building sequence are not caricatured at all - and that it was perfect casting even to Jack Campbell. It seemed that Walt Disney was fearing the worst for Bill Tytla, and thinks that he couldn't handle a project like Bambi. Ward Kimball and Norm Ferguson were caricaturists, but that doesn't mean that they are not animators. If they are not animators, then how come they are animators for the films. I believe that what Walt Disney is saying that he only wants his best and real animators working on Bambi, not caricature artists. The most talented ones that are considered as too good to work on Dumbo.

It often appears that Walt Disney wasn't too enthusiastic about Dumbo, and often pressured the animators to finish their work - while on Bambi he patiently let the animators take their time and remarked, "The stuff is pure gold."

Of course, the film Dumbo has a lot of cartoonish stuff into it - like Ward Kimball's crows, Berny Wolf or Ray Patterson's clowns, or Woolie Reitherman and Fred Moore's Timothy Mouse. They've all got a lot of cartoon feel to it. But yet again, there was artistic sequences that would suit to Bambi's taste like the Mr. Stork sequence and the Roustabouts song. Harvey Toombs' animation of the animals with their cute baby animals are not too much caricature - and it's more realistically drawn that Claude Smith's animals in the Casey Junior sequence.

However, when you come across a beautiful picture like Bambi. You'll find that there are a few bits of caricature in there. Thumper and the rabbits are a bit cartoonie and cute, but they are believable to an audience. A good use of caricature is used in the "Twitterpated" sequence, with some funny animation of Thumper being easily flattered by a female bunny. That's some great caricature into it - although I'm not sure who the animator is on that. I do know that Marc Davis did some beautiful conceptual designs to those scenes.

Of course, there were animators who were very good with realism in their drawings like Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston and Eric Larson who were the Animation Directors of Bambi. But, it's supposedly true that if they worked on Dumbo they would make their animation much more realistic in their scenes. That's why Walt probably cast a lot of second-rate animators onto the film - so they get to show what they are good at. To me, I feel that if an animator like Frank Thomas worked on the clowns - it wouldn't work as he probably would focus too much on it, while Grant Simmons and Ray Patterson don't need to do much with the animation and they makes it good animation when it was appropriate.

There is also another bit of judgment on the animators from Dumbo and Bambi in the famous Bill Peet interview by John Province, and yes I'm going to say it again:
I was one of the "poor boys." [on Dumbo] They put all the rich boys, the top animators making the big salaries, working on Bambi. They wanted to make it a gem. Originally Dumbo was going to be only a half-hour, sort of a special. When Walt saw what we were doing with it, he said it might make a good feature. Well, Dumbo made money. In fact, it was the only Disney film to make money until Cinderella.
 JP: Were budgets monitored closely?
 Walt got a little stingy with us on Dumbo because they had a showpiece with Bambi. They could play around with the little things like the raindrops: beautiful, but slow and expensive. We weren't allowed any trimmings. Bambi was a wedding cake. Dumbo was one layer with a little bit of icing. Ours was more successful because it had the common appeal, even though the animation was crude in some places. Dumbo didn't make big money. It had only cost $800,000, so all it had to do to make its cost back was to go a little over $1 million. The features had cost $3 million, plus the cost of the prints, and with no foreign market because of the war.
Here the interview makes things more interesting. What Bill said about the top animators on Bambi could be true - although there were already top people at the time like Art Babbitt, Norm Ferguson, Bill Tytla or Fred Moore that all worked on Dumbo. The animators with the biggest salaries was wrong, since Babbitt and Tytla were the highest paid animators at the time worked on Dumbo and not on Bambi. Even though there was probably a good amount of well-paid animators on Bambi.

I agree with Bill Peet that Dumbo did have more common appeal than Bambi did. Dumbo just had a simple story line and it wasn't supposed to be difficult - it just had to be finished. While on Bambi there was more than a story to it and that it didn't matter to the animators if they made a mistake on a scene - they could just redo it. While on Dumbo the animators had to do their real best on the film and try not make mistakes, and maybe that ended up with a few crudeness or so.

Bill Peet says that Walt Disney wanted to make Bambi a "real gem". Of course, Bambi is a gem in many ways. But, I still consider Dumbo as a real artistic film. I've always felt that the most famous animators and crewman worked on Dumbo than on Bambi, maybe there was a difference with talent. Walt Disney used his great directors to work on Dumbo while Walt Disney had cast new directors to do the Bambi sequences, and new talents. Dumbo had the usual animators working on the film - the ones who knew what to do.

Of course, Dumbo proved to be a popular successful film that has appealed to many worldwide audiences, and the same with Bambi - despite the fact that it didn't do very well at the box office to begin with.

I could probably go on forever talking about this, but I'm afraid that I've got to put a stop somewhere, and I feel I've analyzed enough in the history and casting to the animators in both films. I hope to talk a bit more about these.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Grandfather in Old 1950's Article

Today while I was cleaning up my room as I spent all day doing. I came across my great-grandfather's diary and his diary was dated back to 1951 - and there are a few of his diary entries in there. The diary entries were actually not written in until 1953. While looking through the pages, I stumbled across a very small newspaper article dated around 1953/54 - and my great grandfather's name is in there, and even my own father's name was in the article, and he was 7 at the time.

I've currently got the article inside me, and it's amazing how it's survived for many years. At the time, my father and grandfather were living in Papua New Guinea for a few years where my dad's older brother - Charlie owned a company in that country.

I thought that the article is certainly a keeper to me, and here is what it says, by an anonymous journalist.

LLANDUDNO
TO NEW GUINEA VIA AUSTRALIA
Mr. H.I. Hartley [Henry Ireland Hartley] and his youngest son, Graham, [my dad] aged 7, sailed from Woolwich on Thursday on the S.S. Mooltan for Australia. They will fly on to New Guinea to join Mr. Hartley's elder son, Mr. Charles Hartley, who is a plantation manager on the Western (Ninigos) Islands.
Mr. Hartley was formerly head gardener at Shimdda Hir, Craigside, Llandudno, and was a popular member of the Colwyn Bay Old Time Dance Club and the Penrhyn Bay Social Club. Before sailing he spent two weeks with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Fawcett, of Maldon, Essex, where Mr. Fawcett formerly of the Llandudno Advertiser is now the Southend Standard representive.

Pretty interesting article for my relatives to be there. I wasn't too sure what the article was about really - but it seems to be about business abroad or something. I will need to talk to my dad about this article.

The reason why my grandfather and father made it to the newspaper article was because they were travelling to Papua New Guinea which is a country in Australasia, and that was quite some news at the time, since not very many people travelled there from England.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Snow White Mosaic Part 1

"Magic Mirror on the Wall,
What is the fairest Disney animated feature of them all?
-Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the fairest of course!







Sorry if I've been away for two weeks - I was at my camping trip last week which was "far away from computers and bloggers". But as promised, here is a new feature length mosaic which I going to be presenting over the next few months and that's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

We are all familiar with the fact that this was Walt Disney's first ever animated film and it was the biggest peak of his career at that point. This is what led him to go on and produce dozens of animated pictures throughout his career, and tons of over films. This was the picture that started it all (well not exactly), but the animated feature that started it all.

You'll be surprised to learn that these drafts that I'm going to be posting will not have any director credit, or layout credit - and you may come across a layout artist or art director on that film. You'll just have to wait and see.

Imagine, back 73 years ago and you are attending the premiere of Snow White at the Carthay Circle Theatre, the curtains rose and the motion picture began. We first start of with a little prologue of a book cover telling the introduction to the Grimm brother's fairy tale. It gives us a detailed explanation of the Queen jealous of Snow White - as she got older, she got more beautiful. So, she was dressed in rags and placed as her scullery.

As the real movie gets going, we see a long shot view of the Queen's castle on a quiet morning, and it's placed by a lovely coast - and as we truck in through the window. We see the Queen's throne room and it was a typical day for the Queen, and every day she would go to her Magic Mirror and say the usual question, "Magic Mirror on the Wall - who is the fairest of them all." The Slave of the Magic Mirror would tell her in a rather deep voice the same results as she gets usually, "Snow White is the fairest of them all." Here, the Magic Mirror tells her name by giving blues with colours - "lips read the rose", "hair black as ebony", and "skin white as snow". The "skin" clue obviously gave it away for the Queen as she reacts to the name in disgrace and mutters "Snow White!".

It was a rather short sequence that was animated by Art Babbitt, who animates the Queen and the Magic Mirror animated by Woolie Reitherman. I wasn't sure for the fire effect scene was done by either John McManus or Dan MacManus, but the iMDB credits lists it as John McManus as an uncredited animator.

Both animators, Babbitt and Woolie are given very stiff characters to animate. Of course, the Magic Mirror doesn't move or twtich at all - the only movement that that Magic Mirror is doing is moving his lips while talking to the response of the Queen's daily repetitive question. This was one of Woolie Reitherman's hardest assignment and the Internet Movie Database says that it took Woolie roughly 9 times just to get the timing and the animation just correct. To get the staging and the shape of the Magic Mirror's face correct - he had to fold the paper in half - and he'd draw the face in the half edge of the paper, and draw the head on the other half of the folded paper. It probably took him months and months for him to finish the Magic Mirror animation, by folding up the paper thousands and thousands of times. This took a lot of knowledge and thought to get the animation just right.

Notice how the shape of the Magic Mirror is shown on shot 5 - and in shot 7, when there is a close-up of the Magic Mirror responding to the Queen. The detailed shapes of the mirror shapes slightly, and the background colours appear to be darker and much more gold. The colours of the Magic Mirror also changed in Shot 7, with the top of his head much more darker blue - and the bottom of his face had a much more yellower colour, compare that to Shot 5 - when the colours were much more brighter - and in my opinion much more appealing and suitable.

While the flames rise up as the Queen orders the Mirror to see her - the rim of the mirror as the flame reflecting in shot 5, and that is some very good effects animation for back in the 1930's - and interesting how very, very little people would've noticed that.

Art Babbitt's animation of the Queen is also just as stiff as the Magic Mirror, except that she would move slightly while standing - and that was what made her difficult to draw. Both Woolie and Babbitt were regular Goofy animators at the time - and yet again they were assigned to animate such stiff characters. That's some strange casting here for the unknown director to do - I have to say.

Moving on to the next sequence, which is a larger portion than the first sequence. It is the first time that we reveal Snow White. The audience know that it's Snow White. But hang on a minute, she's not wearing her pretty dress, she's dressed in rags and scrubbing the back garden. What is she doing there. Well, it still shows that Snow White is the Queen's scullery - due to her jealousy. She seems to have a group of bird friends who like to keep her company. While she sings at the wishing well, the Prince is riding along minding his own business and notices a beautiful singing voice.

Snow White is singing at a wishing well, and she tells a secret to a group of turtle doves, that if you make a wish into a well - and hearing it echo - your wish will have a very high probability that it will come true. So, she wishes for her love to find her and take her away from the Wicked Queen. As the echoes come, the Prince just happened to come in the spot and Snow White's wish comes true as she sees him. The Queen looks through the balcony and knew that Snow White as a scullery wouldn't last long. She closes the curtains for a "Plan B".

Once she sees the handsome Prince, she is embarrassed to see that he's arrived while she's still in rags. She runs back into the castle in embarrassment, and the Prince sings to her while Snow White confronts her fears and look down at the Prince from a view at the balcony. She's flattered by the Prince, and they both have a connection. Even the doves admire the Prince, since he looks buffed up - he's very gentle with animals and they also admire him.

We first see Snow White with her scrubbing the steps, and Shot 1 of Sequence 2-A is very well animated by Jack Campbell, even though he very well could've done that all on rotoscope. Each of the Snow White animators have some specific casting on the scenes. Jack Campbell animates the early scenes of Snow White washing and at the wishing-well - those scenes were the scenes he was long time credited for - despite his mystery. Paul Busch handles some scenes of Snow White's reflection from the wishing well - for some reason, when I was very young watching it, those scenes used to scare me. Grim Natwick immediately takes over the animation when Snow White encounters the Prince, and animates the rest of the scenes of Snow White and the Prince from the very end. There is also a scene each given to assistants Marc Davis and Hugh Fraser. That's odd - for Hugh to be animating a scene of Snow White, since he was a squishy and expressive animator. The draft for scene 2 is credited as "FRASER" and I thought it was Marc Davis as in "Fraser Davis", but they would've labeled that as "DAVIS", so it seems that Hugh Fraser is a possibility then. He probably must have done that scene before he did cartoonie stuff - he was probably one of the assistants for Jack Campbell.

The doves are animated mainly by the main animal animators of the film, Eric Larson and Milt Kahl. Both men were just animators at the time - and this was before they had successful careers in animation and before they were dubbed as the "Nine Old Men". It appears to be that Milt Kahl animates a lot of the scenes where the doves have character, and personality - for example: Shot 30 of the blushing dove is a clear explanation to what I have said. Eric Larson just handles a lot of the background scenes of the doves, with a lot of realism and study to the timing of the doves. Shot 12 of the dove scattering from the echo sound of the Wishing well is just excellently timed. It's really believable to an audience - and that's why Eric was known as "the bird man".

Is that Eric Larson doing effects on shot 16A and 19? It couldn't have been Paul Busch. Neither of those animators were effects artists. I don't know what Eric could be doing there - unless there was another effects animator called Eric.

You'll be surprised to know, that a lot of people have always said that Milt Kahl animated the Prince in Snow White, and that he was always stuck on the Princes. Well, he was really only stuck on a Prince like Sleeping Beauty. Here, the Prince are by the Snow White animators: Jack Campbell and Grim Natwick. Grim Natwick shows a rather more realistic and human-like prince than Campbell. Shot 17 of the Prince climbing through a wall - just feels strangely drawn, not the sophisticated look of the Prince - as Grim Natwick does.

Grim Natwick also does a better Snow White than Jack Campbell does. I'm not saying that Campbell is a bad animator, he certainly is good. He did some good animation of the wishing-well stuff. But what I'm saying is that, Grim Natwick gets the good stuff in there - he makes Snow White much more human in his scenes. Shot 23 is another example, she is standing behind a curtain and she's in love with the prince, and realizes what a terrible state she is wearing. This is way Grim was the main guy that lead Snow White - he was more experienced than the other animators, and he certainly did a believable princess. As with Jack Campbell, his scenes with Snow White at the wishing well, didn't really require much emotions or much at all. Shot 1, has some good emotions and acting by Campbell when she pours the rest of the bucket of water on the ground. But that said it, Campbell didn't need to do much - except animate her singing at the wishing well - and making a wish at a wishing well.

I hope you have enjoyed my commentary on an all-new animated feature mosaic that I'm doing. I'm hoping for a larger audience, as Snow White is a very popular Disney animated feature. With no director or layout credit - I hope the animator's work is at least helpful.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

School Mosaic Article

Here is a local newspaper article that reached the local papers. It is at my school and it shows that we have completed making some mosaics as part of our Art project. This photo was taken about a week and a half ago on May 4th 2011 - but it wasn't published until about a week later. Here at Moor House School, my GCSE Art option have had the privilege with a mosaic artist to help produce some mosaics for two whole days. This photograph was taken when our Art group presented an assembly on how we made the mosaics.

To make a mosaic, you had to go over a drawing, and trace it. The design would be sent off to the mosaic artist, and would transfer it onto a large piece of word. You get these little chips of broken stuff like plates, etc. and you use "cutters" to cut the pieces, and stick it onto the wood, glue it, grout it - and there's a mosaic.

Making those mosaics was very difficult, it took me ages just to make them - it's not like the "Mark Mayerson style" mosaics. It's actually making them, and cutting them. I also got a blood blister from making the mosaics - and using the cutter was probably slowing me down because I was scared that I was going to get another blood blister.

I was actually the last person of the Art group that completed the mosaic - and I was pressured to finish the mosaic - and I had to rush to finish it. A lot of others completed theirs early either because it was simple and less detailed, while I made a mistake by choosing a complicating one! But, I finished it in the end. My mosaic was a mushroom lying on top of a lettuce with a bit of a tomato sticking out. Boy, it sure was complicating.

From the photo of the students (inc. me) with the mosaics in the background and holding the certficates. My face is second to right, standing. I'm wearing a fleece, and you should recognize from my profile Blogger picture. For numerous reasons, I will not mention the rest of the students their names - because I may not have had their permission. You only need to know where I am, for the time being. Besides, none of us had our names on which rows we sat in.

Photo by Kevin Black.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Mysterious Jack...

What's occurred to me for quite a while and even longer is that fact about one Disney animator who seems to be very unknown in the Disney legacy. He's one animator that I've tried to research on and it's all been difficult. His style in animation is fairly recognizable, but the person isn't. The animator that I'm referring to is the mysterious Jack Campbell.

Why Jack in my head today? Well, he's an animator that's style somehow interests me - it's very unique from the other Disney animators. His animation is somewhat best known for "rotoscoping". A lot of his animation was heavily rotoscoped and he seems to be often cast as a "human animator". Although, not ALL his assignments were rotoscoped and human cast. He has had some animation that was squishy and cartoonie but he rarely does that type of animation.

Since the animator really interests me, but I hardly know anything about him. Even Disney animation historians know extremely little about the animator which I find very strange, even in a century like this. There isn't any birth records of him known, and only an estimated death date that I heard. I've even tried asking Joe Campana some information and he was surprised to find that there was very little found. However, I'm going to write as much as I know about Campbell and his animation assignments.

Since, I have no idea what date he was born in or family relatives. I can tell that as far as Campbell's arrival at the Disney Studios was sometime around 1934. He was actually named "John Campbell" as his birth record but always known as "Jack". I wasn't sure if his middle name had a "D" initial or "Charles", as told by Joe. He was originally Grim Natwick's assistant for the first Disney animated feature Snow White. According to Grim, Jack was unhappy on the position he was in and he wanted to animate. Since there were few animators who could draw the girl, Jack was later promoted to an fully-fledged animator and was working on Ham Luske's unit who was the Supervisor.

Jack's animation on the film had a very use of "rotoscoping" in his footage. Rotoscoping is a technique where he studied live-action from the characters and he studied the movements. A lot of scenes often feel "traced", here is an example of Jack's scenes. He did the early scenes of Snow White and the wishing well. A lot of the animation was heavily rotoscoped. Also some footage scenes of the Prince and Snow White walk back to the castle at the very end. Jack provided some animation of Snow White in the woods and various other scenes - as I will do in the upcoming mosaic. Grim Natwick has described Jack as a "rather astute person" in Michael Barrier's book The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney, when discussing about "rice dolling" and that it disturbed Walt and Jack came to work one day with big rubber dice with no sound.

Jack did a lot of important scenes on the heroine on Snow White along with Grim Natwick and Ham Luske. There is a lot of helpful information on the article by David Johnson, The Four Faces of Snow White. There is one known caricature of him that I have - although I don't know who did the drawing, but it gives an explanation of what Jack probably looked like.

Picture of the camera reluctant Jack Campbell. It's a pretty amusing caricature.

Campbell was also caricatured again on Ferdinand the Bull by Ward Kimball when he animated a scene of the predators walking into the arena - he caricatured himself, Ham Luske, Jack Campbell, Art Babbitt, Bill Tytla and Walt himself as the madator. Jack looked like the caricature himself as the predators which interests me - he seems to he tall and lanky.

Jack was working on shorts like Ferdinand the Bull, Mother Goose Goes Hollywood, The Riveter, etc. Those shorts that he worked on have his animation done in a broad way which you don't see Jack do often. Campbell did some animation of Pete in The Riveter of a squash and stretch scene with Pete rolling his stomach up and bounces to the ground saying "So a tough guy, eh?" That scene was demonstrated in The Illusion of Life.

One of his famous assignments was animating much of the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio - that also gives a real clue of his style in films. The Blue Fairy is a character that really feels like it was traced into live-action and done really well. The character was modelled by Art Babbitt's then-wife Marge Champion. Campbell must have studied the movement and traced some drawings onto animation paper. Jack later contributed to the Pastoral Symphony section in Fantasia animating that very long scene of the centaurettes bathing in the pond nude.

Campbell later contributed onto The Reluctant Dragon and was credited as animator and even including his signature and his signature is the same on Clair Week's goodbye booklet. Campbell was later cast on animating the roustabouts in Dumbo during the working song. Campbell does some excellent animation of the roustabouts and a real piece of his work, although we never see the faces of them. The animation seemed to have been controversial since they were black. I was actually considering taking a look at the roustabouts sometime.

After, Dumbo - it seems that Jack Campbell took part in the Disney animator's strike according on Alberto's page and was either laid off or joined the military. Campbell later returned to Disney to work on Make Mine Music, Song of the South, and Fun and Fancy Free. He seemed to have banished after Fun and Fancy Free probably doing some primary work at the Studios - he was available in 1952 for the Clair Weeks' goodbye booklet with his message saying "Happy landings, Clair - Jack Campbell". It's right here.

He later went on to do a bit of work in the 1950's, and one of his main ones was his last animation assignment on a feature in Lady and the Tramp. He animated the character Aunt Sarah around the middle of the picture. It surprised me when I heard that from Michael Barrier, because some Jim Dear and Darling scenes had some Campbell scenes that looked very familiar to me, and hearing that he did Aunt Sarah, who is more cartoonie and easier to draw. I wonder if he did other animation asides the Aunt.

He did some animation on TV for the Disneyland shows like The Plausible Impossible and working with Cliff Nordberg on Our Friend the Atom. Afterwards, he appeared to have worked on UPA from 1958 to 1959 on the Mr. Magoo feature 1001 Arabian Nights. After that, that's probably the last we hear about Campbell's career in animation.

Since then, I have no idea when or what happened in his final years. I was told an estimated death date - which was around May 1961. However, if it was proved - I checked on the California Death Records and the Social Security Index and no luck on digging into further sources - I'm afraid.

It's strange to find that he's contributed quite a bit at the Disney Studios and yet no-one really knows about him. Although, I suppose that the Social Security Index doesn't have everyone's social security number online - and his is probably not on there. Of course, maybe his birth certificate was destroyed because sometimes maybe in World War II hospitals were bombed and birth certificates were destroyed, but I wouldn't have any idea what was his death certificate. He seems to be a REAL mystery.

If anyone was any other additional info they could add - please notify me. I'd be very grateful and you'll be rewarded in the next life.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Update on Snow White

QUICK NOTE! I probably won't start posting the mosaics for Snow White until May 27th. I will still write posts, but not mosaics. One, I have a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition coming up in May 20-21st and I'll be away all weekend. So, I want to get that done and then I will start on Snow White.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Fairest of Them All Is Up Next

Hello folks,

Just to let you know that of course yesterday, I finished and completed the entire mosaics for Fantasia. I asked if there was any suggestions on what to do for my line-up. I've given it some thought. Eric Noble suggested to do some shorts on Make Mine Music. I've decided that I will post a mosaic for the short Casey at the Bat. Which is part of Make Mine Music. I've also wanted to do one for the short Canine Caddy. I will do these shorts soon.

I've been suggested by Hans Perk, today to do Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Cinderella. It was a very hard choice for me, as I like both films. So, as I couldn't choose. I had to do this fairly - a coin-tossing match on "Heads and Tails". Snow White for being "heads" and Cinderella for being "tails". I flipped the coin and I got the answer.

It was heads.


So, just to let to let you know, that I will be posting Snow White for numerous reasons. First, it's a very popular Disney film with lots of great animation to analyze. Second, I have a feeling that this could have a stronger audience and commenters to tune in and watch this. Third, it's a very interesting draft. I should warn you that the draft has no director or layout credit. Only animators.

 "Bring back your mosaics in THIS!"

I hope Snow White will be a good choice and I will start posting it shortly. Maybe in a few weeks.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXVII)



We are now at the final sequence of Fantasia. It is one of my favourite sequences in the film, and one of the best endings ever to me. It's a tour de force, and it was all animated perfectly by John McManus.

The "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence has concluded, and all the ghosts and souls to the grave, as the devil went back to it's mountain shape. It appeared to be very early in the morning - maybe sometime like 5 in the morning. A lot of processions are crossing lands and bridges heading off to church and they appear to be singing the Ave Maria verse.

This always reminds me of a religious sequence to me. Of course, in its way, it's very religious because it shows these processions who are arriving at a Catholic church. Walt Disney was originally going to have the idea for the final shot to actually enter inside a Cathedral with the stained glass church windows inside it, but Walt Disney felt that he didn't want the sequence to be too religious.

There is a lot of interesting facts on this sequence, for example - I heard from John Canemaker that while Disney was preparing a storyboards for the sequence, one story artist remarked, "Y'know, we're not using the cartoon medium as we should be." Walt immediately got his attention on that man, and he remarked "We have worlds to conquer here, this isn't exactly how a cartoon should look like." I thought that the story man was absolutely correct of him to say that and I wish that he was attributed for that contribution.

I always liked the history of the final shot in this sequence, where it was all completely shot and finished just hours before the New York premiere. It was described as the longest-continuous shot in animation history, and also one of the hardest to film. There were two people credited for the special camera effects here named Gail Pappineau and Leonard Pickley and the first shot was when there was a minor earthquake that hit the Studio and destoyed the filming. Also, when there was camera errors. Pappineau and Pickley put in a load of bloomin' effort just to get that scene completed and they probably used up every bit of their energy for that final shot just to be filmed. After that, the entire shot was completed and approved with just hours to spare from the New York premiere. The two cameraman later went to sleep after spending days just filming that damn scene.

John McManus' animation of the processions with the torches is pretty powerful animation here. It's not character animation, but it's just very believable to an audience. It's strong and it just makes the sequence very amazing. McManus was very good at this type of animation. He gets roughly an estimated amount of 320 feet of animation here in this sequence, with the shots very, very long. Shot 21 is more than 100 feet which is more than a minute of animation.

I always thought the chorus singing here was the best part of the sequence, although I know that the lyrics and music was altered, but I thought it was the best version that I know of Ave Maria. True, I'm not a religious person and that it doesn't really bother me - but that religious sequence is just a gem. It's just treasure and it's really worth being put in film. It's too good to be thrown away in the rubbish. The vocalist for the final shot of the Ave Maria shot was by Julietta Novis and she does an excellent performance there, powerful vocal chords here.

What I like a lot about the ending about Fantasia is the fact that it's not really like any other Disney ending with a "happily ever after ending" in it. It's such a unique and wonderful ending, which is like never really been seen in films before, and in a way it strikes people.

Well, this all concludes my postings for the overall Fantasia mosaics. It has been some fun, and I've thoroughly enjoyed posting every sequence, sharing what I have to offer. I've once again watched the film from the very beginning to the very end. I feel that while making the mosaics, I have made improvements on what to do in mosaics. Always check out on Hans Perk's postings on the draft to Fantasia which inspired me to make these mosaics.

Despite the lack of comments I received overall, I still want to thank some commenters for taking their time to comment and share. Now the big question is, since I've finished Fantasia - what shall I do next? What would you like me to do as a mosaic?

Thanks everybody.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XXVI)

Here is Deems Taylor's introduction to the last segment of this Fantasia production. Night on Bald Mountain composed by Modest Mussorgsky. It's also combined with another brilliant piece by Franz Schubert's famous Ave Maria, which is a popular song at weddings. It's based on Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus.







Here is a very exciting but rather scary sequence directed by the definative Wilfred Jackson. Of course, the star of the sequence is Bill Tytla, who is probably best remembered for his animation on the devil, Chernabog who is a very powerful demon on the tip of the mountain.

This part of Fantasia always used to scare me when I was very young, the way the devil looked was very frightening and even the music was pretty edgy. It all went together perfectly and there is so many effects animation in this sequence. To me, the effects animation on this sequence has some of the most unique, distinctive and realistic effects throughout the entire film. Of course, there were great effects on the Sam Armstrong sequences, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice - but I like the effects here much better. It fits with the style to this sequence, and the layout styling by Terrell Stapp and Thor Putman.

A lot of these animators working on this sequence is cast well and Wilfred Jackson has obviously cast his crew from Pinocchio like Stapp, Putman, Jacques, Tytla, Carlson, etc. to work on this sequence along with the other animators. Although, I must say - that Jaxon is one of the best directors to work at the Disney Studio. The animators are casted differently. Although, most of the character animators are mainly animating the goon creatures in the mountain tip stuff. Bill Shull animates most of the ghosts arriving to the mountain. Some very rough animation by Shull, and marvellous stuff. Shot 38 is a favourite Bill Shull shot of mine.

Bob Carlson animates most of the goon stuff but really with with the ghosts, skulls, harpies, and spirits coming right at the screen. That's all by Bob Carlson, and he did a terrific job there. I always thought that Don Patterson worked on the spirits coming up at the screen - but I was glad to see that Bob Carlson doing it. I thought it was unusual for Carlson working on there - because he was a regular Donald Duck animator.

Funny how the sectretary has mistakes in typing the draft here. Shot 20 is completely unattributed to an artist because the typer for the draft, Elsie Jane has somehow made a mistake by typing the footage result on that scene which was "18-06". There's another error on one of the Bill Shull scenes which was spelt as "Skull" and I thought that was pretty coincidentally funny since you see skulls and skeletons in this sequence. Although, I still assume it was an accident in typing. Even the scene of the Devil with the flames coming up has no credit. Although, it's safe to say that Bill Tytla did that.

One of the most scariest Disney characters of all time is in fact Chernabog, who is the Satan of this sequence. Deems mentions that the Satan comes up every year on Walpurgisnacht and he seems ghosts from the grave and other goon creatures to rise up to the crater and celebrate the party. The devil could control them into doing dances and showing that the Devil is their master and they worship him. He is pure evil, he brings dead creautres back from the dead and to dance for the while and kills them again by throwing them into the fire.

However, it seems that Chernabog was about to do something until the sounds of church bells spoiled the fun for him. His weaknesses was the light and the church bells, and it meant that the people in the village would be waking up and it seems that he didn't want people to find up - so all the ghosts go back to their graves and rest in peace again. Chernabog was a very powerful villain that nothing could killed him since he has all the power - even the flames did nothing to him. He's such an extraordinary Disney villain. Many critics rank him as one of the greatest Disney villains of all time - and he sure is.

Bill Tytla does some of the best stuff in this sequence. He handles the Devil and he does an excellent job on it. The first shot of the Devil wakening and unfolding his wings is excellent timing on the music. Tytla could make the audience frightened by the Devil and that's why he did an excellent job on it. I have to say, but he did put in a lot of "bloody" effort into this. My favourite part of Tytla's animation of the Devil is when the church bells come and the light reflects on him and he cringes himself. A lot of very strong emotions here, and that's what makes Tytla a great animator - he really put a lot of strong emotions into his work.

One of my favourite shots in this sequence is actually the scenes of the flames turning into dancers, very beautiful animation and sensitive timing, here. It appears to look like three naked girl dancers with their flames as their hair. It's all very nice, and it's one of my favorites here. I was actually surprised to find that Bill Tytla worked on that scene and that's what make me think he's a brilliant animator. Tytla works on a fair amount of the goon animation in some shots as well as the Devil.

Of course, the original model for the live-action reference was Bela Lugosi, and Tytla wasn't happy with the way he was acting the scenes, and Tytla wanted Wilfred Jackson to do the live action for the devil. It seems that the actor for the final live-action was the staff director Wilfred  Jackson.

The effects animation here is brilliant. It seems that animators like Miles Pike and Dan MacManus do most of the fire animation. John Reed does a lot of the smoke and fire stuff as well. They all did very well in those scenes. Josh Meador was another effects animator who was credited for that sequence, but it turned out that he does little work here. Throughout the film, Josh animates a lot of effects animation but spread in all the sequences by a few scenes. Of course, Josh was the main effects guy on Fantasia and was probably supervising a lot of effects animator, leaving him with not much to do. John Reed, appears to do a lot of the light of the spirits and souls.

Animators like Les Novros and Don Patterson don't do a lot of animation but Novros does a good job with the goon creatures reacting to the light and church bells. Don Patterson animates the scenes of the departure of the ghosts and spirits. To be honest, I'm not a fan of Patterson's scenes here - it feel unrealistic here and it would've been better if that was done with the special effects process used earlier in the sequence. Don's spirits feels cartoonish to me in a way - and I wonder how it ended up in the final film. It's a shame that he wasn't given much to do in this sequence.

It seems that Bob Broughton did a lot of the special effects here with the camera. All very well done. We hadn't seen the "Spec. efx" sign in the draft since The Rite of Spring - hadn't we? This is just a wonderful sequence which was all set up perfectly and the Tytla scenes are a tour-de-force. We'll come across another tour-de-force sequence with John McManus' Ave Maria sequence.

This is my talk done, and it was pretty difficult to make this mosaic so far. We are nearing the end, and that would be the conclusion to my Fantasia mosaics. Any ideas on what new mosaic to make after wards?

Death to Americans is No Longer

Woop. Woop!

Excellent news! Almost 10 year ago, America was at a very depressing time when the two Twin Towers collided and terrorists hijacked four planes and no survivors. Osama bin Laden was the accusor and he said "Deaths to Americans". Then we went to war on Afghanistan, bin Laden has been in his secret hiding places in caves of Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. recording videos about plotting to kill America.

Well, it's all over now, because Osama bin Laden is FINALLY DEAD! Yipee! That took nearly 10 years for that to happen, and "Well, it's about time!"

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A New Draft

It's that time when we get a treat to see a feature draft - and now we have one coming. Hans Perk is going through a busy time directing a stop-motion feature called Miffy the Movie and he's giving up his free time by generously posting the draft for the Disney film Cinderella.

This is going to be very exciting for me to see because I'm interested in who does what in the scenes, and I actually have a soft spot for the film, although it may not be my favourite, but I like the film and animation and I'm interests in who does my favourite scenes. That's what I find interesting. Although, I doubt that I will make a mosaic for the film because I've already done three features and still on Fantasia. Maybe, but I'm planning a break on mosaics.

You can take a look at the draft that he will be posting here. I will be looking forward to his future posts and see what he has to offer. Take a look at his stuff on A. Film L.A.