Friday, 28 October 2011

Happy Birthday, Don Lusk!

In this past year, we've had some passings from legends like Bill Justice, Corny Cole, Earl Kress, etc. Don Lusk continues to be alive and turns 98 today. I believe that he is still in good health, and an interview is hopefully still in plan, but we just have to wait and see.

The smiling man above was Don Lusk when he was much younger, back when he was working at Hanna-Barbera after he left Disney in 1960. I found this from a Tony Benedict video posted by Yowp with footage of him. It's a very neat video, and I think you should go and take a look at those who worked at Hanna-Barbera back in the sixties.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Animators on "Anchors Aweigh" Sequence

Hiya folks,

Sorry if I haven't replied to you for a very long time, as I've pretty much abandoned this blog - but I have promised to come back with occasional posts. This is Steven Hartley posting this time. I've decided to drop the "Snow White mosaics" for now, as I'm in an incredibly busy academic year.

I've deiced that I wanted to post about the sequence in Anchors Aweigh in which Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse in the dream sequence. The song is called The Worry Song written by Sammy Fain. Apparently, this sequence was the only part of the film that was excellent. The rest of the film was described as mediocre at best, but the music is incredible though. Originally Walt Disney wanted Mickey Mouse to be the character dancing with Gene Kelly. I've recently gone into a habit of trying to identify animators from Tom and Jerry and I might post more of those on the blog sometime.

I'm going to identify the animators who animated the famous Dance sequence in Anchors Aweigh - it's one of my favourite Tom and Jerry moments. The animators here are Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Ray Patterson. Irv Spence doesn't animate anything on here, probably because he went to John Sutherland Studios already. Mike Lah didn't arrive at Hanna-Barbera's unit in MGM until 1946. Pete Burness would've already had left the MGM Studios while the Jerry Mouse sequence was being animated. A lot of the animation of Jerry Mouse was rotoscoped here.

 
0:03-0:55: Kenneth Muse
0:56-1:49: Ed Barge
1:50-2:26: Ray Patterson
2:27-2:58: Kenneth Muse

Kenneth Muse in this sequence is the main animator on this show. He does the entire mammoth work in here, he animates practically animates the entire beginning with Jerry's first encounter with Gene Kelly, and also Tom as a servant (not included on video). A trademark of Muse's animation in MGM was that his animation was the most "on-model" from the other animators. He animated very appealing characters, with those cute eyes, cheeks. He was also the "everyman" in Tom and Jerry animators, as he could animate anything in the series. The introduction scenes in this cartoon not added in the video were still animated by Kenneth Muse.

Ed Barge was just brand new to the Hanna-Barbera unit when this sequence was being animated. He got to animate nearly a whole minute to himself. To identify his animation, his character animation has a very simple design quality to it. He seems to focus on the animation and not too much on the look. Barge was in fact a rather weaker animator than the other Hanna-Barbera animators, and his draftsmanship was quite ugly. He animates Tom and Jerry rather "younger" looking in his animation, and often doesn't get much action in his scenes. His specific trademark is that he often gives his characters rounder and smaller ears than the other animators. He has done some very fine animation in the past, but he was hot as good as Ken Muse, Ray Patterson or Irv Spence.

Barge's animation was quite good in this bit, and he appears to have been very good at animating dancing scenes, not as great as Muse; but he did a great attempt.

Ray Patterson animates about roughly 40 seconds in this bit, and you can tell from his style because it's much more cartoony than the way Muse or Barge animates. Patterson gets the fun stuff for Jerry, and he seems to have not used too much rotoscoped as he made his Jerry very cartoony. A specific trademark for Patterson in the early 40's (1943-1946) was that he animated his characters with a lot of detail. His characters were very detailed, and he was very good at animating personality scenes, as well as cartoony-action scenes. He gave his Tom thicker eyebrows and freckles in his early animation career at MGM. In the late 1940's or 1950's, he seems to have given his characters rather larger mouths.

Ken Muse animates the finale of this sequence, with some wonderful animation of Jerry dancing. He is probably my favourite animator of the Tom and Jerry series. His animation was more graceful, and he knew how to handle his timing well for scenes. So Ken Muse did the mammoth work in this sequence, and achieved it well. Notice ow the animators animate Jerry much taller or larger than his actual design in the series.

I'm going to call it off here for now, but I hope you have enjoyed my post and my return.