Friday, 18 May 2012


Well, I don't know whether or not to continue with my posts on 'Blabbing on Arts and Culture' as I'm more occupied with my WB blog - which you can still read if you're interested. I've gone too hard with schoolwork which is what I'll probably end up at this rate:

Enjoy the drawing I made from a photograph. Will I make another post soon? Maybe.

Friday, 30 March 2012

"War Dogs" Animator Breakdown

Hello folks; I've been busy with school work and will have little time to update the blog but I'll pop back once in a while if I have something interesting to write about. Since I've gotten into the kick of animator breakdown of Hanna-Barbera animators at MGM; I've become pretty good with the Tom and Jerry animator identifications and I feel that I ought to attempt to breakdown the 1943 cartoon "War Dogs".

War Dogs is a patriotic short directed by Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera and it was also their last cartoon made before directing nothing but Tom and Jerry cartoons up until 1958. The cartoon has dated gags here; it's an alright short but entertaining in some sequences. The dream of the dog attacking a Jap soldier was cut from television but luckily the uncut version exists on YouTube. The animator on this short in the screen credits are Kenneth Muse, Irven Spence, Pete Burness and Jack Zander, although Ray Patterson did minimum animation. Here's the breakdown:
0:31-1:29: Pete Burness
1:30-2:14: Ken Muse
2:15-3:03: Irv Spence
3:04-3:12: Jack Zander
3:13-3:35: Ken Muse
3:36-3:59: Pete Burness
4:07-4:58: Irv Spence
4:59-5:25: Jack Zander
5:26-6:20: Ken Muse
6:32-6:41: Ray Patterson (uncredited)
I'm still pretty uncertain with the scenes; such as the air plane sequence because I don't know if Spence did ALL of it; but it has Spence's rubbery mouth so it's obviously him. The tent sequence is likely to be Kenneth Muse with the on-modelness but it's hard to say since there's a lot of volume changing in the drawings. It appears to be that Jack Zander did little animation on the cartoon and the only scenes which I'm positive he worked on was the dog testing the new helmet; and the two dogs as messengers before the sequence starts - although I don't know if that's all he did but these were the only scenes I found that didn't look like Ken, Spence or Pete would work on; Zander was pretty rubbery as an animator so I found them.
Pete Burness' animation in that short at the very beginning is pretty good stuff although it's roughly almost one minute of animation which is roughly 90 feet of animated footage. This must've taken him at least a month to have worked on that scene since the footage rota for MGM animators was 25 feet a week. Pete Burness had the knack of drawing characters that would bounce with weird poses; he tend to draw mouths with no edge parts attached together - this probably doesn't sound clear but see for yourself. He did a funny scene too with the dog on the novelty air plane. His poses weren't very snappy but was a fine animator with the movement.
Kenneth Muse did the most animation in the short although mind you; he was Hanna-Barbera's favourite animator at that time so don't expect less animation. He did a great scene of the line of dogs with the general ordering the dog to do these random positions; as well as the tent scenes; and the tank scenes. He is the most on-model animator; his animation is more meticulous than the other animators; and probably the most Disney-looking of them. He's one of the fancier looking animators as well as being the most productive. Greg Duffell told me how that Kenneth Muse would use to animate all the time; and even at the beach. He drew mouths in an off-model way and drew teeth grins rather snappy.
Irven Spence is of course a great animator in terms of timing, movement and comedy. He never focused on how the character should look and didn't intend to bother. He drew very funny drawings for his animated scenes which looks a delight once it's seen on the screen. He wasn't a straight ahead animator; he always planned out his scenes carefully which makes him a great animator. He got a fair bit of animation in this short including that one whole shot of the dog and the slide show presentation. The scene where he rips off the paper finding a picture of Hitler is just priceless since it feels just like looking at Spence drawing random poses and placing them in the scene. The airplane sequence was hard to figure out but it has his rubbery mouth and loose movement which is also a pretty funny scene. I like how he drew the dog in this short with it's tongue sticking out; he really gave the dog a "REAL" dog personality with its tongue sticking out and behaving like a dopey dog.
Jack Zander was another rubbery animator who we used to think did the cute, curvy baby looking scenes in the early Tom and Jerries but it turned out to be George Gordon. His work is small work but I imagine this was because of Zander left MGM Studios while this short was still in production and also did minimum animation in 'Yankee Doodle Mouse' which probably resulted to why he didn't do as much. His animation was pretty good at MGM with some pretty good loose stuff.
The last animator here of course is Ray Patterson but he is of course uncredited. He only did those minimum scenes of the dog inside the kennel and nothing else. I imagine that his was his FIRST scene he did with Hanna-Barbera when he arrived at MGM in 1942/43 when this cartoon was probably still in production finishing up with animation and Ray was just given (probably) a leftover scene or maybe the scene was animated by somebody else and was called to redo it; who knows? His first screen credit for Hanna-Barbera was on 'Baby Puss' where he got a fair part of animation. Ray Patterson in MGM apears to be the type of animator that focuses on drawing. He draws lots of details on the characters with wrinkles coming out on parts of the body; like the mouth, ears, etc. He would draw mouths on thee side of the character's cheeks in dialogue and draw them in a gummy way; he drew pouty faces, too. He's probably the type of animator that would go through the action of  the scene but redo it again to make it pretty. He has a neat style although his drawings and scenes are more suitable for acting and dialogue scenes which he was great at.
I'm afraid I'm going to leave that until now but I hope you've enjoyed the commentary I've put together and I hope to post soon but I guarantee it will be a while.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mendelssohn's Spring Song - Cy Young

Hi there - folks. Sorry if it feels like AGES since I haven't written a post in there since I've been pretty busy with the other blog and schoolwork, but since the blog seems incredibly empty - I thought I'd step back in for a short time. Recently; I came across some interesting animated shorts that I recall from memory that I want to review again; but here is a cartoon that I remember watching the first time about two years ago and it was directed by a favourite of mine, Cy Young back in 1931.

The short is titled Mendelssohn's Spring Song. Of course; this cartoon is sort of like a presentation or showing animation combining with the Mendelssohn piece. It seems that at the time Cy was trying to find a distributor to that short and some sources say Walt Disney saw the cartoon himself and it was the reason why Young was hired to the Disney Studios. This cartoon was put onto by DVD by Steve Stanchfield some years ago; and I remember it being on YouTube once; and I'm going to go through it again. The animation in it can he really bizarre but wonderful to look at; and I think I want to go through it - by step. The music is credited to Carlo Peroni.

Here's the YouTube video before you watch when I go through it.

I'll post most of the short's pictures of the scenes by using the screen grabs and then I'll end it with my overall comments; as I wish I could review the whole thing - but having to have done many Buddy cartoons to review; I don't know I have the energy - but you follow and read. :-)

I love how the cartoon opens with the terminal sign "Aunt Arctica" and there are these two Eskimos like that pull a switch in which a traffic sign pops up but hit's the sun's face that shouts "OUCH!". It's very amusing to look at; but it looks a little creepy for starters but the timing is awesome. The flame of the sun then lands on a steam locomotive in which the engine is about to start. There are these weird bizarre bells that are starting the train with the sun shouting "All aboard!". I love the animation on how that the train wheels have just got a bump at the end of the wheels and they're sort of like jumping - just perfect timing for a 1931 cartoon.

The train then starts to go under a tunnel in which there is a beautiful background effect of going inside the tunnel and the lights inside the dark. I wonder if Cy Young did all the animation himself since he was sort of an effects animator. What I find really crazy but subtle is that the train was a caterpillar crawling out of a piece of fruit and onto a tree. The caterpillar then unzips itself and forms into a butterfly. Gorgeous animation; it's all just wonderful to look at. The butterfly then has a violin and bow that pops out by magic. He starts to play with it's finger popping off and playing the lower notes on the strings.

They're all pretty colors that all work - even though this isn't Technicolor. The trees and cloud turn into dancing; the backgrounds are very simple looking but wonderful. I like how the cloud dancers are dropping rain that look like tears. The raindrop animation that lands on leaves is pretty beautiful although the animation standards on effects animation weren't fully accomplished. I like the effects that show the butterfly passing through the trees in which the flowers then start to change colors or even the part when that bug is painting roses red.

As we track down the red roses we see these Romeo & Juliet type bugs that are doing an impression of the balcony sequence in the Capulet's orchard. The bug is playing harp music on the spider web. The female spider then brings down a barrel of love hearts which I guess is romantic for a cartoon. The bugs are then swinging by a spider web cuddling each other. Aww. The next part we see some frog animation and has "Zzz" letters coming out which means he's having a snooze - and we see some clever animation the letter movement.

The cartoon comes to an end in which we see these two birds that are carrying with them - erm, something red or for the baby birds to eat. Inside the birdhouse is a mother bird cradling some eggs that aren't hatched yet. The family of birds then start to have dinner. The mother pulls out a tureen in which there is a whole giant worm for everyone. The last frames of this short are in black-and-white. Is this because of a fuzzy film projector or that the cartoon wasn't yet completed?

Overall comments: My overall comments on this short cartoon is that it's sort of like watching a very early Silly Symphony cartoon made around 1929 up to 1931; with all those bug scenes and also the choice of the song used; which is Mendelssohn's Spring Song. I think this was probably shot in 2-strip color but the credits says it was shot in Brewster Color. Cy Young; who directed this cartoon is credited as "Sy Young". Which is probably rare for him to be credited that way. The song is pretty popular in animated cartoons, since guys like Tex Avery used the song often for his cartoons; and Carl Stalling - as well as other cartoon directors. The surrealistic images at the beginning are just wonderful to look at. The animation was just beautiful to look at; and it's pretty much unknown and I feel it deserves some recognition. I wonder if Cy Young did all the animation? The beginning really sticks to me the most since I love the bizarre surrealistic parts of this animation which all works really well and what a cartoon at the time should be. It gives us the feeling that animation can do bizarre things. Bravo do Steve Stanchfield for finding the 35mm copy.