Exaggeration

The persistent question, especially from the New York men was. "When do you use 'ones' and when do you use 'twos'?" This referred to the number of frames of film to be shot of a single drawing. One exposure was called "ones," two exposures "twos." It had long been known that for most normal action there was no need to make a new drawing for every frame of the film. Each drawing could occupy two of the precious frames, and the audience would never detect it at 24 frames a second. This saved immense amounts of work and in the slower movements gave a smoother appearance to the action. More than that, a

There was some confusion among the animators when Walt first asked for more realism and then criticized the result because it was not exaggerated enough. In Walt's mind, there was probably no difference. He believed in going to the heart of anything and developing the essence of what he found. If a character was to be sad, make him sadder; bright, make him brighter; worried, more worried; wild, make him wilder. Some of the artists had felt that "exaggeration" meant a more distorted drawing, or an action so violent it was disturbing. They found they had missed the point.

When Walt asked for realism, he wanted a carica ture of realism. One artist analyzed it correctly when he said, "I don't think he meant 'realism.' I think he meant something that was more convincing, that made a bigger contact with people, and he just said 'realism' because 'real' things do. . . . Every so often (in the animation) the character would do something unconvincing, or to show how clever the animator was, and it wasn't real, it was phony."4 Walt would not accept anything that destroyed believability. but he seldom asked an animator to tame down an action if the idea was right for the scene.

Dave Hand told of a test he had done of Mickey riding along in his taxicab, whistling, with everything on the car rattling and bouncing. When they came to the corner, the car skidded and blew out a tire, at which point the car sagged, the license plate twirled over and landed with its numbers upside down and spelling. "Oh. heck." Dave was sure that was a laugh, and he was careful to stage it so that it could not be missed. Evidently he had not considered the whole car as carefully, for Walt complained of the lack of action and asked him to do it over. The next test received the same reaction. "It's not broad enough; it's not funny!" Six times Dave corrected the action, erasing and redrawing until he was nearly through the paper, and still Walt did not feel the action was spirited enough for what he wanted.

At that point Dave got fed up. "The only thing I knew to do was to do something he wouldn't take—to make it so extreme that he would say. 'I didn't mean that much!' So I went back and did something horribly distorted. I was kind of proud of myself and couldn't

Exaggeration Animation

wait for the film to come back. I put it on the Moviola. Walt came and ran it a few times, then stepped back and looked at me. I thought he was going to tell me to leave the studio, but he said. 'There, Dave, that's just what I wanted!'

"It taught me what to do at the Disney studio. From then on I never had any trouble with exaggeration. When I was directing I used to say to the animators. 'Will you do something for me? Will you make it so extreme that you make me mad?'"

Solid Drawing Illusion Life

Solid Drawing

The old-timers were hard pressed to keep up with the demands of the new type of animation. More than one top man counseled the beginners, "You should learn to draw as well as possible before starting to animate." Grim Natwick.5 whose animation career started in New York in 1924, pointed out. " The better you can draw, the easier it'll be for you. You'll have to draw the character in all positions and from every angle; and if you can't do it. and have to stage it from some other angle, it's very restrictive and takes longer." Marc Davis was more philosophic a few years later: "Drawing is giving a performance; an artist is an actor who is not limited by his body, only by his ability and. perhaps, experience." loo many of the men, old and

Marc Davis Animator

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Exaggeration Animation

new, were full of tricks and techniques that had looked great in cartooning school but did nothing for them at the Disney studio. The little shadows under the toes of the shoes, the slick line, the flashy verve of clothing reacting to v iolent exertion—all these devices that had impressed us in high school were of little use anymore.

Signs were hung on many walls where the young trainees would be sure to see them, and the one we remember best was this: "Docs your drawing have weight, depth and balance?"—a casual reminder of the basics of solid, three-dimensional drawing. Men had devoted their whole lives to the mastery of these elusive principles, and here was this sign about as pretentious as one that said. "Buy Savings Bonds," or pointed to the nearest exit.

Another sign admonished us to watch out for "twins" in our draw ings. This is the unfortunate situation where both arms or both legs are not only parallel but doing exactly the same thing. No one draws this way on purpose, and usually the artist is not even aware that he has done it. This affliction was not limited to the thirties, for again in the seventies young animator Ron Clements was annoyed to find "twins" in his drawings no matter how hard he worked to keep them out. "It was one of the first drawing principles that I heard of at the studio. If you get into acting, you would never think of expressing an emotion with twins anywhere, but. somehow, in a drawing, if you're not thinking, it creeps in time and again."

Our main search was for an "animatable" shape, one that had volume but was still flexible, possessed strength without rigidity, and gave us opportunities for the movements that put over our ideas. We needed a shape that was a living form, ready to move—in con-

ympathetic appeal in villains xould have ppeal is the fascinating es a person t any draw-

trast with the static form. We used the term "plastic," and just the definition of the word seemed to convey the feeling of potential activity in the drawing: "Capable of being shaped or formed, pliable."

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