rough animation drawings from The Jungle Book establish the action and capture the adoration that the boy Mowgli has for his new friend Baloo} the bear.
High-quality clean-ups are required where the drawing of the eyes and the subtlety of the expression are the key ingredients in the scene. These were done by specialist Dale Oliver and projected amazing life on the screen.
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Before Walt Stanchfield moved into animation, /ze made a whole booklet of the common problems and mistakes of the beginner in clean-ups. these are two sample pages.
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Gradually we developed a professional class of "clean up men" who took pride in their work. It was their skill that made the pictures look so fine, yet for a number of years they never got screen credit, nor even the salary they deserved. They sometimes were compared to a blocking back on a football team who clears the way for the star runner to make the yardage and the headlines, and it was true that they had to take their satisfaction from the success of the sequence on which they had worked.
They studied line drawing, training on Holbein, Degas, Daumier, Da Vinci; they watched drapery in movement, noting the difference between filmy scarves, woolen skirts, flowing capes, and even baggy pants; they learned the value of a sharp, crisp line against a large, soft shape; they knew how to keep a design in the free-flowing changing shapes of animation rather than make a rigid copy. They always extended the arcs of the movement, squashed the character more, stretched him more—refining while emphasizing both the action and the drawings. They understood the business of the scene, what it was supposed to achieve, worked closely with the animator in deciding which parts were developing well and which parts needed a little help, and they could see the characters start to live as they "rolled" the drawings on the pegs. This required a special kind of talent as well as study—not every artist could master it.
The best working plan seemed to be the small unit of only a few men who, with the animator, carried the full responsibility of doing everything on their own scenes. An ideal group would include an assistant animator who was experienced enough to make simple animation changes and corrections, a second assistant who drew well but was just learning his job, a reliable breakdown man, and an eager inbetweener who could double as bookkeeper and handyman. This last category included everything: threading the film on the Moviola, taking a test over to the cutter, running up to the Music Room for a corrected layout, or even prying the reels away from a distraught assistant director "for just a couple of minutes; we want to see how it looks cut in the reel!" Together they budgeted their work and met their deadline. No other system retained as much quality or moved as much work without losing control of the way it was done.
Assistant animators who had this much ability were seldom content to stay in this position for more than a few pictures. Some went on into animation, but most went into other types of jobs where their interest in detail, refinement, and design was stressed. Undeniably, it had cost more to have a clean up man redraw the complete scene, but it was the only way we could have produced the rich characters of the first features. In later years, as costs continued to soar in all departments, a new procedure called "Touch-up" was instigated. It asked that the animator draw slowly and carefully enough so that the assistant need only touch-up the drawings here and there to make them ready for the Ink and Paint Department. By this time all of our animators had become more skillful and were able to adjust to the new idea without noticeable damage to the product. Top quality clean up work is needed on only a handful of scenes in any sequence, and a great variety of shortcuts can be used on the balance to make them acceptable.
Unfortunately, the assistant's work over the years has been considered an area where money can be saved. The production manager watching the money will have been frustrated through the early days of production since there is no way for him to measure ideas or work in progress. But once drawings have been made, a smile envelops his face. Here is something that can be counted, checked, timed, and followed through the plant. The term "pencil mileage" is heard often as the number of artists plus the speed of output is balanced against "footage to be done." Between trying to please the animator who wants the best and the manager who wants the quickest, the assistant must reach a compromise that still satisfies his own standards.
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