animator Ken O'Brien—Bambi.
animator Ken O'Brien—Bambi.
Stone that called for special decisions. The young Arthur had been turned into a squirrel by Merlin, the magician, so that the boy could gain a better understanding of the world of nature. While in this guise, Arthur met some real squirrels who accepted him as one of their kind, even though he could not speak their language. The problem was to animate the boy so that he would be believable both to the audience and to the squirrels. If he were just a boy running around in a squirrel suit the audience would have no trouble recognizing him, but would people believe that real squirrels could be fooled so easily? If the boy were animated as a genuine squirrel, it would be impossible to preserve his character—or the humor in a situation based on Arthur's being a misfit in a foreign land. The compro mise was to have the boy limited in his actions by a squirrel's body and appearance, yet retaining his own thoughts and mannerisms. He had to move like a squirrel, but a rather inexperienced one.
When we say "real," we mean only what the audience accepts as being real, for obviously a real animal cannot act or emote as broadly as animators require. The more an animator goes toward caricaturing the animal, the more he seems to be capturing the essence of that animal, and the more he is creating possibilities for acting. For example, if we had drawn real deer in Bambi there would have been so little acting potential that no one would have believed the deer really existed as characters. But because we drew what people imagine a deer looks like, with a personality to match, the audience accepted our drawings as being completely real.
Of course, style and design are part of this, too. A caricature cannot be made without them. But the big point is that charactcrs on the screen appear to be most real when they can be animated to have personalities, and this only can be done when there is potential for movement in all parts of the body. In other words, the more realistically animals are drawn, the less real they will appear on the screen.
The animals in Snow White were crudely drawn compared to those in Bambi. yet they all behaved the way they should to work with the girl in that story. And some people even thought the animals were real. Since it certainly was not the drawing that made these creatures so convincing, it must have been the acting in the animation.
When learning to draw anything, it is important that the artist go to the source. Afterward he can make any use of his knowledge that he chooses, but in the beginning he must study the real object, whether it be a zebrula or an aardvark. If Disney artists were going to animate a fox, they would try to get a real fox to study and photograph, and, if possible, feel. Nothing matches the learning that comes from feeling an animal's bones and muscles and joints, to discover how they are put together and how far they can move in any direction; it is always surprising. The artists would get illustrations of fox skeletons to help in understanding why a fox looks like a fox. How is he different from other animals? Then they would get film of foxes in action to
Cinderella s little bird friends were deceptively simple. They represented hours of study and a full understanding of real birds.
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Director Woolie Reitherman had a pet fox that we could handle, photograph. and study as work was starting on The Fox and the Hound.
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study their movements and their timing. What makes this animal a fox? What attitudes or actions are unique to him?
Nearly always, film was available on virtually any ¿nimal. because of the studio's great live-action series, Tnte Life Adventures. The animators drew from this film, traced off bits of action and timing to study, tried to draw actions in successive drawings, and then went hack to study some more. They found that the amaz ing photographs made by Eadweard Muybridge1 nearly a hundred years ago were good for reminding them of what the animal does, but his cameras did not always catch the extremes or details of relative timing, and the pictures could be misleading if the animators were unfamilar with the animal or the action. Since it is always hard to figure out the bumps and shapes in still photographs, live action film is more useful; you can see a roll developing, or pulling out straight, or a
Figure in Motion. Dover Publications Inc.. Plate 142.
t Complete Human A Animal Motion. Dover Publications. Inc. Vol. 3 (of 5 volumes)
The sequential photographs taken simultaneously from three different angles by Eadweard Xfuybridge in the late ItiOOs provide the best general reference available for any student of action and motion. The thrust of the body. the straight leg on both the jump and the landing, and the bulging tissues in the low positions are all clearly evident in these photos— what we call4'squash and stretch.'9 Note also the secondary action of the arms to maintain balance.
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