T Have Been Successfully Animated

Walt Disney Animation

that necessitated doing the dialogue over with a different phrasing or expression; that sequence would be marked for a retake the next time the "voice talent" was at the studio—another reason for not recording all of the sound at one session.

It became increasingly important to choose just the right actor for this type of live action, since it would have such an influence on the development of a character's personality, and even on the entertainment value in the picture. Some comedians were versatile enough to suggest antics for characters in one picture after another, but for the most part we wanted a different actor for each role. Obviously, the Huntsman in Snow While could never be portrayed by the same man who would do Mr. Smee in Peter Pan.

Occasionally, there will be a cartoon character requiring such a subdued role, or such careful planning, that there is virtually no room for new concepts from the actor. Once the role comes to life with the proper voice, the visual image should match, and nothing more. The Huntsman needed no more personality, no more acting: his scenes had been so well conceived that he had only to look convincing to make his sinister role believable.

Of course, there is always a big problem in making the "real" or "straight" characters in our pictures have enough personality to carry their part of the story. Animator and director Woolie Reitherman has said, "The art of animation lends itself least to real people, and most to caricatures and illusions of a person." Hie point of this is misinterpreted by many to mean that characters who have to be represented as real should be left out of feature films, that the stories should be told with broad characters who can be han dled more easily. This would be a mistake, for spectators need to have someone or something they can believe in. or the picture falls aparts. In The Rescuers, the young girl Penny was surrounded by a whole cast of broad characters; but, while they enriched the story, they did not carry it. As Woolie said afterward, "Naw, the little girl was so believable! All those things around her were great, but you needed that sincerity."

The sincerity in that case came from careful planning of the scenes to make use of the most appealing aspects of this little character. Some miscellaneous scenes had been filmed of two different five-year-old girls, so that the animator could study how a child of that age moved, but there was no attempt to record special moves or actual scenes after that. Instead, the effort had gone into finding the right things for her to do and the best way for her to do them. It is axiomatic that boy or girl characters can be done more easily in live action than in cartoon, and that one should not do things in a cartoon better done in live action. However, if that philosophy had been followed over the years, there would have been no Snow White, no Cinderella, no Peter Pan. nor most of the features that the Disney studio produced. To make a "straight" character convincing and interesting requires great creative effort. It may take imagination and a knowledge of both story and animation, but there is always a way—if the staff is smart enough to find it and willing to work hard enough to accomplish it.

Generally speaking, if there is a human character in a story, it is wise to draw the person with as much caricature as the role will permit. Early in the story development, these questions should be asked: "Does this character have to be straight?" "What is the role

Pinocchio Cartoon Story Scene

we need here?" If it is a prince or a hero or a sympathetic' person who needs acceptance from the audience to make the story work, then the character must he drawn realistically, but not necessarily in a restricted manner. In 101 Dalmatians. Roger and Anita had to be treated as real people because of the genuine concern they had for their pets; yet they were drawn with less realism than the prince in either Snow White or Cinderella. The design of the whole picture, as well as the treatment of the story, permitted the animator more freedom in representation. The Baduns and Cruella deVil had broader roles and could be drawn with more caricature, which immediately made them more interesting and stronger. In The Rescuers, the little girl had to be drawn sincerely because she was the heart of the story; Medusa and Snoops could be wild, comic figures because they were not sinister.

Whenever two or more animated characters arc in the same scene, interrelating in ways that are true to their own personalities, live action staging can be par-I (kularly helpful. Technically, it is difficult to animate two characters sharing a space, moving them about without their stepping on each other, while keeping a general feeling of dimension and volume in the scene. The problem is compounded if some critical acting is I required at the same time. When the scene is shot with j this in mind, and the actors move around in a way that I is helpful to the animators, everyone will benefit.

Les Clark was given the scene to animate of the [ three dwarfs dancing with Snow White—the only long

I shot that showed the dimensions of the dwarfs' room and the scale of the characters through their movement. Animating the decrease in the girl's size as she moved away from the camera was controlled by work-

|[ ing from the live action film, but the matching perspec-|i lives of the dwarfs that Les animated from imagination made the scene amazingly convincing and added cre-|| (fence to the whole sequence.

j Any dancing scenes in a story should be shot early

II and planned throughout the musical number, rather | than handed out piecemeal when an animator needs || them. Obviously the choreography will be richer if a [dancer plans it all. instead of leaving it up to the I unresolved fantasies of some story man. In the scene I Les had. there was a special problem with Snow

White's hand positions. Just how high can a dwarf reach up comfortably to dance with a young girl? The height of each dwarf had to be planned, not in relation to the girl doing the live action but to her cartoon proportions, derived from the photostats of her dancing. For the scene to be effective, it was important that the dwarfs should not strain or be awkward as they reached to take her hand. Fortunately, with Ham Luske shooting the live action, all such details were carefully covered.

It is not worth the trouble of filming simply to record a change in size as a character comes closer to the camera, but if a major part of the design of a scene is based on startling perspective or the relationship of several characters working in perspective, then a great deal of the animator's time may be saved by first proving out the effectiveness of the scene on film.

The same strategy applies to the action of the inanimate objects that might be in a scene. Rolling barrels, falling trees, avalanches, moving cars, wagons, and trains are all time-consuming and tedious for an animator to master, and they are questionable expenses in the animation budget when tracing such things from photostats will give just as good results, if not better. In Pinocchio, Stromboli locked the little fellow in a large bird cage made of bent sticks, which bounced and swung as his wagon bumped along the cobblestone streets. The cage even had a small perch inside that was swinging in a separate action. This intricate object would have been almost impossible to draw in the first place, let alone to capture the weight and convincing movement of its action. However, the point of the scene was not the cage but Pinocchio's reaction while inside, calling for help. That action in itself was difficult enough for any animator, and fortunately there was no need to add more expense to the scene by-having someone work over and over on the drawings of the swinging cage. A model cage was built at half size, and it was filmed so it appeared to be the right scale and weight for both the little puppet and the wagon. The animator then worked with tracings from photostats of the swinging cage, attempting to match the acting he wanted with the changing perspectives of the bouncing cage. It was a nightmare to animate, but a spectacular theatrical device.

In 1948, Walt Disney had money problems (again). Pinocchio (which had been finished in 1940) had not

Pinocchio Stromboli WagonCruella Car

The model of Cruel la's car was painted with black lines that made it look like a drawing when reproduced on the photostats. The image was cut out and pasted on a eel, then copied by the Xerox process like any drawing. Once it was painted in flat colors, as shown here, it looked just like the other eels in the picture.

f a collision he's driven by the w iting the scene of the cars are r, layout man ' Davidovitch, i model maker effects anima-ckley and, at ZdCook. Such i take hours to wut this kind

Tracings from photostats of the bird cage that imprisoned Pinocchio gave the realistic action that was needed while saving the time that would have been required to animate such a difficult assignment. Even more time was saved by drawing the back of the cage on one level and the front on another so that Pinocchio could be sandwiched between the two without tedious registration to the bars on every drawing.

yet paid for itself. Fantasia looked as if it was always to he in the red, Bambi, Waifs favorite picture of all, was still not in the clear. The solution to the studio's financial hind seemed to be another cartoon feature along the lines of the successful Snow White—nihil than anything experimental. Although "package pictures," like Make Mine Music, did not have the production difficulties of a storytelling cartoon feature, they had not been very profitable either. A new, less expensive way to make the projected Cinderella as a full-fledged animated feature had to be found. Reasoning that animation was the most costly part of the business. Walt felt that everything possible should be clone to save the animator's time, to help him make that first test "OK for cleanup" without correction. He turned to live action to solve his problem.

All of Cinderella was shot very carefully with live actors, testing the cutting, the continuity, the staging, the characterizations, and the play between the characters. Only the animals were left as drawings, and story | reels were made of those sketches to find the balance j with the rest of the picture. Economically, we could not experiment; we had to know, and it had to be | good. When all of the live film was spliced together, this was undeniably a strong base for proving the work-ability of the scenes before they were animated, but the inventiveness and special touches in the acting that had made our animation so popular were lacking. The film had a distinctly live action feel, but it was so beautifully structured and played so well that no one could argue with what had to be done. As animators we felt restricted, even though we had done most of the filming ourselves, but the picture had to be made for a price, and this was, undeniably, a way of doing it.

By the time we were starting Peter Pan, we had learned to get further away from any actual use of the live action scenes, restaging them after seeing weaknesses, using the film as a starting point from which to build and invent and enrich. We had been shown the way to go, but we had to do the "going" ourselves, and the picture was better for it. We recaptured much of the fantasy and magic in the features made before the second World War.

Animators always had the feeling they were nailed to the floor when their whole sequences were shot ahead of time in live action. Everyone's imagination as to how a scene might be staged was limited by the placement of the camera, for once a scene had been shot it was very hard to switch to a whole new point of view- even though in animation it is quite easy to hang the camera from a star, or a nearby cloud, or let it drift with the breeze wherever it is needed.


If an animal in a film is wearing any kind of costume, he can be handled with human attributes and the audience will accept him. In contrast, if an animal in his natural fur should suddenly stand up and start gesticulating, the viewers will feel uneasy. Put a cap on him, or a tie. and he can swagger around, gesturing and pointing like any ham actor.

Stranger than that, if the story parodies human activities. as in Song of the South and Robin Hood, there is no need to restrict a character's movements by the limitations of its animal body. The character can have human hands, fingers, a human pelvis, and feet with shoes. Of course natural animal drawing or realistic action will always add sincerity and interest to this type of film, but it is not truly needed to tell the story. On the other hand, if the story is man's view of what the animal world is like, as in Lady and the Tramp. 101 Dalmatians, and The Jungle Book, the animals must be completely believable or the whole premise will collapse.

There was a unique situation in The Sword in the

Disney Character Pencil AnimationsHand Sketched Disney Animal Characters Hand Sketched Disney Animal CharactersSketches Jungal Backruond

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

Realize Your Dream of Becoming a Professional Pencil Drawing Artist. Learn The Art of Pencil Drawing From The Experts. A Complete Guide On The Qualities of A Pencil Drawing Artist.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment