Thursday, December 5, 2019

Klaus

Treat yourself to a viewing of the animated film Klaus on Netflix.
Sergio Pablos and his crew managed to come up with a brand new style for hand drawn animation.
Believable motion combined with inventive lighting. The result is magical.
Kudos to the entire Klaus team as well as Netflix!




Friday, November 29, 2019

Progress

So happy and proud to report that progress on MUSHKA has been substantial. 
We are locking several more sequences in final color, it is a joy watching it all come together. At this pace we should finish around summer/fall of next year. 
This has been, and still is, an amazing ride. There were times when I thought: What's wrong with a short film that is seven minutes long? 
But telling a story is funny, in a way that it tells you how long it needs to be. MUSHKA can't be told in seven or ten minutes. It is a half hour film. That's the length necessary to cover everything, the development and relationships of the characters as well as the overall storyline. 

In the photo you can see how we add "character effects". This is a process that happens after character opaquing and coloring. Minor highlights and shadows are being added, but also deeper color areas on a tiger. His back, parts of his face etc. 

So far so good!!




Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Lounsbery Cels

Most Disney animation history buffs agree, John Lounsbery doesn't get enough love.
He died in February of 1976 as the first of the Nine Old Men. (Les Clark was the second).
Louns was a mild mannered, soft spoken animator who nevertheless inspired new generations of animators. 
Glen Keane was blown away when he saw Lounsbery drawings for the first time. Dale Baer had the pleasure of being tutored by him during the Disney animation training program. And I am still studying his work trying to figure out why his characters in Dance of the Hours, Dumbo and Jungle Book -to name just a few titles- come off the screen in such a believable and entertaining way.
His use of squash and stretch when animating loose skin is astounding. Examples:
Tony& Joe, the dog Bull and Colonel Hathi. 
So many great performances  like Willie, the Giant, the Mad Hatter (yes, a lot of the the key scenes are his along with the Cheshire Cat), the mice in Cinderella and on and on.

Lounsbery was one of the greatest...ever.












Here is my first post on John Lounsbery:


Monday, November 25, 2019

Dumbo Story Sketches

These charming story sketches are by Bill Peet. (Not 100% sure about the last one.)
Peet's work was an animator's dream come true. He worked out story continuity, character relationships, where the camera was placed, and of course dynamic poses with tons of appeal.
Word has it that he felt the need to re-draw Bill Tytla's animation which he considered to be off model  in some scenes. 
This might be an animation history myth, but you can see in his wonderful drawings that he had a knack for drawing Dumbo as well as the other elephants. Such a great feel for the type of staging that reveals personality. 
When I met Peet late in his life, I knew I was having conversations with an animation giant.













More on Bill Peet's work on Dumbo here:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Preston Blair Life Drawings

Preston Blair was an extraordinary animator who worked for Disney, MGM and Hanna-Barbera. 
His work on Mickey in the Sorcerer's Apprentice, his hippo/alligator dance in The Dance of the Hours and Red Hot Riding Hood for Tex Avery is legendary.
As are his books on cartooning and animation. Here is a selection of his life drawings currently being offered at Heritage Auctions.











Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Black Cauldron Witches

There were many different design versions drawn for the Witches of Morva in The Black Cauldron.
Artists like Milt Kahl, Mel Shaw and Tim Burton all came up with character models that represented their individual artistic style. 
Milt"s witches reminded me of Madam Medusa and Madam Mim, two characters he had previously animated. Tim of course drew the trio in his wonderful outrageously avant-garde style.

By the time I come onboard, I took bits and pieces from these earlier approaches and came up with this look. I believe this what they ended up looking like in the film.

I drew a few scenes with the Witches, but Dale Baer was the one who showed real polish in his animation.








Heritage auctions is currently offering these sheets from the film's producer's estate.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Gold!

Today by accident I came across a lecture given by animator Chuck Harvey at California State University in 2017. Chuck talked about his own work at Disney and other studios.
I was beyond thrilled when he showed and discussed several Milt Kahl thumbnails for Madame Medusa. Copies of this kind of exploratory sketches for certain sequences for The Rescuers by Milt are all over the place, I posted some myself.
Yet I had never before seen thumbnails for the Holy Grail, the make up removal section.
I frame grabbed these images from the video, no HD here, but it is still a thrill to be able to study them. 






Chuck was already an accomplished animator when I started at Disney. He had worked on The Small One, Pete's Dragon and The Rescuers.

You can find his lecture here: