Sunday, January 14, 2018

More Ken O'Brien Roughs

I've written about animator Ken O'Brien before. On Lady & the Tramp he had the ungrateful task of bringing the human characters of Jim Dear and Darling to life. They were both based on live action reference, and a lesser animator might have ruined such an assignment.
But O'Brien knew very well how to work best with that kind of reference. He altered the poses from the live action quite a bit by strengthening body rhythm and overall movement. His drawing and animation is sort of a healthy mix of Fred Moore and Milt Kahl.
Look at the image above, he handled those 3/4 rear vews with such ease! I find myself working that kind of an angle on characters over and over. Its not easy, but look at O'Brien's approach! Intuitive and perfect.

Go here for previous posts on the talented Ken O'Brien:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bald Mountain Art

A few pieces of art from "Night on Bald Mountain" that were sold by Heritage Auctions last year.
This segment from Fantasia remains animations' most nightmarish, astounding, horrific and beautiful moment.
Between Kay Nielsen's concepts and Bill Tytla's extraordinary animation, on top of the brilliant Mussorgsky's composition, there is a visual power that has not been matched in this medium since. Sheer terror without an ounce of comedy for balance.
Not every sequence in Fantasia came "together" in terms of story, animation and color, but Night on Bald Mountain is one of those cinematic achievements that is absolutely perfect. It went all the way, nothing is compromised in its presentation. It is a benchmark for what animation could do in 1940, and a reminder of the power of Drawn Animation.

Check out this previous post on Chernabog:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ollie's Mowgli

Ollie Johnston animated practically the whole "Bear Necessities" song sequence from The Jungle Book. He had such a natural, instinctive feeling when it came to developing Baloo and Mowgli's relationship. It looks to me that he didn't overanalyze his animation, there is a strong gut feeling for how the characters' friendship evolved and changed. 
In this scene Mowgli mimics Baloo's actions, as he tries to pick a thorny fruit from a cactus. 
What a beautiful reaction when Mowgli pricks his finger. The whole head reacts first, his hair bursts, with his face wide open. He then shakes his hand, puts his finger in his mouth, then shakes the hand again. 
Actually the whole body is involved in Mowgli's reaction. His legs go up and down. This is intuitive, insightful character animation, with traces of Ollie's mentor Fred Moore.
These clean up lines were done right over Ollie's rough animation drawings.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Frank Thomas and Dalmatians

Great publicity photo of Frank drawing a live Pongo at the studio. This pic was taken either during or toward the end of production of 101 Dalmatians. There are finished cel set-ups pinned on the story board behind him, as well as a drawing and cel from one of his lovely Perdita scenes.

Before Dalmatians Frank had produced beautiful animation featuring dog characters for Lady & the Tramp. One of his key sequences (aside from the iconic spaghetti eating moment) was when Tramp meets Lady for the first time, along with Trusty and Jock. Their character-contrasting interactions are priceless.
For 101 Dalmatians Frank animated many scenes with the lead dogs, but also a poignant scene at the beginning of the film, when during the birth sequence Nanny presents an unlucky puppy to Roger Radcliff and Pongo. That puppy was brought back to life through the help of Roger.
Later on another one of Frank's heartfelt animation moments is the Dalmatian reunion in the cows' stable.
Marc Davis might have stolen the show with his inventive and eccentric animation of Cruella De Vil, but if the plight of the Dalmatian family hadn't been portrayed believably and emotionally the story wouldn't have worked.
And Frank Thomas had a lot to do with that.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Disney's Christmas Carol 1957

From Mc'Calls magazine, many years before the animated Mickey's Christmas Carol.
My guess is that the images were sketched by Bill Peet and then painted by one of the studio's background painters (some of them did illustration of Disney stories for Golden Books).

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that this will be my year of the tiger...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Developing the Character of Penny

I believe this early sketch of Penny from The movie The Rescuers is by Ken Anderson.
When child actress Michelle Stacy was chosen to voice the character, animators Milt Kahl and Ollie Johnston based their drawings a little after her appearance.
Michelle also posed as Penny, but I do not know if she was filmed or just photographed.
Ollie Johnston sketched these poses from that reference. You can tell that Ollie was looking for a certain melancholy within the personality. One of his key sequences to animate was the sentimental moment where Rufus the cat tries to comfort Penny in the orphanage.

Go here for previous posts about Penny: