Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vance Gerry & Ollie Johnston

Story artist Vance Gerry came up with these beautiful sketches in which he explored the bond between Penny and Rufus from The Rescuers. Vance always drew from the insight out, meaning that what motivated him were things like atmosphere, personality relationships and clear staging within storytelling. 
A sentimental sequence like this one where Rufus tries to cheer Penny up could become saccharine very easily if in the hands of lesser artists. 

It is interesting to see how animator Ollie Johnston applied Vance's staging to his animation. 
The poses on the bed at the beginning are practically identical. When the story artist, who has given the situation a lot of thought, offers sketches so well worked out, why not use them?
Penny's dialogue is: "Gee, we better hurry, or we'll be late for supper."  Ollie synced his animation beautifully with the two accents  HURRY and SUPPER. Penny lifts up the cat on HURRY, and then she makes her first step forward on SUPPER.
I love the weight of the cat, Rufus almost falls through Penny's arms when she adjusts her grip. Then when she moves screen left the cat's body moves screen right for counter balance.
And it's nice to see Ollie's rough lines under the clean up. 
Wonderful stuff!

If you print out these sheets and flip through them you will learn a lot, I promise.

You can watch the scene at the end of this youtube clip:


  1. Thank you, Andreas! I never thought about that but printing these pages and flipping them would give you a more intimate perspective.

  2. Love your blog, Andreas: thanks so much for sharing!

    If you'd activate the blogger lightbox option to see your images we'd actually be able to 'flip' through them right here on your blog! (it is always possible to open the image in a new tab if we want to see a bigger version) Blogger caught some flak for the lightbox-image-viewer but for animation and storyboard images it's pretty neat.

  3. Though The Rescuers was never a favorite of mine of the Disney animated features, I do respect how much effort was put into it. The scene between the girl and cat is touching and it works really well. Like I said not a film I like but I can see why many people cherish it.

  4. There's a lot of heart in the work of the late 70s and early 80s from the Disney studio. I'm thinking most specifically, The Rescuers, Small One, Pete's Dragon, and Fox and the Hound. It would seem like the remaining "Nine Old Men," (Frank and Ollie, Woolie Reitherman, Eric Larson) including the great Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry had something to do with this. I still enjoy these films, and I know my kids do as well. They are very sentimentally sincere.

  5. I agree that printing and flipping helps (to see the flow) ... but what also works if you enable the "Showcase images with Lightbox" viewer in your blog settings. If this setting is enabled, when your readers view the first image, a strip of thumbnails appears at the bottom of the page to help with image sequences. Repetitively clicking on the next thumbnail presents each image in rapid succession, which provides "flow" and persistence of vision. However, some artists don't like this image viewer. Just a suggestion.

  6. That was beautiful scene, have to buy that movie.

  7. Aus Ihrem Blog wird ersichtlich, Herr Deja, mit wieviel Begeisterung und Herzblut sie dabei sind. Wenn jeder seine Berufung so leben würde wie Sie, wäre diese Welt vermutlich ein besserer Ort! Ich hoffe sehr, dass Sie am Ball bleiben und dem traditionellen Trickfilm niemals den Rücken kehren. Ich freue mich auf viele weitere Posts von Ihnen und auf Ihren Kurzfilm! (Wie weit ist dieser eigentlich fortgeschritten? Kommen dazu in Kürze neue Updates?)

  8. Your commentary is always enjoyable to read – it brings many details to my attention that I'd miss otherwise. :D

  9. Besides printing it out, I have imported the drawings into my animation programme, and they are marvelous! Setting at 12 frames per second, the flow and the direction of movement is beautiful.
    We can directly learn from Ollie Johnston, exclusively thanks to you, Mr. Deja! Hopefully there are going to be further sheets like this. Thank you a 1000 times!

  10. I've been flipping it, over and over and over...and each time I catch something new. You are so right, Andreas! Thanks!

  11. Ahhh Bliss and more bliss with a side of Blissness!Thanks for sharing!!

  12. Wow. I just spent the last hour or so studying these frames and am in awe of the talent on display. Consider the microexpression on frame 123 which if taken by itself would suggest Penny was angry or frustrated with Rufus. Instead it's seems to be a quick hint at the effort it is going to take to lift Rufus or an insight into Penny's frustration with not getting adopted... or perhaps a bit of both simultaneously? I hope to study this sequence more because you weren't kidding when you said there is a lot to see there. So much to see and... it's a dialogue shot as well!

  13. Andreas, how did you manage to get your hands on all these great drawings? I guess I have only myself to blame. I was sitting directly across from Vance when I worked in Woolie's unit.

    1. They are all xeroxes from Ollie's collection. Even the ones with color are copies, Vance added magic marker tones on the backside.

  14. Feel free to study scenes like this one on your screen, I just believe that flipping paper copies and rolling these drawings back and forth has a stronger learning impact.

  15. I always love your posts! Thank you so much for showing us these.
    Even though they are keys, I thought I would dabble in making a .gif out of them just for the heck of it. Thought you might enjoy it.

  16. Thanks andreas deja .i learn alot ot information of animation with your website . You are one of the best supervisor animator and the best animation jornalist.

  17. Dear Andreas,

    I really love your posts about traditional animation, especially those on The Rescuers. I'm a 3D animator and I've taken it upon myself to work out the scene where Penny is down in the pirate's cave and tries to 'get the big, shiny diamond for her auntie Medusa'.

    After a week of tweaking with Penny's face I just can't seem to get it exactly right. When viewed from aside it's Penny, but when viewed from the front it keeps being slightly off.

    As you seem to be in possession of a true treasure trove of Ollie Johnstons original sketches, I was hoping that you would be so kind as to email me some character sheets of Penny and maybe also Bernard and Bianca.

    I thought I contact you in this way as Blogger doesn't seem to have a PM in place. I hope you can help me out. (My own little message in a bottle).


    Evert Krooswijk