Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stepmother Reference

I am always fascinated to find out how Disney animators used live action reference for their animated scenes. Fascinating as well is to see what went on during the filming of the live action. What kind of effort was put in to simulate the animated performance. As you can see in this photostat, actress Eleanor Audley's outfit doesn't exactly match the costume design from the final frame, but it is close enough for study. Animator Frank Thomas changed the bent of the arm pulling the tray, perhaps to better emphasize the sleeves weight. Because of the cat's position, her right arm needed to be staged differently.
I do like the downward head tilt in the photo, I am not sure if Frank took advantage of this in a different frame of his animation.
Eleanor Audley's make up is of interest as well. Slightly overdone, but very graphic as far as eyebrows, eye liner and lipstick. This helped the animator to read facial expressions more clearly.

I think I mentioned before that this sequence is one of my favorites in Disney animation, even though it might look "live actiony" to some viewers. Eric Larson animated Cinderella here, as she is being verbally abused by her stepmother. Staging and lighting is pure Hitchcock. The animation is subtle, to the point,  and it defines the relationship between these two adversaries in a powerful way.

1 comment:

  1. It would seem that there was an agreed contrast in this sequence between Stepmother's mainly static posture, with controlled, minimal animation (when we first see her she is a held cel) implying her complete control and domination of the situation, and Cinderella's writhing, placating actions which show her helplessness and ultimate submission to her fate.

    I think Thomas would have done only the main keys of this particular scene (107 on the draft) - reaching for tray; hand on tray; tray pulled across; right hand crossing towards cup; hand on cup; cup carried across body (final position) - and most of those only in rough, leaving it to an assistant to complete: his time would be better spent concentrating on the close-up scenes.

    The film frame shown is just past the end position of the tray slide, but I doubt that Thomas was responsible for more than a rough position for the hand.

    Everything in this scene moves with effortless economy - raising the elbow, as in the live action, would have been too "busy" and weakened the effect.

    I think the lack of foreshortening on the head tilt (the frame shown has begun a head-and-shoulders rotation out of the extreme position, but the head shape has not changed) is down to the difficulty of drawing the head tipped forward without going off-model. Had it been essential, Frank might have asked for Milt's help, but because simplicity was the keynote it was easiest just to use the sideways tilt.