Thursday, February 15, 2018

Edgar in a Panic

This is the second half of a scene, in which Edgar, the butler realizes that he might be in trouble. After kidnapping the cats he had left behind his hat and umbrella at the scene of the crime.
Milt Kahl surely had some fun animating this close up dialogue scene. His extreme use of squash and stretch adds unique comedy to this character. And that wonderful feeling of loose, moving flesh on his face. Of course he knew when he could go this far, his animation of Madame Bonfamille by contrast is an exercise in subtlety and grace.
The dialogue leading up to this moment: "They (the police) wouldn't find a clou to implicate me. Not one single clou. Well, I'll eat my hat if they...MY HAT, MY UMBRELLA!"


  1. Really one of my favorite Disney characters even if he's not truly evil!

  2. I was wondering when you were going to comment on this scene. It's a master class of facial expressions!

  3. I noticed that the key poses made it into the first version of "Disney's Animation Magic" book by producer Don Hahn. It's completely a surprise to see it again, even after reading the book many times. This is pure Milt Kahl.

  4. That's real craftsmanship. From on of the underrated Disney movies of the Xerox era. They may not have all the extravaganza from some of the bigger projects that came before or later, but there is no cheating when it comes to how to character animation, design and backgrounds. And none of the limited animation from mass produced animated TV-shows.

    Makes me think of something you said regarding the making of The Princess and the Frog: "I always thought that maybe we should distinguish ourselves to go back to what 2D is good at, which is focusing on what the line can do rather than volume, which is a CG kind of thing. So we are doing less extravagant Treasure Planet kind of treatments. You have to create a world but [we're doing it more simply]. What we're trying to do with Princess and the Frog is hook up with things that the old guys did earlier." And: "All those things that were non-graphic, which means go easy on the straight lines and have one volume flow into the other—an organic feel to the drawing."

    Walt Disney always tried to add as much realism, depth and dimension to his animated movies when possible. But now all that can be done without effort with CGI, and has become the standard in the animation industry. I assume that if Treasure Planet was made today, it would be pure CGI.

    So now when all that stuff can be done with computers, I guess hand-drawn animation no longer need to pay any attention to these elements, and is free to focus on other things. But what things?

    As known, Don Bluth started his own animation studio because he was once part of the team that made Sleeping Beauty, and had seen how all the effects and techniques that were left behind when the animation department was downsized shortly after. So when The Secret of Nimh cam it, it had included things like backlight animation (which some amazingly considered "cheating" once, since it was not made by hand) and the multiplane camera. Of course, also this can be achieved with computers these days. Just like shadowing and coloring.

    So, hypothetically speaking, if someone started up a new animation studio that would focus on big budget hand-drawn theatrically animated features, and made you the boss of the studio, what would you focus on? Like; "computer animation studios can have all those things for themselves, at this studio we will instead pay attention to the line and..., and focus exclusively on..."? Or something like that.

    (There are some things that hand-drawn does better than CGI, but so far I have not been able to find a list that mention these things.)

    1. What I would say first and foremost is technique aside, focus on great innovative stories. What we see a lot in theaters are the same kind of formulas over and over and people are always interested in watching something new and another point of view or take on something. Treat animation like a grownup medium and not as a genre only destined for kids, even though that can be great as well and done in new ways. Technically I'd think the xerox look can still look fresh and new nowadays. Look at some of the artwork posted on this blog like the 101 Dalmatians Peregoy colour keys etc. The main difference between CG and 2d traditional animation if you ask me is in the graphic quality of traditional animation. One of the reasons we all love Milt so much is that he manages to combine a very graphic approach with thinking in volumes. This requires a lot of cheats and solutions that you won't get doing it in cg. Very straight lines against curves, strong silhouettes, illustrative flat design still working in 3d. For the aristocats film the designs were heavily influenced by Ronald Searle. If you were to look at all the styles out there nowadays in comics etc. you could imagine doing super fresh interesting styles ranging from realistic to highly stylised. But in the end you asked Andreas of course so he'll have another take on this. Just felt compelled to rant a bit!!

    2. I don't have any earth-shattering suggestions, just what seems obvious that others have said before: Pick stories that lend themselves to hand-drawn animation, or even just animation in general, that wouldn't be better served in live action, a stage play, etc., and don't try to look like photo-real live action and/or CGI - I think of what Eric Goldberg did with the Genie, or the graphic designs that went into Samurai Jack or anything coming out of Cartoon Saloon - those aren't the only styles to go with, but they are styles that would rarely be confused with any other medium, and that do not lend themselves to volumetric, mechanically, mathmatically smooth, stiff, perfect CGI

  5. That character gave me nightmares hahahaha.