Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Roger Rabbit Crowd Scene

This cel from the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit was recently sold at Heritage Auctions. As if animating the whole movie on ones and following the live action camera wasn't tough enough, toward the end of production we still had a large amount of crowd scenes to do. Filled with characters from different studios.
I animated one early shot in which a huge number of characters come running toward camera to inspect what's left of the villain Judge Doom.
There was Mickey, Minnie, Pinocchio, Betty Boop, the Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and others. For me this was the first time I animated classic cartoon characters. These scenes were usually split up between two animators. One drew the front rows of characters the other added the back end of the group.
I remember that I needed to study the characters' movements in classic short films on Video Cassettes, frame by frame. They all had to run "in character", so that needed some analysis. 
Betty Boop swings her arms sideways when running, the Roadrunner has these Beep, Beep stop and go moves etc.
I also remember that it took me forever to get those scenes done, particularly the running one. Despite pressure from management I had a ball animating famous "toons" trying to get them as close to the original versions as possible. 
This scene here appears a little later when the gang has already arrived and some of them are commenting on the situation. Here I animated Pinocchio, Daffy, Baby Herman, Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Bugs, Betty Boop, Tweety, Donald and Sylvester.


  1. This is probably the visual representation of a migraine for an animator, but it's impressive that you still managed to pull all these different characters off while keeping them fairly on model.
    I still remember the first time I saw this movie on TV and this is one of the scenes that stuck with me.

  2. man, it must have been tricky to keep track of all the layering. Is this all on one cel? So you maybe would have done the roughs separately, cleaned them up on a single layer, then made the single layer cel?
    What did you think of Mickey's Christmas Carol at the time that you were working on Black Cauldron? did you feel like you were missing out on something fun?

    1. Had a closer look at the cel. I can clearly see Daffy casting a cel shadow onto Goofy, and Goofy, in turn, casting a cel shadow onto Dopey!

      Would this have been in three layers, Andreas, or possibly more?

    2. Comparing the cel set-up with screengrabs from the film it is clear that either there are several cels (7?) or these are not production cels but 3 cels specially traced off-register for publicity purposes.

      The characters have been shifted to be able to see more of them (background characters have moved up and foreground slightly down relative to the background photo). In the film there are more characters in a third row behind.

      Comparison with a frame from the film gives the following discrepancies of registration between the characters:

      Pinocchio is a separate level, as his position is out of registration with the other foreground characters.

      The feet of Daffy, Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Betty, Tweety, Donald and Sylvester are all correctly related to each other but Baby Herman and Bugs are out of registration with the rest (and each other).

      Bambi, Pluto and the baby unicorn seem to be a group, Dopey and Yosemite Sam could be in the same registration (it's hard to be sure) and Peter and Toby seem to be grouped (and on the same cel).

    3. Looking again, Pinocchio and Bugs are in register with each other, so could be top level.

  3. Andreas, I am rather curious about something.

    I have always thought of the animation in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as officially having been produced at the Richard Williams Animation Studio, even if many animators from Disney Animation flew over to London to work on it.

    However, I recently came upon an article that mentioned that Dale Baer was directing the animation for it back at Walt Disney Feature Animation in Burbank, as well.

    Does this mean that WFRR was not animated exclusively at Dick Williams' place, but also had at least some animation done at WDFA?

    Been scratching my head ever since!

    Bonus question: Is that Xerox on the Roger Rabbit cel, or hand inked lines? (I believe The Thief and the Cobbler was hand inked, but I am not sure about that!)

    Thank you so much! :-) Certain things you can only find out by directly asking the people who worked on them.

    1. As far as I know, some of the animation was done by Dale and Jane Baer's company for WDFA, but not by the same people who were doing Oliver & Company or the Little Mermaid at the time.
      And I'm fairly sure they xeroxed the clean animation onto cels to make the lines, because the lines are really thin, and they're all the same colour

    2. When you mention the Baer company, do you mean it was a smaller, independent studio that was subcontracted by WDFA to work on some of the animation of the film?

      Or do you simply mean that Dale and Jane had their own unit at WDFA, or something similar?

      I thought those lines looked xeroxed too, but came in doubt because of The Thief. I thought that perhaps Williams did not like Xerox and would not have wanted it used on WFRR.

      Then again, perhaps I am mistaken re The Thief, and maybe it does use Xerox, if only in select shots. (I truly hope that it was used, if only for the mind-blowing animated backgrounds exposed on ones. If not, it can't have been easy hand-inking every animated brick in the wall of Zigzag's tower!)

      Thanks Marc. :-)

    3. oh you know, I found some better details here

    4. Julian -

      Everyone was a Disney employee on this production , including Richard Williams. The film was made by a separate studio set up by Disney in London , not made at Richard Williams' 13 Soho Square studio. The same in Glendale: the unit headed up by Dale Baer was in a warehouse building on Airway St., next to the old airport terminal building, near to where Disney Feature Animation was then housed in another warehouse buildings and some trailers located at 1420 Flower St. in Glendale. Dale and Jane Baer were hired by Disney to supervise this auxilary unit. After Roger Rabbit wrapped the Baers went back to running their own studio.

      re: hand inking -- the majority of the animation drawings for Roger were xeroxed on cels. A handful of scenes may have had some special hand-inked work done on the cels (just like most Disney animated films in the "xerox-era" 1960 - 1990 occasionally had some hand inked details added.)

  4. Seeing that you animated WB characters for this shot, did they consider you to animate for any future Looney Tunes productions after you left Disney in 2011?

  5. Looks superb! Had to get that and see it again, haven't see it for long time.
    What else scenes you animate?

  6. That's why the first row looks to be well composed and balanced (character pose reacting to each other), but the whole image is hard to read when the second row comes in. It must be hard to keep in mind the interaction with drawings you can´t see.

  7. I always knew you were one of Disney's main artists for Mickey during the 90s, but man, your Bugs and Daffy look spot-on here as well. Not to mention having the honor to being able to animate Mickey and Bugs, the icons of two major studios, in the same scene as each other.

    Seeing all of these classic cartoon characters come together for the finale remains one of the great highlights of this movie, and I can never stop appreciating all the hard work that went into it by talented animators like yourself.

  8. I just did a video on the making of the film. I mention some of Andreas’ scenes and his problem solving in it. Hope you like. ROGER RABBIT | Making of the Film https://youtu.be/5WEVNWOoxDs

  9. „...I remember that I needed to study characters' movements in classic short films on Video Cassettes, frame by frame...“
    What a tough job! If I would have a time maschine would it have been helpful to bring you a modern TV, a Blue-Ray player with a switcher and all digital remastered versions of classical short films you needed? ;)
    I'm thankful for the technical possibilities of today! :)
    I'm sure that I'm not the only one who uses PAUSE and PLAY to study movements. The pictures are so sharp and clear! Thank you for confirming that this kind of study movements is well! :)