Thursday, April 25, 2019

Another Frank Thomas Masterpiece

Frank Thomas' animation of Bambi and Thumper on the ice is legendary.
This story sequence was almost cut from the film, Walt Disney questioned its importance within the overall plot of the film.
Marc Davis had sketched the storyboards, and Frank got all excited over the possibilities for personality animation . In order to convince Walt that this might be a highly entertaining part of the movie, Frank posed out the whole sequence for Walt to see. The rest is history.
What a great contrast between the characters. Thumper is so comfortable on the ice, he is a champ skater with his low center of gravity. Bambi is the opposite. His long legs prevent him from balancing his body. 
It's animation business galore.

I noticed that Frank drew Bambi with solid, sometimes bulky legs. Milt Kahl was already in the business of stylizing a deer's anatomy with much thinner legs. (A trend that would continue with Prince Philip's horse Samson as well as Pongo.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Our Planet

Go to NETFLIX and watch Our Planet. Incredible animal footage to study. From the folks who brought you Planet Earth.
As gorgeous as this documentary series is, it does inform you about frightening statistics in terms of disappearing wildlife on earth. There is some hope for creatures like this Siberian tiger, for other species it looks dismal.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Magician Mickey Roughs

The year is 1937. Walt Disney Productions releases SEVEN Mickey Mouse short films. Magician Mickey opened in February, Snow White would be released in December.

In this short Mickey puts up a magic show while constantly being interrupted by Donald Duck.
Consequently Donald becomes a part and a victim of Mickey's magic acts.

Heritage Auctions offered this amazing collection of rough animation drawings a while ago.
I really don't know who drew these, but animation credits from this film include Johnny Cannon, Ed Love, Les Clark, Bill Roberts, Isadore Klein and Riley Thomson.
Fred Moore most certainly was still busy animating dwarfs.

This kind of artwork is extremely rare as rough animation drawings were considered not suitable for archiving. I love all of these expressive, vaudeville type poses. Great clarity and staging.

Talking amount Mickey Mouse: I had the pleasure of guest curating the next big exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum. 

More on this in my next post.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

James H. Dowd

I am still a big fan of the drawings by James H. Dowd.  Full of life, beautifully observed and virtuoso draughtsmanship. I posted some of his artwork a few years ago, but I remember mis-identifying the artist's actual name. 
Anyway, Frank and Ollie were very impressed by his spirited illustrations. And of course they were.
The overall philosophy is very Disney-like. Personality, movement, everyday life poses...depicting the ordinary in an extraordinary way.
I found this info about Dowd online:

James Henry Dowd was born in 1884. He worked as a draughtsman, etcher and painter. Dowd was a regular contributor to the The Daily Graphic and in 1906 began to have his work published in Punch Magazine. As Mark Bryant points out: "He (Dowd) was also the magazine's first illustrator of film criticism, continuing in this post for more than three decades and also drew theatre caricatures."
Dowd also produced drawings for The Bystander and The Strand Magazine. He also designed posters for London General Omnibus Company and London Underground Electric Railways. According to one critic he was "one of the early pioneers of the vital expressive line that seems to be part of the subject, instead of merely illustrating it."
Dowd provided the drawings for several books including the highly acclaimed Important People (1930) and People of Importance (1934).
James H. Dowd died in Epsom on 16th March 1956.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Eric Goldberg's Rhapsody in Blue

The Rhapsody in Blue section in Fantasia 2000 is not only my favorite piece in the movie, it is one of my all time favorite animated short films. 
And lucky me had the opportunity to contribute a couple of scenes to this masterpiece.
I remember complimenting Eric on his amazing story reel. The way he created a solid, entertaining story based on Gershwin's 1924 composition almost left me speechless. It felt like Gershwin came up with his music to accommodate Eric's film many decades later. 
I love everything about this film. The Hirschfeld graphic influence, Susan Goldberg's art direction and everybody's animation. 
Had this been a stand alone short film, it most certainly would have won an Oscar.
Bravo Eric!!!

Here are a few stills featuring my animation.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Three More Kleys

I just want to share these recent Heinrich Kley online discoveries.
Above, Bacchus' parade. Beautiful subtle color treatment and gorgeous line work.
A tribut to hangovers.
The next one is a muddle of creatures interacting. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Kley started drawing on one corner of the sheet, not knowing what the final assembly or of characters and composition might end up looking like.

A study of industrial machinery, perhaps commissioned by the German company Krupp.
Kley was extraordinary at depicting everything from landscape watercolors, cityscapes, to fantastical beasts interplaying.
I am astonished to still find never before seen Kley artwork every year. To say that Kley was prolific is an understatement.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Kimball's Cricket

A few outrageously beautiful Jimmy Cricket sketches by Ward Kimball that were recently sold at auction.
After having initially struggled with the character's design (Walt insisted on eliminating most insect anatomy), he eventually found a look that pleased the boss. A little guy with Mickey Mouse like proportions and an egg head. Just look at the range of expressions that Kimball gets out of this simple head shape.
For the 1937 Silly Symphony he had produced brilliant animation for musicians in a "bug orchestra".
That might have been the reason -at least in part- why he was assigned to this important character in Pinocchio.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Lady & the Tramp Masterpiece

It is worth spending time studying these clean up drawings from the famous Frank Thomas scene.
Inspired by story sketches from Joe Rinaldi, Frank outdid himself, if that's even possible.
His emotional acting and timing are beyond belief. There is no live action reference that would give you a kick start. It's all in the imagination and craft of the animator to pull off this scene in which two dogs fall in love over a spaghetti dinner. 
I think it's one of the most perfect scenes ever animated at Disney. I remember Frank talking about the part where Tramp nudges the last meatball over to Lady. He needed to compromise dog anatomy in order to pull this off. "No real dog can get into a position like this" he said. He was talking about Tramp's staging, and how he would have to use a completely different pose to be anatomically correct. But that went out the window in favor of getting the right feeling across.
(This part of the scene is not represented here.)

I know that Iwao Takamoto supervised Lady's clean up drawings. I don't know who did Tramp, but I wouldn't be surprised if Iwao did him as well in this scene. 

Animation acting and drawing on the highest level! To all animation students:
Study the dimensional volumes of the characters. Eyes, eye lids, eye lashes, the configuration of Tramp's muzzle and its squash and stretch.
Notice how Lady's and Tramp's attention throughout is with off screen Tony and Joe, who are playing romantic music and singing "Bella Notte".

And how cool that animation can be this extraordinary!!

Here is the link to a previous post on this scene: