Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bob Sabiston and Digital Rotoscoping

Screening Room:

Snack and Drink (Bob Sabiston, 1999)

Waking Life (Richard Linklater, 2001)


-Bob Sabiston's early career is very much in keeping with the tradition of individual innovation not unlike Blackton, Cohl, McCay, The Fleischers, etc.

-He invented software that allowed for simple tracing over existing footage; It was essentially a modern, digital version of the "rotoscoping" technique.

-Along with Tommy Pallotta, he made Roadhead (1999) which premiered at that year's ResFest.

-His software allows even novice animators artistic freedom to create poetic animation works; unlike the often mechanical movement in older rotoscoped films, Sabiston's animation movements are much more fluid and abstract.

-Sabiston and Pallotta team with fellow Austin, Texas resident Richard Linklater to make Waking Life.

-Sabiston was one of the key creative figures responsible for the animation in 2006's A Scanner Darkly.

Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame. Pre-recorded live-action film images were projected onto a frosted glass panel and re-drawn by an animator. This projection equipment is called a rotoscope. Today, computers do the work. In the film industry, the term rotoscoping refers to the technique of manually creating a matte for an element on a live-action plate so it may be composited over another background.

Rotoscope by Max Fleischer, patent drawing from 1914.

The technique was invented by Max Fleischer, who used it to create his series Out of the Inkwell , with his brother Dave Fleischer performing the live-film shots for the character of Koko the Clown.

Fleischer used rotoscope in a number of short cartoons and in the feature film Gulliver's Travels (1939). The Fleischer studio's most effective use of rotoscoping was in their series of Superman cartoons.

Ralph Bakshi used the technique quite extensively in his animated movies Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), American Pop (1981), and Fire and Ice (1983). Bakshi first turned to rotoscoping after 20th Century Fox refused his request for a budget increase to finish Wizards, prompting him to use the technique to finish the film.

Kanye West's Heartless (2008) directed by Hype Williams uses rotoscoping.

Rotoscoping was also used in Heavy Metal (1981), the a-ha music video "Take on Me" (1985), and Don Bluth's Titan A.E. (2000).

While rotoscoping is generally known to bring a sense of realism to larger budget animated films, the American animation company Filmation, known for its budget-cutting limited TV animation, was also notable for its heavy usage of rotoscope to good effect in series such as Flash Gordon, Blackstar, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Smoking Car Productions invented a digital rotoscoping process in 1994 for the creation of its critically-acclaimed adventure video game, The Last Express. The process was awarded U.S. Patent 6061462: Digital Cartoon and Animation Process. In the mid-1990s, Bob Sabiston, an animator and computer scientist veteran of the MIT Media Lab, developed a computer-assisted interpolated rotoscoping process which the director Richard Linklater later employed in the full-length feature films Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006). Waking Life was the first feature film comprised entirely of digital rotoscoping.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Persepolis (2007)

Key Figures:

Marjane Satrapi - Writer/Director

Vincent Paronnaud
- Co-Writer/Co-Director

Voice Actors:

Danielle Darrieux - as Grandmother

Catherine Deneuve - as Mother

Chiara Mastroianni - as Marjane

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios is a CGI animation production company based in Emeryville, California. The studio has earned over 20 Academy Awards and many other awards, acknowledgments and achievements. It is best known for its CGI-animated films created with the industry-standard Renderman software.

Key Figures:

Steve Jobs- Apple Founder, buys Lucasfilms Computer Division from George Lucas to form Pixar.

John Lasseter- Former Disney & Lucas animator, becomes primary Creative Director at Pixar.

Ed Catmull- Ran Lucasfilm's Computer Division, becomes President of Pixar.

Screening List:

Luxo Jr. (J. Lasseter, 1986)

Knick Knack (J. Lasseter, 1989)

Geri's Game (J. Pinkava, 1997)

Toy Story 2
(J. Lasseter, 1999)

For The Birds (R. Eggleston, 2000)

Monsters, Inc. (P. Docter, 2001)

Pixar Timeline:

1979- Graphics Group, a part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm is created.

1984- John Lasseter leaves his job at Disney to work at Lucasfilm Computer Division.

1986- Lucasfilm's GG is purchased by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for $10 million. Ed Catmull quits his job as head of Lucasfilm's Computer Division to co-found PIXAR. Luxo Jr. premieres.

1988- The short Tin Toy premieres.

1989- Tin Toy wins 1989 Academy Award for Best Short and becomes the 1st computer animated film to win an Oscar.

1991- Pixar and Disney team up to produce 3 feature animated films. Pixar makes the films and Disney distributes them.

1995- Toy Story is released, the 1st fully computer animated film.

1996- John Lasseter wins Special Achievement Academy Award for Leadership on Toy Story.

1997- Pixar and Disney sign a new agreement, superceding the old one, to jointly produce 5 animated features.

1998- A Bug's Life is released.

1999- Toy Story 2 is released. The first film to be entirely created mastered and exhibited digitally. It is also the first sequel to gross more than the original.

2001- Monsters, Inc. is released. Co-founder Ed Catmull named President. John Lasseter signs a 10 year exclusive contract.

2003- Finding Nemo released. It is the highest grossing animated film worldwide.

2004- The Incredibles is released. The 1st Pixar film to feature human characters in main roles, Little Nemo becomes the highest selling DVD of all-time.

2006- The Walt Disney Company purchases Pixar for $7.4 billion. Lasseter announces he will revive Disney's 2-D animation. Cars is released in June.

Cars (2006)

Monday, November 17, 2008

TV Animation: Hanna-Barbera & Cartoon Network

Suggested Reading:

"Moody Toons: The king of the Cartoon Network" by Alec Wilkinson | Listen | Read

"Makin' Toons" by Allan Neuwirth

Cost-cutting techniques in TV animation:

-Cels and sequences of cels were used over and over again: for example Fred Flinstone only needs to be fully animated walking once.

-Only portions of a character, such as a mouth or arm, would be animated on static cel.

-Visuals took a backseat to audio elements so verbal humor and voice talent became more important than the animation (sitcom modelfollowed, e.g. laughtracks).

Hanna Barbera

-Studio formed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera after MGM animation department closed in 1957.
(The team created Tom and Jerry series in 1940)

-It was the first studio to successfully produce animation for TV.

-Criticized for contributing to the general decline in the quality of TV animation.

-Practiced "Limited Animation" for cost cutting rather than artistic purposes (true of many studios, not just H-B... Filmation, others).

-The company eventually evolved into the Cartoon Network Studios.

Cartoon Network

-With the growth of CN in the mid 1990's the network wanted to produce original shows instead of simply re-running old cartoons.

-Cable can serve a more refined audience... cartoons didn't have to have the broad appeal they did on network TV.

Genndy Tartakovsky

-Born in Russia, moved to USA at the age of 7 in 1978.

-Lived in Columbus, Ohio until he was 10.

-Graduated in Chicago; went to CalArts for 2 years where he met Craig McCracken.

-Drew for Batman in Spain.

-Pitched Dexter to H-B before it became the Cartoon Network.

-Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory (1995) became one of the first shows produced for the network.

-Craig McCracken, a fellow student at CalArts served as art director on Dexter's Lab.

-Tartakovsky served as producer and coordinator on McCracken's Powerpuff Girls.

Screening Room:

The Huckleberry Hound Show: "Spud Dud"
Airdate: Sept. 11,1960

Search YouTube for Huckleberry Hound Show Cartoons

The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962)

-The Series began in 1958.

-It was the first Hanna-Barbera program that they owned outright.

-Released in syndication: Ruff & Ready was the studio's 1st production, part of a cartoon program with a live host. The show also featured Pixie & Dixie and Yogi Bear.

-Huckleberry Hound was performed by prolific voice actor Daws Butler.
Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1916, his career spanned over 50 years.
Visit the Daws Butler page at IMDB

Jonny Quest: "The Robot Spy"
Airdate: Nov. 6, 1964

Search YouTube for Jonny Quest Cartoons

-1st animated TV series to portal "real" people vs. cartoon creatures.

-26 episodes aired during the 1964-65 season.

-Doug Wildey - longtime comic book & strip artist was known for bold use of shadow, realistically drawn figures, exotic locales.

-Wildey designed main Quest character models; produced many of the stories; developed atmosphere & style associated with the show.

-Production team studied the current scientific journals to immerse themselves in state-of-the-art technology

Samurai Jack: "Jack & the Scotsman"
Airdate: Oct. 29, 2001

Search YouTube for Samurai Jack Cartoons

-Content reflects TV's interest in action in cartoons

-The show's many different settings from episode to episode allows great artistic experimentation, especially by background artists (different times, locales).

-Style is lush and painterly but flat; characters drawn without black outline common to most cartoon characters.

-Focus on eyes - expressiveness.

-Little dialogue, simple stories, lots of action and fight scenes.

-Dan Krall - linedrawings and backgrounds.

-Scott Wills - color, lighting and shading of backgrounds.


Film: Little Prince and Eight Headed Dragon (1963) written by Takashi Iijima and Ichirô Ikeda

Directors: Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Independent American Animators

(John & Faith Hubley, 1959)

The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
(John Canemaker, 2005)

Canemaker explores the difficult emotional terrain of his relationship with his father. Voiced by Eli Wallach and John Turturro, The Moon and the Son combines audio recordings, conjecture, drawings, fact, home movies, photographs, memory, newspaper clippings, original animation and trial transcripts to depict the story of an Italian immigrant's life and the consequences of his actions on his family. Canemaker won the Oscar in 2006 for Best Short Film, Animated.

Read the synopsis at

Visit to learn more about The Moon and the Son


Lost Motion
(Janie Geiser, 1999)

Pony Glass
(Lewis Klahr, 1997)

Culture Consumer Lewis Klahr
The Re-Animator
Michael Atkinson
Tuesday, May 16th 2000

Monday, November 10, 2008

Computer Generated Imagery

CGI or Computer Generated Imagery can sometimes be described interchangeably as Computer Animation. However, CGI typically refers too digitally created 3-D effects in live action films.

-CGI is often used as a cheaper and faster method of creating background imagery such as crowd scenes or scenes that require many extras and creating sets or environments that would otherwise
require major construction or elaborate small scale models. It is also used to create images that would not be possible any other way. It can also add simple effects such as smoke, fire, etc. and can delete unwanted visuals such as a wire, body part, etc.

-In 2-D animation, computers can: do in-between drawings, cel-coloring, and can reproduce backgrounds all more quickly and more cheaply than by hand. Animators can also get instant fedback on their work as opposed to older, slower methods such as a filmed pencil test.

Screening Room:

No Fate But What We Make: 'Terminator 2' and The Rise of Digital Effects (Van Ling, 2003)

This documentary is featured on the 2003 'Extreme' DVD release for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).

Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1993)

ILM & The Making of Hulk (2003)

This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD for Hulk (2003).

Hulk (Ang Lee, 2003)

The Matrix: Bullet Time

(Documentary on digital cinematography)

Spider-man 2
(Sam Raimi, 2005)

Important Terms:

Motion Capture (mocap) - also known as motion tracking, describes the process of recording movement and translating the movement onto a digital model. It is used in military, entertainment, sports, and medical applications. In filmaking it refers to recording actions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 3D animation it includes face, fingers and captures subtle expressions, it is often referred to as performance capture.

Rendering- is the process of generating an image from a model, by means of computer programs. The model is a description of three-dimensional objects in a strictly defined language or data structure. It would contain geometry, viewpoint, texture lighting and shading information. The image is a digital image or raster graphics image.

Note: 'Rendering' is also used to describe the process of calculating effects in a video editing file to produce final video output.

Morphing- digitally blending a CG imagery and real imagery.

This special effect in films and animations changes (or morphs) one image into another through a seamless transition. Most often it is used to depict one person turning into another through some magical or technological means or as part of a fantasy or surreal sequence. Traditionally such a depiction would be achieved through cross-fading techniques on film. Since the early 1990's, this has been replaced by computer software to create more realistic transitions.

Reflection Mapping- digitally simulating a mirrored surface, often by recreating what would be reflected in the mirror.

Reflection Mapping is an efficient method of simulating a complex mirroring surface by means of a precomputed texture image. The texture is used to store the image of the environment surrounding the rendered object. There are several ways of storing the surrounding environment. Two popular methods are the Spherical Environment Mapping in which a single texture contains the image of the surrounding as reflected on a mirror ball, or the Cubic Environment Mapping in which the environment is unfolded onto the six faces of a cube and stored therefore as six square textures.

Interpolation - creating digital frames in a film based on existing frames of live action scenes.

Also known as:

Tweening (short for in-betweening) - the process of generating intermediate frames between two images to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image.

The use of computers for inbetweening was pioneered by Nestor Burtnyk and Marceli Wein at the National Research Council of Canada. They received a Technical Achievement Academy Award in 1997, for their pioneering work in the development of software techniques for computer assisted key framing for character animation.

In the context of Adobe Flash, the process is simply called "tweening," and the resultant animation is called a "tween."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

World Animation I: Government Funded Films

Norman McLaren

A Scottish-born Canadian animator and director. His early film work impresses John Grierson, a key figure in early documentary film making. Grierson as head of The National Film Board of Canada, hires McLaren in 1941 to head the Animation Department.


Music- saw film as a way to express his feelings about music.

Surrealism- subconscious as source for artistic inspiration and improvisation.

Metamorphosis- inspired by Emile Cohl's work; celebration of movement as only film can do.

International Brotherhood- his films were geared to a world-wide audience.

McLaren's definition of animation:

"Animation is not the art of drawings that move, but rather the art of movements that are drawn. What happens between each frame is more important than what happens on each frame."

McLaren's definition of cinema:

1. Art as movement designed through time.
2. Motion and change painted with light.

Screening Room:

Boogie Doodle (1940) Norman McLaren

Creative Process: Norman McLaren (1990)

Neighbors (1952)

Begone Dull Care (1949)

Caroline Leaf

Known for her innovative animation techniques including sand on glass, finger painting on glass and etching directly on to film. She is also known for her film's emotional content and graphic style. Her method was known as "under the camera animation".

The NFB Support of her work began in 1972.

The Street (1976) was named the 2nd greatest animated film ever in an international contest sponsored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Screening Room with Caroline Leaf & Mary Beams

The Street (1976) Caroline Leaf

Entre Deux Soeurs
(1991) Caroline Leaf

Jan Svankmajer

Born in 1934, Prague. He received training in puppet theatre. He belongs to the Surrealist Group of Prague, which has been in existence since the 1930's. His work often dwells on dreams and childhood, themes associated with surrealism. Likewise he often focuses on sex, politics and the subversion of social convention. Influenced by "mannerism" an art movement launched in the 1500-1600's as a reaction to the renaissance, valued clashing colors, emotion and bizarre themes over the renaissance's balance and gracefulness. He has influenced scores of film makers such as Tim Burton and the Brothers Quay.

Little Otik (Otesánek) (2000) directed by Jan Svenkmajer. (Trailer)

Lunacy (Sileni) (2005) directed by Jan Svenkmajer (Trailer)

Meat Love (1988) directed by Jan Svenkmajer.

Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) directed by Jan Svenkmajer.

Part I

Part II

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hollywood Studio Animation V: UPA

United Productions of America

The Unicorn in the Garden (1953)

-UPA's style was a radical departure from Disney as it featured "Limited Animation" as opposed to Disney's lush, detailed and realistic style.

-Limited Animation- involves the use of visual abstraction, symbolism, relatively limited movement to suggest backgrounds and environments.

-UPA animation became synonymous with a more modern, bold approach to graphic style in animation. UPA used color as a key expressive ingredient.

-UPA eschewed violent gags and talking animals, they were common in most studio animation.

-All other studios were heavily influenced by UPA style including Disney.

-Columbia Pictures released the UPA cartoons in the late 1940's and 50's.

Key Figures:

John Hubley

Robert Cannon

Jules Engel

William T. Hurtz

Steve Bosustow

Screening Room:

Barefaced Flatfoot (1951) - John Hubley
(French Dub)

Magoo Meets Frankenstein (1960)

Gerald McBoing Boing (1950) - Robert Cannon & Dr. Suess

Rooty Toot Toot
(1951) - John Hubley

Christopher Crumpet (1953) - Robert Cannon

The Unicorn in the Garden
(1953) - William T. Hurtz

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hollywood Studio Animation IV: Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers Studios

Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944)

Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears (1944)

Key Concepts:

-While every other studio (including Warner Bros.) was copying Disney, WB began to produce cartoons that valued humor above all else.

-The WB production routine was very collaborative. Animators and directors shared ideas on stories gags and style.

Key Figures:

Leon Schlesinger

Tex Avery (Supervisor/Director)

Bob Clampett (Supervisor/Director)

Chuck Jones (Supervisor/Director)

Robert McKimson (Supervisor/Director)

Frank Tashlin (Supervisor/Director)

Friz Freleng (Supervisor/Director)

Carl Stalling (Music)

Mel Blanc (Voices)

Michael Maltese (Writer)

Spotlight: Tex Avery

Fred 'Tex' Avery was interested in exaggeration, speed and humor.

Red Hot Riding Hood (1943) -Features Avery's 'Wolf' character

Screwball Squirrel (1944)

Avery is widely known for his gag creation and use of exaggeration (both visual and narrative).

Examples of Avery's unique style:

-Squash and Stretch.
-Humor is more important, it's all about the jokes.
-Over-the-top action.
-Fast! Fast music/tempo. Fast action- back to back gags.
-Surrealism- anything is possible, things appear out of nowhere.

Spotlight: Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones began his career as a cel washer, working with Ub Iwerks. Jones is the definitive WB director, his strength was realistic rendering of emotion in his characters and he had a distinct graphic style.

Duck Amuck (1953) - calls attention to the animation process.

Features Daffy Duck with a Bugs Bunny cameo.

What's Opera, Doc?

Features Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
-Uses over 100 different shots/set-ups.
-Took a long time to create.
-Known as one of the greatest Studio shorts.

Fun Fact: The WB animation studio's nickname was Termite Terrace.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ethinic Stereotyping

Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944)

Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943)

Der Fuhrer's Face

Propoganda Cartoons

The World War II Era Propoganda Cartoons

Spies (1943)
Chuck Jones

Education for Death (1943)
Clyde Geronimi

Fascist Boots on our Homeland (1941)
Ivanov & Vano

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Experimental Animation: Oskar Fischinger

Oskar Fischinger was born on June 22 1900, in Gelnhausen, Germany. was an abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter. He made over 50 short animated films, and painted 900 canvases which are in museums, galleries and collections worldwide. Among his film works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is now listed on the National Film Registry of the U. S. Library of Congress. The original acrylic panels from the film are at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.

Search the Center for Visual Music for Oskar Fishinger Information.
Search the Moving Image Collection for Oskar Fischinger Films.
Read Oskar Fischinger's Avant-Garde Animation by Charles Solomon.
Visit the Fischinger Archive.

-Fischinger displayed an early love for music & visual art; an encounter with Walter Ruttman's abstract film Opus I is noted as an early influence.

Lichtspiel - Opus I

-Interested in application of musical "laws" to visual expression.

-Balanced experimental work with commercial work to make ends meet.

-Left Germany for the U.S. in 1936, he fled the Nazis for making "degenerate" art.

-Worked on various studio projects in the 1930's, but because of temperament and language difficulties they didn't go well.

-Stressed his films were "absolute experiences" not representative of other objects or experiences.

-Relied on sponsors & arts patrons to fund much of his work; completed little late in his life.

Notable films:

Wax Experiments (1921-1926)

Kreise aka Circles (1933)

One of the first color films in Germany.

Allegretto (1936-1943)

Radio Dynamics

Motion Painting No. 1 (1947)

Other important ideas and notes on Oskar Fischinger:

-Oskar also worked for Paramount Studios for a time on the production of The Big Broadcast of 1937, although his contribution to the film didn't make the final cut.

-He also worked with Disney on the film Fantasia (1940).

-He was respected by Orson Welles, who attempted to have Oskar participate in several of his films. It's All True, although never fully completed, was released in form of a documentary of the documentary It's All True (1993).

-He didn't have the temperament to work in Hollywood, or the language skills.

-Movement and shapes relating to music is a key feature in his films.

-Oskar felt that the studio system and division of labor kills ideas before they are born.

-He was only interested in making personal films or "absolute films".

-A great resource on Fischinger is The Center for Visual Music.

-Oskar Fischinger died January 31 1967, in Los Angeles, California.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fleischer Studios

-Max Fleischer was interested in technology & wondered how it could be applied to the production of animation.

-Mechanically-inspired gags are common in his films.

-Brother Dave was responsible for stories, gags, direction.

-Hired by John Bray, Max began work on the Out of the Inkwell series, a combination of animation and live-action.

Max Fleischer Out of the Inkwell: The Bray Years
(Documentary by Ray Pointer)

Big Chief Koko from the Out of the Inkwell series (1925)


-Rotoscope: hand-tracing over live action film cells to create life-like animation.

-Rotograph: an early photographic process for compositing animation with live action backgrounds.

-Paramount Studios distributed Fleischer Cartoons beginning in 1937 into the early 1940's.

-Content of pre-code (Hays code) cartoons often aimed at adults rather than children.

-The Characters:

Koko the Clown

Betty Boop

Popeye & Olive Oyl in A Date to Skate (1938)


-Voice Talent:

Mae Questel - Betty Boop and Olive Oyl

Jack Mercer - Popeye*

*It should be noted that Mae voiced several Popeye cartoons during the war while Jack was in the service.

Is My Palm Red? (1933) Colorized Version

For Better or Worser (1935)

The Mechanical Monsters

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feature Animation: Disney

-Much of Disney studio experiments were designed to prepare the studio animators for feature productions.

-Note how the animators create unique personalities for the different animals in Dumbo, especially the various elephants.

-Note the "Pink Elephants" sequence in Dumbo and what a stylistic departure it is from the rest of the film. (Think Incoherent cinema)

A Trip Through Walt Disney Studio

from Disneyland Television: The Tricks of Our Trade (1957)

Dumbo (1937)

Disney Animated Features

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Disney's first full length feature animation was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). review by Tim Dirks

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mickey Mouse Tries to Register to Vote


Mickey Mouse is as American as apple pie, and he has starred in films, TV shows and video games. But apparently he can't vote.

Florida elections officials rejected Mickey's application this summer. It is unclear whether Mickey tried to register as a Democrat or a Republican.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Did you know?

The first known animation to use synchronized sound was Dinner Time (1928) by Paul Terry.

It has been called the most significant cartoon in animation history that no one has ever seen. It was one of the few synchronized sound cartoons produced before (though released after) Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie. It played a small but pivotal part in Walt Disney’s creation of his first Mickey Mouse sound cartoon. It was this film, shown to Walt in New York on the cusp of recording his track for Steamboat Willie, that gave him the confidence to press on with his plans.

Dinner Time (1928)

Hollywood Studio Animation: Disney Studios

-Disney's achievement at the end of the 1920's was financial independence.

-Ub Iwerks was the key creative figure for Disney at the end of the 1920's.

-Disney ushers cartoons into a new era with the use of sound.

Steamboat Willie

-By 1930, Mickey Mouse was an international star.

Other important early Disney Animations:

Alice's Wild West Show (1924)

Alice's Tin Pony (1925)

Alice The Whaler (1927)

Plane Crazy (1928)

The Gallopin' Gaucho (1928)

Steamboat Willie (1928)

The Mad Doctor (1933)

-Disney Animators became remarkably skilled at creating well-rounded characters.

-Disney spared no expense to give his company all the necessary state-of-the-art production equipment (or invent said equipment).

Production Innovations

-More sophisticated use of sound in cartoons.

-Systematized use of storyboards.

-Use of Technicolor.

-Systematicized use of filmed pecil sketches.

-Even greater division of labor.

-The multi-plane camera.

-Creation of a separate effects department.

By 1930, Disney was THE Animation Studio in Hollywood.

Differences from other competing studios:

-The whole screen is moving! Many animations in 1 scene (leaves blowing off trees).

-Close attention to details.

-Cel Animation Technique (this was soon adopted by most studios).

-Use of light and shadow. Added dimension and depth in animations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Iconic Characters: Felix the Cat

Felix in Oceantics (1930)

-The importance of being a popular or iconic character in cinema.

-Pat Sullivan as "owner" and Otto Messmer as "creator" of Felix.

-Analyzing the Felix character and it's appeal. The Charlie Chaplin connection.

-Recurring themes in the Felix films.
(Threatened, hungry, hallucinations, good Samaritan, unfaithfulness, philandering, insurrection)

-Margaret J. Winkler, first woman to distribute cartoons.

The Immigrant (Charlie Chaplin, 1917)

Felix Saves the Day (1922)

Felix Revolts (1923)

Felix in Hollywood (1923)

Felix the Cat Dines and Pines (1927)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Silhouette Animation: Lotte Reiniger

Charlotte "Lotte" Reiniger (born 1899, died 1981)

-German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger is recognized as the major pioneer in silhoutte animation.

-This involves the use of movable, cut-out silhouette figures as another animation process (it is a varition on stop-motion animation).

-Reiniger's career spanned seven decades (1916-1979).

-Her career began in theatre and we can conclude that this experience and observation of human performance helped her create more life-like nuanced movements in her silohuettes.

-Fantasy was the major genre in which she worked.

-Prince Achmed is the earlist existing animated full-length feature. It is made up of characters and story fragments from a collection of the One Thousand and One Nights tales.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Jack and the Beanstalk (1955)

The Little Chimney Sweep (1954)

Cinderella (1955)

Hansel and Gretel (1955)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Cartoonist as Celebrity: Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay (born 1867, died 1934)

-In 1898 he was a cartoonist/reporter for various Cincinnati newspapers.

-In NYC, he became a celebrity comic strip artist with his popular Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland strips for the New York Herald.

-McCay used the laborious nature of animation as a selling point for his films. He also made use of his fame as a comic artist.

-He had the unique ability to translate his graphic style from the printed page to the silver screen.

-He had the ability to infuse his characters with distinct personalities.

Little Nemo in Slumberland (1911)

How a Mosquito Operates (1912)

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)

The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animation Pioneers, Early Animation & Primative Forms

-This section will show some early examples of trick cinematography, one drawing/one shot animation, primitive cel animation and stop motion animation. We will also discuss early forms of entertainment that influenced animators.

The Animation Pioneers:

John Stuart Blackton
(born 1875 England, died 1941 Los Angeles, California, USA.)

-Began career as a lecturer/illustrator, then a reporter/artist at The New York World.

- Becomes interested in film upon visiting Thomas Edison's Black Maria film studio.

-Pioneer in early cinema, produced early trick films.

-Formed Vitagraph in 1897, which eventually merged with Warner Brothers.

Emile Cohl
(born 1857 in Paris, France, died 1938.)

-Well known as an illustrator before becoming an animator later in life.

-Belonged to the artist/political group The Incoherents
(Les Arts Incohérents), that celebrated insanity and irrationality in art and culture. This is reflected strongly in Cohl's work.

-Use of metamorphic sequences in work.

-Recognized as one of the first artist/animators.

John Bray
(born 1879 Detroit, Michigan, died 1978 Bridgeport, Connecticut)

-Established newspaper cartoonist who became interested in animation.

-Moved from multiple drawing animation to system where only moving parts were recreated.

-Established the division of labor style of production that is still used today.

-Patented his processes.

-Employed better marketing & distribution than other animation producers.

-Created the "Slash method", only redrawing what you need to.

Earl Hurd
(born 1880, died 1940)

-Bray's eventual partner/employee.

-Held the patent on the Cel animation technique which Bray incorporated into his patents.

Raoul Barre (born 1874, died 1932.)

-Developed "Peg System" for holding individual drawings in place while photographing, thus minimizing camera shake during projection.

Ladislaw Starewicz (born 1892 in Poland/Lithuania, died 1965.)

-Displayed early interest in photography and entomology.

-Attempted to make a documentary film on Stag beetles at an early age only to be frustrated by their constant movement.

-Made many films in Russia, best known for The Cameraman's Revenge - the classic example of Stop-Motion Animation.

-Left for France in 1918, during the Russian Revolution which ultimately led to the replacement of the old Tsarist autocracy with the Soviet Union.