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)