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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another form of Bar Sheet

Just to be as complete as I can be here, I include these example bar sheets that I mentioned earlier, probably the most well known, and the first ones I got familiar with, as they are found in Christopher Finch's The Art of Walt Disney (Abrams, 1973), my first book on Disney (a present from my parents), the one that "pushed me over the edge". The sheets are from Prod. 2324, Frank Duck Brings 'em Back Alive, directed by Jack Hannah, released 11/1/1946.

Finch notes that the top lines are for indicating the different tracks of sound: Effects and Dialogue. (We saw those on the The Pointer sheets, as well). Then action, measure numbers and footage, and finally the music staves. In the box at the top we read the tempo, a 2-12's beat, making each measure a second of screen time.

Bar sheets were used in different forms in different phases of the production. The very first ones to be used would be the ones the director uses to time out the film, as the one I showed made by Dave Hand for Trader Mickey. As I noted before, we can see Hand holding this kind of sheets in the promotional film that the studio made for the RKO people at the end of the Snow White production in 1937 (on the Treasures DVD: Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio).

Then, the "main" bar sheet would be made and kept by the assistant director, as the one Jack Cutting prepared for The Pointer. I suspect that these were then copied onto sheets like the ones in this post, for the musician to write his score [Note that this sheet is marked at the bottom: Music Dept.], and to keep track of all sound channels, which could also be used by the sound editor. On the other hand, at the time of The Pointer, the sound editor's job was not so much juggling channels, so the musician may have instead received sheets like the sheets I showed for Mirrorland (Thru the Mirror), which were especially made to indicate special sound effects, or the ones found at ASIFA-Hollywood's excellent Animation Archive blog. Of course, as always, the bigger and more 'set' a studio/factory gets, the more complicated are the forms that represent the structure of its work - thus, much of this is conjecture based on the artifacts.

The important thing to remember is, that none of these bar sheets have dimensions that are frame-related. You cannot put an exposure sheet up to them and copy the information. Now, that IS a practical feature, but for anyone to be able to time to a beat on those (newer) sheets like the ones we used on Anna & Bella, functionally similar to the ones Michael Sporn showed recently here, one would need to mark off the beats, basically by counting frames, a VERY stultifying line of work, one that you would not want to have to repeat for too long. How well I remember doing that. The Disney bar sheets, however, are devoid of that. They are first and foremost related to music and rhythm. Only after all the timing is done are they copied to exposure sheets, which is where the counting has to be done. But by that time, the film's timing has been perfected, and the desired result (as to the timing) is more or less guaranteed...
12(Thank you for these, Christopher Finch)
Thank you, Mark and Michael for linking to this stuff, and the films in my previous posts - I am so happy there is an interest in it, as I have been preaching the basis of this into the wind for so many years!

[Added later: I found in copies of hand-written notes by Frank Thomas to Ollie Johnston in preparation of their bible "The Illusion of Life," a note regarding above barsheet, mentioning that it was prepared for a re-recording session, and thus an "after-the-fact" document and not the very first original sheet, like my example from The Pointer.]



Anonymous Anonymous says...

Indeed, that 1973 Christopher Finch "The Art of Walt Disney" book was the first serious, generally distributed work on animation since Bob Thomas's "The Art of Animation" in the late 1950's. I recall saving up several weeks of my college job net wages to purchase the Finch volume, which I still have, albeit with a torn mouse ear on the front cover. That book opened the floodgates for a generation hungry for information on the subject of film animation!

Tom Minton

Friday, December 29, 2006 at 4:57:00 PM PST  

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