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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

M46 with Click Track

Here is another short with click track based on a bar sheet I have. Prod. UM46 is known as Mickey's Elephant. Released Oct. 10th, 1936, it was directed by Dave Hand, with Jack Cutting keeping the bar sheets as assistant director.
Animation mainly by Dick Huemer (Bobo and Mickey), Frank Thomas (Pluto) and Norm Ferguson (Pluto and Devil), with Johnny Cannon (Mickey), and single scenes by Leonard [Sebring] and Nick - either Charles Nichols or Nick George (anyone?).

Very interesting is the way the beat changes as the animators do. One can put a lot of effort in explaining that, but it is probably just because they were basically different sequences, and as such just cast to different animators. Click this:

The film opens on a 12 beat (2-12), then, as Bobo the elephant is playing, it is 8 beat (3-8, waltz tempo). Pluto arrives jauntily:
12 beat (2-12). Then, the bit with pluto and the devil: a slower, more thoughtful 14 beat (2-14), and here the music isn't onmi-present as in the beginning. Then 10 beat (2-10) and we end in chaos on an
8 beat (2-8). There is one place where a measure was shortened to four frames by cutting a foot in the 2-10's bit.

Obviously, the director (Hand), helped by the musician (Malotte) decided the tempo with a metronome, to be most fitting to the action and mood on screen. A beat was chosen that could be sustained for a good number of bars, but, as we also saw on The Pointer, in the end it is possible to cut a few frames out if needed, as long as the musician can incorporate that decision - or there is no music. It seems that a 12 beat was generally chosen as a 'generic' not-too-fast, not-too-slow beat. An 8 beat is readily used as a waltz-type faux-24 beat, a subdivided slower 16 beat, or a quick 2-8's as chaos unfolds.

Have a look:

Here is the draft, for good measure (pun intended):

It would be interesting to hear from other directors who tried this method of timing - and to hear from musicians what they think about it. I remember the musicians I worked with - they at first thought it strange, but they quickly embraced the way of working as very natural... By all means feel free to comment!

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Anonymous Mark Mayerson says...

Once again, Hans, thanks for this. I was interested to see the waltz time done with an 8 beat.

The animation in this cartoon is really interesting, particularly the work by Frank Thomas. His animation is just excellent here, and it may be blasphemy to say this, but I think that I prefer Thomas's Pluto to Fergy's. Thomas's has more sophisticated drawing and action. Here's a case where we can compare the old guard and new guard on a single character and see why the schooled artists overtook the cartoonists.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 7:42:00 PM PST  
Anonymous the spectre says...

There's no mention of how many feet and frames of footage in each shot! How cumzit?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 3:55:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Not all drafts are alike... The first bunch has footage but no names, which is more irritating. It might seem that this draft has been prepared after the fact to establish whodunnit, when the reference to footage would not be pertinent info. Worst case, when needed, one could count frames of film.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 4:44:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Mark - I agree, the drawings of Pluto by Frank are very solid and dimensional. On the other hand, in this early stage in his career, the exaggeration in his expressions isn't half as effective as it is in his later work - like in his amazing scenes in Brave Little Tailor and The Pointer (not even thinking of his feature stuff). The emotions of Pluto are a bit too realistic, maybe? They just seem a bit sterile to me - a bit too, well, analyzed...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 12:06:00 PM PST  
Anonymous FantasiaMan says...

Frank's scene here was one of his first professional assignments at the studio. On the Frank & Ollie DVD, they say that "Mickey's Elephant" was the first cartoon he worked on, yet I think he did some animation in "Mickey's Circus" before that, I'm not sure. I have to admit, for a novice animator at the time, he did a fantastic job with Pluto in this cartoon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 1:31:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Don't get me wrong, I think he did a GREAT job! Even more so considering the amount of experience he had at the time! I am just nitpicking...
As to Mickey's Circus, Frank is credited for the very first and the very last scene...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 1:39:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Thad says...

Not a great cartoon, but some great animation in it. I actually like Fergy's animation better. It's not as refined as Thomas', but it was funny-looking. I like Huemer's animation a lot here too.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 5:15:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Discussing animators is always fun, but I would like to hear some comments on the timing of the film...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 5:27:00 PM PST  
Anonymous FantasiaMan says...

I'm an animator myself, & for me, timing is something I have a lot of difficulty with. Before I started animating, timing was something I never had on my mind. But after watching some of these films, including this one, I can see that the timing of the music & the animation go hand in hand & I find that very intriguing.

The click-wheels really help with these videos, it's easier than having a metronome in my hand while viewing the cartoons at the same time.

I like the timing of the scene of Bobo playing with the ball. I do like the timing in this cartoon. There's really no way I can describe it. With a lack of better words, I would say "catchy" & "jaunty". I'm sorry if this doesn't make much sense to you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 7:17:00 PM PST  

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