Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-five shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Home from the Studio in 1933

Early in 1933 there were 175 people working at Walt Disney's studio, 2719 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles. On below images you can see now who lived where as they were working on Three Little Pigs!

The first map is rather crude but shows who lived further away from the studio. The other maps get closer and closer to the studio, and clearly most employees were centered around it.

Note that at this time, Walt had just moved to Woking Way, and Norm Ferguson took over Walt's old house next to Roy's on Lyric Ave., and lived there until 1938...
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Images exported from DeLorme's Street Atlas USA 2007 Plus...

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Sleeping Beauty Under Pressure

Here are a few sheets prepared by Production Assistant (later Production Manager) Ed Hansen, whom I remember as he showed me around the second floor of the animation building in August 1978. These sheets were prepared for the clean-up department during the production of Sleeping Beauty, but anyone who has worked in animation for some time has probably seen similar sheets...
Burbank Pre-WDP 2082-SB-Time02 < Click on it!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Prod. UM31 - Mickey's Kangaroo

Directed by Dave Hand, released 4/13/35, this draft dated 12/11/34. Disney's last black and white film - before TV, of course.
Animated by Les Clark, Fred Moore, Dick Lundy, Gerry Geronimi and Hardie "Little Toot" Gramatki...
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Available on Treasures DVD: Mickey Mouse in Black & White vol.2.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sound Conundrum

I have discussed the timing of the Mickey Mouse short The Pointer, prod. M-27 aka. 2227, at length. Here is a memo from assistant director Jack Cutting (situated in Music Room B) to Dave Lurie in Short Cutting, 1/30/39, about changes in the effects track.

I would like to ask anyone to come forth, who knows why they would air-brush the train sound at Measure 494 etc. Did they add generic noise all the way through? Or did they produce fades up and down by air-brushing them straight on to the optical sound film? Anyone?

I really like the expression "Blooping Ink..."
2227...< Click on it!

When revisiting The Pointer, do not forget to check out my little program I wrote that I called the Beatronome. It is a metronome specifically for animated film beats. It's free! I was hoping that some of you would use it to find the beat structures in other short films, and send them to me or add them as comments, so all can learn from this. For those of you who cannot run PC programs, here is a screen shot of the interface...
Screenshot...< Click on it!
At the Disney studios, music was recorded using a click track following beats, even for live-action scores and theme park music! On later (50's, 60's) production they could be found to be using 1/8th of a beat, like in 14 3/8th beat! Sometimes they would abandon it, and record in Wild Beat (W.B.). Other times they would go for a W.B., but start on say a 14 beat. For animation, though, it was usual to record in the whole beats that were standard in the late 30's...

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hand's On...

More from Børge Ring:

Pluto's Judgement Day, Alpine Climbers, Building a Building, Camping Out, The Dognapper, The Mail Pilot, Who killed Cock Robin?

These (mentioned at random) are some of the shorts that David Hand directed for Disney. One of them titled Mickey's Polo Team was a breakthrough being the first short to be completed in ruffs before further steps were taken.
In 1950 Dave was asked how he went about directing a short for Disney, and this is what he told:

"I would isolate myself with the storyboard for three weeks. I would not go to meetings, but I would answer the telephone.
I begin timing the film, not necessarily chronologically, but certain passages are already clear in my mind. (I do the pertaining layouts as thumbnails all the while.) Lots of what you decide is instinctive and intuitive, but afterwards you sit back and rationalise it. You analyse what you have being doing. Walt would keep asking WHY you did such and such (also in the story department). He insisted on your knowing WHY and he would get angry if the answer was "because I thought it would be nice."
Thus after three weeks you have the picture clear and timed in your mind and on barsheets and can answer any questions of WHY.
This is necessary because the first animator you call in may not have seen the material before and will respond with an abundance of suggestions of wonderful things to do. And you must be able to tell him precisely WHY you cannot do these wonderful things.

"But has it really never happened that the animator came up with an idea that was even better than the one already there?"
"Oh sure."
"What did you do then?"
"I said: "Thank you, John. Come back in 24 hours." and I would carefully work his idea into the total."

One piece of Dave's advice was: "If you have only one gag, have it at the iris out."
Another was: "Don't move the camera unless it means something. That is to say: Don't move the camera about just to make it look like film."

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grim Natwick on Fergy ruffs

Børge Ring relates this personal insight into 'Fergie ruffs':

    I asked Grim Natwick if he had known Norman Ferguson in a work context. Here is what he told me:

    "Yes, Fergy and I worked in the same room. On monday morning he was pacing up and down the room thinking intently about the scene he was going to do. At three in the afternoon he had the thing clear in his mind and sat down at his desk.
    He scribbled very, very fast with a red colour pencil "hammering while the iron was hot." If you looked at the red scribbles you couldn't see what it was. But if you took the pile and flipped them, you knew instantly.
    Fergy had been a professional stenographer in NY before he joined Paul Terry and he whipped out a tall amount of "shorthand scribbles" to conserve the spontaneity of his concept, filling in exposure sheets very fast. A test cameraman might appear with sheet 3 to ask whether a particular scribble WAS number 7 or meant to be a 9.

    At that time Disney had a 24 hour linetest service working in three shifts and no one needed to wait more than three hours to see a developped negative of their scene in a loop. Fergy viewed it on his movieola, and would spend the rest of the week honing the timing."
That is what Grim told me.

Dave Hand gave the second part of the story:
    "When Fergy was content with the way the scene played he went over selected red scribbles with a black pencil making them into drawings. He added spacing charts and gave the whole pile (both black and red) to his assistant."

    I was young and inexperienced, animating in cleanups. And all of this ruff-ruff-stuff was new and disturbing to me and so I asked Dave: "But what happens if the assistant cannot read the scribbles?"
Dave's tone hardened: "Then Fergy calls me on the telephone and says "This here feller is too damn dumb. Give me somebody else."

    Timing was of paramount importance to him and a prime version of a Pluto scene might have stiff movements, mingled with passages on twos. The dog would be scratching his ear using a straight "plank" for an arm. Both scribbles were exposed four frames. He didn't care (yet). At this stage it was all about the timing. How long should Pluto scratch? Later on he would work the ear scratching up into supple dynamic movement on ones. He was nothing if not a man of movement. It shows up as early as 1930 in "The Firefighters" where Mickey Mouse rescues an unconscious Minnie from a smoke filled window nearly losing her. During the years following, he "developed enormously" accordng to Art Babbitt in a 1973 interview with Michael Barrier.

"Fergy animated very fast," Dave Hand said, "but it was not an economic advantage because it took expensive people to finish his animation."

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Babe...

Babe is the ox of Paul Bunyan (in production papers often misspelled Bunyon), here shown from all sides in this Tom Oreb model sheet. Oreb was character stylist on this film. Backgrounds were by Eyvind Earle and Walt Peregoy, story by Lance Nolley and Ted Berman, directed by Les Clark, who ok'ed this sheet. It was released 8/1/58 and can be found on the Disney Rarities Treasures DVD...
Babe...< Click on it!

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Prod. UM48 - Mother Pluto

Directed by Dave Hand and released 11/14/36. This is a rather early draft - as of 8/1/36 some scenes were not yet assigned.
Animators that WERE assigned: Izzy Klein, Johnny Cannon, Bill Roberts, Norm Ferguson and Gerry Geronimi.

Note that the film is found on the Treasures DVD Silly Symphonies, while its production number shows it was part of the Mickey series...
[UPDATE: After the making of this draft, it was moved to the Silly Symphonies series and given prod. nr. US-38. Thanks, JB! Teaches me to check my sources!]
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prod. 2237 - Put-Put Troubles

Directed by Riley Thomson who picked it up 7/7/39, this 6th draft was prepared 3/21/40. The film was released 7/17/40.
It was most likely also known earlier as RM-37. Excuse the fact that some scenes are missing due to bad copying: nrs. 9 and 48 completely, though one still can make out Emery Hawkins as the animator on scenes 17 and 37.1. A lot of changes have been made due to continuity changing, and assistant director Ralph Chadwick must have had his hands full - one wonders when these changes were made, and if any of the cut scenes were actually animated.

This draft interestingly shows the animators AND the effects animators and their respective footage, as on the features - compare with Pinocchio. We see animation by Nick DeTolly, Judge Whitaker, Jim Armstrong, George Goepper, Ken Muse, Lee Morehouse, Volus Jones, Emery Hawkins, Johnny Cannon (his last Disney credit according to Alberto, he died in 1946 age 39), Ken Peterson, [Claude or Paul J.] Smith and George Kreisl, with effects by Ed Parks, Jack (Joseph) Gayek, Jack (Joseph) Harbaugh, Murray Griffen, Art Fitzpatrick, Jack (John) Huber, Reuben Timmins, Andy Engman, Miles Pike, Al Stetter, Frank Follmer and Jack Boyd. Again, several Joe's and John's called Jack. Layout by Bill Tracy, and Carl Barks worked on story. The shorts animators were considered pretty much the second string, as the features had gobbled up the first violins (see Mike Barrier's interview with Dave Hand), but some, like Lee Morehouse and Johnny Cannon, were very experienced. Andy Engman and Ken Peterson later were managing all the animation production...
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[Oops - sorry - fixed the links to the right draft!]

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Prod. CM9 - Pioneer Days

Directed by Burt Gillett, released on Walt's 29th birthday, 12/5/1930.
We again meet Ben Sharpsteen, Jack King, Norm Ferguson, Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Wilfred Jackson, Dave Hand, Tom Palmer, Dick Lundy, Frenchy de Tremaudan, Jack Cutting and Charlie Byrne.
This is the group (minus the last two) that animated most all of the Mickeys and Silly Symphonies in the early 30's - and made most of the animation-technical discoveries that we take for granted today...
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