Please note: if an earlier link doesn't work, it may have changed following an update! Check the Category Labels in the side-bar on the right! There you can find animator drafts for sixteen complete Disney features and eighty-six shorts,
as well as Action Analysis Classes and many other vintage animation documents!

Monday, November 13, 2006

M27 (2227) with Click Track

The Pointer is not a film that you'd think would be timed to a beat throughout - but it is! It seems that most--if not all--Disney shorts were timed like this, and not only those dependent on music.
To my mind, it adds a sense of continuity, of perfection even.

Pre-planning a film with the timing to a musical beat makes it easier to "put music to it", and we hear the musical queues fit the music - and sometimes be on the off-beat. There was a close working relation between the director and the musician, but in a case like this, with several spots of dialogue, the beats seem to be chosen by the director from a generic story-telling point of view.

The timing of this film is incredibly logical: it speeds up slowly, from starting on 2-14's to Mickey whistling on 2-12's, then the bear bit on 2-10's, running away on 2-8's and ending quietly in the dark on 2-12's. In many cases a beat was added, changing e.g. 2-12's into 3-12's, but keeping the rhythm. This is only "sinned against" in a single spot:
16 frames (one foot) is added during Pluto's quail ordeal.
This timeline shows that most of the film is 12 beat:

When doing this, I notice that the bar sheet is kept so meticulously that it fits directly to the frame with the final film. Only my own counting mistake made me have to use more than the few minutes it takes to count the bars and write them into the little text file that is the input to my program...

Note: I put the beats spot on. It would sound more "with" the music if I had moved them 2 frames back (as one would do generally with dialogue), but for "scientific precision", I chose not to.
[UPDATE: I did move it ONE frame! Also, it's clearer now!]

For those of you who intend to learn from this, get yourselves a metronome, preferably one you can tap the beats on (like my old BOSS Dr. Beat DB-66 that I used on Quark), and figure out the timing structure of films that we do not have bar sheets of (you can use the Beat to/from Metronome converter on the right). This may be a fun assignment in schools, too! And then, time your own film!

Again, though this is for educational purposes, one never knows how long this lasts on YouTube, so see it while you can. [After the fact I wonder why I didn't name this posting "Point and Click!"][No longer using YouTube for this clip!]

And remember to have a look at the intro to our showreel, if you haven't already!

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Anonymous Michael Sporn says...

Another brilliant watching experience. Thank you many times over. This and Thru The Mirror are two of the best Mickeys; watching them with click tracks is a revelation.

I wonder when they actually started animating to a click track. I would imagine it must have been early on given their use of sound.

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 1:56:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Glad that you like it! It would seem that Disney used bar sheets already since Wilfred Jaxon made one for Steamboat Willie (Michael Barrier: Hollywood Cartoons (1999), pages 51 and 54). Carl Stallings is credited as the inventor of the click track, so we are way back in the late 20's. It was seen as an easy way to plan the synchronization, and I can only agree in retrospect.

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 2:42:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Kevin Langley says...

Thanks for putting so much time into this. It's really educational. Watching this cartoon with the click track is vastly different than "Thru The Mirror". It's a lot easier to find the beat when everything is in sync with the music but this cartoon it's interesting to see how dialogue and other actions are timed. Once Mickey or Pluto starts walking it's real easy to find the beat. Each step is right in sync with the click track. Incredible stuff.

The animator ID was also a nice treat. Thanks Hans!!

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 8:04:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Yes, timing to a beat feels like rather a different thing with a film with dialog, but it isn't, really. I am very glad to hear that you find this as educational as I think it is! I hope more people learn about this, as I really feel it is a "lost art"...

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 8:18:00 PM PST  

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