Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ellie Mae & Luke

During development and production of The Rescuers the parts of swamp folk characters Ellie Mae and Luke were reduced to minor, supporting characters. Frank & Ollie write in The Illusion of Life:

The muskrat family in The Rescuers consisted of Elie Mae, the bossy, bustling wife, and Luke, her shiftless husband with his jug of "swamp juice". Jeanette Nolan, in contributing the voice of Ellie Mae, added more dimension by giving a delicate warmth to the bustling traits, and a shattering shriek to the aggressive side when the character was excited. Unfortunately , as the story evolved, there was no place to show these qualities and Ellie Mae ended up as a more conventional motherly type.

To me there was also a problem with the final character designs on the screen. Milt Kahl drew these early charming explorations, which show a lot of potential for appealing acting business. Ellie Mae's and Luke's proportions look dead on. Beautiful subtle facial features, and their overall body sizes are short, these are little characters.
Somehow the animators couldn't capture Milt's nuanced depictions, and the screen versions look tall, ordinary and generic.
Pre-production sometimes looks superior over the final result in these big feature productions.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sarah Tumbling

Here are a few first pass rough animation key drawings from a scene in which Sarah looses her balance before falling to the ground. Adult Mushka has just leaped across the screen, right on front of her.
The scene takes place during summer, Sarah is bare feet and wearing a loose t-shirt and rolled up jeans.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Roger Rabbit Scenes III

After having finished a few scenes that involved combining animation drawings with live action photo stats, I was starting to feel relieved and a bit more comfortable tackling new assignments.
As usual it was super important to make sure that the physical contact between cartoon character and live actor would come off as believable.
Here Roger is resisting Bob Hoskins' attempt to throw him out of the apartment. He is yelling and kicking throughout these scenes, but the area of contact (Hoskins' hands and Roger's rear) needed to be in sync. No sliding around allowed!

The love letter was held up by thin robotic arms, which I needed to cover up with Roger's body.

Really loved animating this scene with Smartass, leader of the Weasels. He grabs a live action chair, pushes it across the room before jumping on to it in order to get closer to Hoskins' face.

The live action pistol again was manipulated by a thin robotic arm. "Where's the rabbit?"
This stuff wasn't easy to do, but at the same time SO MUCH FUN!

More of my work on Roger Rabbit Here:

and here:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wart & Kay

Sitting on a tree branch, Wart is watching Kay, who aims at a deer he just spotted. Suddenly the branch breaks off, and Wart falls straight down, taking Kay with him.
The solidity in Milt Kahl's drawings of human characters never seizes to amaze me. Look at the first image. Beautifully caricatured anatomy, presented within strong graphic shapes. 
That level of sophistication is maintained throughout the scene as both human figures react to gravity.
A short continuity scene executed to perfection.

These are photo copies of the original drawings. It is interesting to see that the effects animation was drawn on the same sheets as the characters (in most cases effects are drawn on a different level).
It was probably more economical for the Ink & Paint department to only have to deal with one cel level.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Little Milestone

© Andreas Deja

This is one of the last animation drawings of Mushka as a cub. In the film he appears in three sequences, which are just about finished in animation. It's  been a blast but from now on I'll continue animating him as a grown tiger. Quite a few dramatic as well as emotional scenes coming up.
The most recent issue of Animation Magazine features a nice article about the production of Mushka.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Helene Stanley/ Cinderella

Actress Helene Stanley acted out all of Cinderella's scenes for the animators. Here she takes an imaginary shower at the beginning of the film.
This requires the same acting talent as scenes that would be a live action/animation combination such as Mary Poppins and Roger Rabbit.
Here Stanley throws her robe backward over a divider. Birds catch it during the final scene. Then she imagines a cold water splash coming from a wet sponge, also carried by birds.

You can compare final frames to live action photostats, which have been drawn over by a layout artist, who added birds, props as well as ideas for environment.

This gag didn't make it into the movie. A little bird who was standing by, got drenched during the splash. He shakes off the water and is visibly displeased. Cinderella reacts sympathetically to the little guy.

It is obvious why Disney had Stanley act out other animated parts such as Sleeping Beauty and Anita in 101 Dalmatians. She completely understands what animators are looking for. Clear poses and movement that reveals the character's thinking and personality. It would be easy to over- or underact those scenes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jungle Book Mix

More Jungle Book.
As I said before, the film had so much going against it, it could have been a disaster. To quote Woolie Reitherman: "Walt checked out half way through the picture."
Story genius Bill Peet quit the studio even sooner, how are you going to pick up the pieces and create a film worthy of Disney. Well, they did.
It's no secret that had this film not been a box office hit, Disney animation might have been finished right then and there. Executives were eager to stop animated feature production, too expensive. They were counting on revenues from future re-releases of the classic films, and focus on future live action movies instead.
It took a few decades to finish the job. Classic Pencil animation was finally halted in favor of CG and live action films.

I love this Ken Anderson sketch of Mowgli, acting like a wolf cub by scratching his head with his foot. This moment should have been in the movie, the kid was raised by wolves...show it!
Missed opportunity.

One of Ken Anderson's many inspirational doodles, showing Mowgli in relation to a vast, wild  jungle.

A couple of Ollie Johnston's sketches, as he explores Baloo's pleasure of scratching.

A couple of rough layouts. Outside of the wolves' den, and high in the trees, a path for Bagheera to travel on.

Frank Thomas almost animated 1/4 of Jungle Book. Like all animators on this movie, he surely FELT the characters' personality.

It seems you can't come up with a bad character composition, when a snake is involved. Another Frank Thomas sequence.

The Sherman brothers working with Louis Prima, the voice of King Louie. What a great sequence this turned out to be.