Friday, February 1, 2008

Zigag steps on Tack

I'm picking up from the Jan. 17 post. This is most likely Alex's animation (over Ken's).

The next one is Dick's scene, working again over Ken's roughs. I'm posting one of Ken's drawings because there is quite a difference. Dick didn't like to look at or approve pose tests. He told us that he preferred looking at a scene with rough inbetweens, even bad inbetweens. In this case he even went along with questionable keys. It probably was OK for him because the action of them rolling down the stairs was clear. He knew he could solve the drawing problems later. He needed to see movement in order to know if a scene was working.
He had people in the early days inbetween Ken's drawings (which Ken drew with a brown pencil) with a blue pencil. Just for a rough linetest, so he could see the movement. The reason for the color coding was to make it easier to identify the inbetweens so that they could be quickly thrown out when it came to refining the scene.
I think over the years Dick developed a preference for refining the animation of his animators, rather than animating scenes from scratch. Which he could do brilliantly of course, but I think he just liked the final refining stage better, being able to concentrate on solving the drawing problems with the confidence of knowing that the animation was working. He had probably also discovered that he could put his stamp that way onto a lot more scenes. Of course he initially started off the Thief scenes by doing lots of character layout poses for Ken, that Ken tried to use in his animation as much as possible.

These 2 scenes are Dick's again.
It should be pointed out that he animated everything including the chicken, the nails (tacks) and scissors. All this is so well done, very convincing. It feels like live action. I'm just mentioning it because in some studios this might be considered F/X and would be animated by an effects animator. I always liked that Dick enjoyed doing things like that himself.

1st scene: re-use of Alex's Zigzag and carpet I assume. Crowd most likely by Gary Dunn (Thanks Garrett!) who did the crowd also for the other down-shots of the Zigzag walk.
I'm guessing that Dick animated the Cobbler and the Thief , even though they are so small. I imagine he would have liked to do the whole chunk.
2nd and 3rd scene, also by Dick.

These 2 images are from one scene. I mentioned in another post that Dick sometimes let characters change size within the same scene. This is one example. It is probably more acceptable in a scene on this film because the perspective is not clearly established with the use of a downview BG in combination with characters drawn in perspectiveFor the Zigzag's hopping action Dick used live action reference of actor Oliver Hardy. If you watch this scene and recognize which Laurel&Hardy film it's from, please let me know and I'll update this post.
At the time video thermo printers had become affordable and Dick used them a lot for his own version of rotoscoping. He would do the printouts on ones from video. The image size was about 3.5x5 inches.
In Europe the PAL TV standard is an animators friend. At 25 frames it's close enough to film's 24 frames to allow for convenient use of video reference. NTSC at 30 frames makes that difficult.
Dick would then tape every printout registered by the corners in to a corner of a sheet of animation paper. (More likely he would ask Roy or somebody else to do it for him.) He would shoot this and retime it in this stage. After numbering every frame he would pull out the ones he considered keys and start drawing the character on the same sheet of paper, referring to the print out but not being enslaved by it. This approach as opposed to working right on top of the live action also allowed him to change the proportions of the character as needed. Now he would put the sheet for the next key that he wanted to draw onto the pegs.
He would flip to determine how much the different elements of the live action change between the keys
and try to create the same change in his drawing. He would pose out his scene this way. This could either be done in a semi-straight ahead way, maybe on 8's or 16's or he might do a few storytelling poses and then work inbetween those to do all the keys.

I don't know who did these last 2 shots. If you do please let me know.

UPDATE: I just wanted to add to my thoughts about Dick's interest in the final clean up stage. At the front end he would provide character layouts for the animators, posing out the scene. Ken Harris stayed very close to Dick's poses. If they were not in the right place he would repeg them rather then redraw them. Ken had worked that way with Chuck Jones at Warners, utilizing the actual layout drawings in the scene as his story telling poses.
So really Dick had very strong input at the front and back end.

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