Monday, April 24, 2006

My animation 2

The beginning of this scene-Stimpy getting ready to hwarf a hairball was animated by the amazing Lynne Naylor. I did Ren and then in the middle of the scene when Stimpy hwarfs too..and the smacking.

The first scene below-when Ren and Stimpy take was done by Lynne, then the walks and big takes were done by me.

Here's that tail trouble I told you about:

My pal Nico made these clips for us and he has some whacked-out shorts of his own at:
Co check them out!

Big House Blues was animated about half in Los Angeles by Lynne Naylor, me, Jim Smith and Dave Feiss. The other half was animated by Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong (maybe others?) at Carbunkle Studios in Vancouver. The Carbunkle folks went on to animate the best of the first and second season's episodes. The style of movement and the techniques they pioneered were carried on by a Korean Studio-Rough Draft- and then by almost all the following Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network series all through the 90s and up to today. You can see their lip synch techniques in the first Dexter's Lab short and then in tons of cartoons afterwards.

They also had to develop a way to get one off model pose to snap into another unrelated pose-this because many of my layout artists were not animators (including me) and didn't flip their drawings correctly. This layout mistake and Carbunkle's animated solution of it is now an established technique that everyone in TV uses-even in Flash cartoons.


David Germain said...

The animation style came from the good people at a place called Carbunkle, right? What's that studio like?

JohnK said...

>>The animation style came from the good people at a place called Carbunkle, right? What's that studio like?

I think they are the best TV animation studio in history-and certainly the most influential in the last 20 years.

Anonymous said...

I think Big House Blues is one of the best looking Ren & Stimpy eps.

Jitterbug said...

I never did come up with any formulas and techniques that I could lean on. I just always custom make the damn scenes.

Yes, unlike Disney:

Disney cheats

Morly said...

Love Big House Blues. Amazing how spot on you guys were right out of the gate. As always, thanks, John.

Tim Kelly said...

Yes, unlike Disney:

Disney cheats

That's scary and hilarious, especially since I often say that the animation in most shows today makes Filmation look like Disney.

sTAtiC said...

I also love Big House Blues. That was your pilot, right?

I noticed that the characters look especially great in this ep and they look quite different.

You've explained many times how cartoon designs get watered down for whatever reasons - the Flintstones being a clear example.

It was weird for me going back and watching Big House Blues and seeing how different R & S look. Is that intentional on your part or did you experience something similar?

ryan said...

i see what you mean. animating a tail all the time would be a real bitch. any sort of floppy object on a character sucks, since it requires so much attention to follow throughs & secondary action.

looks like you handeled it well, though.

Max Ward said...

You animated "The big sleep!" scene!

you fucking genius....

Rob Gibson said...

"Yes, unlike Disney:

Disney cheats"

-Most of the time Disney did have custom animations. I know Milt Kahl said he didn't like the way Disney would repeat and re-use animations from time to time, citing that the animation and acting was created for one specific scene.

Also, don't single out disney. Watch enough WB, MGM, Hanna Barbera, etc. and you'll see that they all cheat...a lot.

I don't see a problem with that. Cheats are just another tool of the 2d medium like cycles, holds, layers, etc. And if an animator can use those tools without calling attention to them, so what?

R2K said...

: )

Wild style if you ask me.


Anonymous said...


Who painted the BGs in Boo Boo Runs Wild? The colors are great. What medium was it?

Can you post some BGs separate from the characters? Like the forest scene?


Frank F

Thad K said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kevin said...

Ren's walk after he pulls his head out of the toilet is great. I kind of like the tail, although I could see how it's a bitch to keep animating. So is this the only time Ren ever had a tail? Didn't it get thrown in to a few other episodes as well?

John, what was it like recording with Frank Zappa and are you a big fan of his music? I love his improvised line. Was he a big fan of the show?

Marc said...

Anyone who hasn't yet heard the commentary buy John and co. on the R+S seasons 1+2 DVD should really do themselves a favor and check it out. It really is the most informative commentary I've ever watched. Just hearing what they have to say about a scene, an expression on the characters, or the way the show came together in general will instantly raise your appreciation of this show.

I'm a big fan of commentaries, and these are loaded with info. If you watch the Simpsons commentaries there's like one interesting fact per 10 minutes-and hardly any of it is about animation. You don't learn very much.

But the R+S commentaries brought every episode to a new level for me. Thanks to them, i found more and more things to appreciate in thes how. Has anyone else checked these out? Someone's gotta back me up here. They're just really good!

Anonymous said...

John, I've been wanting to ask you this:

What do you think of the animation, or overall quality of Disney's "Silly Symphonies"? I know they were a big deal when they first came out. I've only seen Skeleton Dance, which seems like nothing too amazing although it has some cool stuff. But I know there were many more made afterwards in color. Where these at all influential to you?

jorge garrido said...

>>Anyone who hasn't yet heard the commentary buy John and co. on the R+S seasons 1+2 DVD should really do themselves a favor and check it out.

I really want to hear these but I'm holding out for teh ultimate set, will they be on the ultimate set?

jorge garrido said...

Jonh, with Boo Boo or Ren, what's it like to animate a character you yourself did the voice for?

Also, did you know your pencil test of Boo Boo's scene with Yogi after he tears off his bow tie is on youtube?

Whoa, Ren's tail looks WEIRD! It looks like a pube.

Gabriel said...

I'll second the question about Frank Zappa.

Staunts said...

Big House blues is still my most favorite R&S episode animation-wise. The style was so unrestrained and alive. There were lots of other good episodes, but I was always a bit disapointed that I never saw another one quite like that one. I'd love to see a return to that sort of stuff.

Mitch K said...

The inking in BHB was awesome. I liked the fruity dog catcher too.

I think that scene of Ren freaking out over the 'big sleep' is the most iconic R&S image for me.

Hey, let's here about those fellow Canadians!

BrianB said...

These are classic clips right here. I remember about 3-4 years back drawing that exact heart pound in some sketchbooks I was filling at the time.

And yeah, I can see how the tail was a pain that didn't add much. Characters need that development and change over the course of a series - unless you have perfect designs to start like Ed Benedict. A lot that don't are often oversimplified and stiff.

I hate that style they use on a lot of shows these days where a characters head is just a perfect circle and his face slides across it to turn. The animators of those shows are so dead in the water. How do you be creative with that?? You can't hope to have the complexity or artistic expressions of a great cartoon. You become a tool for a franchise.

Nico said...

John, thanks so much for linking to

when you were giving me the list of shots you animated, i was so happy to find out they were all my FAVORITE scenes of the whole cartoon!

let me know whatever cartoons you'd like me to record next

Shawn said...

Ever seen the Beany and Cecil cartoon, The Wildman of Wildsville?? It's a wild beatnik episode with crazy splatter-painted backgrounds. It reminds me of those crazy Ren and Stimpy backgrounds.

Michelle Klein-Hass said...

Nuff respect to Lynne Naylor. The hwarfing scene is so perfect, there's so much going on there, and there's even a very strong amount of emotion there. You get the distinct feeling that Stimpy is absolutely hating this. Ren's reactions are priceless too. See, this is why I fell in love with R&S. Just freaking amazing stuff.

Clinton said...

Hey John,

My friends and I ( are taking a trip to Los Angeles to tour the art galleries and as many animation studios as we can in a week. Are there any significent places us aspiring cartoonists should check out? Where do you Spumco lot hangout?

S.G.A said...

I have a question, I would like to know about funny painters, I can think of only 2 bil wray and john pound.
Are there any funny painters? Who are they? Can anyone recommend some funny painters?

Eric Brandt said...

Big House Blues always weirded me out. It was so different than the following work. Although, I was still into it! But, I'm glad Ren lost the tail... Sorta...

Eric said...

Man, that first video - hairball - makes me laugh out loud everytime I see it.

I love the slapping scene!

Anonymous said...

John K.

Big House Blues is and always will be the Best episode of the original R & S series. That and of corse Mans Best Friend, Space Madness, Sven Hoek, Stimpys Inventions, Dog Show, Rens Toothache and Rubber Nipple Salesman. Heres a good question for ya. If Big House Blues was the Pilot episode how come the animation in that looks alot better then the animation in Stimpys Big Day? Also I can't believe that Spike & Mike did not show Big House Blues in there Festival! Because it is a true Classic! And the drwaings in that reminde me so much of Bob Clampett's style but your take on it.


Kristen McCabe said...

The stains in that toilet crack me up! That always stands out to me whenever I watch the cartoons.

ha! I Love it!

Michael said...

Hey John,

Copernicus just showed me the weird al video you did - looks GREAT! Love the sweating cat and him eating off the girls face!

I run an animation studio in Melbourne Australia and have some ideas about how to get that direct to DVD stuff you have off the ground. Give us an email

Jason Davis said...

I love it! The one thing that always gets me about Ren or Stimpy is the eyes. My favorite is when one of them is vulnerable and they give the "sweet animal" eyes. I see a glimpse of that in the last clip you posted - like where Ren's heart is beating out of his chest. They had a decent "sweet animal eyes" gag in Shrek 2.

By the way, John. I've now registered my username with this site just so I can login and comment here. Your page is one of my first stops when I sit down at the ol' computer.

Thanks for being you, John!
your fan,

Danne8a said...

In 'Big House Blues' I love the way Ren kind of speaks under his breath the way that Popeye used to in the old Fleischer shorts.
The scene that cracked me up the most in 'Ren Seeks Help' is when Ren is doing that whole 'see me do it'
bit as he's getting onto the therapy couch.

David Germain said...

I remember seeing Bob Jaques' name in the credits of some of the early Family Guy episodes (his name could have possibly been on all of them). Have you talked to him since then?

Also, in the credits for Ice Age 2 I saw Bob Camp's name in the storyboard credits. I'm guessing that could have been one of the reasons that movie was as well done as it was.

lyris said...

That Ren at the start of the scene is amazing John, so deranged.

I always loved the later slaps in the actual show more than that one in Big House Blues though - I think they had more intensity or something.

Chloe Cumming said...

I love Ren’s spasmodic twitches in the hairball scene. It looks like drawing for the sheer joy of drawing. Or twitching for the joy of twitching. I guess big house blues is the most unrestrained and exuberant & explosive of the original eps. And that’s a good thing. I think the party with the dancing was my favourite bit. That said it all.

My absolute favourites are still Stimpy’s Invention and generally the ones where the characters and their relationship manifested more of its complexity and psychological abusiveness. The moments where Stimpy seemed to be in control sort of passively and a little bit sadistic. Maybe I read too much into that. I think I might have unconsciously adopted some of Stimpy’s living strategies, which is perhaps worrying.

bitwize said...

Forgive the walk down memory lane again; you see I had a (cue music that plays when Ren cries) turbulent adolescence, during which R&S was one of the constant joys. To see these scenes again recalls for me some bittersweet moments.

I remember being a kid -- like, 15 years old -- and I had this program for my computer called Autodesk Animator. It was a bit like the old Deluxe Paint if you remember that.

One of the first animations of any consequence I made with AA was called "wharf.fli". It was supposed to be Stimpy hwarfing hairballs (no, it has nothing to do with where you park a boat to load or unload cargo). It wasn't very well done; it looked like Stimpy had 3 small brown peas coming out of his mouth.

I decided to redo the animation. My second attempt -- wharf2.fli -- was much improved, and inspired by that very sequence from Big House Blues. I remember being so proud that I was able to create the gurgling motion of Stimpy's stomach, and Ren's realistic mouth movements as he says "Don't do eet, man!" (No audio though.) And instead of tiny brown peas (dingleberries?!) Stimpy this time coughed up a moist hairy mass nearly as big as he is, which flowed over Ren like molasses.

I don't know where those movies are now. (Ren sobbing music again) Lost to one of many hard disk crashes no doubt...

For one day in my life I sought -- and won -- approbation from my family with a computer animation of a cartoon cat puking. Think of the fun people have with their computers -- all because of John K. and Spumco!

Gabriel said...

John, please, PLEASE detail more that pose to pose snap technique.

Nancy said...

high my name is nancy - long time listener, first time caller (i've always wanted to say that!)

anyways, saw this today, thought of your comments about never drawing the same thing twice, a while back.

jorge garrido said...

>>John, please, PLEASE detail more that pose to pose snap technique.

Yeah, John, I'm afraid I didn't folow that Pose-to-pose thing very good.

>They also had to develop a way to get one off model pose to snap into another unrelated pose-this because many of my layout artists were not animators (including me) and didn't flip their drawings correctly. This layout mistake and Carbunkle's animated solution of it is now an established technique that everyone in TV uses-even in Flash cartoons.

Can you explain this more? What was the technique, and can you give examples, please?

Kitty said...

Dawwwww..... how cute! I love that walking style. I've always wanted to tell you that. *hugs Ren* awwww.... ^_^

Peggy said...

For those asking about the "pose-to-pose snap technique" - this is pretty easy, it works on the same principles as stuff like a character doing a slow antic, then ZiP! they've run completely off-screen, leaving behind a puff of smoke/some whiz lines/a flurry of hairpins/whatever. It's just going from one pose to another instead of to nothing.

Ease from pose 1 into an antic, probably one not too far away from pose 1. If it's Flash you might well be just cutting pose 1 up and cutting it.

Then pop past pose 2 and settle back into it.

It's like doing an extreme blur, except without the step where you get to play Futurist and draw five hundred eyes and fingers in one drawing.

For more subtle things, like going between two completely different eye theories in what's otherwise a pretty similar pose, you have to do it more subtly - say, squeeze a pair of Doonesbury eyes closed and pop open as Milt Gross eyes - but it's the same thing: small, sensible antic working off of 1, POP past completely incompatible drawing 2 and settle into it.

At least this is what I think John's talking about. I handled enough stuff like this in Flash to know the drill...

Gabriel said...

thanks, peggy!

Peter said...

whoah, that first clip. One of my favorite moments in Ren and Stimpy is when Ren is sitting there going "HWAAH!" while Stimpy is about to puke. Ren's "WHEAAAH!"s are way funnier than I could possibly begin to explain... it's a mystery!

Anonymous said...

Bad pose to pose is easy - like 99% of crap you see today. Good pose to pose is hard to do. Especially off really amazing drawings that have no business being animated together. That was our challenge on APC up at Carbunkle - Bob and Kelly were the Sorcerers and we were the apprentices. I learned more in those 9 months then I ever did at school.


Mattieshoe said...

I liked the first clip better in storyboard form. Ren didn't say anything until he exploded towards the end. I don't think the comments really added much.

I also saw the cell as a darker place to follow through with the mood of the previous scene.

i still loved the episode. I'm curious how many times you'll revise your Storyboards before the final piece.