Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Flintstone Flyer - Carlo Vinci

Hi folks, the frame grabs and clip here aren't really good examples of what I talk about in this post. We just haven't had time to grab them all yet. If you have the cartoon go watch it!






Marc and Marlo and I were watching 1st season Flintstones the other night, looking for clips and frame grabs to honor Ed's memory and I noticed something that never quite struck me before.

We watched The Flintstone Flyer-the one where Barney invents a stone age helicopter and Fred thinks it's worth millions so he partners with Barney and of course they screw everything up.





The plot is a perfect combination of a live action sitcom and a cartoon. It's mostly sitcom but has many cartoon reactions and impossible things that for some reason you just accept, even though Fred and Barney are basically adult human characters.





The whole episode is animated by one guy-an amazing feat!

Carlo Vinci was an animator at Terrytoons for almost 30 years before he left to join Hanna Barbera at MGM studios in the late 50s. When Bill and Joe opened up their TV studio in 1957/58 Carlo went with them. Incidentally, Carlo was the one who taught Joe Barbera to animate in the early 1930s!

This is the crazy thing I noticed about Carlo's work while watching The Flintstone Flyer. I know his work really well. He did great unique full animation at Terrytoons for decades. The directors always gave him the difficult scenes. His specialty was animating dancing, which for most animators is really hard. Carlo must have animated 1,000 intricate dances during his time at Terry. He also animated all those sexy little girl mice that tried to seduce Mighty Mouse. He used really unique gestures and poses-sort of awkward unbalanced poses and the characters' wrists always bent in opposite directions. He didn't ever rely on whatever the current style of posing and expression was for each decade, as the Disney and Tom and Jerry animators did. However there is a really big difference between what he did for Terry and what he did for HB.

Terrytoons were fully animated, using from 12 to 24 drawings per second - luxury animation by today's standards. Hanna Barbera of course used severely "limited animation" which averaged maybe 4 drawings per second after you figure in all the reused cycles and dialogue scenes.

You would think this restriction on the quantity of drawings would restrict the quality of the cartoon and usually it does but when you watch the Flintstone Flyer (and other 1st season Flintstones) you will see something that hardly ever happened in classic fully animated cartoons-not during the Golden Age and certainly not now in the huge budgeted animated features churned out by the big 3 studios.

Natural, believable acting:
Fred and Barney act like real people. They make expressions that real people do. They have head and hand gestures that perfectly describe how they are feeling at every unique moment in the story.



Carlo doesn't rely at all on stock animation acting. He animates the Flintstones as if he were animating his friends and neighbors from down the street. This is an incredible feat! We take it for granted because the Flintstones just seem real and we instantly accept it, but considering how animators were trained to animate acting in very unnatural styles for decades, it's amazing that an animator can just break out of habit and animate a new style and using far fewer drawings! At Terrytoons he was never called upon to do any real acting.

I can tell you I know from 20 years of experience that very few animators can draw natural expressions or draw in different styles. Disney animators draw Disney expressions and animate Disney gestures. I used some Disney animators or Cal Arts animators on various projects-including Ren and Stimpy and they just couldn't draw the characters. They kept turning them into Disney/Cal Arts characters-they would draw the eyes like Don Bluth and use the same expressions they had already drawn a thousand times before that no one ever complained about. "No no!" I'd say, "This is Ren, not Mowgli! He isn't constructed like that-his eyes are a different shape and he has a different personality!"
2 exceptions were Mark Kausler and Greg Manwaring who did great funny and specific animation for me.
And of course, Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong always do fantastic custom animation. But these people are rare.

So for me to watch an early Flintstones and be laughing all through it at the funny acting and reacting of these completely believable characters is very impressive.

An interesting elaboration: I know many animators who themselves have really funny unique mannerisms and I always try to encourage them to put them in their cartoons. You would think this would be an easy and natural thing to do. It isn't. Hardly any animators can draw what they actually feel. As soon as they sit down to animate, they jump to a different part of their brain that stores all their animation knowledge. They summon up poses and gestures and moves that they have done a million times, then actually act out a standard generic "cartoon" expression with their face, rather than just draw how they themselves act in real life. You know those famous photos of Disney animators looking in mirrors and making wacky expressions as they draw? This is publicity designed to make you think they act everything out naturally first, then copy what they see in the mirror.

It's actually the opposite situation. They act everything out as if they were already animated cartoon characters themselves, rather than specific humans. Watching grown men act like Mickey Mouse is the weirdest thing ever.

Carlo Vinci was a middle aged fat guy when he animated the Flintstones. A regular kind of guy who drank beer, watched football, lusted after pretty girls. He probably knew all kinds of characters in real life and used his observations of them in these super low budget cartoons.

The Flintstones is to me by far the best animated sitcom in history. The characters are completely believable. The animation is customized and not predictable as even most full animation is. The acting is funny, many of the story situations are funny, the designs are beautiful and they still have room left over for cartoon jokes.

Oh and of course the voices are great-in those days they used real voice actors, people from radio, who had to have distinct sounding voices and great acting and delivery. That certainly helped the animators.

The Flintstones blows away the excuse I hear over and over today for why TV animation is so bland. The excuse of not enough money. Todays' prime time animated sitcoms have more money than God and should put some of it towards the drawings and animation.





75 comments:

Sunny Day said...

Glorious.

NARTHAX said...

Didn't Connie Rasinski do some of those Terrytoon dancing girl mice?

perkypickle said...

wow. you just articulated why the (early) HB stuff was so charming and primal...timing around/for drawings! in HB timing for economy, a few drawings had to symbolize a thought, action or expression. the timing was arranged to allow those symbolic drawings to work. probably out of necessity rather than preferrence.

i always wondered what drove carlo to do those subtle head cocks, and crows footed eye blinks...now, i know.

in most current animation (especially cal-arts style, the drawings really exist to link smooth timing...but for what? you never FEEL those exppressions...especially when they are stock.

great post. really, a quantum leap in carlo appreciation!

Eric C. said...

I really enjoy season one of The Flintstones, It's a good thing that I've got the DVD.

What amazes me about it is it's not animated in North Korea or shipped over seas or anything like that. It's animated my the real cartoonists that make them, and It's a 30 min. (well, I should say 25 or less min. because of commercials) series that comes on every week.

John, if I can ask you this since your a great historian and all, how long did it take all together to complete a full episode from pre-production - post?

_Eric

Eric C. said...

Hey John, another question if I may, how come your not monitoring the messages anymore?

Ryan G. said...

>>Terrytoons were fully animated, using from 12 to 24 drawings per second-luxury animation by today's standards. Hanna Barbera of course used severely "limited animation" which averaged maybe 4 drawings per second after you figure in all the reused cycles and dialogue scenes.<<

Hey John.. What is considered full animation? 24 frames per second? Isnt 24fps a little unnecessary for televison? Whats the minimum fps you would need for decent movement? What did Spumco use? Wow.. lots of questions..

cartoonjoe said...

ONE MAN animated "The Flintstone Flyer" BY HIMSELF?

THAT is impressive!!

Like you, I, too, love the first season of "The Flintstones", as these are the charcters in their rawest form...Fred is a loudmouth, Barney is a gullible dimwit (but hardly anyone's fool...there IS a distiction between the two), and both Wilma and Betty are no-nonsense housewives who like to indulge in an occasional mischeivious streak. This was clearly an adult program with adult sensibilities (work, relationships, and money worries), not the kiddie-show it would eventually devolve into. It's not a big surprise that the first rwo seasons of "The Flintstones" are so beloved by so many today.

(By the way, was Carlo Vinci the only animator who did these episodes solo, or was this standard practice on this show, the way it was on the "Huckleberry Hound"and "Yogi Bear" shorts?)

Joe Griffin, aka cartoonjoe

Eric C. said...

Hello John,

I just wrote a little tribute about you and Ed Benedict on my blog, if you want to see it.

Can you please leave me a comment and some tips of my drawings.

Thank You,

_Eric ;)

http://ericcrooks.blogspot.com/

Shawn said...

This is a good post! It amazes me how most people don't seem to notice all these wonderful aspects of the Flintstones, and you summed it up very nicely here. I wish there were animated television sitcoms like this today.

I've been watching the 1st season of the Flinstones all week, in rememberance of Ed Benedict. I just watched the episode were Barney buys Betty a ring and Fred tries to hide it from Wilma. Fred's facial expressions throughout that entire episode are hilarious!

Art F. said...

thanks for continuing my cartoon education John. its amazing to see all of craftsmanship that went into these cartoons, even with limited animation. awesome!

JohnK said...

>>(By the way, was Carlo Vinci the only animator who did these episodes solo, or was this standard practice on this show, the way it was on the "Huckleberry Hound"and "Yogi Bear" shorts?)<<

Almost all the early episodes were animated by a single animator.

Some were animated by 2.

Peggy said...

The sky in every one of these images is brown.

Man, Bedrock must be filthy.

Todd Kauffman said...

oh - dem da goods. thx for sharing

rebelbarbie said...

even more reasons for me to go out and buy the first season of the flintstones. i just about did today, but where i saw it, it was like 65 bucks. if i was working, i would totally have spent the dough, but i'd like to find it a little cheaper.

it's obvious from the litany of posts about the show that you have a great love of the flintstones, but i'm curious - what did you think of the jetsons?

Anonymous said...

For you every post is another opportunity to bash Disney. You are totally wrong about Disney, first of all. Your criteria for good animation acting is whether or not it would seem natural if the cartoon characters were real people, fair enough. Can you honestly say that Bob Clampett's Daffy Duck whom you just love, looks natural. In Clampett's cartoons, Daffy comes acing in Clampetts cartoonscross as simply crazy, yet cold and totally inhuman, even creepy. Clampett's cartoons are also really really talky. I can forgive Hanna Barbera, because its animation is so limited, but Clampett's? The best acting in Clampett's can't hold a candle to the brilliant character animation in such cartoons as Playful Pluto, The Country Cousin, The Pointer, THe Sorcerer's Apprentice, all of Charles Nichols Pluto cartoons and others.

Anonymous said...

'Here I go I'm riding up Pooperman, yeah! He's gotta be for somepin'! Don't fight it Pooperman, I gotcha! Yeah...gotcha good...'

JohnK said...

"acting"? In Pluto? Ok...if you say so.

David Germain said...

Clampett's cartoons are also really really talky.

"Anonymous" strikes again.

What exactly are you talking about when you say that? A truly talky cartoon is one where they use seemingly endless dialogue as a crutch in a hapless effort to support lacklustre animation or a boring story. Bob Clampett certainly did NOT need any crutches. Every single aspect of his cartoons is working perfectly. Sure, Daffy manic personality might be too much for some people but "too much" does not in any way equal "bad".

You're entitled to your opinion, but you're going to have to explain that one further.

Anonymous said...

Acting in Stimpy? Ok...if you say so.

JohnK said...

>>The best acting in Clampett's can't hold a candle to the brilliant character animation in such cartoons as Playful Pluto, The Country Cousin, The Pointer, THe Sorcerer's Apprentice, all of Charles Nichols Pluto cartoons and others.

<<

Sorry, I shouldn't be so sarcastic. Listen... that view point has been written so many times and gone without anyone ever challenging it, or anyone having to prove the claim.

My whole blog puts up examples of the points I make and I explain in detail what to look for.

If you want to prove that Pluto's acting is great, put up some clips next to some of the Clampett acting clips I put up and explain why you think Pluto's acting is good. I watch it and see the simplest possible generic stuff and couldn't explain to anyone a single unique thing about it and I do drawn acting all the time.

I am eagerly explaining everything I think is good in cartoons and showing examples.

Disney has its good points-color, staging, music, drama, effects, but I have never seen anything but the simplest most generic acting. The drawn acting doesn't even match the voice acting.

But prove me wrong. I hope you aren't going to show me the doorknob scene as an example of good acting...

Anonymous said...

One example is the Flypaper Scene in Playful Pluto (I don't know how to post video). IThere is nothing generic about that scene at all. The Pointer has some of the most brilliant animation acting ever filmed. You can really feel what Mickey is feeling, not just from the animation, but WAlt's great voice acting. The acting animation in Charles Nichols Plutopia is amazGing, whith geniuses such as Fred Moore and Norm Ferguson animation on it. George Nicholas, who animated Pluto in many of Charles NIchols cartoons, is brilliantly constructed, and the pantomime is amazing, everything that Pluto feels is brilliantly, and clearly seen in not just Pluto's facial expression, but his body language. Art Babbit's animation of the drunken mouse in the Country Cousin is unparalelled by anything in WB, or even MGM. The animation from the Dance of the Hours segment of Fantasia brilliantly blends realistic ballet, with cartooniness. Babbit's animation of Goofy in most Goofy cartoons is great. You argue that Disney animators are too generic, which I disagree with. I mean Disney and Don Bluth are not one in the same. It's alright of the animators rely a great deal on the model sheet (but not TOO much) if the poses in the model sheet are good, and Disney's characters are very appealing and expresive. Bob Clampett owes a great deal to Disney, as does every other animator.

JohnK said...

>>One example is the Flypaper Scene in Playful Pluto (I don't know how to post video). IThere is nothing generic about that scene at all. The Pointer has some of the most brilliant animation acting ever filmed. You can really feel what Mickey is feeling, not just from the animation, but WAlt's great voice acting.<<

That's quoted right out of Disney books. I've watched those scenes many times and I don't believe the conclusions that the animators who did them came to.

Walt's voice acting is about the worst of its time. It's just a man doing a falsetto. That's as primitive as it gets.

This blog is for new observations, not the stock ones that have never been challenged. If you want to believe what's already been written why read any new opinions or observations at all? Go to Mike Barrier's site and read recycled opinions and agree with everything that has already been decided and accepted without question.

There's no need to repeat them here. We all know them. Generic opinions are as useless as generic animation or generic anything.

JohnK said...

Maybe I can get this back on topic.

One of my favorite animators on the Flintstones is George Nicholas. This guy was an animator on Pluto for 15 or 20 years before he joined Hanna Barbera.

In the Disney cartoons, you can't tell his animation from anybody else's-at least not instantly. Maybe a real keen eye like Mark Kausler can pick him out, but Nicholas didn't draw specific nor identifyably human expressions in the Pluto cartoons, yet he had no problem doing it for Hanna Barbera at about 1/50th of the budget.

Coincidence? My guess is that everyone was so afraid of Walt, knowing how much he liked everything to be bland and generic (I will prove this with his own quotes in a post next week) that they purposely toned down their own individual styles and personalities to fit into the giant Disney factory.

In the early days at Hanna Barbera, there weren't any rules except, get it out on time and cheap. That left the animators free to express what was natural to them.

It is so easy to pick out all the animators at Hanna Barbera, animators that are much harder to detect at the previous full animation studios they worked at.

Again, it helped that they were working from very inspired voice talents-Alan Reed, Bea Benaderet, Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Jean VanDerPyl, John Stephenson, Don Messick and many other top radio personalities.

As Hanna Barbera got more successful, they started standardizing everything and they soon became bland and boring and that's when they got their bad rap as ruining animation. In turn "limited animation" became the blame for lousy cartoons, and that was never the problem at all. Standardization and blandness is the cause of all evil.

Roger Ramjet is a very unique and individual stylish and funny cartoon that came out in the mid 60s. It was cheaper than almost anything that came before, but Fred Crippen didn't have it in his mind to stifle creativity. Neither did the writers and voice talents.

Nowadays, the whole system is designed to stifle any artist's individual stamp or creative contribution.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I know John, your such a renegade. FIGHT THE POWER!

Really, generic is not always bad. Sometimes stock poses and expressions genuinely fit what the story necessitates. Sometimes they don't. I disagree with your idea that you should never draw the same expression twice. Disney's cartoons sometimes use stock expressions, sometimes they use totally original , in order to best fit the story. Without a model sheet cartoons simply look crude and unrefined.. Oh and by the way, you claim to like Fleischer's Popeye cartoons. But based on your opinions, the animation in those gems are even mor generic than DIsney. Ditto hannah Barbera. Does the Flintstones really have better animation than Art Babbitt, Jack Hannah, Norman Ferguson, Grim Natwick, Al eugster et. al? Really... think about it.

JohnK said...

>>Does the Flintstones really have better animation than Art Babbitt, Jack Hannah, Norman Ferguson, Grim Natwick, Al eugster et. al? Really... think about it.<<

I didn't say "animation". I said "acting".

Popeye is great. The characters are way more real and defined than any Disney characters. No comparison. They have new and original walks in every cartoon and lots of funny expressions, tons of cartoon gags.

They're perfect cartoons.

Anonymous said...

I strongly diagree. Popeye and Bluto have the same few expressions. They're wacky and zany, yes, but are they really as good as they are claimed to be... I'd say no. I mean they are so formulaic. I can't believe that Bluto or Popeye exist, but I can believe Pluto or Mickey Mouse or Goofy or Bambi or Little Hiawatha etc. are real, based on the acting in the cartoons. If you turn the sound off of Fleischer Popeye cartoons, there isn't much great, my theory is that what people REALLY like is the great voice acting. You are definetly biased, as proved by your previous post.

JohnK said...

>>I strongly diagree. Popeye and Bluto have the same few expressions. <<



There isn't much point in making claims that you don't back up with evidence.

I'll do a post about Popeye and show you some very unique expressions, gestures and animation. Until then...

>>but I can believe Pluto or Mickey Mouse or Goofy or Bambi or Little Hiawatha etc. are real, based on the acting in the cartoons.<<

Even Mickey? Wow, you are easy to impress.

Anonymous said...

Yes even Mickey. Watch The Pointer, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip, The Nifty Nineties, Mickey's Birthday Party, Plutopia and others, and you'll see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

AS far as Bluto and Popeye, they barely ever open there mouth to pronounce words, let alone change expression. Especially in the earlier ones. Hell, based on what you have said, Famous Studios Popeye cartoons are better than Fleischers. And by the way I can post numerous pictures of Disney characters making unique expressions, but you still won't care, because you are genetically predisposed to hate Disney. I mean you have praised TERRYTOONS MORE THAN DISNEY!

Anonymous said...

The problem with Fleischer Popeye cartoons is that the characters are newspaper comic characters. They don't work in animation. Cartoon characters are designed to move, and to be flexible and to be very expressive. The Fleischer Popeye design used from 1933 to 1939 does not work well in different perspectives, or in motion, and only has two basic facial expressions, the stock tough guy expression which Popeye always wears on his face, except in the rare circumstance that he is actually, wherehe smiles. The character is so stoic and unexpressive (as is Bluto) I'm surprised you think they are prefect cartoons. In the Man in the Flying Trapeze (which is hailed as a masterpiece), the man in the flying trapeze looks like a fish, I mean the acting is non existant.

I don't really care said...

The word "pantomime" came up as one of the high values of Disney acting. This word is the same same word I use to describe what's lame about it.

Pantomime may be an art, but it's largley the art of using symbols to represent emotions. Emotions are limited to things like surprise, happy, laugh, angry, That's what Disney liked. Of course he did-- Looked what he named the 7 dwarves.

Now nobody can deny that Pluto is more fluid than Fred Flintstone or Yogi bear, but at least in those early HB shows, they had far more funny and unique expressions and poses than Disney ever did. Funnier timing, too. Disney had other priorities, and clearly so. He didn't believe in subtlety. The acting is generic, like pantomime. He didn't believe in taking an audience by surprise. Everything is usually pretty well telegraphed. Didn't believe in fast pacing. He even slows water down just so you can see how well they did it. Lots of things he didn't believe in that colored almost every frame the studio produced. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

And the other day Iwatched a Yogi Bear cartoon from the late 50s. There was no acting what so ever, the character is barely even animated. His expressions are so generic. Yogi Bear does not have funny drawings or expressions, or motion, Tex Avery did, Hannah Barbera DID NOT!!

Anonymous said...

The HB characters bodies are stack they just bob there head up and down while they are talking, sometimes they quickly move there head side to side at a rapid pace to signal they are surprised, but I find nothing funny about HB cartoons. They are the animated ramblings of hack writers, and nothing more.

The Butcher said...

It's been a while since I've watched the Flintstones. I remember the last time I watched it, I hated it. It definitely wasn't a first season episode though. I think it had the Gruesomes in it...or maybe Kazoo. So naturally I assumed the whole show sucks. I remember liking the flyer episode as a child. I'll have to grab up the first season and see if my heart can be swayed.

The Butcher said...

Turn off the comment moderation for one post and watch the neysayers pour in.

What do you care if a handful of people thinks differently than everyone else? Does everyone have to believe the same thing? We came here to listen to John's opinions. Not yours.

I don't really care said...

Yogi Bear does not have funny drawings or expressions, or motion...

Untrue. I'm looking at the ones from the Huckleberry Hound show. There is a lot of non-stock expression happening, as limited as the animation is. Like Walt, you clearly value other things.

Anonymous said...

Even if there is some non stock expression, the cartoons still suck. Without some conscious effort to keep the characters on model, the cartoons end up looking sloppy, ugly and disorganized ( see Ren and Stimpy, Ed Edd n Eddy, Bob Clampett's later stuff.)

Thad K said...

There is NOTHING sloppy about Bob Clampett's later cartoons. That was Rod Scribner at his best in those films (and I'm not even a huge fan of him). The last few he did there are some of the best the medium ever turned out. There's nothing disorganized about them.

- Thad

I don't really care said...

Without some conscious effort to keep the characters on model, the cartoons end up looking sloppy, ugly and disorganized...

Now I get it. You want file clerks to animate your cartoons. You are wasting our time.

JohnK said...

>>

Yes even Mickey. Watch The Pointer, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip, The Nifty Nineties, Mickey's Birthday Party, Plutopia and others, and you'll see what I mean. <<

I've probably seen them each a hundred times and I see no acting in them. Fluid motion and abstract actions, but no acting.

Shawn said...

>>I can't believe that Bluto or Popeye exist, but I can believe Pluto or Mickey Mouse or Goofy or Bambi or Little Hiawatha etc. are real,<<

Go get your head examined.
Popeye and Bluto are cartoon comedians. They do funny original movements in almost every Fleischer cartoon which surpise me and make me laugh. They each have their own personal mannerisms, just like people. Mickey, Goofy, Bambie, Little Hiawatha , Pluto, etc. all share the same mannerisms. They are predictable. They are smiling, ballet dancing, arm folding retards.

Jorge Garrido said...

John, what's the last good year for Hanna Barbera cartoons? I think it's pre-Magilla Gorilla, what do you think?

After that their designs became super super standardized.

Are the 2nd and 3rd season Flintstones worth buying?

Raff said...

John doesn't hate Disney in the first place; I used to think so until he did a good post about some great Mickey drawings and credited the nine old men where due. So let this die already, it's been the same yelling over and over for months.

Back on topic.

>> Carlo Vinci was a middle aged fat guy when he animated the Flintstones. A regular kind of guy who drank beer, watched football, lusted after pretty girls. <<

That type of character doesn't move very much in real life, so limited animation is a perfect fit.

Max Ward said...

Hey John,

Is the Flinstones season one DVD do theepisodes justice? Or is it similar to the WB Golden Collection DVDs?

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw had a ton of unique drawings and expressions, and some really funny drawings. Get the Huckleberry Hound Show DVD.

Mad Max Winston said...

Anonymous: How can you say that the Fleischer popeye is not flexible? Just watch a couple of those cartoons, and you'll see him stretch in very many different directions... sometimes even at the same time. And sometimes his mouth gets as big as his damn head! You are calling John biased, but I think that you are as well. I think that the main reason many people like Disney cartoons is because of the nostalgia factor. Hey, that's why I like some of them.

I have never been a huge fan of the Flintstones, I always couldn't really stand how limited the animation was, even when I was little. But I think that John has made some really interesting points in this post. It's good to hear, because I was actually watching the first Flintstones season a few months ago, and was impressed by how well the acting and everything was pulled off with it still being so limited. I realized there was something more there than I had originally thought, so it's cool to hear some of John's comments about this.

Still John, I have to ask, what's with the CalArts hating? I understand the boring Disney theories and everything, but how can you put a large group of students' styles into one big group and pronounce it crap? I am going to that school right now, and although a suprising number of students seem to want to mimic the Disney style, there are a whole lot with an amazing style of their own, that would blow people away if it was on TV.

This might be kind of a big question John, but I am wondering how you learned so much about the specifics of the people behind cartoons, and what they all did? I'm just wondering how you learned so much about all this stuff before there were many books written about the subject... or the internet, ha.

P.S. Anonymous: Comparing Pluto's acting to Clampett's Daffy? Pluto is a dog who doesn't talk and gets sad, happy, or confused. Daffy Duck goes through so many different emotions in Clampett's cartoons, it's sometimes overwhelming to even watch! That's acting.

The Butcher said...

Plus, Mickey is a wuss. Popeye and Bluto are ass-kickers. Who wants to watch a cartoon about a wimpy mouse doing magic tricks?

I don't really care said...

One thing I notice about the Flintstones is the thick outlines, which are organic and look natural and pleasing, like part of the characters. Every current show with thick outlines looks completely mechanical like technical drawings and distracts to the point of hurting my eyes. Nothing has so successfully made the case for the quality of Ed's HB designs and the humor of those cartoons as has almost everything on tv that has happened since. Fred and Barney actually look funny and have funny reactions. You never see that anymore. It's illegal. The characters just "are."

In modern shows the jokes are all delivered in dialogue and situations, if there are any jokes. Sometimes they don't even have jokes so they just have voice actors sounding over-excited.

Jesse Oliver said...

Hi John

That is my favorite style of The Flinstones. I love the early Flinstone drawings. I noticed that when Nickelodeon started making Ren & Stimpy cartoons at Games Animation they used some retro styles from the first season of The Flinstones.

QUESTION:

Would you and the SPUMCO gang ever make a Flinstone cartoon and dedicate it to the memory of Ed Benedict? He designed the best cartoon styles for the 1950's! He worked on one of my favorite Droopy cartoons "Deputy Droopy". It is cool that you dedicated "Boo Boo Runs WILD" to the great Ed Benedict.

your friend

Jesse

Chris said...

This is getting painful. It's always the people with the narrow views that have alot to say. Why is that? John's just trying to broaden your horizons.

Chris said...

John, why do I get the feeling you secretly like this because you know this guy has nothing to back up his "theories". He's probably a pin trader.

I don't really care said...

I think that the main reason many people like Disney cartoons is because of the nostalgia factor. Hey, that's why I like some of them.

I like them because they are so damn pretty. But just like a pretty girl, they will never cut a fart while you are looking.

william wray said...

I just went and watched the Flintstones Flyer myself. I find that some of the animation acting is very good. Great for limited animation. The problem is that it is limited and for every good expression there is a missing one. What I mean is the same expression carried though a bit to long here and there, but it is limited animation and the choices are generally good. Less can be more.
Fred is the best, Barney next, the the girls get the short end of the acting stick. I think that partly because the designs for them aren't as thought out as Fred, along with the fact women are so hard to animate so in this case the animator didn't bother. It seems to me the best acting is from Fred because he has the most acting to do and he got the best design to do it. Fred is the star, the animator had only so much time... focus on Fred. The voice performance is great and like the Simpson's (gasp I said it) the overall animation acting is enhanced and seems better because of great voice actors. I had one producer tell me how great the animation acting is on the Simpson's and I had to explain to him he was reacting to good voice acting. The Simpson's as we know is professional in it's way, but very stock generic on the animation acting and especially the designs.

John, I think you have a tendency to overstate your point with clipped hyperbole for affect and thus create resentment and defensiveness amongst the great unenlightened Disney fans. You like certain cartoons to much and hate other cartoons to much. Disney has some good acting moments, even stock expressions were drawn for the first time at some point, but admittedly they are way over rated and worn out though repetition of formula. What infuriating about full animation is that so much is wasted movement that is overdone and frantic that you get annoyed whole watching it, way to much of nothing, like an action movie that never stops, you miss the pacing all, (pauses are so underrated and misunderstood.) contributing to the mind numbing blandness of it all.
Limited animation when done well leaves you wishing there was more. The animation in the Flintstones was whored out, but whored out by a good animator. I think if just a few more days were put into FF you might have a stronger example.

Duck Dodgers said...

HiJohn,

I made a lot of posts devoted to Vinci on my blog.
You can link to them if you want.....

David Germain said...

but I find nothing funny about HB cartoons. They are the animated ramblings of hack writers, and nothing more.

Actually, Hanna Barbara started out with two of the best writers cartoons ever had namely Mike Maltese and Warren Foster. They had both been writers for many of the greatest cartoons Warner Bros. ever made and had defected to TV animation because it payed better. In fact, Mike Maltese is the writer of The Flintstone Flyer episode that John just raved about here.
Warren Foster had a huge part in developing the character of Huckleberry Hound.

Those two could hardly be called "hacks".

Stephen Worth said...

Playful Pluto has one good acting scene in it... the one where the girl dog is sitting on a chair and Pluto is flirting with her and trying to show off. It's a brilliant scene by Norm Ferguson that everyone at Disney at the time singled out as being particularly good. But the rest of the cartoon has generic, non specific acting.

The same is true of a lot of other Disney cartoons. In Building a Building there's a great scene of Mickey and Minnie eating lunch where Mickey is nervous and shy around Minnie (Les Clark animation)- the rest of the cartoon is generic butt stab gags and insincere Black Pete blustering.

It seems that Disney couldn't sustain acting for any length of time. And when they did have a scene with acting, it was superfluous to the direction of the action instead of serving and enhancing it.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

Excuse me, I meant Puppy Love, not Playful Pluto. The flypaper scene has no acting at all to speak of... it's one monochromatic shade of frustration humor. The only aspect of it that's interesting is that it successfully draws out a simple gag into an extended sequence. That's really not a good thing in a seven minute cartoon.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

Yes even Mickey. Watch The Pointer, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip, The Nifty Nineties, Mickey's Birthday Party, Plutopia and others, and you'll see what I mean

I've seen all of those cartoons, and I've studied them closely. You list cartoons that have absolutely no acting whatsoever (Nifty Nighties) next to ones that have a single acting scene (The Pointer) and ones that have more variety in acting (Sorcerer's Apprentice). You would support your point better if you mentioned specific acting scenes, rather than just throwing out the titles of the dozen or so cartoons that have had their drafts posting on blogs in the last two months.

See ya
Steve

Dr. Strange-Q said...

It's really fun to read all these ideas about cartoons. It's nice to know people care about them so much. They are very important. I judge my opinion of characters and cartoons on how entertaining they are to me, more than details of how well they are drawn. Don't get me wrong, I love beautiful art, but fun and funny matters most to me. I had to defend Terrytoons for years because everyone told me they were no good. I used to ask my Dad why Mighty Mouse looked different from one cartoon to the next, and he told me that it was different people drawing him at different times. After that, I clearly recognized that the guy that drew the wacky funny stuff (Jim Tyer) and the guy that drew those sexy mice (Carlo Vinci), were the main reason I loved those cartoons, and I really didn't care much about the rest of it. Thanks again for getting us all to think and care more about funny cartoons!

Corey said...

I agree. A Flintstones episode directed by John K. That would be wild.

Ted said...

This was by far the most interesting thread since comment moderation was implemented...
Was it unmoderated for a time? If not, your choice of what to let through has been great and made for a very interesting discussion (altho it seems to come to a dead stop at 10PM Pacific, meaning your schedule might be hindering further discussion...).

Gabriel said...

Anonymous: I believe most people here are pretty open to different opinions. I don't agree with everything John says. I like some Disney stuff that he probably hates and I never cared much for anything HB did. I'm sure I'm not the only one. The thing is: it's good to have your opinion challenged every now and then. If you really want to learn something, you must not be afraid of reevaluation.

However, life is too short and everyone needs some kind of filter to figure out whose opinions are worth listening to. I spend my time reading John's thoughts because I happen to love his work and he seems to know what he is talking about. You seemed to know what you're talking about too for a while. Then you said Ren & Simpy is "sloppy, ugly and disorganized" and that the Fleischer's Popeye are highly regarded because of the voice acting. That's when my filter kicks in. I can only conclude that our brains must be wired differently. Some day I'll go after those cartoons you mentioned (I've only seen some of them), but it's not a priority since you've put your sanity in doubt. For now I'll go after The Flintstone Flyer. Despite my unfavorable impression about that show, it's more useful to go check the opinion of an artist I respect than the opinion of someone who, in the best case, just have tastes too different than mine, or in the worst case must be blind or crazy.

JohnK said...

I like some Disney cartoons: Bambi, Blame It On The Samba The Nutcracker Suite and many more.

Cartoons have many ways of entertaining us.

I analyze everything and figure out what is making me like it. In Disney, it's color, music, staging, mood and other things.

Hardly any cartoons in history had any acting in them. It's not what cartoons do best. Tex Avery didn't much acting in his cartoons (more than Disney) but just enough to make the gags funnier. I love Tex Avery cartoons.

The few cartoons that DO have some acting stand out and I write about them and show them to you. Clampett had the most specific acting for classic cartoons. Jones next. Popeye has some.

What I find interesting about the acting in The Fl;intstones is that it's very human, not stylized funny animal acting that the same animators did for decades on fully animatedcartoons.

I guess they had just never thought of doing believable human acting because they never animated humans in human situations and now all of a sudden they had to.

It looks to me like they had fun doing it and that makes the cartoons fun for me. They are sincere.

I'm not comparing the "animation" to the fluidity of Disney animation.

Acting and animation are 2 different crafts. Sometimes they can be done together but they usually aren't and that's ok too. I love Betty Boop and there isn't much acting in them. They are wildly imaginative and funny and pretty. What's wrong with that?

I don't really care said...

I just went and watched the Flintstones Flyer myself. I find that some of the animation acting is very good. Great for limited animation. The problem is that it is limited and for every good expression there is a missing one. What I mean is the same expression carried though a bit to long here and there, but it is limited animation and the choices are generally good.

The sparseness does sometimes show. Unfortunately it's too easy to focus on that and miss what made the show special. Somebody should be dwelling on it. Until John brought it up it never occurred to me to rewatch Flintstones with a critical eye.

It looks to me like they had fun doing it and that makes the cartoons fun for me. They are sincere... Acting and animation are 2 different crafts. Sometimes they can be done together but they usually aren't and that's ok too. I love Betty Boop and there isn't much acting in them. They are wildly imaginative and funny and pretty. What's wrong with that?

And what's wrong with the Flintstones looking different in every episode? Seeing them on TV once a week (especially as a little kid) you don't really notice, but back-to-back on DVD you really see just how free these guys were to mess around. They weren't nailed to the all-knowing model sheet like Christ to the cross. Everything changes. Betty and Wilma look really different in Flintstone Flyer than we are used to.

Then comes Hot Lips Hannigan, which has some nice specific expressions in it. Wilma's annoyed wincing at Fred's singing is very specific, and the little squiggles that represent her face capture it perfectly. Then there is Fred's "cool jazz singer" squinty faces, which are just hilarious, if a little over-repeated. Moments like these, which are dependent entirely upon a specific expression done just right are practically non-existant in nearly everything else.

Next is The Swimming Pool, where Barney's nose is about a foot long. Why? Because whoever drew it liked it better that way, and nobody said it was wrong.

Jorge Garrido said...

>This is getting painful. It's always the people with the narrow views that have alot to say. Why is that? John's just trying to broaden your horizons.

"Opinions are like assholes, everybody got to have one"

I like the animator who makes the characters' faces scrunch up. so there's an asterisk in the middle of their faces.

Which one is that?

http://arglebarglin.blogspot.com/2006/05/meet-flintstones-animators.html

mralarm said...

True, the Simpsons has talented voice actors, but why do they have so many guest voices who do only one character's voice? Yeardley Smith only does one voice, and that's a main character!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Pantomime may be an art, but it's largley the art of using symbols to represent emotions. Emotions are limited to things like surprise, happy, laugh, angry...

Pantomime isn't "the art of using symbols to represent emotions." It's (from dictionary.com)"The telling of a story without words, by means of bodily movements, gestures, and facial expressions." (Emphasis Added)

R said...

The weird thing is, I hear a lot of animators these days accusing this kinda old HB stuff as being bland. I dunno what the hell that's about.

"Look Fred, no hands!"

"Yeah, and no brains either!"

Graham said...

It's intersting you said the thing aout animators sticking to certain styles...or searching their "animation file" for ways to draw. It's something I've noticed being in school that students stick to a style that teacher's press upon them. I'm kinda glad I noticed this right out...so now I can learn the way to draw in that style, file it away, and then go back to drawing how I wanna draw...

Roberto González said...

I have to check The Flinstones again. Anyway, I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of the show (but I like it) I like the designs, especially the earlier ones, and of course the character personalities are endearing, but the colour, animation and the lack of different types of shots (almost everything has the same perspective) makes it a little boring for me, even if the script is very funny sometimes. In general, it's ok but I prefer Tom and Jerry by far and even some episodes of The Simpsons are more enjoyable for me than many of the Flinstones. However I am going to buy The Flinstones First Season soon, partially because I was considering it and partially because of John's explanations.

I kind of agree with John's opinion about Disney though I find it extremely exagerated, but half-real. I don't know but I think almost every classic cartoon is a lot less generic and uses more original expressions than almost every modern cartoons. Even in The Nifety Nineties, I guess in the opening scene the movements of Mickey and Minnie are quite specific when they first met, even if their faces are more generic. There is probably some specific acting in Donald cartoons, I guess (incidentally I also love Blame It To The Samba and Jose Carioca's expressions in particular...Incidentally, John -if you are still reading this- do you like The Three Caballeros?) However I don't have a problem with some generic acting if the characters are expressive, I am perfectly ok with Tartakovsky's or McCracken's work (I hope John K would talk about them any time).

Also, different theme, but what I have seen of Altruists kind of reminds me of Disney's and Tom and Jerry's cartoons in therms of color and background designs. For me, there is something similar about the look of Pluto's Dream House and Altruists, for example. Incidentally, that cartoon contains some crazy, fast-paced visual gags that are hard to find in Disney's shorts.

Roberto González said...

Hey..Wait a minute...John K said he likes BAMBI? I would really like to read a post about that.

I don't really care said...

Pantomime isn't "the art of using symbols to represent emotions." It's (from dictionary.com)"The telling of a story without words, by means of bodily movements, gestures, and facial expressions." (Emphasis Added)

The definition I used was mine, not the dictionary's, denoted by the qualifier "largely" which you omitted from the quote. The dictionary definition says nothing about the actual movements, gestures or expressions and what they are typically like. I tried to do a little better.

glamaFez said...

willaim wray said:

"...(pauses are so underrated and misunderstood.).... "

I like pauses, too. "Onward And Upward" is a good example, having some of the best pauses in all of Ren And Stimpy.

4 letter words said...

hey

pathum fernando said...

wow good & visit me

The Flintstones Drawing