Friday, April 27, 2007

Acting-Expressions-Ralph and Norton act surprised

Ralph and Norton act surprised
Uploaded by chuckchillout8

This is an example of live actors approaching a similar acting problem that McKimson did in that last post this week. Henery Hawk's father was consciously acting something out - he was overacting on purpose, as Ralph and Norton are here. In the animation, the scene was done with strong body poses, but not much facial acting and no extra layering of subtleties that happen so easily and naturally with skilled live actors performing in real time.This is actors making fun of normal people - non-actors trying to act. This takes a lot of observational skill and insight, especially to make it so funny!

"Pardon My Glove" (1956)

There are so many levels of thought to pulling this off. They have to make their actions seem "natural" in this sense: A normal person pretending to do something will be a bad actor. He won't be believeable. All his expressions and gestures will be simplified caricatures of what the normal thinks is natural.

Actually, it's quite similar to the way many feature animators draw their acting when they are sincerely trying to be realistic or wanting to wring pathos out you-very unnatural and cornball, but we are so used to seeing animated characters move in artificial ways that we don't question it much. Most of us, anyway.

If we ever saw real people acting like typical animated characters we would think they were from space.

Feature animators like to "keep things alive" so they have their characters randomly wave their arms and bob their heads around. It doesn't matter what character, whether it's Stromboli, Cruella DeVille, Ludwig Von Drake or that kid up there - they all move the way Art Carney makes fun off Norton trying to "act". The kid's facial expresssions are copied from Cruella and Mowgli and pasted onto his bobbly head.Here, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney make fun of how not only "normal" people and cartoon animators might act something out, but how two very specific normal people would act something out.

In Norton's case, he is acting out how he thinks Ralph should act which adds even more levels to the farce.

Art Carney is playing Ed Norton playing Ralph Kramden.

These guys are so brilliant that they can make us believe that them acting unnatural is natural!

This is a real brain twister to figure out. It would be murder to pull off something with this much layering in animation!

If I had a feature budget I would sure aim for some of it though.

Hey, I don't expect every animator to be a brilliant actor. Certainly not a serious actor. It's not something that cartoons are naturally good at. There are so many things that cartoons easily do better than other art forms, that I wish we would do more of that.

I love old musicals, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies. I bet a lot of animators do too. But does anyone go to them to see the acting?

Many people suffer through the story filler and bad acting just so we can see the brilliant dance numbers. What is this fascination that Hollywood has with filler? Just give us the entertaining parts!

If I wanna see good acting I'll watch movies with good actors, which I do all the time.

Once in a blue moon there are rare talents who crossover to more than one skill. James Cagney is a great actor and dancer! Well, that's a wonderful combination and I can enjoy a dance movie with him both acting and dancing and singing, because he can actually do all those things.

Ever see Brando dance? Or Clark Gable or Cary Grant? It's hard to take seriously, but they are all fun to watch acting. Why should we expect every animator to be a good actor?

Jerry Lewis is a hilarious comedian and a great dancer-but terrible at serious pathos stuff.
It's torture to sit through the heartwarming scenes in his movies. Or when he sings!!! You just want to get to the scenes where he makes fun of the handicapped-the good stuff!

Someone in our past came up with the crackpot idea that animators have to be "actors with a pencil" (probably Walt) and it makes animators ashamed to be animators and cartoonists first. Every entertainer wants to be taken seriously now. Comedians wanna show their sensitive deep inner selves. The cartoon feature writers write all kinds of shameless contrived pathos and dramatic scenes and make the animators try to pull them off, rather than let them make cartoon movies with stories that show off what animation can really do better than every other medium.

I love good acting and I love good funny cartoon acting and I'm a zealot when it comes to adding specific acting in cartoons. But I've never in my life seen convincing "serious" acting in even the most expensive features. I don't say it's impossible, but the animator who could actually pull it off doesn't seem to have visited earth yet. So why do we keep writing for it?

Anyway, obviously the kind of stock acting we have in features is never going to go away. It's too ingrained in our business, but I just want to plant the idea in young animators' brains that there are other and more fun ways to do things. Maybe someday we'll have an alternative to what we get now.

Being a cartoonist and animator is already a lofty profession by itself. It's full of creative challenges and magical ways to entertain.

If we really want to add good acting to what we do we have to study good live action acting to see what it actually is, analyze it and then find ways to adapt it so that it works for animation. ...rather than studying the Rescuers over and over again and copying unnatural "animation acting" that we have already seen in 200 animated features before and since!