Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hubley Commercial: Baby - Rod Scribner animation

Hey, everybody. Kali Fontecchio has done a lot of work making these clips and uploading all the pics for you, so go over to her blog and check out her own fun filled drawings and paintings!

http://kalikazoo.blogspot.com/

Here is a Hubley commercial animated by Rod Scribner.
Baby.

For me, animation is more than just smooth movement. It's not enough to learn a bunch of stock Cal Artsy moves and gestures and then move formula designed characters from one stock pose to another.
Animation is movement of interesting and inventive drawings. The drawings that make up the animation are as important as the movements themselves. Maybe more so.
It's even better when the drawings are not preinvented on model sheets or in decades of stock expressions.
Here's a great combination of John Hubley's designs and Rod Scribner's animation.
Hubley probably did a couple of the main drawings and the composition. A minor animator would have taken those poses and then just animated stock lip synch and moved the heads and arms to the accents in the soundtrack.
An inventive animator like Scribner does a lot more than that. He adds to the "design" of the scene by designing original custom made expressions and poses that fit the soundtrack.
Scribner also makes up his own mouth shapes, rather than rely on stock mouth shapes like you see so often.
This is the kind of animation that made me want to be an animator.
Custom made animation that isn't a formula. That shows what an individual cartoon animator made up just for that scene. ...That looks like a living breathing observant human did it, rather than a machine.
Scribner must be the most creative animator ever. He's able to do all kinds of styles. When a lot of the Warner's animators couldn't make the switch to 50s graphic styles, he just jumped at it and created ways to move the characters that matched the graphic styles. His movements are as stylish (actually more) than the design themselves. He doesn't merely "squash and stretch" or "antic and overshoot".
These 50s commercials commercials are among the best use of the UPA style that I have seen. They are lively and better paced than the entertainment shorts-maybe because they have to get the message across in 30 seconds to a minute rather than drag it out to 6 minutes or more.
I can't figure out why UPA didn't use Scribner in their feature shorts. He understood how to move these designs better than anybody. The shorts are barely even animated. They are evenly inbetweened key poses.
You can freeze frame animation like this and find a ton of great drawings and original graphic thoughts. Isn't that why we animate? To create new pictures? I can't understand today's urge to repeat actions that someone else invented 50 years ago and that have already been copied over and over again ever since.
This animation is fun. and that's what it's all about isn't it?
Well I can't think up enough words to describe each picture, so I'll just let you enjoy them.






Cute and specific at the same time!




Amid On Scribner Commercials

30 comments:

Arschblog said...

The baby is cute!!! The design is simple but full of expression!

Gabriel said...

John, about the specific vs. iconic thing, in a previous post you mentioned that iconic characters are well suited for commercial. Can you think of examples of longer animation which call for iconic characters? Maybe stuff that's more plot oriented (as opposed to character oriented such as most of your own cartoons)?

JohnK said...

Hi Gabriel

I'm not sure what you mean by iconic characters...

Peggy said...

Oh, wow. That's beautiful. I love seeing stuff like animated that well. Thanks.

Max Ward said...

How does Scribner get such specific expressions in a stylized character like that? I've never seen a baby's mouth animated like that and it works!! It is very observant.

And thanks to Kali for getting the video up. First I received her bag of goodies in the mail today and now this! What a gal!

Thomas said...

Maybe Scribner was regarded the way Tyer was at Terry's by certain animators and management. UPA may have thought Scribner took too many liberties with their characters, okay for commercials but not for their more serious theatrical efforts. Humor tends to be undervalued, across the board.

I.D.R.C. said...

I can't understand the urge to repeat actions that someone else invented 50 years ago and that have already been copied over and over again ever since.

I can't believe it's an urge that begins in artists. Not happy ones, anyway. I can see it coming only from jaded clock-punchers, or to satisfy deadlines, or to repeat the box office performance of a prior effort.

None of which have the least bit to do with bringing the joy of something fresh to an audience you respect.

Roberto González said...

Even though I have found some (of the previous attacks to modern animation (not all of them) to be a little harsh, I have to say I agree with everything in this post and I clearly see the point. Those drawings are extremely fun and cute. And that in a extremely simple black and white cartoon without backgrounds.

NateBear said...

John:

I think Gabriel was referring to waht you said about altra stylized characters:
"It's great for commercials. It doesn't lend itself well to "personality cartoons". Super stylized characters are more like general symbols, rather than detailed layered living characters."

So basically he was asking if super-stylized characters would work well in any format besides commercials.

Gabriel said...

john, you said about stylized stuff: "It's great for commercials. It doesn't lend itself well to "personality cartoons". Super stylized characters are more like general symbols, rather than detailed layered living characters."

By iconic I meant those generic characters. Or do you think there's no use for them at all? Should characters always be as specific as possible?

Hammerson said...

Is anybody else having the problem accessing this and several other video clips posted recently? I have QuickTime installed, and I tried various methods to see the clip (from browser, direct download, through iTunes, etc.) but sadly without result.

However, these screenshots are marvelous, and I'm watching them in awe at Scribner's genius. Simple and stylized design didn't stopped him from making every single expression so original, unique and memorable. These mouth shapes are amazing. How long was Scribner at UPA, and what's the reason for him being so criminally neglected there? He should have been their main animator.

Big thanks to Kali for helping you prepare this stuff.

flaviano said...

i just saw for the umpteenth time the Stimpy "crazy vomit scene" on Big House Blues and i've thought that would be great to read a post about sound effect and expression (or only on sound effect). i think they have the same importance than the animation on the audience "reaction", but i think you have more experience on this.
all posts are really inspiring, thanks!
Flaviano

Clinton said...

Well this lecture really helped me out far as what I can do with my own characters, thanks!!!

Sean Worsham said...

I really like the close-up shot pics of the baby the most, especially when he squints his eyes. CUUUUUUTTTTTTTEEE!!!

Adam H said...

"I can't figure out why UPA didn't use Scribner in their feature shorts. He understood how to move these designs better than anybody. The shorts are barely even animated. They are evenly inbetweened key poses."

Here's a theory, John: If UPA was trying to cater to the "high-brow," with their cardboard cut-out features, in their eyes they'd be putting Scribner, a guy who would be associated with the classic way of animating, on "lesser" projects, such as tv ads.

Jim Rockford said...

WOW,thats really cool!
Its highly stylized yet very expressive.
the last five close-up screen grabs of the babys facial expressions are amazing...unique and funny!
Wish we had fun commericals like this now!
too bad the upa theatrical shorts dont have this verve.
Thanks for sharing this with us!

Jim Rockford said...

"Hammerson said...
Is anybody else having the problem accessing this and several other video clips posted recently? I have QuickTime installed, and I tried various methods to see the clip (from browser, direct download, through iTunes, etc.) but sadly without result."


Yes,I had the same problem and it had me install quicktime to watch it too.

JohnK said...

Hi Adam

all of the UPA animators in the beginning were classic animators.

Bill Melendez was Rod Scribner's assistant before Bob Clampett promoted him to animator in the 40s.

He later animated for UPA. On the theatrical shorts. So I still am unsure why they didn't use Scribner. They had him animate one of the title sequences. Why not the shorts themselves?

PCUnfunny said...

Great commerical.This animation had more personailty then any 90's Disney film.

Marc Crisafulli said...

This is a great spot, deceptively simple and perfectly charming. Maybe they knew they had a good thing with Scribner doing commercials.
Maybe Scribner had a short attention span and preferred doing them over the shorts? How many other commercials did he and Hubley work on together? In any event, thanks for sharing.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

"Money! Ask for it by name!" That's a great line!

Boy, this was a terrific example of of a little bit of good animation going a long way! And the expressions were terific! Scribner really was the king of the funny animators!

PCUnfunny said...

I just posted a comparison between this commerical and one from THE LION KING on my blog.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I love the baby in this cartoon- I ended up taking a lot of pictures from it because in each frame he was making equally cute faces! Genius.

Lester Hunt said...

I saw this commercial back in the fifties in California, when I wasn't a lot older than that baby, and I remembered it after all these years ("Say it!") -- now that's some brilliant image-making!

Hammerson said...

>> Yes,I had the same problem and it had me install quicktime to watch it too. <<

I found out what's the problem with clip. It looks like the firewall software on my computer was blocking the access to the server that hosted this and few other clips.
I finally saw this commercial, and it's truly a wonderful piece of animation.

David Nethery said...

"Maybe Scribner had a short attention span and preferred doing them over the shorts? "

The other thing to consider is that maybe Scribner had grown tired of showing up for 9 to 5 jobs at a studio and preferred the life of the freelancer working from the comfort of his home studio ? Also, I believe commercials paid better than working as an employee at a studio doing theatrical cartoons. I think that's why a lot of vets like Grim Natwick , Emery Hawkins, and Art Babbitt got into working on commercials in the 50's and 60's (as the theatrical market for shorts was drying up and budgets were being cut at the studios. Television advertisers could still afford to pay top dollar. )

JohnK said...

That's a good theory. He seems to have done tons of commercials, so yeah he probably made more money doing it.

It might have been more fun to do different styles all the time too.

antikewl said...

Totally off-topic, but go vote for John's blog here at the Blogger's Choice Awards.

Be sure to vote for it under "Best Celebrity Blog" as well -- should Rosie O'Donnell really win instead?!

t.

Mick said...

fun is where it's at. don't you fret there Mr K, I am right this very now putting together a cartoon as rip roariarsely funny as it is pain stakingly designed. Stay tuned dear fellow I think you will be impressed.

Logan Ilczyszyn said...

i want to know what the hell this is about, it says money on the blocks. ugh and i cant find the video at all.