Thursday, September 13, 2007



If was a programming exec, I would make shows formatted something like this:




This was my favorite of all the Bakshi Mighty Mouse episodes. It came out the closest to what I envisioned. There are many episodes that make me cringe. BTW, I have restored some scenes in this cartoon that were cut out way back when. They aren't in this copy, but you can see the cartoon uncut wherever I do a retrospective.


Here's some really great animation of Alvin and the Chipettes. (Steve, who did it? Glen Keane did some didn't he? Dan Haskett? Rebecca Reese?) And how weird are the human character designs? It's like 2 different movies!


If you wanna know back stories, let me know and I'll do another post with lots of details.


Colter said...

Ahh great stuff. I miss these guys when they weren't horrid looking CGI renders..

PCUnfunny said...

>>Here's some really great animation of Alvin and the Chipettes. (Steve, who did it? Glen Keane did some didn't he? Dan Haskett? Rebecca Reese?<<

HA,HA,HA,HA,HA !!!!!

Seriously though, I couldn't even finish that crappy trailer.As for the sixties Alvin and the Chipmunks, that is definetly what excutives really need to shoot for at least.Those cartoons weren't that funny but they were highly appealing and fun.

JohnK said...


you should watch the whole thing. I love the animation!

Just turn away when the humans appear

PCUnfunny said...

Okay I see what a you mean when they all start dancing but it didn't do much for me. I liked some of the movement but I can't say I love it.

Jake Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Forbes said...

None of the videos are showing up for me :(

Sean Worsham said...

I love the follow-through and the rhythm and acting in the Chipmunk Adventure animation (very energetic and fluid but what did you expect they got a lot of the best technical animators from Disney who were out of work at the time) but the designs overally are just bleaaahhhh. I never really was a fan of the later chipmunks but the 60's one are at least fun. It's amazing that they lasted this long though. I wonder when a "Nutty Squirrels" revival is in order (hahaha).

Paul B said...





Sean Worsham said...

In "Witch Doctor" I love the shapes they use in Simon and Theodores to emphasize "ooh eee oooh Ahh Ahhh!" Very Clever! I haven't seen this clip in years.

The one good thing coming out of the new cgi Chipmunks film is that, "The Alvin Show" will be out on DVD at least.

Raff said...

Model sheets of that Chipmunk/Chipettes movie (you have to log in to see them):

And some nice color models (some of which are bloody close to p0rn!) if you can get this site to work:

I have everything on disk if anybody wants them badly enough...

I guess sometimes the 80's weren't that bad after all.

amir avni said...

Man, "The Chipmunks Adventure" has some really strong cartoon animation!

I love how their limbs stretch when they dance. There's lots of bouncy accents, especially during Brittany's dance, before the creepy guy appears next to the statue of Medusa.
It's layered too, there's beautiful follow through when she sticks her tongue out at Alvin.

Nice layouts when they're "Heading to the city lights" Greece looked a lot like Hollywood that night.

Paul said...

I will admit that I really enjoy that Chipmunk Adventure movie, have it on DVD. Great post John, every clip was a joy to watch! It's amazing how charming those old commercials are!

:: smo :: said...

the chipmunks movie is freaking incredible and holds up better today than when i was a kid. and i remember it for sure, it was an entertaining quality film with good animation. that resonates.

i don't know how people can come on here and say that it's bad or bland!!!

that stuff is amazing and a lot cartoonier in motion than anything i've seen in a feature...ever? that quick shot where the guys and girls are leaping toward each other is posed beautifully and timed really well! and all their poses and dance moves are exaggerated and stretched so quickly it gives a lot of force to their actions. it's just overall a lot of fun to watch.

maybe i'm raving but i've watched it three times already.

the people are weird and that always bugged me, but it totally reinforced how strange it is that dave hangs out with chipmunks. plus the bad guys are ugly and weird and not just plain, so at least they're visually interesting. made the movie scarier for me when i was little. now they're a lot harder to look at, i'll admit.

i know you're looking for support not crit but i always wanted to like the mighty mouses but it just was too liquidy feeling or something to me. lots of zip stretch sort of blurs and very few inbetweens. i'm guessing that was a way of stretching keys and getting more drawings in on the budget? though later cartoons of yours definitely seem to have more weight and solid proportions, like the ranger smiths for instance. i feel like if you were to tackle something like mighty mouse now, it'd come out a million times different. again not trying to knock it, just curious as to certain stylistic choices.

PCUnfunny said...

I guess it's the character designs distracting me.

JohnK said...

>>i always wanted to like the mighty mouses but it just was too liquidy feeling or something to me. lots of zip stretch sort of blurs and very few inbetweens. i'm guessing that was a way of stretching keys and getting more drawings in on the budget?<<

Hi Smo

you're right, but it was low budget overseaes animation.,

The big breakthroughs were in the drawings and stories. We posed everything out in LA, and there had never been a TV cartoon with so many customized poses and such strong acting before.

We wrote the stories to take advantage of that.

Of course I would have loved to have the animators from the Chipmunk movie (and the budget) but we did what we could with our limited resources...while completely changing the Saturday Morning production system at the same time!

cleis said...

Haha, when I think the eighties, I think of the Chipmunks Movie. Roller rinks, ponytails, legwarmers, it's all there.

The animation on the chipmunks was fun and energetic and fluid, but the humans are painful to look at!

Also, a little too liberal an application of "MAGIC SPARKLES." How those Disney animators love their magic sparkles. Even the Disney Barbie dolls I had as a kid (hey, I'm sorry) were practically coated in gold glitter.

Kris said...

I have actually been watching that Chipmunk Adventure clip every now and then over the last few weeks. Found it looking for the '60s Chipmunks actually. I was surprised to find that the feature animation is just REALLY FUN to watch (even though Dave looks like a zombie).

And it's been so long since I saw Witch Doctor! Always loved that. Thanks for posting it.

Brian B said...

Why didn't they just use humans like the one from the show?

On a sidenote, what did you think about the Muppet Show, John? They had a nice mix of musical numbers, skits, and the like. Their songs and guests could be boring or plain bad sometimes though.

I always liked the way you structured Ren & Stimpy between them adressing the audience, space episodes introductions, commercials, cartoons, music. Definitely post the back stories btw.

On the models used in the movie, they're kind of nice. Check out that 2nd link, #018. The face is pretty generic, but the proportions and bottom-heavy form looks good. Never seen the feature. I'd imagine these models are strong enough to support a musical, as long as the motion is good which is. If it was a slower paced dramatic feature, it would be tougher to watch those designs for an extended ammount of time.

Robert said...

Glen Keane worked on Chipmunks? That's like Olivier appearing in "Biodome". Hmmm, the deal with Mephistofeles is becoming clearer now.

Whatever the merits of the animation, I always felt Chipmunks was the weakest talking animal concept ever. Basing a whole franchise on the sped-up voice gimmick... well, I gotta give him credit for getting a lot of mileage out of not much gas.

Jason Tammemägi said...

Out of curiosity, do you have any reservations or lines you won't cross when it comes to selling products to kids?

Fco. de Borja said...

I remember that even as a kid I hated Alvin and the chipmunks. I guess now I know why… The design is very bland and those tremendous annoying voices…. And for god sake they are all the time squeaking songs…

Roberto González said...

I'm glad to see you like the animation in that movie. I found that same clip recently on youtube and I loved it too. One of the Chipettes actually looks like Tex Avery's Red in some of those clips.I have to order this movie via internet...or hope they will release it again in Spain when that crappy-looking CGI thing arrives to cinemas.

I agree with you, the Chipmunks looks great, the humans are weird.

/\/\ikeB said...

There was some crazy stuff in the mighty mouse one - I like when mighty mouse is flapping through the air - his hands have this crazy wipe to them.
Interestingly, the girls animation at the beginning looks really fluid - even though it looks like it might've been on 3s.

Yeah the animation is pretty good in the Disney one - its just not funny.
Yeah there's some really good posing,I actually kind the stuff going on when the girl first goes on top of the pillar. Some of it looks like its on ones.

Bob Flynn said...

Hey John---I watched that 80s Chipmunks cartoon all the time when I was kid. Brought back memories, andthe dance animation is incredibly well done---elastic and alive. Some of the girl's movements remind me of the way you animate your girls (thinking of your Bjork video in particular). Thanks for sharing!

:: smo :: said...

thanks for responding to me john.

outsourcing of animation labor is my biggest pet peeve. it totally devalues us as animators, like the animation aspect of animation is expendable! not to mention it can totally kill good preproduction.

when i was little and reading about windsor mccay and termite terrace all all those back in the day stories; i always thought that's how the animation industry still was. either some crazy guy who could just devote ridiculous amounts of time to making a film and live off making newspaper comics, or a tight knit studio where everyone gives each other the hotfoot.

outsourcing really almost killed my dream of being an animator, and i've basically devoted my life in part to helping to save animation and bringing it back to the states somehow.

i really appreciate everything you've done to bring back the studio feel and this blog for making people realize animation isn't mindless machine labor.

keep it up!

also i looked up the imdb on the chipmunks movie and all those people you mentioned worked on it, david feiss too.

JohnK said...

Hi Smo,

>>outsourcing of animation labor is my biggest pet peeve. it totally devalues us as animators, like the animation aspect of animation is expendable! not to mention it can totally kill good preproduction.<<

I agree

I doubt it can be totally eliminated, but I have some ideas of how to bring back some animation to the country (continent)

Not that the studios would listen to me.

Maybe I'll do a post about it.

Tom said...

Animation was one of the first trades in the United States killed by outsourcing. Nearly every other one has been destroyed by it since.

JohnK said...

>>Animation was one of the first trades in the United States killed by outsourcing.<<

It was pretty much killed even before outsourcing.

Brian B said...

Hey guys, here's a cool interview with John about the Mighty Mouse show, if he doesn't mind posting it:

The way he handled overseas was pretty interesting - as well as the stuff on Bakshi, the 3 6-minute cartoon idea, influences, and other production talk.

Jonathan said...

I don't know who did the work on the chipmunks in Chipmunk's Adventure, but I do know that my aunt was an animation director on that movie.

I think she was involved with Ms. Miller and the evil jewel thief Claudia.

Anonymous said...

"Hi Bruce

it's impressive how much work you put into these articles. What dedication!

Want a couple suggestions?

If you email me, I can give 'em.


I'm all in for any advice, chief.

P.s.: I didn't have your email adress, so I had to post this somehow or another. My email is

I also have a Windows Love messenger account, so if you ever want to chat, I'll be online most of the time. Thanks

Kali Fontecchio said...

Whoa- that chipmunks animation was good!!! Better than I remember! The only thing I remember about that movie was how depressed it made me at like 6-7 years old. Oh ya- but I do remember the girl hot air balloon having bows on the sides. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I meant Windows LIVE Account. My Bad!

chrisallison said...

Awesome John! Me and my buddies kinda have a similar plan of attack for how we're gonna do our internet cartoons. Animating characters promoting products makes commercials entertaining so that audiences will sit through them

Anonymous said...

Hey, John. It's me again. Listen, I dunno if you reached me back again. I know how much this seems like spam, but honestly, here me out.

I'm trying to get my cartoon/comic noticed and I wanted a critique from an actual writer. You fit the criteria.

I know it seems like spam, but Im serious. The comic is called Chancre Scolex Middle School and you can see it on my blog. Just click on my name, and I SWEAR it's there.

Please, John. If I don't get a report on it, I'll never improve.

Oh, and by the offense to ANYONE, but as a 13 yr. old in the world, DAMN, the animation of the original Chipmunks was weak. The new modern animation as seen in that disturbing musical number was the one I grew up with, so obviously the original one creeps the HELL out of me.

And plus, the idea of a crappy CGI movie based on it is REALLY gonna be bad. I SWEAR.

Anyways, the disturbing musical number that drives me to homicidal tendencies just by hearing the lyrics themselves do have everything Paul B. listed, but as he said, it was bland and tasteless. But while I find the drawings and character models appealing, it's just that something's missing. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen the movie itself, but DAMN, I canNOT watch it. Seriously. I cannot STAND a stupid musical number. I couldn't sit through it.

As realistic as it seemed...well you get the point.

Anyways, John, I love your blog and enjoy reading it for ideas of character designs and just examining what you seem to understand about animation. Though there are some things I DON'T agree with, I still find the blog has lots of pointers. Feel free to step by MY second blog,


And don't take this as spam. It really isn't.

Anonymous said...

Aaaah, I love the animation in the "Girls/Boys of Rock N Roll" bit. I won a vhs of it off of ebay just for that scene! I keep recommending it to other animators who pooh pooh it.

C. A. M. Thompson said...

The Chipmunks are really bizarre. To me their 80's incarnations made them a little creepy. Where did the Chipettes come from? The movie has this really beautiful hypnotic animation but they're like these cute six-year old kids with weird animal noses singing these cheesy sexually charged 80's songs. It's funny but it's messed up.

I love the 60's versions and your Tree Weasels parody is golden.

Trevour said...

Besides the animation itself, what's really fun is slowing down the Chipmunks' voices.

I won't give away who did the [original] Chipmunk voices, but his enunciations alone were why the Chipmunks talked the way they did. High-pitched voices aside, the Chipmunks didn't deliver their lines with regular folk rhythm - they had their own dialect.

Today, that dialect is lost when all you gotta do is a simple digital pitch shift on recorded vocal. But speeding up tape was truly an art form in itself. That's yet another key element that went missing in later incarnations of those 3 little critters.

Kevin said...

Taber said...

Wow that was really fun, thanks John!

AshleyLange said...

Heya John K, I gotsa question. I'm a sophomore animation student currently creating my own cartoon for my demo reel. I enjoy watching all kinds of cartoons to observe their style - what do you think (visually) of modern Cartoon Network cartoons such as 'The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy', 'Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends,' 'Class of 3000', 'Camp Lazlo' and 'Edd, Ed, n' Eddy'? Do you ever watch any of these? I'm thinking backgrounds right now. That backgrounds post a few days ago really helped a lot - thanks!

Jeff Read said...

Ross Bagdasarian did the original Chipmunks' voices. His son Ross Jr. and daughter-in-law Janice Karman did the voices for the 1980s version onward, including the CG movie.

It still sounds like they're doing the unusual enunciation, which makes sense beause when you speed up a voice like that, some of the sounds become indistinct and the voice less intelligible. (Listen to when Alvin says "Come on, Theodore!" in the Chipmunk Adventure clip. No one I know talks like that!)

Brittany from the Chipettes is a more dynamic and fun performer than that other Britney.

Raff said...

Great find, Kevin. It's Raymond Persi's work, apparently.

John, hope you noticed, it's EXACTLY what you've been talking about.

And speaking of which, why do you think the swing revival only lasted a few years in the 90's?

JohnH said...

Ah, thanks for the cartoon. Out of curosity, what was it that inspired the roadkill narrator character? It seems a bit out of place, was he a standard character who told those kinds of backstory flashbacks or was he a one-off?

Also, I don't suppose you have any information on what went down when CBS took the show off because of that lady complaining about the "cocaine snorting" thing? I thought it sounded kind of iffy back then.

Callum said...

Wow...Alvin and the Chipmunks is much better than I remember...

Dan! said...

Holy crap! That "Girls of Rock and Roll" I don't remember Alvin and the Chipmunks looking that good. That was just so fun, I wanna see movements like that in more cartoons.

Now that I see how much better Alvin and the Chipmunks was that I thought, I'm even more depressed about the disgusting CG rapper version coming out. YUCK!

Rainer said...

First off, Please Please Please do more posts about the Mighty Mouse show; what it was like working with Bakshi, the stuff networks wanted cut out, etc. I would be glad to read such posts. And this is doubly so for any more posts on Joe Barbera and the other greats stories you hinted at(what he thought of writers, the test of the spumco system) you alluded to in that post.

Joe Barbera Tribute

Speaking of the Bakshi, this brings me to my second point. I dusted off my old copy of the chipmunk adventure and was surprised to find out it was great. But even more shocking was that the great Louise Zingarelli--an Bakshi Alumni-- did the character designs. That explains completely why the humans are so weird. Louise has a really interesting style of caricature that give her human drawings a unique look, particularly from real humans, but especially for cartoons [Actually, I’m a bit supposed you didn’t like the humans in some fashion. They are certainly a prime example of mixing solid deign with specific details. Far more interesting that Dic infected Disney designs you--and I-- revile]. You can also see her work in Cool World and especially Hey Good Lookin’, which may be the only animated film with humanoid characters having specific acting:

Asifa archive bio on Louise Zingarelli

Louise Zingarelli drawing for Hey Good Lookin"

The whole damn movie on youtube

One more detail; not only did Louise design the characters, and animated them, but she was also in charge of picking the voice talent, which may be why the voices fit pretty well for all the characters. Imagine, let a creative type conceived, execute, and pick the voices for characters in an animated film. Why, that’s almost . . artistic and rational in some way. What executive was asleep at the wheel?

Herschel said...

i was really surprised to see the Chipmunk's Adventure clip among the older clips. at first i thought, "WHAT?! john must have made a terrible mistake. he almost certainly has to hate this!" bland, unfunny, uncartoony designs!

but after watching it, you're right! there are definite flashes of brilliance in the animation. very funny movements! it IS like watching two different movies!

John Donohoe said...

I loved your reimagining of Mighty Mouse. I always looked for episodes with Bat-Bat. "Take this! Take that! Take this $5 and dont spend it all on comic books!"

BadIdeaSociety said...

I agree with you on the Chipmunk Adventure sequence having really compelling and interesting animation, but I really dislike the color presentation. Everything has a strange pastel wash to it. It is rather unattractive.

I really think that Ross Jr. missed the boat on his presentation of Dave Seville. There is something intangibly funny about the way that Ross Sr. presents himself as the consummate straight man on the razor's edge of exploding with violent rage. Even the way Ross Sr. would pause when making a statement (which I assume is more of a speaking error than anything) is rather funny, I think.

I am not a big fan of the re-imagining of Dave Seville as an 80's sitcom dad.

Besides, where is Clive Crashcup?

Kris said...


I watched the Boys of Rock & Roll segment about ten times yesterday. I couldn't get enough, and passed it on to all the animators I work with.

If you have plans to do anything as kinetic and fun as that, I would LOVE to work with you. Traditional, Flash, 3-D, the works.

I'd love to get in touch with you if you have any plans. Eddie knows me--I'm Shavonne's husband.

Until such a good thing happens, I wish you the best of luck.

Kyle said...

something worth noting about the chipmunks clip, the kids, er least the girls seem to be animated as adults imo.
have you ever seen a 7 year old dance like that? I sure haven't.

but yeah, I love that clip, great animation. I don't think I could bring myself to watch the full movie, but that clip works well enough on its own.

Marty Fugate said...

!@##$$ the copyright police for killing your clips!

Waqas Malik said...

it's interesting that you like the 80's chipmunks when you said that you liked the 60's chipmunks better. but i love the chipmunks adventure movie. i guess it partly has to do with nostalgia but your right, there is some good animation (and the songs were catchy!) it beats the crappy cgi movies in all categories.