Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jones Acting Continued - head motions in acting

Here's a really funny Chuck Jones cartoon. It's not totally typical of his style. It's a lot wilder and makes me think he was trying to do his version of Clampett.
Has anyone noticed that the copyright dates on the Looney Tunes DVDs don't match the dates in the filmographies?

This title card says 46, but I always thought it was later.http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005062/

Who's the animator that gives Daffy a pointy lower beak?

When I was watching "You Were Never Duckier" it reminded me of some animation in "Pest in The House". The way Daffy swayed his head back and forth and paused his head in profiles before hitting an accent in the dialogue.

The animator here employs some of the same general punctuation techniques that I posted in "You Were Never Duckier".

When Daffy starts walking, the animator works up a rhythm, making Daffy sway left and right.

The walk doesn't seem to be hitting a consistent beat though, which strikes me as odd.
By the time Daffy's feet are out of frame, the walk gets really erratic. It looks like the animator is just animating totally to the dialogue and putting steps wherever they fit in the rhythm of Mel's acting.
Daffy antics during a pause in the dialogue by turning his head to the side and then...
"Blow!" Hits the accent
A bunch of quick little steps at the end.

Straight Ahead Acting To The Voice Track
This scene had to be influenced by Scribner's animation in "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery".


The animator here goes into a more straight-ahead approach (although there are some inbetweens) and just draws wacky poses and expressions to match the voice track.
He still uses the antic with a profile and swaying back and forth.
When I watch the scene closely I start to think maybe the two approaches are fighting each other. It would be hard to control and continual rhythm of swaying back and forth, while at the same time being inspired to draw something custom for each inflection in Mel's great acting.
I think it works great though.
He hits some of the accents by moving the head down in between the swaying left and right.

It's a loose swaying pattern, but made organic by not following a perfect mechanical timing and posing.

Same Idea, More Pose to Pose
This animation from "You were never Duckier uses the same general idea, but is more tightly controlled and aimed at Jones key layout poses. Did Jones purposely tone down his animators and tell them to do less straight ahead animation?

If you follow his cartoons chronologically, it seems that way.His early to mid forties have the loosest animation of his career. Some of his animators drew a lot of their own poses and fitted them between Chuck's layout keys. By 1948, when Jones hit his entertainment stride and was doing his funniest cartoons, the animation was still good but much more tightly controlled to hit Jones' poses.


By the way, Greg Duffel solved the mystery for me of who animated the scenes I posted in "Duckier".

Hi John: Sorry I'm so late in getting back to you. I haven't checked this email address in a long time. The animator of that scene (and I'm sure someone has already told you) was Phil Monroe.

I believe that Monroe was first
with Tashlin, then Freleng and then with Jones until the early '50's when he took a job with Leo Burnett ad agency and developed the more cartoony Kellogg's animated characters like Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackle, Pop etc. etc for tv commercials.

He hired lots of Warner Brothers animators
and studios to make the commercials.

He came back to Warners in the latter
days to direct some of the last Warner cartoons in the 1964 period after they fired Chuck. He did the final Sheepdog and Wolf cartoon as well as a Bugs and Daffy opus set in the far north.

Chuck brought Phil in to direct the Chipmunks TV special in the late '70's after Chuck had redesigned the Chipmunks for Bagdasarian.

Phil served as an animator for Chuck on the
"Return of the 24th and a half century" debacle as well as some new Roadrunner material released with it.

I've even seen some footage of Phil
talking about animation in a Chuck Jones documentary filmed in the 1979 or so.


PCUnfunny said...

'The walk doesn't seem to be hitting a consistent beat though, which strikes me as odd."

That's what I noticed also. I guess the animator had trouble with the transtition from Daffy's body to his head as his legs disappear.I like those Chipmunk designs, BTW.

Larry Levine said...

John, WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!!

As a Chuck Jones fanatic I NEVER knew he was the one who redesigned The Chipmunks!

It's very clearly his distinctive handwriting & late 1970s "Crawford" drawing style, especially on the first Alvin layout.

PS: Did I mention--WOW!!!

pappy d said...

I apologise for miscrediting the animation on "Duckier" to Ken Harris. I bow to Greg's superior cartoon scholarship.

Mr. Semaj said...

Funny how Chuck's being fired in 1962 never meant the end of his involvement with Warner Bros.

Billy Bob said...

Hey Mr. K, I think that may be Basil D. doing daffy's great speech about keeping things quiet. It has a longer more fluid follow through and daffy's construction is more rubbery and looser then Jones' regular stable. What do you think?

John A said...

Not so funny, mr.semaj, Jones went to MGM, started his own studio and made Tom and Jerry shorts and TV specials, but it was more than a decade before Warners allowed him to do anything with Bugs Bunny. Chuck and Friz actually had to go to court to be granted the right to draw the characters again. You see, even though they both dedicated more than twenty years to working with Bugs and Daffy, the characters were the property of Warner Brothers and they had no legal claim to them.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Some of my favorite Looney Tunes are these type of Chuck Jone's cartoons, before they got really style-ey and relied mainly on good animation and giant angry lummoxes. I love 'Bunny Hugged' and the one where Elmer shoots Daffy, then they have a boxing match (is it 'To Duck or Not to Duck'?).

They still look like a Chuck Jones cartoon, the just aren't screaming "I AM A CHUCK JONES CARTOON. LOOK AT MY STYLE!"

Those ones are interesting to watch, but by making them more experimental, he seemed to have dumbed down the humor. Maybe he thought if the visuals were more clever the jokes didn't have to be anymore?

And thanks for breaking these scenes down in such a logical manner. It's amazing to see how carefully planned this stuff is, not just random lunacy.

stevef said...

The release date is just that: the date the film was released for public viewing. The copyright date, a legal protection of a creative work, applies the moment the film is considered finished.

The difference in copyright versus release date is most likely caused by Warner Bros. policy of the day of shelving cartoons after their production in order to release them at a time that worked best in the theaters.

This policy meant that a finished cartoon could sit "on the shelf" for several months.

(And now you know the reason why they put the copyright year in Roman numerals. Why distract the audience with 1946 popping up on the screen in 1947?)

Copyright dates on reprints for TV, and the Blue Ribbon re-releases however, can be inacurate simply because at the time nobody wanted to do the work to make sure it was right.

PCUnfunny said...

Josh: It is To Duck or Not To Duck.

I think my Favorte Jones characters designs was in the early to late 1940's. A close secound would be the early to mid fifties. After that, I really didn't like the way he drew Bugs and the gang. By the 70's and 80's, he drew the Looney Tunes to appear far too soft and cute.

Chris said...

Wow thanks for posting about this. This is the cartoon that made me love Daffy Duck!

David Germain said...

I think it was Ben Washam who did the pointy-beaked Daffy in that scene.

Weirdo said...

I love Phil Monroe's design on Alvin and the Cipmunks. They are so cute, better than the others. Interesting analysis. I love a lot of Chuck Jones cartoons, but I don't like the way he drew Bugs in "Transylvania 6-5000" and his later stuff. He looked like he had lost all masculinity.

J Lee said...

"A Pest In the House" is actually the only solo Daffy cartoon Jones ever did where he allowed him to come out on top at the iris out. Even in his wilder period of the 40s, Chuck's other cartoons always had a bit of self-centered calcualtion in Daffy that would get him in trouble, but here, he's all emotion and action, which may be why Jones allowed him to have such loose animation. For "You Were Never Duckier" we're in the very early stages of the development of the greedy Daffy -- he's not there, but he's got obvious ideas in his head, which Chuck may have decided required a more toned-down character.

(As for the production, combined with the post-war backlog that Techincolor had and Warners' desire to get the Bugs cartoons out to the theaters as fast as possible, the production/release dates often are skewered. It you check the production numbers on the cartoons on LTGC Vol. 5, "You Were Never Duckier" and Friz's "Buccaneer Bunny" were apparently in production at the same time, but released several months apart, while McKimson's Cinecolor "The Upstanding Sitter" was made well after Chuck's cartoon, but as released before it.)

PCUnfunny said...

Huzzah ! I found a clip of the Jones Chipmunks Christmas special !

pinkboi said...

The way I see it, the voice acting is driving the animation, which works with good voice acting. It's The Simpsons' saving grace (too bad the animation isn't as cartoony as earlier days')

You should do a post on voice acting! That's one of the things that makes many modern cartoons feel so lifeless. It's the main thing that makes me hate Camp Lazio (because it would probably be pretty funny otherwise..)

boootooons ltd. said...

"Did Jones purposely tone down his animators and tell them to do less straight ahead animation?"

actually, that's EXACTLY what he did, and the only reason i know is because he told me so personally.

chuck said, in my only conversation with him, that when leon sold the studio, he, friz and a reluctant robert mckimson began an initiative to kind of 'reign in' the manic nature of the characters when they were in the hands of avery, clampett and tashlin... ( 'high-maintenance directors' he called them )

one way that chuck said he did this was by putting a stronger control over the key poses. he also tells me that the reason he feels his art style got better ( i didn't say that i felt it got worse ) was because he had to start doing twice as many character layout poses in order to implement the changes.

but, i had no idea that the redesigned chipmunks were chuck's doing. would explain a lot.

particularly the 'tude that alvin has on the company logo at the end of the new cartoons.

- trevor.

PCUnfunny said...

"chuck said, in my only conversation with him, that when leon sold the studio, he, friz and a reluctant robert mckimson began an initiative to kind of 'reign in' the manic nature of the characters when they were in the hands of avery, clampett and tashlin... ( 'high-maintenance directors' he called them )"

Well I am not surprised by this. Friz and Chuck never wanted to make the Looney Tunes as Looney as Clampett,Tashlin, and the rest did. Once they left and now had Mckimson under their thumbs, Chuck and Friz started toning down the cartoons.

Racattack Force said...

Yeah, the walk doesn't seem consistent, but the short was still great. And the fact that the short were more controlled, I started to get that feeling after watching a bunch.

Zoran Taylor said...

Phil Monroe also did a great deal of animation for "The Wise-Quacking Duck". You can really see that here.

Liimlsan said...

Ken Harris' scenes are pointy lower beak - conveninently, I always use as a textbook case the scene from 'You Were Never Duckier' of Daffy being carried out of the coop! XD (And don't try to tell me that's not Ken - he had the most 3D drawing in the entire department, the signature creative breakdowns and floaty clear action, the close-to-even part timing, etc. plus it's a REALLY LONG SCENE with a lot of walking that no other animator would dare touch.

I think Lloyd Vaughan did the scene where Daffy, after putting the feather plunger on his ass, clucks and pecks in self-conscious demonstration (Chuck was good at that (Sheepdog and wolf?) even if it's not good to DO per se). Any thoughts?
Also - scenes from that I'm curious about -
The take just before 'Sorry Judge, me fudge is burning, I gotta crochet a cake' etc. and following splat on the door. I believe it's Ben Washam, it has his pointy features, wide pupils, soft parts timing, and fluid between-pose motion; but would love another opinion.
the take the Rooster does when confronted with a sexy hen pinup. (Again, looks like Ben's work, but I'm hesitant to assign labels. Ben is HARD to identify - with the others? Phil draws soft and moves solid, Ken moves soft and draws solid, Lloyd draws crude and skittery. Ben has a LOT of famous trademarks - the followthrough timing, the shifting gravity cores, the pointy facial features, the wide pupils, the fluid motion between famous poses, the personality facial motions. It's actually really hard to identify them in ANY one scene (aside from the 'Leopold' scenes from Long-Haired Hare) because they're all so barely visible.)

BTW, I find Chuck Jones' animators easy to identify...why? Because with Chuck doing all the layouts and all the animators copying his drawing style, the animators are more comfortable doing their own thing - and all the identifying tags are easy to spot. (Compared to how under other directors, trying to put gloss on character styles that are so different - Tash springs to mind. Manny Gould is such a goddamn mixed bag - his stuff resembles Ellis one cartoon, McKimson, then Scribner the next!)