Saturday, February 02, 2008

Goofy's Floppy Principles

Here's some animation from my favorite period of Disney. I love the character design and the way it moves.The late 30s is when they were discovering and polishing the basic animation principles that we still sort of base modern cartoons on only we don't remember exactly how they work or what to use them for.
The scene is interesting, because it has nothing to do with story or acting. It's just what they used to call "business". It exists purely to remind us about Goofy and to have some fun bouncy animation.

Warner Bros. cartoons used these same principles to tell more individual and original stories and to assert the artist's own world views, but it's interesting to see the principles here stripped of opinion and individuality- existing in wholesome purity.
Line of Action and Clear Silhouette

Overshoot past the keys for accents

Settle into the final pose after overshoot.

Everything is bouncy and timed to music.

Many of the actions move on arcs. One pose will squash down in the middle of the action to move into the next pose.
Always feature the ass.

And the groin is good too.

Cartoons like this are all about the principles. They aren't very funny and nobody has specific personalities, especially not the director. These are strictly the basics drawn in a very appealing graphic style.

I kinda wish we could have a studio that would go back to these basics and from there move forward into individual styles and customization.

Today's full animation style is such a specific small collection of cliched actions that it is very hard to move forward from there.

I actually saw a movie the other day that didn't have all the stock acting and motions of most modern fully animated features.

It had a depressing drawing style to match the depressing subject matter and is not really my kind of thing but I was The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

impressed to see that the way it moved seemed more customized to what was happening in the story. It wasn't a collection of stock actions.

If only we could apply that kind of clear thinking to entertainment animation.


Dume3 said...

I thought Magician Mickey was pretty funny for a Disney cartoon, especially towards the end when Mickey is messing with Donald.

Eduardo Fierro. said...

good movie.

Anonymous said...

Art Babbitt, a man that was as gifted as they come.

His analyst on "The Goof" was simply awe-inspiring. And to think, he originally wanted to become a Psychologist!

Anyway, on the video hosting site, YouTube is a Documentary on Art Babbitt.

You should go and check it out, especially seeing the old hawk in action, animating on Richard William's "Thief" film, and explaining how he generated interest for the industry.

Hope you enjoy this piece of history

From an inspiring cartoonist/ artist

John S. said...

That's a great period. Not only is the animation fun, but look at that background. It's detailed, but not noodly, all those theater doodads are wonderfully drawn and stylized, but not selfconciously so, and they frame Goofy perfectly.
I can only watch a few of these at a time, though, because they bore me to tears.

Jeff LaMarche said...

So, John....

Don't leave us hanging... What was this depressing movie you saw?!? I assume that that picture is a clue, but could you be a little more explicit for those of us who are culturally inept?


Dume3 said...

Art Babbit animated one cartoon by himself, 'Baggage Buster'. The animation is very stiff and literal compared to the other great animators. I'm not sure if this is typical of Babbit or a fluke.

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

My observation about Walt is that he loved things that "sell" the cartoons --things like the perception of heft, volume, depth. He really pushed those qualities forward. There is a really pleasing (if not hysterical) look in the Disney cartoons of that time.

Disney's biggest drawback is that once they found their way of moving things, they only did them that way. Everything is slow and too easy to follow, and most of the characters are made of a similar yokel tested and approved Disney-grade cartoon meat. It was more important to have believable cartoon mass than to be funny or have anything to say.

Barbara said...

I was holding off on seeing Persepolis exactly because of how boring it looked. I have no idea why the story should be animated for any other reason than that it started out as drawings in a book. I dunno if this is your cup of tea either John, but you should check out Tekkon Kinkreet, which came out recently--it's an anime, but there are a lot of fun and interesting things going on that make it worth seeing.

hayden the wise said...

huzzah for Nathaniel

Weirdo said...

Excellent post. Goofy is one of the funniest Disney characters.

gabriel said...

persepolis is a great movie. would be great an analysis from you

James said...

I want to see Persepolis.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

You know, I wasn't going to see that movie because of the drawing style, but now I think I'll give it a gander.

Or a mallard.

What was the name of that movie?

- trevor.

Roberto González said...

Yep, Persepolis was pretty nice to see, I also wanted to see a little more entertainment even in a movie like that, though. I mean, I know the subject was serious, but I initially thought there will be more humor in it. The three funny scenes or so were my fave ones in the movie. I think the movie looks a lot better than the comic book which I find kinda overrated because of its subject. Even though I only read some of the books but I never found the story so funny,engaging or well told and I especially find the drawings in the comic book much more depressing than the ones in the movie. It's not too bad either, but it's not Maus, that's for sure.

I used to watch Magician Mickey a lot when I was a child, but I don't remember a lot of it right now. I liked the look of Mickey in the cartoon. I think I prefer the later design of Goofy.

Now that you mention Goofy, did you watch that new Goofy cartoon? I didn't yet but Jerry Beck seemed to like it a lot.

James N. said...

-Don't leave us hanging... What was this depressing movie you saw?!?-

'Persepolis' is what it's called.

I have yet to see it because it hasn't come to theaters here in Florida. I'm looking forward to finally seeing it though.

Chupa said...

That was my favorite period of Disney cartoons too! I used to have one of those films on a hand-cranked toy movie viewer when I was a kid and I would watch it frame by frame backwards and forwards. The brief period when they made color Mickeys but left his face white are the ones I loved best.

Mattieshoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael J. Ruocco said...

Great animation!

Speaking of 30's scenes like this one, I'd also like to add this one up there as well, Donald juggling from "Mickey's Circus", from a year before "Magician Mickey":

The animation of Donald here is crazy stuff! It's well timed, fluid & extremely complicated. There's something about animation of juggling that gets me.

Anonymous said...

I like how the the animator (Art Babbitt? I'm not familiar with many of the Disney animators.) takes full advantage of construction, yet at the same time, the animation itself fun and bouncy (as you said).

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

"Now that you mention Goofy, did you watch that new Goofy cartoon? I didn't yet but Jerry Beck seemed to like it a lot."

For something done today, in the post-Pixar Renaissance, it was very good. And, the added treat was, I got to see it in a theatre. Too bad Warner Bros. can't keep the mantle of quality up as high.

There were two pictures on Goofy's nightstand in that cartoon. One of Walt, and a caricature of that hack John Lassetter.... talk about pretentious.

But I like the late 30's style in Disney better than any other, because the "cuteness" factor is almost as good as Clampett, Scribner, et al, as evidenced by the scene in "Coal Black", animated by Art Babbit ( who animated this Goofy clip ) where she eats the apple.

She was a yummy one, that So White.

- trevor.

VonCheech said...

i heard rumor that you were putting together a
"The Art of Spumco" book. is it true?
that would be the bee's knees !
i remember a bookstore in La (
selling original spumco art work.
they said it was sold to them by someone who cleaned out the spumco offices.
i was sad i could afford any.
this book will make up for it !

Sean Worsham said...

Aww you saw Persepolis!!! I just saw it too and was quite impressed. One of the best films I saw all year. I loved how all the silhouettes read and that the story didn't feel all cliche. Something more personal for once feels good when compared to the crowd pleasers today.

Anonymous said...

If John K. were to direct a live action movie, it might look something like this:

Kali Fontecchio said...

I love this Goofy scene! He's so wiggly.

That movie was depressing, yet interesting- but unlike you, I somehow managed to sit through the whole thing, haha.

Chloe Cumming said...

Yay 1937! A good point on the graph.

I knew a man who was like Goofy once, his name was Mike. He had Goofy's stance. I told him he was like Goofy because I was a bit insensitive back then.

I agree with i.r.d.c. about that 'cartoon mass' fetish thing. It's funny how innocent logical things can become warped over time into stale doctrinaire type things.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

I just bought an advanced ticket to see Persepolis (sp?) this weekend.

I'm finnicky about staying in a movie I don't like ( I almost walked out on '300' ), so we'll see if I make it.

And if you want to see that Goofy cartoon, you'll have to buy a ticket for National Treasure 2: Cage's Male-Patterned Blandness.

- trevor.

Jeff Read said...

I wanted my mom to buy the Disney Channel on cable just so I could see more Goofy.

Before R&S came around, old-school Goofy was the funniest character in my animation universe.

Then they gave him a house in the 'burbs and a kid with a skateboard.

James N. said...

[One of Walt, and a caricature of that hack John Lassetter.... talk about pretentious.]

How is John Lasseter a "hack"? Explain it to me. Just because you hate Pixar's films doesn't make him a "hack".

Dume3 said...

"I wanted my mom to buy the Disney Channel on cable just so I could see more Goofy."

I used to adore watching classic cartoons on the Disney channel, but now you can't see them anywhere except online or on DVD. It's such a clear devolution in Tv programming. Even in the late 90s Disney had some great programming--old stuff like Zorro, Mickey Mouse Club, Davy Crockett, Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and of course the cartoons.

Now what do we get--a lot of no-talent teen divas and their canned laughter sitcoms. What happened?

A similar phenomenon has happened on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, where shows like 'Ben 10' and the have replaced the likes of Ren and Stimpy and Dexter's Laboratory. This isn't just nostalgia--it's a clear decline in quality.

ladrones ink said...

Persepolis looked beautiful.
im glad that there is someone trying to fight for standards in cartooning.

things these days are getting so bland and stupid.

i mean, i grew up on your cartoons. im lucky, at least i got the handed down culture of warner brothers and vintage cartoons from your humor.

i was talking to a few friends of me, and i think we were probably the last generation to get speedy gonzalez cartoons and fun cartoon saturday morning voilence.

im very scared to see how bad things get, i have art directors my age telling me how kids just 4 years younger than us, are just churning out shit. complete photoshop/illustrator humorless, aestheticless bullshit.

i think its because they didnt have ren and stimpy on tv when they were 8.

thanks for standing up for those of us who still care about cartoons.