Friday, February 29, 2008

Flip the Frog: run

Need a simple run for an animation excercise? Flip will give you the basics


This one is 5 frames for each step.10 drawings for each complete cycle. Shot on 1's. The music is on a 10 frame beat.

Ignore the repeat frames. That's from the video transfer from film. They add a frame after every 4th one to turn 24x per second into 30x per second.

Here's a Flip walk, also on a 10 frame beat with a breakdown of how to do it yourself.

Oh and thanks to these students who pressed the magic button!

Brett Thompson

Adam Juricev-Mikulin

Lynsey Schaschke

Thursday, February 28, 2008

See the World - Carlo Vinci and friends

Boy, those old Terrytoons sure seem to be made for Dads instead of kids.

"See the World" (1934), Terrytoons

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

Tongue Action:

Clip 3:

I'm not sure who this animator is.

Clip 4:

This is Carlo, for sure.

Clip 5:

Clip 6:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tex Avery's Rational Story Structures

Here's a very good copy. Thanks to Steve and Asifa!

Here's a youtube low rez version.

here it is with a better picture, but in French.

Tex Avery's storytelling tradition goes back to American folklore -"Tall Tales" like Paul Bunyan.

He likes ideas that are based on impossible premises. Once you accept the impossible premise, he keeps building it to more preposterous heights.

This takes a lot of imagination to make funny, but it also takes a very rational approach to storytelling. Tex Avery at MGM became a master of story structure.

Bad Luck Blackie structure


The premise is that if a black cat crosses your path it brings you trouble.
A Bulldog is mean to a kitten. A black cat witnesses the bullying.
He tells the kitten “If you’re ever in trouble, just whistle and I’ll cross the bulldog’s path and something will come crashing down on his head.”

Is the premise funny?

Not if you just told it to someone.
Tex wants you to understand this premise, so he can get to the middle of the cartoon, which has a series of funny accidents happening to the bulldog, each time he bullies the kitten.


Structurally, the beginning of the story has to introduce the premises upon which the story is based on. Tex needs to have us understand what the cartoon is going to be about.

In some Avery cartoons, Tex gets the setup over with as fast as possible using exposition, so that you can get to the story part, like in his hilarious “Deputy Droopy”.

In Bad Luck Blackie, he instead chooses to make the setup really funny by not merely stating the story premise, but by giving us feelings about the characters.


In less talented hands, a mean bulldog torturing a kitten would be very downbeat and depressing. Some of the gags are downright shocking and cruel! Like the kitten getting his tongue caught in a mousetrap.

Amazingly, this whole section is really funny. You feel sympathy for the kitten, but at the same time, the bulldog’s design and acting and his sheer glee makes you like him as well.

Introduce Twist

Once we’ve seen the setup and we feel sorry for the poor kitten, Tex introduces a way to save the kitten and thwart the Bulldog’s bullying.

A black cat tells the kitten to just whistle whenever he’s in trouble, and Blackie will walk by the bulldog and cause something to fall on his head.

Blackie himself is not just a black cat; he is a character too, a street smart city kid, like one of the Bowery boys.

Build The middle

The gags in the middle are mostly bigger and bigger and crazier things falling on the Bulldog’s head, but the setup, middle and payoff for each gag is funny too.
Most of the humor comes, not from the object that lands on the Bulldog’s head, but from his personality. His joy at torturing the cat, his change in attitude as he starts to realize the consequences of his actions, and his self pride, when he thinks he has figured out how to outwit the whistle gag.

So Tex leads us to believe that the gags are a straight build up of things crashing on the head gags (and those are all funny) but he tosses in some twists and thwarts our expectations here and there, just as we think we have it all figured out.

This is not only imaginative, it is extremely clever and took a sharp brain and serious structural planning to pull off.

Tex is in total control of our brains and our expectations.

Crazy Topper Ending

Once Tex has basically milked what you think is the most you could from this premise, he tops it all off with a fast climax as the bulldog runs away with huge impossible things falling from the sky. By this time, as Joe Adamson keenly observed in his Tex Avery, King Of Cartoons book, the premise is no longer needed for us to accept things falling on the bulldog’s head.
Blackie no longer needs to cross his path. We just have to hear the whistle and we totally accept the logic.

The Best Cartoonists Make Us Believe Preposterous Things

Tex took us on a ride that we should never have accepted if we stopped to think logically about it. Thank God he didn't have to get notes from today's executives!

He did it with utter control of his talent, skills, logical brain and our psychology.

Tex Avery is a genius in my books. Most cartoons day are plagued with time-eating explanations for things that don't need to be explained logically. The more that modern cartoons try to explain the ridiculous things that happen in cartoons, the more we are aware of how unbelievable they are. And these explanations are generally boring to boot.

Cartoons can completely convince us of impossible, illogical things...if they are highly structured and logical in their illogical premises. And the more fun they are, the less time we will have to stop and say "Why, that's impossible!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roger Ramjet - the tip

Even without actual animation, this stuff has some key cartoon elements:
Really distinct and funny voices. Plus the acting and inherent comedic timing is great.

Great cartoon actors have to have that clear delivery that not only sounds natural, but focuses on the jokes. They know just where to pause before an accent and what to stress.

Much full animation doesn't use strong vocal talent, but makes up for it with movement. If you don't have much movement you can sure benefit from funny, distinct voice actors.

Add funny and distinct character designs, and you have instant believable characters-even when they don't actually move.

Of course, I love it when you get all this and great full animation, like in 40s Warner Bros. cartoons, but it's rare to have all the elements that make good cartoons in one film or even one studio.

movie clip:

Monday, February 25, 2008

some corrections from Greg Duffel

Hi John:

A couple of possible corrections on the Jones art:

The Porky strikes me as something from a Davis or Tashlin cartoon. Brother
Brat maybe? If it's Jones, which cartoon?

The Bugs Bunny in an Elizabethan outfit is an Abe Levitow drawing for a
cartoon Abe directed.

The Dog below it is almost certainly from "Fast Buck Duck" and is probably
drawn by Ted Bonnickson, the "co-director", as it doesn't look like a

The Bugs Bunny with red underdrawing is a Washam.

And speaking of your Washam post today, yes, that animation of Bugs Bunny
you note as being in a Mckimson style, is by Ken Harris. I like Harris'
animation at the end with the female rabbit robot. Some very clever
stagger animation there. I also like it when Bugs Bunny sings "I'm headin'
for my beddin'..." which Harris animated.

Also, I had some communication with Mike Barrier recently about the DVD 5
of Looney Tunes, and specifically his commentary about "Tale of Two

He gave credit to Scribner for the anvil in the ground scene,
but that's some really odd Scribner drawing, which I thought looked more
like Davidovich (who incidentally animates on "Hair Raising Hare"). Look
at those hands on the Babbitt cat. Would Scribner draw like that? Mike
kindly sent me Clampett's notes on that with a list of who did what and
Scribner is assigned that scene alright.

The Bugs Bunny you note at the beginning was animated by Lloyd Vaughan.

I'm going to read your Scribner stuff.


Thanks Greg, and my apologies for my errors.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rice Krispies Weekend Treat

Here's an extra funny looking vintage Rice Krispies commercial.'t you love how happy these mischievous gay little imps are?
Happy to not have any construction!

Let's play leap up the crotch!

Pile on that extra sugar on your already sugary cereal!
Feel that extra carb energy surging through your whole head.
You won't stop moving all day.

This calls for a group hug. They look pretty eager for it.

Grasp and rub vigorously while using up your sugar energy.

I'm not sure who animated this, but it reminds me of those BAB-O commercials from the 50s, where everyone snorts cleanser, also an energy releaser.

Maybe Mike or Greg will help us out here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Great Milt Gross Comic!

Sherm Cohen has a great site filled with wonderful cartoon art.

Here's a post he did with a Milt Gross comic.