Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cinematic Cutting and Accents For Punctuation and to Tell the Story

I always loved this chase sequence from "Eatin' On the Cuff". It's full of great ideas - like the character ziping off screen and leaving a ghost image of himself and then the ghost follows.
It's also full of great cuts and contrasts. Clampett weaves the shots together to build suspense and excitement - and does it with musical pacing and comedic timing - which is very similar to being a drummer.
Starting from tiny characters and running towards camera from a 3/4 up angle delivers a punch to the screen.

The characters weave in and out all around this scene creating wild chaos, but then ends with an added gag.

Another dynamic shot and action wth tiny characters.

Now we have strict left to right chasing, but with great accents in the runs.

Wo is this animator? Manny Gould?

When the spider lady sids to a stop Clampett feeds us a quick succession of accents in the actions, which aren't gags in themselves, but are a great use of filmic punctuation to let us follow the action and enjoy the rhythms -while incidentally - helping us follow the story.

Contrasts in timing: After the wild actions, he punctuates by having a slow bit - the hair floating up on a bubble
then a fast pop and the hair snapping and floating for a beat, before falling again and hitting the water. These are all great cartoon cinematic techniques to keep the pacing exciting. Without them - if he just merely told the story straight, it would all just float by and nothing would stand out against anything else. All story points would be indiscernible from connecting bits of continuity - like a Friz cartoon from the same period.

another pause to let the audience take a breath and to see the spider lady thinking up her next plan of attack. This is using punctuation both for entertainment and musical good feeling - AND to tell the story. To make these 2 things work together is what a good director should do. You can't just merely illustrate the story points in continuity - as most writers expect you to do.
Then, after the pause....ZAM! up fast and shake the butt vigorously to announce more action or a gag coming

another contrast - into dialogue. Notice the dialogue is completely musical, and the actions between the phrases have accents and beats to match the rhythm of the dialogue reading.

This pause below accentuates the rhythm of the previous poetry and reenforces the evil of the character. Again using timing for fun and to tell the story. Entertainment and functionality perfectly blended.
I love this animation by Bob McKimson. Even the flames are solidly drawn and animated.

Amazing stuff! McKimson has a superhuman ability - totally unique from all other animators. He just inventde his own way of animating and drew his poses and actions straight ahead with unbelievable directness and confidence. No bullshit about it.

Another great shot
followed by speed, dynamic angles and acents

Something Clampett never gets credit for is his mastery of cinematic technique. I think this is what makes him the best cartoon director in history, not just that his ideas and gags are funny or wild - it's his approach to filmmaking that enforces all the crazy ideas and lines them up in a perfect hierarchy of rhythmic accents and dynamic contrasting scene cuts.


Spider Lady as Veronica Lake