Saturday, October 31, 2009

Composition 14 - More Toot On Other Blogs

You can see the same hierarchical principles in these frames as what I talked about in the last Toot post.

Even this assumed jumble of a broken horn is very carefully arranged to frame the character's head. All the negative spaces in the jumble are varied shapes and clear.
All important elements of the picture are separated. The blueish colors of the owl contrast against the reddish BG elements so he stands out.
Don't ever ask me to draw a school room! Oreb pulled it off easily. (I assume easily)
I love these opening titles. A masterpiece in the art of arranging shapes.
Here's the stock Preston Blair/Disney owl dressed up in a suit of angles to make him appear modern.
A problem with trying to make each scene perfectly composed is it restricts the animators. As soon as they move a head or anything, then the composition goes out of whack. That's why limited animation seems best suited for the design style. I should say the limited in animation in this cartoon approaches genius in some parts. - which again defies the goals of UPA's rebellion against Disney.
This is the scene that drives all the modern day hipsters wild. It drove me wild too when I first saw it. But my hipster period only lasted a couple years and I mixed it with funny. Funny and hip doesn't mix well.



There is a similar film called Melody that is superficially in the same style. It doesn't seem as well designed and composed and I'm not sure why:
Too Busy

No Focus. It's just a mish-mash of clutter.
Not enough contrast or use of negative space to make the drummer read.

Characters too close and spaced too evenly apart. Not pleasing designs. Lazy looking.

Ugly balance of shapes.

Wonky broken looking building. Uninspired tree shapes.

Too Busy, textures in BG interfering with characters because they are too contrasty

Background noise and nasty colors jumping forward, distracting from character.
Too even. Left side exactly the same as right side.


Raff said...

Posts like these are great for developing an eye for nuances. It's too easy to look at a picture and think "Bleh! It's not working" and not know why, or worse, to say "I put 10 hours into this, they'll have to live with it."

On another topic, hope I'm on the right track drawingwise:

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Maybe they'd gotten better after working on Melody, since that blog post says Melody came first. It is interesting to compare it to Toot.

Zoran Taylor said...

"Funny and hip don't mix well."

Bugs Bunny wasn't hip?

What about Groucho Marx?

Or The Beatles? (They were funnier than most comedians, IMO.)

O gato said...

I watched Gay Purr-ee today and a lot of the scenes are stylized like the images shown here. Plus, the music fit well with the scenes!

zmerrill said...

I like your insight in an artistic view for these cartoons. Very helpful!

Trevor Thompson said...

This era may have been the beginning of the overuse of purples and pinks...

ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John, what are you up to? Are you pitching your stuff? :)
of pure interest,
- Thomas

Kyle said...

I had to look at the stills of Melody a moment to figure out just what was going on (especially in the shots of the drummer and of the trumpeter) but the action in the first cartoon was an instant and clear read.

Philip Dahl said...

Thank you for this post! It was always a mystery to me how everything looked so perfect in these types of Picasso-esque cartoons.

Have you made any critiques and observations on the Merry Melodies cartoons that are based around inventions that will be made in the future? Like the bacon flattener and other Rube Goldberg type devices? I remember there always being a narrator trying to pitch you the ideas. I would really like to hear your take on them. I wish I taped them when I was younger they were my favorite ones.

jim said...

I hope you'll keep occasionally deconstructing a cartoon -- you're teaching me how to see. Thank you!

Amanda H. said...

I'm not sure how to start doing studies. Do I just click on a link on your blog or what? :/

Whit said...

Directors Kimball and Nichols also cleverly integrated full (though cycled) animation at about 9:25 into TWPB in the conga dancer's action by dressing her in modern design angles and staging the character completely in the clear.

The Artist Aficionado said...

How Disney was influenced by UPA to go into stylized animation. So was UPA inspired by this early example of stylized animation.

This was a rare find, not a very well known film but it set the standards for stylized composition.

The film Black and White is a Soviet Union animated film from 1933 about the discrimination of African Americans in the 1930's and how Russia's socialist system supposedly meant equality for all but under Stalin I highly doubt that.

Regardless this film is historically important for being one of the earliest attempts at animating with stylized compositions.

The Butcher said...

But are these cartoons even funny? I remember watching the artsy stuff like this when I was a kid and I never laughed.

Actually, I don't remember laughing at any Disney cartoon for that matter.

Blammo said...

"Melody" was completely designed by Kimball without Oreb.It is much more raw and not as polished as "Toot".
This was the brave jump to test the waters with Walt.
This film is a perfect post for you, as it shows us that Kimball like both you and Bakshi have tried many experiments with film grammar regardless of the outcome.
Success or failure he was in it to experiment with the form.
All three of you have "dared a lot"
This of course brings up the important discussion of "Film Design vs Entertainment Value"
I am sure that's coming in another great post.

Your screen grabs are perfectly picked to show examples of poorer composition and color weakness in this film.
There are many masterfully executed scenes and sequences in "Melody Time" that are as strong as as Toot.....but you already knew that;)
Great posts as of late.
Keep em' coming John.

talkingtj said...

i was recently at the society of illustrators here in new york , they had an exhibition of fantasy illustrations.usually i dont care much for fantasy art with the exception of frank frazetta.most of the artwork on display was great to look at but really didnt move me, i went not to be critical just to observe.most of the art on display was quite frankly too busy.too much detail,too much activity,not enough focus on the painting stood out, i believe it was by a guy named butcher,it was a conan illustration and it followed all the rules and examples you give in your blogs. the shapes were clear,the overall image was uncluttered and clean and the background seemed very real and natural. it really moved me, it made me wonder what was going on with the story:why was conans sword drawn, what did he see, what was right in front of him,in other words it inspired my imagination. it gave me a clear idea of what youve been saying all along about composition. as i was leaving i couldnt help but notice that the society chose that painting to represent the exhibition on its flyers. when youre right, youre right.

Trevor Thompson said...

So Clampett began wonky in a way to experiment with perspective, Disney took it and ran with it, and then by the 80's there was no reason to do anything but wonky which led to a generation of artists who only know how to draw flat and without construction.

Is that about right?

Shawn Dickinson said...

I think Shag is the artist who revived that flat "hipster" style in lowbrow art scene a few years ago. Then everyone (artists who had probably never even heard of Tom Oreb) started copying Shag. Today that style is just a copy of a copy of a copy. Personally, I'm sick of seeing it.

Ward Jenkins said...

Blammo, where did you get your information that Kimball designed Melody without Oreb? I'd like some confirmation on that. Or was that just purely your observation?

One thing that better works for Toot Whistle is the fact that it was shot in widescreen, allowing the designers and artists to expand the layouts, and work with more space. Melody was shot in standard ratio 1.33, and therefore a tighter space to work with. Oreb's design seemed to work better once the screen was widened.

One thing about 'funny' for these films: you have to think about the intention about why they were made. They were meant as instruction and for educational purposes, so any gags would be secondary and besides the point. Also, you have to think that what we would consider corny nowadays was probably typical humor back then. I thoroughly enjoy these two films, and can watch them over & over, but hey - that's just me.

Thanks for the linkage, by the way!


JohnK said...

Hi Ward

thank you for having such a great blog and putting up all that fun stuff!

I admire the skill in those films for sure. I don't know if I ever learned anything about the subject matter though!

I was too busy staring at them to take in what they are about.

zmerrill said...

It seems like making good flat cartoons are much harder than they appear to be. No wonder flat designs today suck.

Ward Jenkins said...

Thanks, John, for the nice words about my blog. Glad to be of some service to you and your readers!

And I completely understand about being too into the imagery to not get what's going on with these films. I never knew most of what we were supposed to be paying attention to in class when these films were being shown.

The Butcher said...

"One thing about 'funny' for these films: you have to think about the intention about why they were made. They were meant as instruction and for educational purposes, so any gags would be secondary and besides the point. Also, you have to think that what we would consider corny nowadays was probably typical humor back then. I thoroughly enjoy these two films, and can watch them over & over, but hey - that's just me."

Well, I didn't mean just the Disney stuff, but generally any of the flat, designy cartoons like the stuff UPA made never struck me as funny. They're more hip and I guess I just have a deep-seated resentment towards most hip stuff.

Then just saying that made me wonder if any Disney cartoon has made me laugh. Not as far as I can remember.

Blammo said...

Oreb worked on this short but his design presence seems less prevalent than on Toot.
Kimball was more involved on character suggestions with this one and Kimballs rough character suggestions are hardly "rough"
Having seen some production art I can say that there are more pure kimball Design sections in this one than TWPB.In some cases they survive as Kimball drawings completely untouched by anyone else.

Later the space films *DONE WITHOUT OREB are more Kimball again with John Dunn added to the mix.
Personally I love the space films best of all because they teach in the most inventive ways while still being visually stunning.
P.S. Your Blog is great!


Ward Jenkins said...

Thanks for responding, Jason, and thanks re: my blog!

You might have a point there: the designs for the characters in Melody do seem to be a bit 'watered down' Oreb style. The angles and shapes appear to be sharper and stronger in Toot. I'd love to see anything concept and pre-production related to these films. The Space films, too. I love the humor in all of them.

Zoran Taylor said...

There are plenty of Disney cartoons that make me laugh -this one included, oddly- but none of them represent what Disney was famous for, at least not the funny parts themselves. The early Grim Natwick scenes, like in "Plane Crazy", are hilarious. The Goofy cartoons from the late forties, too. Painful, degrading physical violence dressed up as an instructional film dryly narrated by a snotty English guy? Stop, I can't breathe. Pinocchio scores a few times: The surreal malapropisms, ("I will push you in everybody's eyes! Your face will be on all their tongues!"; "You've buttered your bread, now sleep in it!") The rare-as-a-dodo handful of actual funny facial expressions, (Pinocchio looks down into his beer just after a tail pops out of the seat of Lampwick's pants, clearly thinking, "Domestic my ass.") and that shot of Monstro's maw as he's about to crash on the heroes' heads is almost hilarious just as it is completely terrifying.

The problem with Disney isn't that it's never funny - it's that the studio seemed to look down on being funny, like a bone to throw to the dimwits in the audience who can't appreciate art.

alexkirtoon said...

Yes, "Melody" was created first, and was probably the groundwork of experimentation that lead to the more polished look of "Toot", including the use of Oreb, a more polished designer, on the latter. It's also worth noting that "Melody" was filmed and released in 3D, perhaps Kimball felt the illusion of depth would go some distance towards organizing the more cluttered scenes. I've seen this film in 3D, some scenes (particularly the finale) are quite spectacular!

Ken said...

Sometimes I get the feeling that clutter stems from not wanting to clean one's room.

JEFFREY! Your Room is a Mess! Clean it up now.

Ma! I don't want to! This ain't no mess! Too much work anyhow!

Scott, Easy on the details! I can't see what's going on here.

Well, it's supposed to look busy. Cuz I want it to be alive! Yeah, see? Detail shows people you have a lot of skill! And besides, it's not like you can organize this crap!

Mr. Governor, why did you allow the dumping of radioactive material in the swimming lake?

Well, I needed to put it somewhere. znobody swims in that lake anyway, give or take a few zombies, hehe.

George, did you wash your hands?They look like crap!

Yeah, they just need a little rinse.