Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Direction 6: Dave Fleischer Willard Bowsky - Wild Elephinks

Dave Fleischer with man in Popeye suit and another man in a lifelike man suit.

One of the things that made classic cartoons so well directed and fun is that the directors and animators timed everything with musical structure and pacing.

I think cartoons lost a lot a couple decades later when people started timing them straight ahead. That's when cartoons started to feel awkward, random and unplanned.

Having to make all your gags and action fit a rhythm and melody takes talent, skill and cleverness. It forces you to write with structure and gives the cartoons an automatic stylized creative license. When a cartoon has fun music underlying everything, you don't expect anything to be "realistic". It forces creativity and makes the audience expect it.

The structure in 30s cartoons was generally:

1) Open with a song- intro the characters and situation and put the audience in a good mood.

2) Develop the situation and build the tempos so that they get faster at the climax.

3) End fast and with a musical button.

Even through the 1940s when some directors became less obvious than this exact formula, they still had an innate underlying musical structure and feeling to their timing, actions, gags and story structure. Later animators and directors (and writers) not trained in the 1930s never learned this fundamental structure and I think that it led to disaster for the medium.

Cartoons are a visual equivalent to music.