Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pre-Caucasian Rodent and Canine



I wonder who decided to make Mickey flesh colored? Do you think there was a meeting where they debated it hotly? They must have thought that the new colors would be more identifiable to Arians.



I like both these cartoons a lot because they look so great. ...and I love the way they move. The style is so different from how we animate today. Much more experimental and tailored to the ideas.

Here's how animation moves today:

I saw some of this stuff one day in the lobby at MTV and was amazed how much stock animation acting was used. Is there some animation manual somewhere that lists all these actions and formulas? Maybe they just store all the actions in the computer and call them up as needed. I'm waiting for a good comedian to mime the way modern animation moves. Actually Eddie does it really well and it's a total crackup. You should see him do his animation song about being himself and spreading his wings to soar like an eagle.

45 comments:

thomas said...

could tou post a video of Eddie?

thomas said...

Could you video Eddie doing that?

Martin Juneau said...

Those old Disney cartoons is simply fantastic. "Thru the Mirror" is a true miletsone to their real Disney golden age.

About Penguins of Madagascar, i seen it a lot of times and in each scenes, the animation, movement and the squash-and-stretch gags looks dull and mechanical. Besides the characters talks all of the time. I think it's the complete standard of everything was relative to today. Much talks, less movement.

Luis María Benítez said...

This is exactly what I've been discussing with some people but at the animation school you're taught to anticipate, make the action and recover with the same boring and repetitive style of this new kind of animation. I found out you're not taught how to really find your artistic path, but rather to imitate the cheapest tricks of this work. It would be nice if you could provide us with a link of that animation song by Eddie.

Roberto Severino said...

Wow! Those cartoons were wonderful. Nicely executed animation on those and some great drawings and BGs. I liked the first one best just for the swinging musical score.

By the way John, I've been watching tons of cool old, classic films with such names like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford lately. How do you usually go about at studying their acting techniques? Just curious because it's amazing how much personality all these wonderful actors and actresses bring to the films they worked on, and how little of what they did is ever translated to animation. There are so many possibilities in our medium, but hardly anyone has ever taken advantage of them, especially in animated feature films.

"I saw some of this stuff one day in the lobby at MTV and was amazed how much stock animation acting was used."

I seriously hope you were trying to pitch a TV cartoon to one of the executives there. Animation needs a big kick in the ass again in terms of original ideas, and that Penguins clip demonstrates my point.

Isaac said...

Modern animation has a hell of a lot of twitch-shake-freeze.

Isaak said...

If pressed to choose, would you say Filmatiion is worse then 2000s animation, or vice-versa?

Of course you could choose neither and just watch Looney Tunes and other animation where joy seemed to be present.

Cali-4nia said...

I can't believe after watching the first 2 cartoons, just how bad the penguins cartoon actually is! It's like watching one stock expression transition into the next... non stop! I couldn't even watch the whole clip! It was terrible.

I never really noticed how bad animation has actually become. Mostly because I focus on one show at a time. (I say this as I have Phineas and Ferb playing in the background... just another Disney show that I can use to reference poor animation.) I really wish Disney would go back to their roots like these 2 examples you've shown. BUT, I really don't think that they're artistically capable anymore. Everybody wants to be the next Glen Keane! Too bad.

Austin Papageorge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Cole said...

It genuinely interesting that because of the high contrasts between Mickey's face and head tones, he actually looks more colorful with white than he does with the beige hue he adopts later on.

RooniMan said...

I love these old Disney cartoons.

Oisin O'Sullivan said...

Those early Disney shorts are really great. They could be wacky and silly just for the sake of it, and you wouldn't think that would be even possible if you've only seen Disney after he became a serious Bigshot director. Some of the early ones even creeped me out as a kid, not many cartoons could, I don't think Ren and Stimpy even did. They had good emotional impact.

That Madagascar cartoon, along with the rest of Nickelodeon's roster today, is dreadful and yucky. It should be doused in oil and lit with a match. Or thrown in a canal.

JohnK said...

>>If pressed to choose, would you say Filmatiion is worse then 2000s animation, or vice-versa?<<

Filmation is at least cheap so it kind of has an excuse.

Isaak said...

Another fact in support of early Disney. According to Eric Rentchler's book "Ministry of Illusion," despite the Reich's animosity to American media, some of the most popular films for the German people were Disney shorts.

Also, do you agree with Eisenstein's high opinion of Snow White?

I've noticed, when falling asleep to Boomerang, that the 60s cartoons had an authoritative voice as an announcer. The closest example for today I can think of is Powerpuff, and that is quite half-hearted in comparison

Are you still doing caricatures?

Thank you

Geneva said...

I actually have a running gag with my friends where I impersonate the way CGI (Pixar and Pixar-derivative) moves. It always gets laughs. Thanks for the cartoon goodness, John.

Guy Cx said...

Damn... Maybe Disney's cartoons weren't as funny as Warner's, but in terms of beauty (drawing beauty, musical beauty, animation beauty and the harmonic mixture of all these elements and more) they were kings.

By the way John, do you know Nat Falk's "How to Make Animated Cartoons" book? I searched your blog and found nothing about the book. It's a great book for cartoon students, really helpful, with some good pages talking about the history of animation and golden-age animation studios. You may find it at ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive blog, really worthy to take a look at it, and the cartoon-drawing lessons resemble a lot Preston Blair's book.

Thiago Levy said...

I am a 3d animator and I Just graduated and yes that is exactly how they teach us. I had a stupid animation teacher that force down my throat this crapy pose by pose zombie style. Luckily I had a great 2d traditional animation teacher that helped me truly understand animation. Computer 3d animations is very limited, but it is getting better. I am working in a very open minded studio right now and I am experimenting with different technics of animation. Unfortunately I can't show it or talk about it yet. All I can say is that I read almost all of your posts as research.

EalaDubh said...

I guess Disney simply decided that with Technicolor at their disposal, their art should use every possible advantage of it.

This may not be related to animation per se, but it's probably worth noting the difference that lighting made between black-and-white and colour studio production. In early colour days, the palette available depended on the colour process and the cameras you had available. Working in black-and-white, the usage of tones was completely different, and colour would play a large part of that. For instance, in order to appear 'white' under studio lights without glaring and ruining the contrast of the rest of the picture, a studio set wouldn't be painted white; the usual colour would be pale green. Watch the earliest colour episodes of a show like Doctor Who, where the original 1963 console has been seperated from the rest of the TARDIS set while the Doctor works on it, and you can see how they painted it for the black-and-white cameras.

Erik said...

Yeah those stupid penguins air in Holland to, it realy sucks ass...
And the rest at Nickelodeon isn't something to write home about..

Maybe somebody asked you this already, but what do you think of Spongebob Squarepants? It sometimes has original animation.

I stumbled on this disney cartoon:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kadavert#p/a/f/0/rs0TQbAQd_k

the animation of the skating characters in the begining is amazing. and this cartoon has some animal cruelty done by donald duck!

in these times they probably wouldn't get away with this :P

in steamboat willy is some animal cruelty to, Mickey using animals as an instrument.

i wonder if Disney liked animals at all...

Erik said...

Oops pasted the wrong link on my previous post!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs0TQbAQd_k

enjoy!

Cristian said...

In the Disney comics printed in south america when I was a kid Mickey always had his white face. I only saw the colored face on marketing material, ut it wasn't "real" for me. The "real" Mickey was an adventurer alongside his pal Goofy, travelling around the world, and when he was tired of that he just kicked back and relaxed at home.

Man, those old Diseny comics were so cool. Maybe that's why I think most Disney cartoons are pretty to look at but kinda boring, because they spoiled me too much with those comics.

Pedro Vargas said...

Love both of those Mickey shorts!! I'm so glad I grew up with cartoons like that. Mickey looks so appealing in those!! I always preferred the dots he had for eyes than the ones he has now.

The dancing radio in Thru the Mirror is so damn cool!!!

Jason B.R. said...

Great post. Though, I'd recommend only calling that color 'flesh' around honkeys.

Scorrigan Corrigan said...

John, the lonesome ghosts cartoon really brings up an important point: why are a duck, dog and mouse chasing humanoid ghosts? Was there some kind of humanoid cartoon genocide that took place in toon town before these cartoons were made?

Timothy R said...

Man I love these Mickey shorts. And yes, Penguins of Madagascar is a horrible cartoon. It has terrible and robotic animation. But you want to see something really bad? The new Garfield show on Cartoon Network. Ugh.

Paulrus said...

Hey John -

Actually Filmation is a good comparison to what you see in TV shows that are done in 3D these days. I bid on doing the animation for a TV show for Cartoon Network & the per-minute budget was astoundingly low.

Literally the budget was on the order of 5-10X lower than what I make doing commercial animation.

So from what I can see, the only way a domestic 3D animation company can survive doing TV work is to create as many stock poses as possible and the re-use them over and over again.

It's one of the reason so many North American 3D companies are going out of business these days - you can't make 22 minutes of 3D animation for a total budget of $50,000 and turn a profit.

Paul

Craig said...

This is my exact same beef about most TV puppetry. Watch any Muppet show or it's many derivitives and you'll see how they all use the same movements, beats, bounce/walk and - - most annoying of all - - little double takes whenever the other character starts talking. Why does the dog move the same as the mouse who moves the same as the kid? These things have to change and mature for the sake of both of our respective arts.

thejobloshow said...

They've always been better but I think what really nails the superiority of golden age cartoons for new audiences is their remastering. I've never seen those two Disney shorts look so pristine, you can see all the incredible detail and colour! It's a shame they don't air them anywhere anymore in Australia.

kurtwil said...

While I like the Mickeys (thnx for posting 'em JK!), The Gen Z guys I work with think that era's work is over-animated.

As for Penguins, take away their dialog, attitude and sound fx and it becomes very boring.

Meanwhile I broke down and got one of Gen Z's favorite shows, VENTURE BROS. season 3, to be educated in ways of "new" animation, which is (as expected, sigh...) mostly still frames with moving mouths, mechanical animation, occasional 3D, etc.

Am I getting this show right, folks? What am I missing? What does JK see that's redeeming in that kind of stuff? The "failed" characters? All the yelling and anger?

Meanwhile, VTECH is selling a small e-book for kids retelling Shrek, Toy Story and other movies. Guess what? The stories are all minimally animated FLASH recreations, not clips from the actual movies !!

kurtwil said...

BTW Paulrus, your observation applies to FX companies too, some of which go broke while working on major features.

There are some 3D start-ups who really, really, _really_ want to get classic animation techniques into 3D. But they run into the brick walls of studios that A: don't want to take time to retrain their artists, B: use Mocap because it's fast, fast, fast relief, C: their customers don't care about the animation, as long as story and character attitudes are appealing.

Am I right that HB, for budgetary and other reasons, developed an animation form that convinced the American audience that stills with attitude work ok as "animation", and are preferable to "real" animation? And that Anime by and large continues that tradition?

For that matter, given the strong poses JK and his best artists have used, would Ren and Stimpy have worked as an Anime?

Isaak said...

Am I mistaken, or does that picture of the penguin display tude.

I've watched that show.

Mainstream animation at least in the 80s was incredibly stupid which provided some entertainment.

Penguins of Madagascar offers no joy or hope.

JohnK said...

That Penguin thing may be made for TV, but it's the same style of acting that I see in all the animated features from the last 15 years.

A handful of head shakes, over-anticipations, overshoots and twinned hand gestures. Over and over again seemingly at random.

Thiago Levy said...

To Kurtwill:

"There are some 3D start-ups who really, really, _really_ want to get classic animation techniques into 3D. But they run into the brick walls of studios"

You just described my latest ultimate goal. The thing is that the 3d Riggs are very limited, to add squash and scratch and million of deforms, blend shapes and different texture maps its almost impossible and super expensive. I have been experimenting with the blendshapes to get that crazy deformation that you see in a John K Cartoon. And it just doesn't get the same effect. As for movement I am getting good results using a more intuitive technique,with out pose to pose, almost like going along with earth's physics. It still a work in progress but it is not a very production friendly, because the timing gets mess up. My point is, 3d is not there yet.

Amber said...

Hey John, this might interest you:

blog post: http://www.booooooom.com/2010/07/02/artist-oliver-laric/

video regarding: http://oliverlaric.com/vvversions.htm

You probably already know about this stuff, i thought it was pretty crazy myself.

PS love your blog, read it every day =)

Paul Bouchard said...

I remember my little brother getting a Fisher Price hand-crank viewer back in the 70s that had a cassette of Lonesome Ghost in it. I suppose it must have been an abridged version but it was pretty cool to be able to flip through the pictures frame by frame. It was tiny actual film strip, so it was a really sharp, saturated image.

Paul Bouchard said...

Here ya go: ebay item #260633135041 (if anyone's interested)

Sven Hoek said...

Oh Please Eddie put your CG acting on your blog site. It would be a real hoot. I always enjoy watching Eddies acting, he cracks me up

J C Roberts said...

I had that hand crank viewer too. I used to spend a good amount of time studying frame by frame and making the water whirlpool go forward and backward. I still have the viewer, but the film cassetes get worn out after a while.


Thiago:

Have you tried using the 3D app to simply model and pose the characters, but not the animation?
I haven't had much time to try this myself, but in theory just using an image sequence you should be able to at least move through more extreme poses with worrying about the interpolation making a mess of it. Like using the app to set up a "virtual" stop motion studio, with a series of shape keys acting as the individual poses.

At least it can't be much more labor-intensive than the approach used for Puppetoons or more recently in "Coraline", where a separate sculpt is used for each expression change.

John A said...

If you really want to show how far the art opf animation has fallen, you should compare any of the classic Mickey shorts with Disney's horrid "Mickey's Clubhouse". That's what seventy years worth of "progress" looks like.

Alec D's Art said...

Speaking of CGI,your have to see this trailer (You might be suprised):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np4RiktiUAw

Sean Lane said...

Just another wanting a video of Eddie mimicking stock cartoon expressions!

Mr. Warhead said...

I agree, the old-style Mickey looked much better than what he looks like today. Although, it seems that Disney is reverting back to the old style Mickey if that new video game is any indication.

Sven Hoek said...

I really like the voices in Madagascar, but watching that clip without the sound was just
UN-bearable.

Awful.

Namowal said...

When I was a kid it bugged me that Mickey Mouse (And Goofy, and Mr. Toad) sometimes had peach-colored skin. Mice (and dogs, frogs) didn't look like that! (Nevermind that they could talk, wear clothes etc..)
I remember calling them "Band-Aid Characters" because of their Band-Aid colored skin.

fandumb said...

'The Penguins of Magagascar' is a guilty pleasure for me. Why? The animation's terrible, so why do I watch it?

Well, first there's the fast-paced humour.

Second, I watch it in German and I love the voices in that version, especially Oliver Feld.