Friday, July 22, 2011

Evolution Of Macaroni





Late 20s, early 30s: Characters are made of simple torso shapes. Limbs are tubes that have no pliability. They are even widths from one end to the other. When they bend, they bend mechanically in the middle, not towards one end or the other.



The macaronis can stretch but generally stay the same widths from end to end.

They gradually start to loosen up and get more organic.


Mid 30s - Getting more organic
The tubes are not the same with from one end to the other and they don't bend exactly in the middle
40sBy the early 40s the arms and legs are more flowing, not as mathematical as in the 30s.The bends in the curves have more variation.
The tubes are not perfect tubes anymore. The shapes fluctuate according to the needs of the poses. Knees and elbows become slightly angular.

Mid 40s bent elbows start to feel slightly anatomical under the flesh.

But poses still feel fluid.
Characters now have evolved cartilaginous soft skeletons.
Drawing with a mixture of rubber hose like tubes and more distinctly shaped bends and joints allows a greater variety of more specific poses - and thus richer acting.Arms and legs lose their elbows and knees when straightened. Limbs tend to be bell-bottomed rather than even widths at both ends.The 40s was the period where animators used the most drawing tools and variables to get very fluid and contrasty animation. They had more tools at their disposal and used them with greater control than any generation has since. That's what made it the Golden Age of Animation.

50sCharacters' structures stiffen, more emphasis is placed on the ossifying joints.
This is the arthritic period of rubber hose animation. Characters can still loosen up for broad actions, but in general are less pliable than 40s characters.
By the end of the 50s stiffness became the standard. After that, the combination of skill and appeal pretty much vanished.

43 comments:

Steven M. said...

And as with today's standards, the macaroni theory seems to have disappeared from cartoons with bendy, but mathimatically perportioned noodle arms.

mike f. said...

Perfect analysis of something I've always known instinctively but never actually articulated. This is so basic that it should've been in Preston Blair's book. (It is there, actually - just not as stressed or as well described.) Also, the distribution of body weight of the character somewhat determines the shape of the "macaroni".

"Rubber hose style" has become a term of contempt among modern animators, but that reflects a basic misunderstanding of cartooning principles. I'm printing this out for the designers at WB - who seem to be partial to the stiff, angular Daffy and Wile E. Coyote, for some reason.

Amanda H. said...

Hey, I was wondering if I could get some advice on my Preston Blair studies. I'm working my way through the recent Blair book and sort of doing model sheets do and I don't know really where to go from there.
http://voodoochild9.blogspot.com/2011/06/animals-birds-fashion-and-sugary.html

GW said...

There are some important exceptions for the 50's. Just one look at the Hubley's personal films shows how much they started loosening up by the end of the 50's.

One of my biggest criticisms of this noodle sort of animation is that it doesn't concern itself with some basic assymetries and important design aspects because the animation's so loose that the designs contort whatever way's necessary. I think that to a certain degree, its popularity discouraged creativity in more specific design which would have led to more creativity through self imposed limitations.

Fernando Sosa said...

The fifty´s lines rules,my esteemed John.

Dave Jacob Hoffman said...

John, saw this Fred Flintstone/John Goodman at a junk store today. Thought you'd get a kick out of it.

http://i.imgur.com/CVFP2.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/2eFUa.jpg

ANIMANOID said...

John, in your opinion, Stiffness, and other animation standards, stubbornly continue in the current days influenced by demand for greater industrial productivity, or the animators do not get excited to explore the Principles of Animation, like the pioneers?

SparkyMK3 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elana Pritchard said...

You are an incredibly thoughtful person and I adore and appreciate it.

Isaac said...

Very nice examples.

-jjmm- said...

thanks

Zartok-35 said...

Very interesting posts. Why don't people understand that stiffness is awful? It's absolute anti-appeal.

John Rouse said...

Your ability to articulate concepts that I understand intuitively, but would be incompent at communicating in words is impressive. Thanks for what do.
If you ever find yourself passing through Texas and need a place to crash, I'll make you some of the best macaroni-and-cheese on the planet.

Herman G said...

So informative. I got scared, when you got to the 50's part

Damiano D said...

Great stuff! Thanks for further explaining your theory to us. Keep it going, it's really inspiring.

mike f. said...

I got scared, when you got to the 50's part

The funny thing is, 1950s animation looks like fluidity itself compared to today. What could possibly be stiffer and less expressive than "Family Guy" - except maybe "South Park"?

(I'll rest now while every fanboy in the world tells me I'm missing the point, and crappy, lazy-ass modern animation is supposed to be stiff because it's "edgy", "a statement" or " a style".)

David Germain said...

I definitely try to draw macaroni arms and legs whenever I can. It's more fun and more appealing to me. I can't even think about drawing them any other way.

Joshua Kahan said...

This is really interesting stuff. I love Bosko, what a fantastic name.

I do quite like rubber hose, there's just something about it.

Really appreciate it when you post up studies and theory.

Thanks :)

VariousVarieties said...

Entries like this are what I love about this blog: insightful analysis of trends in animation history, clear descriptions of the reasons behind cartoon principles, all illustrated by some very funny well-chosen images.

Also, that Flintstones... thing... that Dave Jacob Hoffman posted above has to be the most terrifying picture I've seen in a long time!



Mike F:
(I'll rest now while every fanboy in the world tells me I'm missing the point, and crappy, lazy-ass modern animation is supposed to be stiff because it's "edgy", "a statement" or " a style".)

Agreed that "edgy" and "a statement" are ridiculous excuses, but I would say it's perfectly valid to describe South Park's simplistic animation as "a style". You can use the phrase "an intentional stylistic choice" as a neutral way of describing creators' intentions, without necessarily thinking it was a successful choice!

Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...

When I study the Macaroni theory, I assume I should copy some of these drawings and analyze how they contrast and in the end be able to draw good looking, sense-making macaroni limbs?

You've gone a pretty solid job here but for studys sake, I'll do it

Lavalle Lee said...

Great post thank you John! So cool to see the progression of animation.

paul said...

John, wouldn't it be okay if I could copy these images (just the 30s and 40s, but not the 50s)? But in my opinion, the 50s cartoons are a bit fluid than today's cartoons, which makes 40s cartoons more fluid than that.

Michael Sporn said...

Great and smart post, John.

GW: Just one look at the Hubley's personal films shows how much they started loosening up by the end of the 50's.

The loosening up had to do with Bill Littlejohn's great animation for Hubley. He had fun with those shapes he was animating.

JohnK said...

Thanks Michael

of course there are exceptions like Littlejohn's work and a lot of the great commercials done in the UPA style in the 50s.

I don't know why that all fell out of fashion by the 60s. Loose but controlled and creative animation was replaced by tracebacks.

marve said...

check out my videogame
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jSn6ke-Nn0

David said...

Helpful as always John.
You, helping up and coming artists with your blog will pay off someday
I promise you

That One Dog said...

Thanks for posting this! I've always been amazed at the liquid feel the cartoons of the 40's had, and they still stand as my favorites. It's nice to have a string of comparisons like the ones you listed here.

J C Roberts said...

It was all innovation and evolution up through the 50's. I think once limited TV animation methods kicked in, and TV in general eroded the theater market, studio execs reigned in the innovation in favor of cost cutting.

Then once the PC hippies got into the policy making positions, the content got so soft-soaped that all that could be produced is the safe, bland product placement shows that filled the airwaves into the 80s. There's not much reason to stretch and grow artistically when the show is more about selling folding robots and pastel colored plastic ponies than it is about cartoonists entertaining us with creative vision or skill.

LooneyToon said...

Have you seen the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time yet, Mr. K? It's a modern day rubber hose cartoon and I think it's really fun yo look at.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5ebofsofdA&feature=relmfu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzALbuwghkQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIAql1AfSSU&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRVXMsNXeWI&feature=related

kurtwil said...

Very interesting and helpful, JK. Thanks.

Interesting that Disney Animation's recent successes are 3D and not 2D (the new WINNIE THE POOH is under-performing, as did PRINCESS AND THE FROG.).

As for Adventure Time, rubber hoses yes, but the usual boring overheld 2D poses and stiff, mechanical animation as well.

thomas said...

yes, agree with kurtwil...

I guess it would be challenging to animate macaroni cartoons actually eating macaroni, you know, with the cartoons being transparent, so you would see the macaroni inside them.... and those macaronis would turn into more macaroni cartoons.

I don't know if this would work with rubber hose...

(jus kiddin)

Aaron Long said...

These are my favourite kind of posts on your blog, so I'm glad to see another one. I guess you've been busy working on the Adult Swim stuff.

jeffreyJack said...

This is way off topic but since I know you're a fan, here's a link to an article in today's SF Chronicle about the great Kirk Douglas going strong at 90.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/26/DDVL1KENLS.DTL&type=movies

Erik B said...

Very intresting theory.
I will certainly study more 30's and 40's cartoons.

Have you seen the Jamal the Funny Frog Cartoons, made by Pat Ventura?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS1h_xOf_Go

What do you think of the use of rubber hose animation in new cartoons?

Dylan said...

ive been watching ren and stimpy since i was a kid everything you do is awesome. your a big influence on my work

Paulozvan said...

this cartoon living forever

cartoon changes lifes!!

Bodicus said...

Thankyou for posting this. I had been practicing drawing felix and bear characters for a while and couldn't get it quite right. This evolution shows me I'm still at original pipe arms and legs. I especially like the Buzz Buzzard arm shot, as it is very hard to get down.

LukejayS. said...

I don't know if you watch Adventure Time (created by: Pendleton Ward) but what do you think of these arms and legs? Like or dislike?

http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-snc4/27538_122859544393481_2727_n.jpg

kurtwil said...

When I tested video games, the Millennial "under 30 crowd" (the primary crew) said WB and Disney cartoons were over animated. Rubber hose stuff drove them bonkers.
Instead, they preferred Machinima (recycled video games as "new" stories) or South Park/Family Guy/Anime.

Is this true for Millennials in general?

SparkyMK3 said...

LukejayS, Adventure Time is not a good example of rubberhose limbs. It uses them in a very literal, stiff, unimaginative way.

(When I tested video games, the Millennial "under 30 crowd" (the primary crew) said WB and Disney cartoons were over animated. Rubber hose stuff drove them bonkers.
Instead, they preferred Machinima (recycled video games as "new" stories) or South Park/Family Guy/Anime.

Is this true for Millennials in general?)

I hope not, but i couldn't get anybody in my school to share my interesting in old cartoons and accumilation of influences and skilled drawing.

And now i remember why i stopped playing video games--they're a waste of time and a terrible influence to have, especially if you're a budding animator.

BrianVL said...

Despite any of the computer-generated, cell shaded looks of modern cartoons, a cartoon just isn't a cartoon unless it's drawn to be elaborate and unrealistic. Just about all cartoons these days try and balance out looking real and looking "cartoony". This created an awkward style of animation which seems to be the standard for today. I never fully acknowledged this "macaroni" style of art but it makes a lot more sense now that I see it from an experienced cartoonists perspective. I only recently really developed an interest for cartoons but I have to say... I've learned there is a lot more to making a cartoon then simply drawing goofy pictures. Your work and knowledge of cartoons is very inspirational, man.

Zoran Taylor said...

"Soft, cartilaginous skeletons" - There, you nailed it. I know you meant forties cartoons in general, but combined with the "Baby Bottleneck" frame grabs you provided, I think you just confirmed what I had long suspected was the single thing that makes Scribner's POSES look different from everyone else's, even without the amazing facial acting. Rod Scribner: the only animator in the history of the medium to successfully synthesize rubber hose, Nicolaides- style gesture drawing and selected real anatomy into one flowing, working, living style. Not just any genius, even - The COLTRANE of our form. Wow.

Greg said...

John, you have once again brilliantly laid out, and articulated an important part of animation and cartooning in a way no one else seems to be able to do.

On an unrelated note, I am a 17 year old cartoonist... Well aspiring cartoonist. I would love it if you would check out my blog and let me know what you think. I have even done some Ren and Stimpy studies...

Please check it out, and comment on a few things, it would be a big help and I would really apreciate it!

http://gregscartooningblog.blogspot.com/

Thanks!