Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daffy In Book Revue-Cartoony Believable Action

Here is the exact opposite of the "Human-Animal-Hybrid" school of animation that is so prevalent today (Shrek, Mr. Fox etc.). This is totally cartoony, completely unrealistic, yet far more believable as a living character than all those restrained, cautious and unsure-of-themselves detailed stiff modern things.

I first saw Book Revue shortly after I discovered Great Piggy Bank Robbery, Coal Black and a few other of Clampett's classics. I was initially disappointed with Book Revue because there was no story. It seemed to be a throwback to early 30s Merrie Melodies where things come to life for no reason. But I found that a lot of the scenes stayed with me - I couldn't get them out of my mind. This Daffy Duck scene is one of them. It seems like almost nothing (storywise) is happening, yet the animation of Daffy commands serious attention. Something about him and his severe belief in his mission is riveting.

These are some great staggers. Bob Jaques used to call Ren and Stimpy "the Stagger Show" which I hadn't noticed until he pointed it out.
I love the way Daffy shudders to the Jazz music.
The animation in Clampet's cartoons is so different than in the other WB directors'. I was watching some 50s Looney Tunes last night with Mike Fontanelli and it was clear that they had devolved into "Layout Cartoons" (like what I do), rather than "animated cartoons". They are expertly done, but the movement eventually became secondary to the poses.
In my favorite fully animated cartoons, I am not as aware of particular held poses as I am of the whole actions themselves - and especially when the characters are so driven from within themselves that they don't seem to be drawings at all.

You don't see these drawings in Daffy's jump, but you feel the dynamism of the action because the arc is so high.

This walk is great. It isn't just a standard formula walk; it really makes you feel how determined Daffy is in whatever he is about to do. Nothing else is important to him except his mission.
Part of that feeling is in the drawings-his expression and poses, but it's also in the great timing.
Daffy, even though he is skinny and slight, has weight and force in the walk. Can someone explain to me why CG characters have no weight? They always seem to be skating to me.

There is absolutely nothing realistic in this animation, yet to me, it's far more believable than anything modern that is crafted from Satan's recipe of formula and fear.
These animators in the 1940s had amazing confidence. They just took the scenes, did them fast with no executive interference, no formula and made the characters come to life. I think it's partly because they didn't think much of what they were doing. They took their amazing skills for granted.

This is sheer beauty to me-not just n the abstract of each flowing cartoony image - but in the intensity of Daffy's feeling. The drawings aren't just there to be examples of good principles, they do that as a secondary result of expressing the emotions of the character. Like how the Space Program gave us Velcro.

Pure, beautiful cartooniness, yet all subservient to a greater purpose.

I think that the closer animation gets to superficial "realism" the faker it looks. Do these look remotely "believable"?
Not as believable as if they just shot the actual actors.

This has been demonstrated over and over again in our history - going back to Snow White. Everybody (even then) loved the cartoony Dwarfs and noted the complete incongruity and stiffness of Snow White and the Prince. Well animated cartoon characters are far more "believable" than "realistic" mannequins.

...Yet the people who have stolen the medium away from the cartoonists keep making the same mistake. They can't let go of the impossible dream of making animation not be be magic. They are all ashamed to be stuck in our world and hope that by imitating realism they might get invited into the more respectable world of live action. Has anyone noticed that that has hardly ever happened? Tim Burton is about the only person who has made the transition and he is a cartoonist - not a "writer" or executive or producer type.
Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Two