Topic: The Animation Showcase

Ani-ma-tion

"Derived from the Latin word
animare which translates as
"to give life to".

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Introducing, The Animation Showcase!

What is The Animation Showcase?

It is as simple as it sounds! Here I will showcase classic examples of animation outside of LEGO in order to discuss technique and topic.

Brickfilming is a subsidiary of the stop-motion animation technique, I think looking at past work in the field of animation could help a lot of animators for inspiration and give a fresh perspective on the industry that they haven't seen before.

Animation is rooted in history with many different techniques and processes, in this topic I will showcase each week a different film from animating history, I will also give a case study and describe techniques that are used in film to go along with the feature.

Feel free to discuss the films that I do share in the thread, I will update this with a new thread each week so stay tuned!

Last edited by The Tenacious Brick (March 25, 2020 (04:21pm))

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906)

(YouTube link above)

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I feel for the very first film to kick this topic off would nonetheless have to be a stop-motion film.

So why not start off with one of the very first stop-motion films ever created?

This is [The]Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by James Stuart Blackton which was made over 100 years ago. This was one of the very first films to incorporate the stop-frame technique of changing movements between frames which we now commonly know as stop-motion.

It is very interesting to watch this piece of animation as it makes use of different techniques to bring the characters to life. These include practical effects such as the use of black card rather than physically rubbing out chalk and re-drawing the frame which is common practice for what we now call “traditional animation”.

So what do you think of animation back in the early 1900s?

Bonus: Check out lightning-sketch animation from 1896 that pre-dates stop-motion. You can very clearly see the inspiration for the format that we use today!

Last edited by The Tenacious Brick (February 22, 2018 (09:00am))

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Betty Boop in Snow-White (1933)

(YouTube link above)

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So for my second showcase for this series will be Betty Boop in Snow-White (1933). I was actually torn between this film and very a similar one named "Minnie the Moocher" (1932), though I chose this one because I feel the visuals are a lot more interesting.

This film is a traditional-style animation by Max Fleischer and his own Fleischer Studios. This film is considered to be very creepy and disturbing due to the graphic nature of the visuals, specifically Koko the Clown turning into a ghost-like skeleton (as seen above) and other characters resembling skeletons. The film roughly follows the traditional story of Snow-White, Betty Boop being Snow-White in this case. The Queen chases the protagonists and eventually becomes a monster before being defeated by Bimbo, where the three celebrate afterwards before the closing credits.

The most interesting point of discussion is the scene I mentioned above featuring Koko the Clown. Within this scene, Koko (voiced by Cab Calloway) starts singing Calloway's own song The St. James Infirmary Blues. The animation in this scene is in fact rotoscoped directly from the quirky dancing that Calloway performed himself when performing his songs. This created a very elaborate and realistic effect for the movements of the character within the film. The animation is very fascinating to the eye, even for today.

This same technique was (possibly more famously) used in Minnie the Moocher (1932) (as mentioned above) again with Calloway providing his song as well as his dancing performance. I'd definitely recommend looking into this film also if you find the main topic interesting.

Bonus
Studying human movement is a very interesting technique within animation, definitely not to be overlooked, study your own movements before animating and see how you can translate to your own characters!

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Animation back then was so creepy and stylistic. It's wild to take a look back and see how much it's changed.

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Re: The Animation Showcase

I once watched the Silly Symphonies in order. It's interesting, for the first dozen or so you can see when the animation principles were discovered. I can't remember the details, but for example there's no overlapping action for the first several Symphonies, and then suddenly there is. You can pinpoint when the breakthroughs happened!

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Re: The Animation Showcase

The Queen chases the protagonists and eventually becomes a monster before being defeated by Bimbo,

Re: The Animation Showcase

rioforce wrote:

Animation back then was so creepy and stylistic. It's wild to take a look back and see how much it's changed.

It was definitely very unique! You can thank Mr. W. Disney for the main stylistic changes for animation (before the digital era).

thistof wrote:

I once watched the Silly Symphonies in order. It's interesting, for the first dozen or so you can see when the animation principles were discovered. I can't remember the details, but for example there's no overlapping action for the first several Symphonies, and then suddenly there is. You can pinpoint when the breakthroughs happened!

I've been studying The Skeleton Dance for contextual research, I agree there are a lot of principles you can see in them! Most notable for me is squash and stretch, though the repeated frames do stand out too!

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Re: The Animation Showcase

The Tenacious Brick wrote:

You can thank Mr. W. Disney for the main stylistic changes for animation

Actually Walt was an amazing hands-on producer but not much of an animator. Ubbe Iwerks, Les CLark, Grim Natwick, Norm Ferguson, Freddy Moore, Dave Hand, and some of those early Disney guys (and those later known as the Nine Old Men) really pioneered it. In fact Ubbe (who animated most of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons such as Plane Crazy and Staemboat Willy) had a falling out with Walt. When Walt was asked to draw Mickey in autographs, he'd turn to Ubbe and say "go ahead and draw it" and then Walt would sign it. I can't blame Ubbe for his resentment. Eventually they'd reconcile and Ubbe went on to pioneer the miltiplane camera and a lot of technical developments.

Check out "The Illusion Of Life" for futher reading.

Same goes for "Max" Fleischer. Max was the producer, his brother Dave actually directed the films, and animators like Seymour Kneitel and Roland Crandall did the bulk of the animation. Unfortunately Fleischer went under earlier than disney due to rights issues, which is why a lot of their stuff is in the public domain now, and often times when you find it the original title sequences have been stripped away and replaced with King Features Syndicates and Paramount logos. The real shame is that much of their stuff isn't as well archived or restored as well as other historically important films, due to there not being any copyright holders motivated to spearhead the restoration.

Last edited by thistof (February 27, 2018 (04:22am))

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Thistof wrote:

Actually Walt was an amazing hands-on producer but not much of an animator. Ubbe Iwerks, Les CLark, Grim Natwick, Norm Ferguson, Freddy Moore, Dave Hand, and some of those early Disney guys (and those later known as the Nine Old Men) really pioneered it. In fact Ubbe (who animated most of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons such as Plane Crazy and Staemboat Willy) had a falling out with Walt. When Walt was asked to draw Mickey in autographs, he'd turn to Ubbe and say "go ahead and draw it" and then Walt would sign it. I can't blame Ubbe for his resentment. Eventually they'd reconcile and Ubbe went on to pioneer the miltiplane camera and a lot of technical developments.
Check out "The Illusion Of Life" for futher reading.
Same goes for "Max" Fleischer. Max was the producer, his brother Dave actually directed the films, and animators like Seymour Kneitel and Roland Crandall did the bulk of the animation. Unfortunately Fleischer went under earlier than disney due to rights issues, which is why a lot of their stuff is in the public domain now, and often times when you find it the original title sequences have been stripped away and replaced with King Features Syndicates and Paramount logos. The real shame is that much of their stuff isn't as well archived or restored as well as other historically important films, due to there not being any copyright holders motivated to spearhead the restoration.

Yeah, I do appreciate the technical elements and the actual animation was pioneered by the background technicians, I was more referring to the guidance and figurehead of Walt steering the company to such great success, though I do agree that Ubbe had a lot more hands in the success than he got credited for which is understandable why he had a falling out with Walt.

My main points for crediting Walt in my statements was more referencing his choice of making his company's animations more realistic by not using the rubber-hose technique and focusing on more human-like movements as seen in the feature-length films in the 30's.

Talking about the multiplane camera, check out Lotte Reiniger and her film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) she used an early version of what we now know as the multiplane camera, though Walt took the design and had his engineers craft a version with a lot better technical uses including the moving planes.

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Good point, Walt was great at recognizing people's abilities (sometimes more than they did) and he'd put them in a totally different job where he knew they'd flourish, or he'd pull them off of animation to work on Disneyland, hehe. He was definitely good at motivating people to "plus it" and while he may not have known the solution to doing something deeper than rubber hose animation, for example, he intuitively had an idea of what he was looking for and was able to encourage people to find those solutions. Milosz Forman says in the Amadeus DVD that a good director should know how to do a little of everything, and then hire individuals who are better than him at each of those things. Definitely true of Walt.

I think where it gets tricky is separating the name of the man from the name of the company. I think I read once somewhere that he regretted using his name on the company, since in a way he lost his own identity or something along those lines.

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Re: The Animation Showcase

I do recall hearing that when he first created the studio officially, they were originally going to name it Disney-Iwerks, but they were concerned that it sounded too much like an optician's, so the name was changed to just Disney mini/lol It is interesting to consider how close Ube Iwerks was to getting the recognition of being in the studio's name.

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Re: The Animation Showcase

The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (example)

(YouTube link)

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So for this weeks showcase, I am taking you to the sixties with The Beatles' very own Yellow Submarine (1968)

Unfortunately the link I've provided only shows an example for the film, in order to watch this you will need to source your own copy.

As we all know The Beatles were the biggest band of their time and have had a massive influence on music, even with todays standards of music. They still hold the record of being the best-selling band in history. With the popularity of the band within the 1960s and the previous success of their feature-films A Hard Days Night and Help (1965), Yellow Submarine came into production.

The idea of this film was to try and bring in a new younger generation by tapping into subjects, themes and music that appealed most to young adults. The film features the four band members and many of their songs, promoting them within the feature itself.

The story stems within the fictional land "Pepperland" and the evil music-hating monsters named the "Blue Meanies" have ventured upon Pepperland. The four band members then are enlisted to save the day.

The most interesting sight from this film looking back is definitely the visuals. The visuals reflect the psychedelic themes of its time. Bright colours and quirky, otherworldly beings are scattered within the film. This film is a very interesting piece to watch due to the outstanding nature of the visuals, though the animation itself isn't so impressive and as innovative as others, the design of the film definitely experiments with a lot of strange themes. This film is a vey good way to inspire thinking outside of the box when it comes to visual aspects of animation, whether it'd be character design or just colours. If you're interested, don't just look at only this film alone but also have a look into psychedelic artwork, filmography and experimental features, they are very interesting to interact with and are often very thought provoking.

Bonus The voice actor who voiced George Harrison for the film had to be replaced half-way through recording as he was arrested for desertion from the British Army of the Rhine in Germany.

Double Bonus! As most LEGO fans will know, the famous title submarine from the film has been created in LEGO form and is available for purchase! A fan pitched the idea to the LEGO ideas service and it was made into a real-life set!

https://shop.lego.com/en-GB/Yellow-Submarine-21306

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Re: The Animation Showcase

Fleischer Studios' Superman (1941)

(YouTube Link) Unfortunately there were once official HD versions released by Warner Bros. however they cease to exist as of today.

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So I really wanted to continue this series so I decided to pick up right where I left off!

For the rejuvenation of The Animation Showcase I have decided to showcase the 1940s Superman cartoons by Fleischer Studios. I know this is another Fleischer post in quick succession but I had to share this one as these are my all time favourite cartoons!

In the early 1940s Paramount Studios enlisted the help of Fleischer Studios to capitalise on the comic-book success of Superman by creating a series of short cartoons. The partnership oversaw seventeen episodes with individual narratives produced over the course of three years. In this time Fleischer Studios dissolved and became Famous Studios which carried on the production of Superman. The episodes featured an almost futuristic version of the 1940s with unique sci-fi elements such as rocket cars and flying robots. The episodes often witness Superman overcoming a significant other no matter the hardships and usually rescuing a very reckless Lois Lane. While being released in a war-stricken United States, the series did promote propaganda towards the allies efforts including episodes of the Man of Steel foiling Japanese military plans.

The thing I love the most about this series is the stylisation of Superman, and the way that Fleischer Studios' brings the comic to the big screen. From the start of each episode I am always in awe of the title sequence and I love the stylistic quirks that each title card brings. The narratives aren't challenging and suspenseful like superhero films we see today but each episode shows how mighty this hero is and brings a huge sense of satisfaction with every climax. Though I do love the structure and visuals of these films, the music is hands down my favourite aspect. The music has its own personality within the films and almost narrates the action on screen. For example, the heavy notes bring to life the ginormous footsteps of some of Superman's foes such as the arctic giant. These heavy notes help increase the impact of actions such as punches and kicks in the series as well, enhancing the experience further. The latter examples are just a couple of reasons why I love this series, they help influence me not only by the aesthetics but also by the technical aspects such as the music and foundations of the episodes.

The superhero genre is quite a popular area for a lot of animators, especially brickfilmers, so if you do love comic-books and superheroes, then I'd definitely check out this series.

Bonus Fleischer Studios didn't like that Superman could only leap, of which were animated for the films. Instead they wrote to Action Comics to change Superman's abilities so they could enable him to fly. This is why our favourite son of Krypton is soaring through the skies today!

Last edited by The Tenacious Brick (March 25, 2020 (04:29pm))

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