ANIMATION ANECDOTES
August 22, 2014 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #176

wile-coyote-tntAnother Bomb. In 1992, animation designer Maurice Noble remembered his time working at Warners. “I would often look in to see (Mike) Maltese at work on a story idea and say to him ‘So you’re throwing another bomb’ leading Mike to abandon a violent gag and come up with a non-violent solution to a situation. I can still see Mike hiding his face in mock shame when I would catch him using the violence which we both agreed was just an easy way out.

“Maltese was very talented with a wonderful, pixie sense of humor who could make such a rich storyboard in terms of gags and special touches, that Chuck (Jones) sometimes couldn’t capture it all in the picture.”

The Secret of Warners Success. Who was Maurice Noble’s favorite character? In a 1992 interview, he said, “I’ve always had a soft spot for nasty little Daffy Duck”.

On the continued popularity of the Warners cartoon, he stated, “There is a contact with the human spirit. When we made these cartoons, we made them, in a sense, to amuse ourselves. I think you really feel this. Chuck and I were enjoying them, and, I think, the animators were too. This spilled over onto the screen, and I think people enjoyed it. So this is really one of the charms and keys to the success of that series of cartoons.”

The Sound of a Spider Web. When asked if some of the sound effects he created like the spinning of a spider web resembled the actual sound, Disney Legend and sound effects master Jimmy MacDonald smiled and said, “When Walt Disney said it could (have a sound), you made it have a sound.”

Grim Natwick and Snow White. “Snow White was the most difficult animation I ever had to do,” stated animation legend Grim Natwick in 1981. “Scenes like her dance with the Dwarfs were rotoscoped but we couldn’t trace them directly. The character was smaller than the live girl and proportioned differently. Basically, all we kept were the leg movements and the head turns. The important thing was to get the timing of the steps.”

rhapsodyposter-smallEyvind Earle and John Sutherland. In a 1991 interview, background painter Eyvind Earle talked about how he started working for John Sutherland.

“Sutherland had been after me for a long time so he called me and we had lunch. When ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was finished I had just built a studio in Northridge, California that was attached to my home. Sutherland offered me $100 a week more than I was being paid at Disney. So I took him up on his offer which also included being allowed to work at home and becoming his number one art director. No one looking over my shoulder or checking anything.

“The very first day after I left Disney in 1957, Sutherland called me and said we have an important meeting in Pittsburgh in two weeks. We need to have a storyboard completed to show them (U.S. Steel). For the next two weeks I worked like a mad man. Their movie was about the steel industry, using live action with some animated sequences. I remember arriving at the presentation and showing them the paintings. When they saw the paintings, they went wild and threw out any ideas of using living action. The whole thing was done with painting and animation.”

Educational Disney. When Disney Educational Materials Company was officially formed in 1969, educational consultants were brought in to review the tentative projects and give input to their effectiveness for the proposed grade level audiences. The actual animation was given to independent animation studios. The Disney characters in these projects often look different from the classic versions because these studios were given model sheets used for comic strips, coloring books and other licensed Disney merchandise of the 1970s. Some of the cels from these productions flooded the market in 1990 and were often advertised as originals from classic Disney theatrical productions and sold at huge prices.

ZZZ011400-PIMatt Groening Talks Early Simpsons. In 1991, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening gave an interview where he described how it all began.

“As a child I loved animation and always wanted to try it. I remember watching Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ and the scene of the puppies watching television. I was amazed at that image, the kind you can only get with animation and I knew that I wanted to do the same kind of things myself some day. I even did flip books as a kid. In high school, I did some animation but found the process itself tedious and got bored.

“I’m left-handed and find that elaborate design is difficult for me. My cartoons are very spare and simple. Besides, I can’t really draw. There are lots of things I’d like to add (to my drawings) but I can’t draw them. That’s changed now. With a team of animators working on the show now I can just tell them what I want and they put it in for me. Lots of the great stuff I could never draw myself.”

The Simpsons Secret. When asked why the Simpsons were so popular, creator Matt Groening stated in 1991, “We try not to play it strictly for jokes. Part of their charm is that they are ruled by impulse. They don’t anticipate the consequences of their insensitive acts. They do awful things to each other but not on purpose. On ‘The Tracy Ullman Show’ we didn’t even have model sheets. We just looked at last week’s episode to see how the characters were drawn this week.”

Crowd Control. “All good drama has a little humor in it, so I provided the oatmeal scene (in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’), stated animator Tom Sito in 1992 who worked on doing some of the crowds in that animated classic. “It can be exhausting and tedious. Because you can’t really do personalities. The main problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to do crowds correctly. It’s important that everybody has his own personality without overshadowing the primary character. A good secondary character has to be invisible to the primary character. The primary character is center stage and your character has to look alive and yet be invisible.”

beast-crowd

9 Comments

  • Re:Noble’s comment in second anecdotes: Before there was nasty little Daffy, there was fun Daffy.:)

    • I dunno about that! Even back in 1940 (in YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES), Daffy was MEAN, trying to get Porky in trouble by what he SAID to him! One of my classmates used to do that malevolent thing to ME–even many years later! We’re not friends any more!

  • “The Sound of a Spider Web. When asked if some of the sound effects he created like the spinning of a spider web resembled the actual sound, Disney Legend and sound effects master Jimmy MacDonald smiled and said, “When Walt Disney said it could (have a sound), you made it have a sound.”

    Loved that one. I’ve always been fascinated by Jimmy MacDonald, he created some pretty awesome sound effects over the years. The creaky floorboards in Snow White with the leather wallet, who can forget that sound?

    Everybody who hasn’t seen this piece on Jimmy MacDonald should do so! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SejPFUnyKtc

    • I, too, have always had great admiration for Jimmy McDonald! One of my favorite stories about him was when, while the studio was making SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, Walt contacted Jimmy and said that the Swiss singers Walt had hired to record the dwarfs’ yodel song were having some trouble with it. He told Jimmy to get over there and help them out. In relating the story, Jimmy said, “I didn’t know a yodel from a cadenza–but when Walt said yodel, you yodeled!”

      When Walt casually handed off the job of doing Mickey Mouse’s voice to Jimmy with only a brief audition (because Walt no longer had time to leave whatever he was doing to go record Mickey’s lines), Jimmy infused the character with a far more outgoing personality than Walt’s usually-timid Mickey voice. Since the change came in the middle of the MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK part of FUN AND FANCY FREE, you can actually hear BOTH Mickey voices–and notice the difference–if you listen carefully! When Mickey is standing in the giant’s hand and talking to him, that’s Walt. But in Mickey’s first scenes at the dining table with Donald and Goofy, that’s Jimmy as Mickey! :-)!

    • There’s a story that MacDonald was assigned to devise the sound of a magnet for a planned park attraction. When he played his low-pitched creation for the imagineers, the sound actually induced a reaction in the lower tract. They ran from the room, one yelling back “You can’t play that in a theme park!”

  • I really enjoyed “Rhasody of Steel” which is included on Thunderbean’s “Mid Century Modern Animation: Volume 2” DVD (plug). That film felt like it could’ve been shown in Tomorrowland at Disneyland during that time. I recall reading about a sponsored steel exhibit at the park around that ere. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • “Besides, I can’t really draw. There are lots of things I’d like to add (to my drawings) but I can’t draw them. That’s changed now. With a team of animators working on the show now I can just tell them what I want and they put it in for me. Lots of the great stuff I could never draw myself.”

    Well at least he admits it.

  • 1. Yet another coincidence! (The people who write this stuff for this Web site have an amazing talent for reading my mind. This time it’s one of the responders.) Daffy Duck in “You Ought to Be in Pictures”: Has it ever occurred to anyone – certainly I can’t be the first one who has thought of this – that Daffy in that cartoon is a heavily veiled representation of Fred Quimby, considering what Quimby did to Isadore Freleng when he lured Freleng away from Schlesinger?

    2. Never did like John Sutherland’s industrial (strength) cartoons. Heavy-handed propaganda. Don’t like propaganda in my cartoons (except for WWII, sometimes). I prefer to be entertained, not preached to. I hope Thunderbean doesn’t do any more Sutherland stuff.

  • I have that BARTMAN pin – you can also put it on your desk and it sits like a picture frame. It’s been at every desk at every place I’ve ever worked and I’ve had it since it came out all those years ago!

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