October 28, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #286

Scarfe’s Wall. Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe was recruited to produce roughly fifteen minutes of animation for a 1982 film entitled Pink Floyd – The Wall based on the 1979 record album of the same name. Roughly fifty artists were involved with the animation that took over five months and a budget of a hundred thousand pounds.

Pink-Floyd-The-Wall“You can do anything with animation,” stated Scarfe before the official release of the film. “You can turn a telephoe box into the Empire State building if you want to. In live action, that sort of thing isn’t possible. At the same time, I had to change my style from The Sunday Times scratchy-pen approach to cartoons, to something that could be copied by other artists.

“The reason that Disney drew the way he did was because everyone could draw like Disney, at least everyone who could draw. So, to do this, I had to explore other areas of my work which was very exciting. All together we did about 14,000 separate drawings for the animation section.

“You could say that the collaborative process has been filled with angst. But possibly out of that will come something rather special. After all, we’re only an artist (Scarfe), a musician (Roger Waters) and a film maker (Alan Parker). I wonder if Picasso and Stravinsky would ever have had these problems.”

During that same interview, Parker (who directed live action films like Bugsy Malone and Midnight Express) shared, “there has been a clash of three egos. If you put three megalomaniacs in a room together, there are bound to be sparks.”

JETSONS-THE-MOVIE-Movie-POSTER-27x40-BComputer Animated Jetsons. Bill Hanna commented on Jetsons: The Movie (1990) for L.A. Family Magazine in July/August 1990: “The computer animation is very effective and gives the film a spectacular look. I felt that if we could see the space factories, asteroids and shopping malls dimensionally, it would add a lot of depth. We animated the space vehicles with computer because there was no way we could get that beautiful motion by hand, and so we moved the airships that way and then added the characters.”

Gordon Hunt who was the voice director remembered that it was fun to get the original cast back together. “They loved getting together and being together. There was a real ensemble feel. George O’ Hanlon (the voice of George Jetson) didn’t see very well, so I would sit next to him and feed him the lines and he would say them back. And that’s how we did it, piece by piece.” O’Hanlon and Mel Blanc passed away shortly after finishing their parts. Voice artist Jeff Bergman was brought in to do any needed additional voice work for their characters.

Bullwinkle Sings. From the underground comix magazine STOP! #3 (1982) that was published in New York, here is an excerpt from an interview by Judy Wilmot of Bill Scott:


“In the Metal Munching Moon Mice episode, I got to sing in that one. Bullwinkle does the songs ‘Going Down to Annie Skinner’s Chicken Dinner’ and ‘There Must Be Little Cupids in the Briny’. (Disney Nine Old Man) Frank Thomas taught me those songs. In the Air Force, Frank was my sergeant and he taught me those songs, mostly English music hall songs. During the war, I was at the Culver Air Force Base. Later, I got to sing the theme song ‘George, George, George of the Jungle’. That’s me. I sing the Tom Slick song as well and Super Chicken.”

heavy-metal-smallVic Atkinson. Ottawa’s animation industry began in 1953 when Frank “Budge” Crawley met artist and filmmaker Vic Atkinson in England and talked him into coming to work in Ottawa for Crawley Films as his art director. They got the contract to produce over one hundred five-minute animated episodes of Tales of the Wizard of Oz in 1961. Crawley never followed up doing any more animation and Atkinson left in 1974 with editor Bill Stevens to form Atkinson Film-Arts.

The new company set its sights on producing quality animation such as the $425,000 half hour special narrated by Lorne Greene, The Little Brown Burro (1978) and two segments for the 1981 feature film Heavy Metal. Atkinson also provided the animation for the first Racoons special, The Christmas Racoons (1980).

By 1981, Atkinson had had enough of the high overhead of television animation and left the company he started to devote his time to painting because he felt the stress of the business was ruining his health.

racoonsHis son, Lee, started a small animation house called KLA Visual Productions. His other son, Barry worked on An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988).

“Probably 80% of the reason there’s an animation industry in Ottawa is because of my father,” said Lee Atkinson. “It was the quality of his work that began to attract interest from all over North America.”

In 1982, Bill Stevens bought out partner Vic to control Atkinson Film-Arts and went on to do the Teddy Ruxpin series, animated half hours like The Nightingale and The Rocking Horse and the Racoons series.

The-Greatest-AdventureThe Bible According to Barbera. The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible was a straight-to-video series produced by Hanna-Barbera about three young people who travel back in time to view key biblical events like Noah’s Ark, Moses and David and Goliath. Music was by Hoyt Curtin and the initial episodes written by Harvey Bullock.

Thirteen half hour episodes were made between 1986 and 1992. Believe it or not, the idea for this series came from producer Joe Barbera himself who originally came up with the concept seventeen years earlier but couldn’t find support for making the shows.

In 1986, the series was a Parents Magazine offering and Barbera wrote the following to those readers: “Dear Parents. We dreamed that one day, when we’d mastered our craft and we’d found success, we’d devote ourselves and our company to a labor of love.

“We would create and produce for children all the treasured adventure stories from the Bible…in a way that would them alive for every child…that would move and touch them as they watched, that would communicate the age-old lessons that each story holds, and that would stay in their minds and memories as they have in yours and ours. That dream is now a reality.

“We are proud that Parents Magazine has chosen to offer this series to you. And we hope you’ll watch and enjoy it with your family for years to come.”


  • Of course the two other times that I know of that Hanna Barbera used CGI animation was the second (and to my opinion better) Smurfs Christmas special ‘Tis the Season to be Smurfy in the snowflakes opening and when the viewers had a “walk through” in the “human village ” during the Christmas Eve festivities and in the first season of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (with Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin reprising their roles from the movie) in The Flying Phone Booth before DiC. Took over the series and totally “melvinized” it to obliterated to death.

    • Those attempts used the same computer they had developed to do their “digital ink & paint” compositing during the 80’s on shows like “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo”. I suppose it was possible to handle the layers in the fasion they used in that Smurfs special with how they gave them that multiplane depth in those zooms.

  • Would have loved to see Bill Scott and Paul Frees recording the songs for the Metal Munching Moon Mice. Very funny sequence and great vocal performances. And the Super Chicken recording sessions are priceless also.

    • Both “Auntie Skinner’s Chicken Dinner” and “There Must Be Little Cupids In The Briny” were American novelty songs from around 1815.

      “Skinner’ was recorded by the popular duet of baritone Arthur Collins and tenor Byron G. Harlan. This is a “coon song”, and thus has not aged all that well. The lyrics make use of the term “pick”, which is short for “pickaninny”, a term fr an African-American child.

      “Cupids” was recorded for both Victor and for Edison by Billy Murray, the top singer of comic songs during the first two decades of the Twentieth Century–and one who shows up on numerous Screen Songs and Talkartoons in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

  • Did Crawley Films work on the storybook segments of the Canadian children’s show MR. PIPER (1962)? The style is quite similar to that of TALES OF THE WIZARD OF OZ (although the animation is more limited):

  • I’d never seen any of the “episodes” of the “STORIES FROM THE BIBLE” series; this is something that I wished that Harman and Ising had accomplished in their MGM days. Just imagine the spectacle of creation on *THAT* kind of budget. This was interesting, though. And, yes, I remember Bill Scott’s singing as Bullwinkle the “pop star” who was to charm the metal-munching moonmice–so many little pop culture pokes at the Elvis phenomenon, but do we also remember Scott’s Cheerios commercials? Those were all so hilarious! Oh, and I never realized that those little ditties Bullwinkle was singing were actual songs. Great post!

    • The “Stories from the Bible” series was a direct-to-video release and like you, I never saw these tapes either, but knew of them thanks to the ads that often aired on TV informing you these videos existed, either sold through mail order or possibly available at a religious bookstore. Lately I’ve seen these tapes pop up at a Salvation Army thrift store, though I don’t know if they ever put these out on DVD or not.

    • Some of H-B’s Bible films have appeared here on TV during holidays (on BNT1, the public/state channel), so they definitely distribute them sometimes. I remember I caught The Easter Story a couple of years or so ago, but I think they had others as well during that period, though my memory is a bit fuzzy.

  • Interestingly, Atkinson Film-Arts would also buy out Vic’s former partner, Crawley Films during the 80’s as well, eventually to the point of renaming the studio as “Crawleys Animation” before shutting down in ’89.

    Here’s one interesting project done there that was a pilot for a series involving the peculiar species of meerkats.

  • Most of the animation for the movie “The Wall” was shown at their 1980 shows, so it must have been completed before then. The animation was shown on a large screen at the beginning, then projected on the completed wall after the intermission. Much of it was shown in triptych.

  • They brought back the WHOLE Jetsons cast together? Even Janet Waldo? She was replaced by Tiffa y the rAccoons was too goody goody I’d love to have seem them as con men since raccoons are sneaky!!

    • Waldo did indeed record Judy for the movie. They brought in Tiffany later to redo it.

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