The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10103Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:56 am

Shots from The Princess and the Cobbler, during the Witch scene only for the most part, all have missing material at the bottom because our only widescreen copy is timecoded. In theory some of this could be reanimated if no appropriate copy is ever found.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10104Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:23 am

If you own Richard Williams' The Animator's Survival Kit, you'll also like this gorgeous book by Tony White, which came first and is based on the same principles and style. Fully illustrated with artwork from commercial projects. Not as useful but you'll be glad you own it - when I had a bookshelf it was one of my most prized possessions.

https://www.amazon.com/Animators-Workbo ... 0823002292

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10105Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:25 pm

Some of the Calvert-era animation was done by people who had worked for Williams, though not enough. A small amount of it was done at Premier films by Neil Boyle's team.

All of the animation done under Calvert (even the scenes using Williams-era pencils) was done at a smaller size, so has thicker lines and is wobblier. (In the Academy archive you can see a note from Neil Boyle complaining about this and asking his team to do their best.) Of course all of it was shot very flatly rather than with John Leatherbarrow's cinematography, and it didn't have Dick's standards to kick things up a notch. Even so, scenes like the Wedding Ending are very obviously better than the off-model stuff like "She Is More" and those odd King Nod closeups. It's animated with some respect for the original story and fits into the film pretty well (better than the non-Williams stuff in Raggedy Ann & Andy, for sure). I've always liked (most of) the rotoscope-y "final battle" stuff between Zigzag, Tack and YumYum as well (even if it's not in the script!), and the loosely-animated fight with the Brigands and Tack's team in the desert.

The ex-Williams animators, and some of the other animators, did care. It's often said that Calvert didn't. He was hired to "keep an eye on" Dick and say if Dick was overspending. To Calvert, whose work had never risen above student film quality, making any kind of high quality animated film was overspending. Calvert helped get Dick fired. (He was one of many factors, but he's in the mix.) He was then, I think, surprised that it was difficult to change The Thief and the Cobbler into a more "commercial" 90s film. The film has its own distinct style and trying to change it into something it's not ruins it. The footage resists that. He and the producers must have realized that, and that with Calvert's changes the film had immediately become garbage. Rather than deviate from that plan (and go back to Williams' version) Calvert stopped caring so much and was simply trying to get it done ...

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10107Post Dennis196492
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:39 pm

You are indeed very right about the pacing of the production depending on by which extent each character was finalized for the final production, Garrett. It's something I wouldn't notice myself until I edited my ''All footage made'' video - which is still up, by the way. I should make a proper video of it since Youtube doesn't let me have it up there.

https://mega.nz/#!KE8mgaIY!fHTFT7GBQjag ... fBUGGfHvTY

A very early shot of Tack though, VERY Errol le Cain concept art styled, did slip to the final film, even before the finalized neck hook shot
https://imgur.com/a/hSCmpTl

I don't know whether it's true or not, but when Richard Williams said that when they screened the Workprint for WB, the entire second reel was missing, funny enough that's probably the section that had the most animation completed for it (save the intro) as well as being the most trimmed down sequence compared to how long the whole Polo game/Pole Vault/Cobbler and Princess go on their journey sequence was even on the revised script that removed Bubba and Mee Mee, I imagine the WB guys read the script, and groaned at how there was almost nothing but beauty shots, but no cobbler and princess, At All (Tack's very last Williams scene in the Workprint is when the Witch slams him against the floor, Yum Yum's last scene her saying ''One Eye?'' in the throne room), They just disappear from the finished footage and it wouldn't be reasonable to assume the bulk of the finished movie would be right down the middle.

It's either that or I'm being too lax on the WB guys, I mean come on, Rodney Dangerfield? Quest for Camelot? dumping Iron Giant for no reason just to make the money back on video sales? it's like they loved to kill themselves. If everyone knew that beforehand they wouldn't have signed shit with them, but Instead I gotta listen to people argue that The Thief wouldn't have appealed to anyone in the 90s like it's some alienating arthouse film, which is the reason it got canned.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10108Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:50 pm

The Thief and the Cobbler is a better film than the features WB released during that time, so it's hard to argue anything other than "they didn't get it," or were vastly underestimating Richard Williams due to the gossip about him (inaccurate stuff from people who knew him back in the day but didn't really know what he was doing now) and his temper. Maybe he pissed them off in a personal way, one by one; he did that sometimes.

You could bring Iron Giant up as a now-classic film that Warners didn't give a big theatrical release, and which was considered a failure then, but is well regarded.

I've often heard that a reel was skipped when Richard screened The Thief and the Cobbler's workprint for Warner Bros, though I heard it was "the climactic reel" or "the penultimate reel" which might mean the Witch or the War Machine. Since Warners knew the War Machine stuff was all complete, missing a different reel than that might have been worse. Bad luck for sure.

Two copies exist of Richard Williams' workprint from around the same time in 1992. One is a familiar and much-bootlegged U-matic copy of the workprint. One is Richard Williams' own copy, A Moment In Time, apparently made on the day he had to leave the studio, or just before.

The second has a bunch more pencil-test shots and finished work that's not in the former, mostly of the Cobbler and Princess, and there's not much time separating them.

And technically speaking, about 20 minutes of the color film that's in the workprint predates the Warners production entirely, but most of what's in the "final film" was animated or reanimated during the 90s production. So that's why Alex and I estimate it could have been finished in months at the rate Dick was going, even if actually filming the scenes was complicated.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10109Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:39 pm

I love the 1978 film The Rutles In All You Need Is Cash - Eric Idle's Monty Python parody of the Beatles story.

It was produced by George Harrison, who could take a joke. But at one point Eric was joking around and being as disrespectful as you like, and George turned and said, "We WERE the Beatles, you know." That was the only time he did that - he got over it.

But I often thought that way when people would talk about Richard Williams. Everyone has anecdotes about him, about how demanding he was, how high his standards were, how difficult he could be. Which is true, but people twist things until they're untrue, to argue that The Thief and the Cobbler wasn't on target to actually get finished, which it was, according to all known documentation.

We ended up debunking a lot of that stuff by looking at how fast he actually worked during that time, and how incredibly well planned out everything actually was, a decade or decades in advance. People usually say he had no plan.

He was difficult, and you can say a lot of things about him that are true.

But at the end of the day, he WAS Richard Williams, you know.

Since his passing, all the tributes to him have finally remembered that.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10110Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:04 pm

A great tribute would be to get Dick's workprint of The Thief and the Cobbler, A Moment In Time, released on home video!

(To be honest it's very incomplete as a final product, with missing sound and film damage, but it's an okay 35mm dupe of the workprint and more complete than the familiar U-Matic version, so almost everything Dick's team animated is there in watchable HD quality. I thought when watching it that there was something missing from every scene which wrecked the experience, but it's all there anyway.)

You could also release the Calvert cuts in HD quality - there seems to be a longstanding rule on the books to never release these in high quality. I don't know on whose orders. Widescreen releases are very rare, and most releases are heavily cropped with poor picture quality. Often color saturation is cranked way up to break the picture entirely.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10111Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:45 pm

Aardman co-founder Peter Lord pays tribute to Richard Williams - legendary animator and dear friend of the studio: https://aard.mn/RichardWilliams

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10112Post filmfan94
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:19 pm

Dennis196492 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:39 pm
It's either that or I'm being too lax on the WB guys, I mean come on, Rodney Dangerfield? Quest for Camelot? dumping Iron Giant for no reason just to make the money back on video sales? it's like they loved to kill themselves. If everyone knew that beforehand they wouldn't have signed shit with them, but Instead I gotta listen to people argue that The Thief wouldn't have appealed to anyone in the 90s like it's some alienating arthouse film, which is the reason it got canned.
I’ve noticed it seems to be very common for Warner to bungle things up in their attempts to follow movie trends. In addition to their attempts to cash in on the Disney Renaissance that led to the mutilation of The Thief and the under-marketing on The Iron Giant, they also tried to get on the band wagon of historical epics of the 50’s, which usually led to bad movies like The Silver Chalice (Land of the Pharaohs is the only one of their 50’s epics I’ve seen that was actually good, and even that underperformed), and most recently, they were bungling their DC movies to cash on Marvel’s success, though from what I hear they’re getting better on that front.

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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 10113Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:42 pm

Once in his travels, Nasrudin came upon a magic show.

It was hot outside and admission was free, so he entered the theater and sat down.

The magician appeared in a puff of swirling, multicolored smoke.

"I am the Great Aldini!" he said. "A magician, and a sorcerer too! I am, as you will shortly see, the greatest sorcerer who ever lived!"

The audience laughed. The magician was old, and his shabby coat had seen better days.

"I see a lot of familiar faces," he said. "Is there anyone in the audience who is not a magician?"

The audience laughed. Nasrudin was not a magician, but he felt that raising his hand would be rude.

"Just get on it with it, old man," shouted a man sitting next to Nasrudin. The audience laughed.

The magician laughed too. At least he had a sense of humor about himself.

Nasrudin had seen other magic shows, and they were very much like this one. Perhaps, thought Nasrudin, this was the man who taught all those other magicians.

The magician must have been a great teacher, thought Nasrudin, because he did almost nothing in his act that Nasrudin had not seen before.

But what the magician did, he did beautifully. There was a sparkle in his eye and he moved and acted like a much younger man.

While the men in the audience laughed and jeered and booed him, the children were dazzled. They thought they were witnessing real live magic, from a real live sorcerer.

How sad, Nasrudin thought to himself. The children are too young to have seen all of this before.

But they are still young, thought Nasrudin. They have time to learn how to be less amazed.

The Great Aldini called a man out of the audience, and told him to choose from a deck of playing cards. Aldini then launched the deck of cards into the air, where they flew gracefully, as if they were alive.

Nasrudin knew this was impossible, so he decided not to be entertained by it.

"Is this your card?" asked the Great Aldini.

The children cheered as the older men booed.

The loud man sitting next to Nasrudin said, "The man from the audience is his son, or his daughter, or his friend. It's an easy trick. He'll never be as great as Master Zappo."

The Great Aldini did a trick with three golden balls. His hands moving like lightning, he made the balls appear and disappear, and finally released from the largest of them an Arabian dove, who flew out over the audience.

The children cheered as the older men booed.

The loud man sitting next to Nasrudin said, "It's done with wires, concealed in his sleeves. He's got a dozen balls stashed in there. An easy trick. He'll never be as great as Master Zappo."

The Great Aldini wheeled out a box and did a trick with a rabbit. He made the animal appear and disappear before pulling it out of his stovepipe hat.

The children cheered as the older men booed.

The loud man sitting next to Nasrudin said, "It's done with three rabbits, hiding in the hat and hiding in the box. The oldest trick of all. He'll never be as great as Master Zappo."

"You may know me as a teacher," said the Great Aldini, "but I was once a student of the great Master Zappo, who died so many years ago."

A hush fell over the audience, as if the magician had committed a crime by even saying the name of the old master.

"I still am a student," said the magician, "even at my advanced age, and I have worked all my life to try to be as great as he was."

The audience laughed.

"This was his greatest trick," said the magician, "and the one I could never master. I can do about half of what he could, but I think that's enough."

The Great Aldini raised his arms, his long coat trailing behind him like the wings of a bird.

He flapped his arms a few times, as if he were trying to fly. He huffed and puffed and breathed heavily with the effort.

The audience laughed.

And then he flew, flapping his arms like the wings of a bird, and flying in spirals out over the audience, spinning and twirling.

No one laughed.

And then he stopped, hovering over an old woman in the audience. He reached out his hand and she took it.

He lifted her up and they embraced, and then danced a slow and old-fashioned dance, hovering in the air while turning slowly.

Nasrudin had never seen anything quite so beautiful, which of course meant there must be some trick to it, and that this was all very stupid and fake.

After the show, when everyone else had left, Nasrudin stayed behind to talk to the magician, who was packing up his things. Three rabbits, as the man in the audience had said. Two doves and a dozen golden balls.

"That was a very good trick," said Nasrudin. "You must have been a very good teacher."

The Great Aldini smiled. "I became a teacher when people stopped paying to come to my shows. I think I taught magic to every man in that audience. But I haven't performed like this in a very long time. I think this was my last show."

"Were you really a student of the Great Master Zappo?" asked Nasrudin. Nasrudin had never heard the name before, but he must have been very great indeed.

"I wasn't," said the magician. "I'm a liar, a hustler and a fraud. Zappo had no students. I studied his act. I watched him perform a hundred times. But I never could figure out all his tricks. He ended every show by rising into the air and flying."

"All done with wires, of course," said Nasrudin, because that's what the loud man next to him would have said.

"Of course," said the magician, "But I could never recreate the method. It's the greatest regret of my life."

"So how did you perform the trick?" asked Nasrudin.

"With wires," said the Great Aldini. "At least at first. For ten years I performed the trick with wires in my coat like Master Zappo had, but it was never as good as he was, and never as good as it needed to be. I learned, in the end, that it was easier to simply learn how to fly."

Nasrudin didn't understand, but the magician's wife now entered from behind the curtain. It was time for the magician to leave.

"Like I said," said the magician, "I'm a liar, a hustler and a fraud. I hope you enjoyed my little show."

And Nasrudin watched as The Great Aldini took his wife's hand and flew away, twirling and soaring over the golden city until they vanished into the clouds.

Nasrudin thought to himself that he had never seen anything quite so beautiful, which meant, of course, that what he had just seen was something very dull and ordinary, and that he shouldn't spend any more time thinking about it.

"What a wonderful teacher he must have been," thought Nasrudin, "in order to become so very ordinary."

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