Animation Thread

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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:48 am

Walt Disney's version of Winnie the Pooh was nearly the last thing he did as producer, and is a merchandise goldmine for the company. He's the subject of over a half-dozen features and several TV series.

There were earlier efforts to adapt and exploit Winnie the Pooh and friends, which present certain mysteries and oddities. Pooh was a familiar merchandising success well before Disney.

First though, Tigger and Piglet didn't appear in the first Disney Winnie the Pooh short in 1966. The vinyl record of "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" features prototype designs for both, based on the book designs. A big difference for Tigger. The new character of Gopher was considered as a Piglet replacement.

http://cartoonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/HoneyTreeSongsBack-600.jpg
https://images.bonanzastatic.com/afu/images/9c56/c909/d1f3_6007755007/s-l1600.jpg

The vinyl record features scenes and lyrics not in the animated short.

The short's poster also features the book-accurate Tigger and Piglet:
https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-winnie-the-pooh-and-the-honey-tree-us-poster-from-left-rabbit-winnie-72396607.html
https://www.christies.com/img/LotImages/2010/CSK/2010_CSK_05569_0064_000(winnie_the_pooh_and_the_honey_tree).jpg

Winnie the Pooh was planned as a feature, before Walt decided to split it up into three shorts instead. He passed away before the second short was completed.

The three shorts and a new segment were released as a feature, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, in 1977. Disney has continued the franchise since and it's one of their biggest earners. Possibly their most merchandised property.

In 1960 NBC aired a "Shirley Temple's Storybook" special starring Bil Baird's marionettes. Faz Fazakas, later a technical creator for The Muppets, played Winnie the Pooh. Bil Baird's company later performed this show onstage. (Possibly with the same script, probably with the same puppets, plus Olga Felgemacher as a puppet Christopher Robin.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlpER1R1AB8

The Shirley Temple special is available on DVD. The puppets resemble the Shepard illustrations, and therefore resemble when Disney attempts a "realistic" take on the characters, as in Christopher Robin and some merchandise.

Walt Disney acquired the rights soon after (he'd been trying since 1937). I might assume that the Shirley Temple special was made because Stephen Slesinger and company were losing the rights to Disney, and NBC would soon be airing the Disneyland TV show anyway.

There's also the matter of the Russian animated Winnie the Pooh films by Fyodor Khitruk and Gennadiy Sokolskiy (1969-1972)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wcg2aHT3Bw

NBC apparently aired a Christopher Robin special in 1947 which I assume is lost. Segments of Pooh, possibly three minutes long, were produced by Stephen Slesinger for "Telecomics Presents." These featured narration over still illustrations, intended to resemble newspaper comics and featuring characters like Red Ryder (of BB gun fame) and Tailspin Tommy. Slesinger produced radio broadcasts, dolls, board games, books, records and other merchandise of Pooh until his death in 1953. As an artist Slesinger introduced Pooh's red shirt, which survives into the Disney version. He turned Pooh into a $50 million dollar business.

https://pictures.abebooks.com/BABYLONREVISITED/16913991960.jpg

Slesinger's estate turned rights to Pooh over to Disney in 1961, but later insisted that they had retained some rights to the property, resulting in lawsuits over the years. This was dismissed by a judge in 2012, here:

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-federal-circuit/1619015.html

Confusingly, there was another company called Telecomics at the same time, founded in 1942 by Disney animators Dick Moores and Jack Boyd, with a pilot created in 1945. Two TV series called Telecomics, confused for one another in every source I consulted - either of which could be the first animated series ever made for television, if they had any animation in them at the time.

I have even seen the Slesinger family names on mid-1970s copyright renewals for the "other" Telecomics so it's hard to be sure. It's logical that's an error (on their part or otherwise) but sources are contradictory.

Michael Barrier, Harry McCracken, and Mark Kausler discuss this Telecomics here --

http://www.michaelbarrier.com/WhatsNewArchives/2018/WhatsNewArchivesFeb18.html#kauslercomment

... and there are three examples at Youtube. "Kid Champion," "Space Barton" and "Danny March," adventure stories of three and a half minutes each, which add up to a fifteen minute program. There is almost no moving animation and it seems to be a later episode, found at a garage sale. Probably from late 1950.

The original show contained “Brother Goose” by Cal Howard; “Joey and Jug”, a clown story by Arnold Gillespie; “Rick Rack Secret Agent,” a Dick Tracy copy by Miles Pike and Pete Burness, and “Sa-Lah,” an Arabian Knights fantasy drawn by A.J. Metcalf. Jack Kirkwood, Lilien Leigh and Bill Grey provided the voice-over narration. NBC aired the segments as "NBC Comics."

http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/2012/03/nbc-comics-part-1.html
http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/2012/03/nbc-comics-part-2.html
https://profilesinhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Animation90s.pdf
http://tag.rubberslug.com/gallery/master_query.asp?SeriesID=23389&Page=1

https://d23.com/winnie-the-pooh-and-the-honey-tree-did-you-know/?share_token=a638ba9da1
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:21 pm

Everybody do the Kennedy kick dance!

https://youtu.be/7rYZGzEzivo

The comments list other examples:
Darkwing Duck "Water Way to Go", "Hallow-Weenies" (Goof Troop), Hagar The Horrible "Hagar Knows Best"

You could also include The Wacky World of Tex Avery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi171lLNWfk
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:46 am

Now there's a disturbing compilation!
I could go on a rant about Kennedy, but I won't; I'll just say two things about them: 1) It's one of the great annoyances for a Darkwing Duck fan such as myself that their shoddy work "graces" six entire episodes, three of which are origin stories.
2) Their work is the complete antithesis of "showing weight", they're completely rubbery but not consistently rubbery like the actual rubber animation from way, way back. Anytime I see a Kennedy shot there's a distinct impression their inbetweening process was nothing more than drawing lines that were in the middle of two keys regardless of the scene, the model, timing, composition, etc. A waste.



Speaking of Darkwing Duck, some of the best (and worst) examples of character animation in that show have to be from the Walt Disney Australia studio. That studio seems to have been tasked earliest of all as they were handed some of the main promotional episodes, That Sinking Feeling, Tiff Of The Titans, A Brush With Oblivion, the first half of the Darkly Dawns The Duck pilot and so on. They definitely stuck the model sheets as much as possible and showed a decent understanding of how the characters would work in a 3D space. (They were the only studio on the show to actually occasionally animate characters turning or moving with some depth.) For better of worse, WDA expanded upon the look of the show, while Sunwoo were commissioned the majority of the episodes (due to costs no doubt) and did standard TV work, while Walt Disney Japan occasionally stepped in and threw some "wobble" into the proceedings. And near the end a company called Hanho Hueng-Up was tasked with several episodes and did a infinitesimally-better-than-Sunwoo job.
Walt Disney Australia seemed to have two sets of animators: a set of really ambitious animators, and a set of lazy "pop" enthusiasts. Some scenes will have a surprising amount lipsync work and dynamic expressions (see Tiff Of The Titans, the opening to Fungus Amongus the midsection of A Brush With Oblivion), but then a scene after that will simply jump from pose to pose with very little fluidity, and sometimes the model going "blocky" for lack of a better word (see The Merchant Of Menace, or the later parts of Fungus Amongus for a start).
They had a weird recurring problem with light, especially in That Sinking Feeling which has light shifts and broken colour continuity between shots that really stick out.
And on an art side, Walt Disney Australia REALLY liked using the bottom of the screen as the floor ala The Muppet Show, so much so that quite a lot of scenes and BGs are framed without a floor. It's not a problem, more just very noticeable as they're the only studio used on Darkwing that does that as frequently as they do, it becomes something of their signature alongside the occasional moments of great expressional lipsync stuff.

And while WDA is credited on the notoriously poorly animated episode "Heavy Mental", they were providing assistance to a freelance company. That particular freelance company was never hired again for the rest of the run, I assume so much damage was done that WDA were called in to try and salvage some of it, I attribute the short moments of "okay" looking work to them, but that episode is a mess visually, even worse than Kennedy, and that's saying a lot, haha!
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Dennis196492 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:34 am

They animated tids and bits for the Fantastic Four cartoon, I haven't watched in full but there is this clip where you can clearly tell where Wang Productions drops off and Kennedy walks in because unlike Wang, they were still doing traditional.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38VBv0ZenZU
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:20 pm

Disney really kept their animation studios on-model, while I think the studios animating for WB basically created their own models for the characters.

That means a Kennedy episode of Darkwing Duck doesn't look like a Kennedy episode of Tiny Toons, even if it's disappointing by that series' standards.
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:52 am

True, very true. Some Tiny Tonns are quite hard to watch for that reason. One of the Elmyra skits where Buster (I think) is making her dance continuously across an area is done in that 'Kennedy Kick" fashion with the shoes at an impossible angle, only they have the background moving horizontally at the wrong speed, destroying any suspension of disbelief in the background's depth, it's one of the flattest shots you'll ever see.

Though, speaking of bad, I think some of Kennedy's Warner team spilled over into Disney briefly, check out the Quackerjack origin episode "Whiffle While You Work" there are some truly horrific jumps between shots, wobbly Jello-esque inbetweens, off model "bursts", and bizarrely enough (for trad. film animation at least) frame-rate inconsistencies!
It's actually such a bad job from Kennedy, I swear if I had three months, a Cintiq and a subscription to Toon Boom I could recreate a couple scenes into something that looked more airable than what they produced. And that's not a brag, that's a statement on how bad that episode turned out visually, haha!
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:59 am

I have a Cintiq. I don't have three months.

It'd be interesting to compile some of the weaker animation moments.


I haven't watched much of the new Ducktales since the pilot (I've had a lot on my mind), but the season finale is coming and wow, episode 22 is VERY tense and emotional. Well worth a gander.
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:47 am

A compilation sounds good, maybe a short "best of/worst of" kind of thing. I'll add it to my list. I can already think of a few shots that stick out.

I haven't seen much of the new DuckTales outside of a few adverts, I either haven't had the time or just not feeling up to watching anything new. Though I do intend to get around to checking it out eventually, I know ads are never the best judge of character.
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Re: Animation Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:40 am

The new Ducktales series is definitely made with love and respect for the comics by Carl Barks and others and the 80s-90s Disney Afternoon series - all of them, as it turns out. The creators throw in references to shows like Darkwing Duck, Tale Spin and the Gummi Bears, and characters from the comics who you might not expect to see. The voice cast is as all-star as it gets.

Purists would prefer something closer to the old animation style, but the new style works, and the more character-based and comedic storylines make it feel current in the way that a show made in 2018 should. It's Ducktales done for the Gravity Falls audience, playing out like a mashup of both shows. Which includes the focus on Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby as children who think of themselves as adults, played by comedians. Their fast-paced comedy only occasionally lands, but charms when it does. Meanwhile the adventure plotlines retain much of the DNA of the original.

It feels fresh. The original Ducktales was a new and fresh idea at the time, to try to adapt the Carl Barks comics and get something approaching the quality of classic Disney animation on television. It achieved that to an extent, but would feel very old-fashioned now.

The pilot gets off to a good start. And The Last Crash of the Sunchaser feels almost like an episode of a serious drama, toned down and sped up to the sugar-high tone of a kid's show. I expect that some kids watching it will experience the storylines as exactly that, and fondly remember them later. It doesn't hold on anything long enough, or push deep enough, to have the same impact, but the tone and pace is right for the target audience. It's smart, and uses Disney Duck lore in a smart way.

For us older fans of the Disney Ducks it's a light, pleasant watch which puts a new spin on the classic characters and throws in references that show real fans are running the shop.

Season two takes it further, so that should be exciting. Ludwig Von Drake, Don Karnage, Gyro Gearloose, Gizmoduck, and Fethry Duck ....

Most of the background art separates the color slightly from the line art and includes halftone dots, a reference to poorly printed newsprint comics back in the day.

The opening title sequence and theme set the tone. It's a stripped down arrangement where many instruments from the original theme don't turn up until the end, which is unfortunate but also propulsive and percussive. The opening is structured with panels of a comic as a constant chase scene, and very energetic, with tableaus of adventure scenarios inspired by Carl Barks art. It would be hard to improve on the original theme but this, like the rest of the series, steps sideways and works overtime to make it work.

According to the Wiki, the UK dub has an almost entirely different cast, not including David Tennant (but including Kate Micucci and Catherine Tate). Considering the US version has an all-star celebrity cast, the UK is missing out. Clips on the Disney XD UK Youtube channel appear to simply be the US dub.

Episodes I sampled:

3 "Daytrip of Doom" - Margo Martindale as Ma Beagle. Webby is basically the Mabel Pines of this show. They overdo it with her weirdness and overexcited nature but she doesn't lack in personality. Also a good showcase for Louie, who seeks the charmed life of a VIP throughout the series. This almost goes too far into "comedy show" territory (and is very fast paced) but gets into the Ducktales groove by the end. And a subplot with Beakley and Donald.

9 The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra! - This is sort of a parody of authoritarian capitalism, or something like it. Worth noting that Scrooge as a character started as a villain, a hateful miser like his namesake. He's a "good" character putting a pleasant face on being a billionaire, but he has some darker and weirder traits at times. He retains his unnecessary stinginess, which was started as a sort of racist joke on Scottish people, and now seems like the most realistic thing about him as a billionaire. There's also colonialist implications to old adventure comics like the Carl Barks Scrooge stories, and Tin Tin, and so on, as well as occasional blatant racism. This episode updates things somewhat, combining their humor with adventure in a way that feels straightforward. Cree Summer guests, and there's a Thriller gag. Maybe the closest to a "classic" Ducktales setup, including Donald being absent. The art and backgrounds in this series look very Cintiq and digital, and sometimes the backgrounds look a little rushed, though detailed enough to pass. The series is detailed enough when it's important. It's not apparent that Scrooge takes the treasure and he frees the enslaved "mummies" Doctor Who-style as if it's something he does all the time. But then he fusses over the lunch bill, presumably leaving them on their own. An alternate encounter with Toth-Ra is in the opening.

11 - The Spear of Selene - Getting into the mystery of Della Duck's disappearance, without revealing anything. Foreshadowing the finale. They get a lot of emotional mileage, in an otherwise comedic episode, from how damaged Donald and Dewey are without her. Also Storkules is gay for Donald, so there's that. With Michael Chiklis and Nia Vardalos.

14 - Jaw$! - Catherine Tate as the shadow of Magica DeSpell. Another Doctor Who veteran who slips very well into the role. Like the other celebrity voices she's not doing the same accent as June Foray did, but clearly fits the character. It also makes Magica less of a racist "Gypsy" stereotype. This lineage of Romani people were demonized in stories in the 20th century and earlier. June Foray's take on the character resembled her Russian voice. Lena Le Strange is a good addition to the cast, a more subtle character hiding a dark secret. It reminds me of Doctor Who's Turlough, and handled less badly. Magica also manages to be more scary than comedic, with hints of body and eldritch horror about her. My one note on all of this is that the Lena episodes can feel a bit samey. This is evidenced by the fact that I've just copy/pasted this review from my notes on episode 20.

16 - The Golden Lagoon of White Agony Plains! - Allison Janney as Goldie O'Gilt. This is basically the Batman/Catwoman relationship, and the showrunners have admitted as much. Scrooge can never trust her but enjoys the chase. Madness if you take it too seriously, but fun. A fattened-up Flintheart Glomgold makes for a more comedic villain, introduced in the pilot as a worse version of Scrooge, like Wario to his Mario. But Flintheart will happily murder Scrooge if allowed to do so. Goldie is another matter. Carl Barks' Scrooge is used for a flashback, and Flintheart's memories are shown as idealized pop art, a good gag. Almost zero effort put into animating the crowd at the gala. Also, they're running with Scrooge (and Goldie) being hundreds of years old, but kept young through supernatural means. (Here they don't use an older, grey-haired Goldie at all.) This starts to feel like a Moffat-era Doctor Who episode. Not a complaint.

17 "Day of the Only Child!" - Mostly sitcom, this one. Decent showcase for the boys' personalities. They've figured out how to make the Beagle Boys funny, as they're easily led around by Huey because of his intelligence. Dewey longs for attention (as an entertainer!), while Louie longs for the trappings of wealth. Doofus Drake has, uh, been reimagined here as a horrible example of a rich child given everything he wants, setting an example for Louie and the target audience which could almost be educational. You can tell they disliked this minor character in the original. It's worth noting that Huey, Dewey and Louie were interchangeable characters for decades, not even getting different colored outfits until the 80s Ducktales series copied Alvin and the Chipmunks for colors. Their personalities here are a bit tryhard but very distinct, and suited to their roles as lead characters here, and the sitcom-like dialogue they now rattle off.

18 "From the Confidential Casefiles of Agent 22" - More of Webby, and a flashback based on 60s secret agent films. It's not anything new for a series to riff on James Bond, but it's a pleasant surprise that this is mostly a riff on The Avengers and The Prisoner instead. And, somehow, The Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Also Ludwig Von Drake turns up. "Agent 22" gradually develops respect for young Scrooge, and Scrooge develops respect for Webby.

19 "Who Is Gizmoduck?" - Lin-Manuel Miranda as Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera and Gizmoduck. Jim Rash as Gyro Gearloose and Helper. More great casting and I love how Hispanic the Cabreras are. This leads to humor with his mother enjoying telenovelas and calling him "pollito." We also get a very "social media, web 2.0" villain. All the characters have lots of personality and humor. There's also an Aladdin reference, if you've forgotten that was also part of the Disney afternoon. And Glomgold wants Gizmoduck to paint him like one of his french girls?

20. "The Other Bin of Scrooge McDuck" - See episode 14 review. Note the use of Webby's 80s design as the plush.

21. "Sky Pirates In the Sky" - Tale Spin's Don Karnage returns, this time as a singing and dancing sky pirate. Also a showcase episode for Dewey. It's all a bit silly, but even though Karnage is a comedic villain, he's a genuine threat who nearly kills people.
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