Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pinocchio Part 1

Click on any of the above to enlarge.

I have no idea how long it's going to take to complete this, but it certainly seems to me to be worthwhile to do. Here's the first sequence from Pinocchio. You've probably noticed that I've started using tags with these entries. The tag 'Mosaics' will call up all the mosaics I've done as well as the related commentaries. I'm reserving the 'Pinocchio' tag for just the Pinocchio mosaics, so it should be convenient for you to call them up as we go.

(I note that the 'Mosaics' tag does not bring up entries all the way back to the beginning of this blog. I'll see if I can make this work better.)

Thanks go to Hans Perk and Michael Sporn for posting the animator drafts on which this is based. Thanks also to Alberto Becattini, whose list of animator credits has been a huge help in identifying lesser-known animators for these mosaics.

Because of Pinocchio's length, I'm going to post whatever I have to say about a sequence at the same time I put up the mosaics.

When I first saw these drafts, I was surprised at how many other animators handled Jiminy in this sequence. Looking at the animation carefully (and these mosaics don't do them justice; they're just a reference), it's clear that Kimball's cricket has a larger head, hands and feet than those of Luske, Wolf or Towsley. Towsley's proportions are more traditional cartoon than Kimball's, which are close to Dick Huemer's approach to the early Scrappy.

Kimball uses a hold for the word "true" at the end of the opening song. It isn't Kimball's fault, but you can see the cel scratches and dust stop moving during the hold and the whole screen goes dead. It was more obvious in 35mm than on video or DVD, but it always bugged me. I wish that he'd used a moving hold.

Kimball's poses in scene 2 are amazing. Every one of them has a beautiful line of action and drips appeal. The dialogue is not particularly juicy from a content or emotional standpoint, but we instantly like this cricket because he exudes charm and friendliness. The drawing and motion add enormously to what's in the voice track here.

The crane shot from the wishing star to Gepetto's workshop is straight out of German Expressionist film of the 1920's, using spatial continuity to imply a connection between things. Here, the two brightest spots on the screen are the star and Gepetto's window and the camera has told us that one will have an affect on the other.

In general, the use of the multiplane and other camera moves in this sequence makes the world feel large. The camera and we are exploring the space along with Jiminy. This sense of scale wasn't common in short cartoons and it literally took the creation of oversized artwork to make it work.

The effects animation is very rich. Shadows, dust, heat distortion and glows are present. The backgrounds are very detailed and Gepetto's workshop is stuffed with visual interest.

In the first five minutes of the film (including credits), we've been introduced to a character we like and a world that charms us visually. These days, many films feel the need to start off with an action sequence so that the audience doesn't get bored. In 1940, there was time to seduce the audience, letting us get to know a character before the plot kicks in. If nothing else, we know that Jiminy is important and someone we have to pay attention to.

UPDATE: In comments, the spectre pointed out that I had mis-identified effects animator John McManus as Dan MacManus. The correction has been made in the mosaic.


Michael Sporn said...

Thanks so much for these, Mark. I will be as patient as it will take patience for you to put it together.

Grim Natwick told Tissa that the hold is the punctuation of the scene. It was important. Because of current fashions, we're conditioned to believe that all holds are bad and that everything has to be on ones all the time.(Thank you Dick Williams).

I cherished those bits of dust and cel flares and other imperfections as much as anything else. It was part of the experience. Digital cleanup on dvd's has destroyed a good part of that experience. See the cleaned-up BAMBI; it's horrible.

the spectre said...

This is great, I'm looking forward to seeing it continue! Your mosaics, and especially the accompanying comments, really make up for the lack of commentaries n the DVDs, and are probably better than such commentaries would be anyway!

One small thing though, I think "McManus" may be John McManus, who is in the opening credits, not Daniel MacManus, whose name has an extra A (Mac rather than Mc). It's entirely debatable, though, as several effects artists *aren't* in the opening credits, and animation drafts don't always have entirely accurate spelling. Just thought I'd point it out, though.

Mark Mayerson said...

You're right. Thanks for catching that. I've fixed the mosaic.

Jenny said...

Just great. Keep up the good work!
"Pinocchio" can't be over analyzed and in my opinion is too often taken for granted. It's got a richness to its detail in every aspect that never gets old.

Funny about the DVD commentary--or lack therof, that is--you would have been perfect for it--you and Michael Sporn, Barrier too. Hmm.

Julián höek said...

thanks for puttin the drafts in a mosaic way.
plase keep it up, we are patient when it's about good stuff like this!

Thad K said...

We need a proper DVD release of "Pinocchio" (with good color) sometime within the next century.

Major Pepperidge said... my opinion Pinocchio was Disney's masterpiece. It is often described as too "cold" or "episodic"...I find it unbelievably powerful and superbly crafted. It's got it all!

SW-H said...

This is a fabulous idea...thanks to all involved. It may take some time to get through the whole of Pinnochio but it will be worth the wait.

On the hold issue, I don't like stuff freezing, I don't mind the dust and flares on old movies, but a hold where everything freezes is like a bum note in a Chopin piano sonata...all to do with the illusion of life, innit? Moving holds avoid this whilst retaining the hold on the animation....but I'm not here to teach my granny to suck eggs, or to try and change others preferences.

I'm happy to see there are still nerdier animation nerds than me out there, I appreciate your efforts and the time it must take to post this stuff. Pinnochio is a wonderful film, admired by live action film makers as well as animation, so, thanks again.

Nancy said...

I was once told by one of the old men (can't remember which) that 'we never used a hold longer than 12 frames in any Disney film." One simple glance at Bambi on the ice should put paid to that idea.
Remember, we're trained to see cel shadows, dust, and dirt! The audience isn't, and frankly, I don't mind it either if it doesn't distract from the character. There are many, MANY technical goofs in PINOCCHIO...wait til you get to the famous multiplane shot at the beginning of Act II!
The whole of an animated film is greater than the sum of its parts.
And 'holds' are greater than constantly moving action-- an energetic drawing, well posed, is better than a crawling hold. I can remember being fascinated by the Cricket's hold on the high note of WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR. The mood is set perfectly, and we believe he's alive and singing, not a flat drawing.

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Eric Noble said...

Thank you for posting these mosaics. I absolutely love them. Pinocchio is one of my favorite Disney features.