Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pinocchio Part 5A

As the spectre pointed out in comments to Part 5, it's likely that the draft is wrong in crediting Ham Luske for any Cleo animation. When I saw the spelling change from "Luske" to "Lusk," I realized that it was far more likely that Don Lusk was animating Cleo rather than someone as important as Ham Luske working on a relatively insignificant character.

There is another error in the draft. Between 61.1 and 63.3 in the mosaic, there's a 4 second shot on the draft labeled 61.4 with animation by Johnston, Bradbury, Karp and De Beeson that's described as "MLS - Pinocchio and Figaro dancing. Pino sees candle burning. (Geppetto singing off stage.)" No question that shot was animated, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.

For all of this film's elaborateness, there are some cheats. It's standard for animation that's over a panning background to be done on ones. In scene 11, some strange things are happening. It could be the DVD transfer, but it appears that every 5th frame of the panning background is on 2's. The animation is all on two's, but on every fifth frame it's on 3's! Even if the DVD transfer is guilty of causing this, there's no question that the animation is on 2's while the background pans on 1's.

We know about Tytla's Stromboli, but here he handles a lot of Geppetto. He probably has the most sustained acting in this sequence and does a great job with it. While some feel that Stromboli is over-animated, Tytla's Geppetto is a very clear and direct performance. Tytla handles Geppetto's fear and surprise well in addition to Geppetto's pleasure at discovering Pinocchio is alive. This sequence is exactly the kind of thing that allows Tytla to do his best work. The acting is grounded in strong emotions and the shifting emotions give Tytla the chance to show off his range as an actor. Stromboli and Chernobog are more bravura performances, but there's an honesty to Tytla's Geppetto that makes it closer to his work on Dumbo and personally I prefer it.

The most noticeable thing about this long sequence is how many different people had a hand in it. It's got a wide assortment of animators on every character. Other Geppetto animators in this sequence include Walt Kelly, Fred Moore, Bill Shull and Art Babbitt. Pinocchio gets handled by Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl (his Pinocchios in this sequence cuter than in the last), Frank Thomas, Marvin Woodward, Phil Duncan, Bob Youngquist, Les Clark and Harvey Toombs. The rest of the characters fall into the same pattern. As a result, it's difficult to talk about performances because few animators besides Tytla got more than a few shots in a row for their characters.

At the end of this sequence, we're finished with the first act of the film. Except for a brief time after the credits, we've stayed inside Geppetto's house and all our time getting to know the film's protagonists. This film builds more slowly than more recent animated features, which usually start out with an action sequence rather than risk boring the audience. There's been lots of comedy and three musical numbers already, but the first act has been all about meeting the characters, setting up their relationships and establishing what Pinocchio needs to do to become a real boy.

From this point forward, the film moves out of Geppetto's house and into the wider world. The second act is all about how the protagonists fail each other.

4 comments:

Michael Sporn said...

All of the films overseen by Disney had quiet starts. Dumbo and Mother, Cinderella singing to the birds, at home with the Darling family, the puppy training of Lady, even Alice singing among the flowers. I think it was The Lion King that introduced the first rousing number that pushed the action envelope just a bit higher. Of course, everything since then (except maybe Toy Story and Iron Giant) has tried to top it.

dbfilms said...

"For all of this film's elaborateness, there are some cheats. It's standard for animation that's over a panning background to be done on ones. In scene 11, some strange things are happening. It could be the DVD transfer, but it appears that every 5th frame of the panning background is on 2's. The animation is all on two's, but on every fifth frame it's on 3's! Even if the DVD transfer is guilty of causing this, there's no question that the animation is on 2's while the background pans on 1's."

When reviewing animation on a home video playback machine, video tape or DVD, NTSC format plays back at 30 frames per second, versus the 24 frames per second on film. The video transfer uses a "3/2 pull down" method of transfering the 24 fps to 30 fps, filling in the 6 additional frames per second required. Also, for PAL, which plays back at 25 fps, the transfer is direct and the film plays at 4% faster, (1/25th faster) than an NTSC video.
Disney usually used ones for scenes that had a camera move, like a pan or a diagonal truck, anytime there might be a east/west move, which if animated on twos, the character would chatter, or strobe. They also animated on 1s for fast action where they would use a speed line special effects to simulate a "blur" on the action. You can see many such scenes on Jiminy Cricket. They did often miss these opportunities if their schedule and deadline called for a scene to just get done and eliminate the additional inbetweens to avoid the strobing issue.

Thad K said...

Does anyone know what the best looking version of this film on home video is? I only own the 1999 'Limited Issue' DVD which has dull, lifeless colors. I might have to spring for a 16mm print if I want to watch this masterpiece properly.

Liimlsan said...

It's one of Bill Tytla's best performances. All I ever heard about it was 'Oh, and Bill also did some of Gepetto early in the film.' I always assumed (I was young) that he had the scene of 'I have just the name for you!', earlier on. And some smatter shots.

Then I bought the DVD solely so I could study both the Ferguson scenes and that one scene of Gepetto dousing himself. It's astonishing - I always thought it was Babbit, because it looks so labored. But labored and analytical are not the same thing, I realize after, you know, actually animating.

Now that it's Tytla, it makes sense.