Monday, September 17, 2007

Pinocchio Part 29

The whale chase begins. It's certainly one of the most exciting sequences in Disney films to that time and one that remains impressive today. The action is intense. Monstro is an enormous physical threat due to his size and power. The water is convincingly portrayed, making the threat of drowning real. We don't doubt for a second that Pinocchio and Geppetto are fighting for their lives.

This sequence showcases the sophisticated understanding of water that the Disney effects animators had. If you compare the portrayal of water in this film with the water in Gulliver's Travels, released just a year earlier, the difference is striking. Gulliver opens with a storm at sea, but the water simply doesn't feel as liquid as the water in Pinocchio. In some Gulliver scenes, the foam on the waves seems to be sewed on, not sliding over the surface or changing its shape enough to be convincing.

The water here works due to a combination of elements. There is the undulating surface, marked by independently moving masses which sometimes overlap. The undulation is helped by the colour-separated detail that flows over it and which constantly changes shape. There are also the foam and the splashes which break up and change shape over time. Colour, too, is critical, as the water has to reflect the environment it is in.

Art Palmer, Josh Meador and Don Tobin did fantastic work on the water here. With the exception of Meador, few Disney effects animators have any sort of reputation. Sequences like this show that they deserve to.


Duck Dodgers said...

Ehy, thanks for what you are doing.
I do love your blog and your titanic project with Pinocchio, my favorite animated feature, is madee with passion, professionality and heart.

Ken A. Priebe said...

Hi Mark-
Perhaps you've already thought of this, or maybe it's already in the works, but you are sitting on a good book idea with what you're doing here with Pinocchio. I would love to see all of these notes, including the storyboard-like panels of scenes by animator, in a nice coffee table book. It would be great if Disney agreed to it.

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Ken. A couple of people have suggested a book coming out of this, but to tell the truth, I'm a little wary of contacting Disney. While I believe that the stills I'm using can be considered fair use and there's no question that the material is for educational purposes, I don't doubt that some Disney lawyer would be happy to send me a cease and desist letter claiming I'm infringing on Disney's copyright.

There's a lot to be said for flying below the radar and doing what needs to be done, rather than calling attention to the work.

Steven Hartley said...

Any information of Art Palmer, apart from when he came to Disney's in c1936 and left roughly in 1942, did he do anything else after that.