Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reitherman Reruns


One of my students, Agnes Salek, pointed this compilation out to me. It is skillfully cut together, showing all the Disney re-use, most of which was the work of director Woolie Reitherman. It seems he never saw a scene he couldn't reconfigure. I think that only the material re-used for Beauty and the Beast is from the post-Reitherman era.

71 comments:

Simonwilchesc said...

Incredible.

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Seeing recycled animation both annoys & interests me. They're hard to watch, easy to catch & funny to see the comparisons side by side.

By the way, they did reuse a bit of animation of Bambi's mother in the opening shot of Beauty & the Beast, where she's eating grass & looks up. The exact same animation that they reused in Sword in the Stone, Jungle Book & The Rescuers (all Reitherman's films)

Thad said...

You could make a longer video if you showed all the times Bob Clampett reused animation!

spokeshave said...

When I talked to John Ewing, (Lounsbery's assistant) he worked on the chase seq from Jungle Book he said they worked from the Wind in the Willows chase storyboards and stuck too the exact timing from the toad seq.

paul said...

it goes beyond animation, James Horner, film composer, constantly rips himself off when scoring films, chord for chord.

Michael Sporn said...

I think most animators probably rip off classic bits. Dick Williams had me go through The Band Concert and had frame enlargements done xerographically from the twister that pulls the band up into the air. This was reworked for Raggedy Ann. I have to admit that Dick and I were doing it out of fun more than trying to make our jobs easier.

As for Paul's comment, James Horner isn't the only one to steal from himself. John Williams hasn't heard a piece of music he wouldn't rework. Sondheim, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Mozart. They all stole from themselves.

Ignacio Ochoa said...

My question was always, ¿WHY?. Time?, budget?, to walk on insurance?, ¿why?

Mark Mayerson said...

Sleeping Beauty lost money and many animation artists at Disney were laid off as a result. I'm sure that management made it clear to Reitherman that he had to keep costs down if the animation department was to continue making features. One of his solutions was to re-use animation wherever he could in order to save time and money.

Pat said...

Yes, the reason Reitherman recycled the old animation was time and budget. Disney had to.
This story is like a FOX News alert. Glad you cleared it up in your comment Mark.

Lionel said...

Well, Reitherman began the practice early, as his scenes in "Sleeping Beauty" reuse animation from "Snow White" and fron within "Sleeping Beauty" itself, though this is not, I think, noticeable without study of the film draft.

So even in a movie that costly and prestigious (whatever one thinks of it, that's not the point here), he reused (and he had done so already in "The truth about Mother Goose", where Mary queen of Scots coming down a staircase looks to me suspiciously like Cinderella while losing her slipper).

What can one say ? He turned reuse into an art, perhaps ?

Thad said...

My favorite Disney reuse, unfortunately, is not in this video. It's the shot of the classroom with all the kids creating chaos in "TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE", reused from "ICHABOD". Love seeing the dogfaced kids morph briefly into colonial human children!

the spectre said...

You know, I wonder if some of the animal casting in the Robin Hood film was decided on so a lot of animation could be reused with as little re-drawing the characters as possible.

Also, I like the way that dog-thing Marian is dancing with has really weird proportions, because he was originally two little guys standing one on top of the other. :)

Mr. Semaj said...

There's a lot more than what is featured in the video.

A chunk of Mowgli's animation from The Jungle Book was reused for Penny from The Rescuers and Christopher Robin from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

No matter what the circumstance though, it's pretty damn lazy.

Ken Tam said...

never have guess so many reuse hahaha

Megan Kearney said...

A few other students and myself were watching this video when Agnes posted it elsewhere. We all agreed that, rather than annoyed, we felt relieved! Little human things like this help clear the mystique away, and offer a bit more perspective.

I think that Marian's dance is on twos and Snow white is on ones....

Ignacio Ochoa said...

Thanks by your answer Mark.
Of all ways, re-draw all those animations should have been a very hard work.

David Nethery said...

The Mowgli animation shows up again in the short film "The Small One" . (starting at about the 0:24 mark in the linked clip, and "Lady & the Tramp" chickens scattering at around the 0:05 - to - 0:08 mark ).

And there's animation and character designs from "Lady & the Tramp" re-used in "101 Dalmatians".

Effects animation (rain, snow, smoke , fire, etc.) is frequently re-used . Who would know the difference ?

People may want to put down Woolie Reitherman for this practice, but try being in his shoes. He was trying to save a buck here and there, not from laziness , but from the cold hard reality of the lower budgets and the constant threat to close down the animation department in the post-Walt era. We forget now , but it all hung by a thread for a while. I think Woolie (and the other old guard) were just trying to keep it going as long as they could and they made compromises where they thought it wouldn't matter. (although the practice had actually started to creep in earlier than the post-Walt era films)


This was all in the pre-VCR/DVD home video era. They never considered that anyone would have access to these films to watch over and over, and to step through them frame-by-frame for comparison.

I know the re-use is considered a cheap trick, but if anyone has ever had the experience of trying to clean-up animation that is off-model/off-proportion then one would have some healthy respect for the skills of the people who were able to transform Snow White dancing into Maid Marian or change the Mr. Toad characters into Baloo and King Louis. It obviously saved time in not having to figure out the timing of the animation (which is the hardest part) but it wasn't easy to re-draw that animation and turn it into a new character. Try it sometime .

The scenes that are straight re-use like Bambi's mother eating grass, or the bird flying and landing on it's nest that show up in "The Rescuers" tend to be for generic actions that wouldn't necessarily be any better if animated from scratch, and again : who would ever have noticed with these movies being released once every 7 or 8 years for a mostly juvenile audience ? Sharp-eyed animation fans may have spotted the re-use , but without the home video market no one in the general public audience would ever remember that there had been re-used animation in those later films.

Pat said...

Cinderella was a "low budget" film made cheaply to recoup studio loses. So it's not surprising that animation was re-used. Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Rescuers were also relatively cheaply made with a minimal staff.
It's great that people are looking for these scenes but wrong to call them lazy.

Thad said...

Sorry, sugarcoat it all you want: reuse is just a sign of cheapness and/or laziness.

JPilot said...

"Sorry, sugarcoat it all you want: reuse is just a sign of cheapness and/or laziness."

Pardon me, Thad, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?

Glenn. said...

Thad, as an animation scholar with a blatant disregard for “the man”, I don't expect you to understand what it's like to work on an animated feature film for a major studio.
Call it lazy, but until you, yourself, are in the situation where you have only "X" budget; "X" many people; and "X" feet of animation to complete by “Friday”, you won't have a clue.
Even on recent films, films I’ve worked on, it's not uncommon for animators to "lift" older animation or live action scenes in order to get their work done in time. You either keep your numbers up or you get the boot.
It's as simple as that. It's a business.
They don't call it the Mouse Factory for nothing.

the spectre said...

The problem with the straight re-use of Bambi's mother scenes is that the animation style is not very compatible with the Reitherman-era style.

Floyd Norman said...

So many opinions from those who weren't even there.

Woolie was our director on "The Jungle Book." Reuse was just Woolie's thing. He never did it to save money. I really don't think the "Old Guard" ever had any interest in saving money.

I was never a big fan of reuse, but it wasn't my place to tell these old guys what to do.

One final thought. It never seemed to bother Walt, and I never heard him complain about reuse. So, there you have it.

Thad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thad said...

So how does that scenario you've described, Glenn, bely the label of "cheap"? (I'll refrain from commenting on how quick you were to assume I didn't already know about things like that.) I'm not blaming the animators who have to reuse footage to keep their jobs, I'm blaming the studios and the system that create cheap environments.

And thank you, Floyd, for confirming what I knew from reading interviews and asking other old timers: that this reuse was a creative decision of Reitherman!

Look at the films he was directing before the features... Truth About Mother Goose, Goliath II, Aquamania... Reuse heaven! So I have to say, from a critical viewpoint, in this isolated case, that Reitherman's decision to reuse really was "lazy".

This era of Disney films always brings out some mighty flimsy defenses of their shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Glenn and David.
All due respect to Mr. Norman, it was about saving money. Staff is often out of the loop on financial details. Sleeping Beauty cost a fortune and it nearly bankrupted the studio. The years after Sleeping Beauty were very lean years and Woolie knew what was at stake. He looked for ways to cut costs to keep the studio running. Trim the animators work load and you save money. It might not always be the best choice to reuse animation but what is the alternative? Put animation on fours?
Not at Disney.
Thad says, "I'm blaming the studios and the system that create cheap environments". Please! Where does Thad think the money for films comes from? Does he think there is an unlimited budget?
Every studio looks for ways to cut costs - especially in these times. Start a studio Thad. See how difficult it is to work with a budget, meet a deadline, and hold on to staff. Or give yourself a year and make your own film. See if it turns out exactly as out visioned it.

Brian said...

As much as I hate to agree with Anonymous, they're right. Studio animation is a business just ike any other business.
Walt hated the Xerox process, he thought it cheapened his movies. But it had to happen. He didn't have the money to make lavish films anymore. The shorts and films Rietherman worked on were during the time when the studio was really low on cash. They had to crank out stuff and meet budgets to stay in business.
A perfect example is Richard Williams. He worked on 'Thief and the Cobbler' for something like thirty years, refusing to cut corners to meet a deadline, and he lost the film to the "suits".
Do you blame the suits? It sounds cold but how can you? He more or less defaulted on a loan.
Few people can afford to buy what they want (I can't even afford a Ford with all the bells and whistles) because they have a budget.
So many animation studios are closing and so many talented people are losing their jobs. What's sad is that many people are surprised that their jobs suddenly vanish. They think it is the studios' responsibility is to keep them employed. That's wrong.
If they want to create art they should do it at home on their own time. If they become a success, more power too them.

Thad said...

"Make your own film." "Do it yourself." Love when that card is drawn. It always is.

By the way, the excessive reuse picture Truth About Mother Goose was made in 1957. Which I believe may have been before Sleeping Beauty was released.

Thad said...

And regardless of the politics involved, there is also the concept of reusing footage creatively and effectively. The reuse in Reitherman's pictures is neither. I agree with the comment that a lot of the character designs in "Robin Hood" feel like they were made as such so footage could be easily reused. (Come on, another Phil Harris bear? Does it have to be spelled out?)

Anonymous said...

You're correct Thad. Reitherman was lazy.
In fact, when I see anything with limited animation I think to myself, "how lazy are those guys!"
When i see a color card instead of a fully painted background I think, "lazy background painters!"
When I see cheap looking cg models I say to myself, "low budgets are not the reason, it's those lazy riggers!"
Not enough rain, it should be a squall those lazy effects animators!
Five characters instead of fifty, lazy cleanup people!
Held cels, come on! Lazy, lazy, lazy!
Flash animation is the laziest!

Only thing that tops all of them are people who ask for dvd donations instead of getting a job and buying dvd's with their own money!
They're the laziest of all!

Brian said...

"another Phil Harris bear? Does it have to be spelled out?"

Jack Black's voice? Does it have to be spelled out?
John Ratzenberger's voice? Does it have to be spelled out?
Robin William's voice? Does it have to be spelled out?
Tom Hank's voice? Does it have to be spelled out?
Jim Carrey's voice? Does it have to be spelled out?
Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, John Goodman, David Ogden Stiers, Mel Gibson...
Someone stop me!

David Nethery said...

Floyd Norman:
"Reuse was just Woolie's thing. He never did it to save money.

I really don't think the "Old Guard" ever had any interest in saving money."


----

Thad:
"thank you, Floyd, for confirming what I knew from reading interviews and asking other old timers: that this reuse was a creative decision of Reitherman!"


So if I'm reading that correctly Floyd is saying Woolie Reitherman could have chosen to not go down the road of reusing old animation , but he just preferred it that way because it was "his thing" . Pragmatic budget/time restrictions and trying to save money did not effect Reitherman's decision to reuse animation, but rather it was a creative decision.

Then it would seem that it wouldn't be true that he did it because of a company mandated environment of cheapness to keep the costs down. He just liked it that way.

I admit that's a new one on me. Hadn't heard that explanation of the reused animation before.

Jon said...

It's new to me too David.
Reitherman was hand picked by Walt himself to take over directing and overseeing the animated features. In John Canemaker's fantastic, but at three hundred pages still too short book, "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men" Canemaker writes, "Walt died during production (of Jungle Book); Reitherman and his crew had to complete it by themselves. Reitherman followed Walt's dictates regarding the film's budget and his approach to entertainment. "Walt says you just gotta keep the costs down because [feature cartoons are] going to price themselves out of the business."

Another interesting point is that by the late 60's only four of the nine old men were still working on features (Thomas, Johnson, Kahl and Lounsbery). The rest were neophytes. And, according to Glenn Keane, Reitherman had little confidence in the young animators. So, perhaps Reitherman, having been Disney's master animator of action scenes (Monstro in Pinocchio, the dinosaurs in Rite of Spring, the dragon in Sleeping Beauty) felt it best to reuse animation because there was no one experienced enough available to animate the action sequences.

Jungle Book made thirteen million dollars - "a record for a Disney cartoon feature that stood for ten years." The Aristocats, "kept Disney's animation department alive" said Reitherman.

After The Aristocats, "Reitherman continued to produce box office hits, such as Robin Hood and The Rescuers." writes Canemaker.

Thad said...

Only thing that tops all of them are people who ask for dvd donations instead of getting a job and buying dvd's with their own money!
They're the laziest of all!


Dunno who you're referring to but it's sure as hell not me. That Pinocchio DVD took a lot out of my minimum wage paycheck from Starbucks.

Zartok-35 said...

See Woolie Reitherman steal ideas from himself, as well as Wilfred Jaxon and Jack Kinney!

Anonymous said...

I am happy to receive any copies of DVDs, books, or music you think would be appropriate for review here.
Sounds lazy to me.

Brian said...

Working for the man Thad?

I can't believe everyone is arguing with this double grande Reitherman hater?

Thad said...

Yeah well the man has such control over us ya gotta conform sometimes! >Sniff< (And besides, it's a great way to take 'em down from the inside! And to get those free double grandes! Nomn.)

Sounds lazy to me.

How so, coward? Whenever a company/author sends me something, I am binded legally to review it.

I apologize to Mark for polluting his blog with comments.

Thad said...

BTW, Woolie hater? Not so... anyone who could animate the end of Goofy Gymnastics is a great in my book. That's how I'd like to remember him... not for Robin Hood.

Brian said...

He was just lazy.

Floyd Norman said...

Besides our four lead animators, including Milt, Frank. Ollie and John, we had a team of experienced, seasoned animation professionals. Neophytes?! I think not!

Guys like Hal King, Eric Cleworth, Fred Hellich and Walt Stanchfield to name a few. These talented animators were hardly neophytes in anybody’s book.

Anonymous said...

Actually Floyd, it's Fred Hellmich.

Floyd Norman said...

Oops! Freddy Hellmich and I were old pals. I was simply typing too fast.

Another talented animator on the film was John Ewing. John's son, Sam Ewing also became a Disney animator at the Disney Florida studio.

Anonymous said...

Someone said:
"Another interesting point is that by the late 60's only four of the nine old men were still working on features (Thomas, Johnson, Kahl and Lounsbery). The rest were neophytes."


That is not true. Do some research.

In the late 60's the crews of Jungle Book, The Aristocats , Winnie the Pooh & The Honey Tree, and Bedknobs & Broomsticks boasted such expert animators as Eric Larson (also one of the "NineOldMen™" with Thomas , Johston, Lounsbery and Kahl) , Hal King, Eric Cleworth , Hal Ambro, John Ewing , Cliff Nordberg, Walt Stanchfield , Julius Svendsen, Jack Boyd, Dan MacManus, Dick Lucas, along with Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, , and Milt Kahl .

None of those animators were "neophytes" .

Jon said...

I apologize for making the "neophytes" quote out of context. The "neophytes" was a reference Glenn Keane had made about his group of "young" animators, around the Fox and the Hound. I was too quick to type, and, I have limited budget and staff.
I do agree with Mr. Norman, there where several character animators, including John Ewing and Dick Lucas, who could have animated the action sequences. Hal King was a great animator. Eric Cleworth left, I think, around 1970.
But for some reason Reitherman would rather re-use old animation rather than give it to them animate from scratch.
Budget? Definitely.
Lack of trust in animators other than the remaining four old men? Perhaps, it was just a theory.
"Laziness" doesn't make any sense - there's nothing to back that up and it only sullies Reitherman's reputation. And saying that "it was just his thing" is a flippant answer.

Cartoon Crank said...

Hey, why don't some of you try sitting through Robin Hood some time and then defend it. I did this afternoon, and it's as lame as ever. I wish they just made a live-action version of it with its first rate cast, because the animation adds nothing. The xeroxed walk cycles are lazy, they had to have used that Pat Buttram wolf skip about a dozen times. The movie itself sullies Woolie's reputation enough. Sorry to break it to you.

Cartoon Crank said...

And put down the pitchforks against Floyd (especially) and Thad. It's obvious to me that hearing things you don't want to (like the fact that any of the NIIIIIIINE OLD MEN could make a lazy creative decision) has got you guys sucking your thumbs like Prince John.

The movie sucks people. The old guys cheated big time on everything (not just animation) and it shows. Lay off the Disney kool-aid.

Zartok-35 said...

I always liked Robinhood...Not the same way I like things from before 1955, though.

Is it just me, or was Dick Lucas Woolie's favortie animator?

Anonymous said...

How did this get off on a discussion of Robin Hood ?

I don't think anyone here has been "defending" Robin Hood as a great film or even defending the practice of recycling animation , but some people who have had more professional experience as animators are perhaps a bit more understanding of the conditions that led to the practice that's all. The fanboys and purists can afford to safely throw stones at Woolie Reitherman from where they sit. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Well said fellow Anonymous. No one said Robin Hood was great. But if it wasn't for Robin Hood there might not be a Disney Feature Animation.

Cartoon Crank said...

So you're defending shitty work because you personally had to work with even shittier budgets and in a shittier environment? Shit! No wonder this industry's in the shitter if we're all defending what the other one shits out. Shit, I wrote shit a lot.

But if it wasn't for Robin Hood there might not be a Disney Feature Animation.

Given much of what followed and what it is today, is that really something to be proud of.

Floyd Norman said...

No disrespect to the talented old guys who worked on the movie, but "Robin Hood" was a truly dreadful film, and a lot of us knew it at the time.

The cost saving thing was silly. Actually, it would have been easier to animate from scratch instead of reworking the older material.

Like I said, it was Woolie's thing -- and I mean no disrespect because I really liked Woolie.

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone's cranky.
That's a great question though.
I agree with you that most of the animated films after Robin Hood are hard to look at, but in the long run I'm happy Reitherman and the boys kept Disney alive.
I'm glad we have Milt's scenes of Medusa and Snoops; Ollie's underrated scenes of Little John; Glenn Keane's Marahute etc.
A lot of terrible films but a lot of inspiration for animators.

Mike Matei said...

I think the Jungle Book and Robin Hood are both terrible. I don't like the story for either movie. I don't like the characters, or the design of them. I'm not impressed by the animation on Shere Khan. As we see here, the animation was repeatedly re-used. And not only re-used in the same film, but swiped from other films like Snow White. I don't know why people have to defend the nine old men like they could do no wrong. How long do we have to hear about these two crappy flicks? It's the year 2009. Get over it. I seriously hope to never have to hear about them again. There's nothing more to be said. They are bad. End of story

Rick Roberts said...

The Jungle Book was the style that Disney would reuse again and again and again. We've seen Mogli and every single awful character design that horrid film spawed for decades afterwards. Jungle Book, along with Robin Hood, was the precursor to the Saturday Morning dreck that would emerge not too long afterwards.

"I'm not impressed by the animation on Shere Khan."

Shere Khan's animation has been rotoscoped for every Disney villian afterwards.

Rick Roberts said...

"Given much of what followed and what it is today, is that really something to be proud of."

Excellent point. I would not be crying over the fact that The Little Mermaid would have never been maid.

Anonymous said...

if every animator coming out of school is like rick and mike, animation is doomed.

Rick Roberts said...

Wow, a snipe from a wimp who dosen't even bother to give an identity.

Floyd Norman said...

My apologies to those who didn't care for "The Jungle Book." I never considered the film a masterpiece, but it was the story the "Old Man" wanted. And, what the hell -- it was his studio after all.

I encourage all of you to go out and make your own masterpiece. Of course, in twenty years, some kids will beat up on you.

Mr. Semaj said...

Given much of what followed and what it is today, is that really something to be proud of.

You make it sound like Disney Feature Animation should've died when it had the chance. I could see if it was 1984 and all we had to look forward to was The Black Cauldron.

Lionel said...

Rick Roberts : "I would not be crying over the fact that The Little Mermaid would have never been maid."

You mean she should never have been a virgin ?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike "I'm not impressed by the animation on Shere Khan" Matei and Rick "the maid" Roberts...

You boys should go to this...

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/disney/academy-tribute-to-milt-kahl.html

Rick Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Roberts said...

By the way, Milt Kahl couldn't stand animating bland characters like the ones in The Jungle Book and Robin Hood. He much rather animate a character that was actually easy to move like Brer Rabbit from Song of The South.

Rick Roberts said...

"Hey Mike "I'm not impressed by the animation on Shere Khan" Matei and Rick "the maid" Roberts...

You boys should go to this..."

Those are two incomplete sentences.

Grammar Girl said...

Actually Rick, you're wrong again. "Anonymous" used ellipses so they are correct sentences. The ellipsis can be used to indicate a pause in the flow of a sentence.
However, "Anonymous" should have put a space between the word and the elipsis itself.
Here is an example:
Rick couldn't tell good animation if it bit him on the ...

Rick Roberts said...

Yes, "Grammar Girl" is telling me I don't know about good animation. Just stick to what you know little girl.

Anonymous said...

" Just stick to what you know little girl."
Sexist.

Rick Roberts said...

You damn right I am. Women should just stay home and mind their pots and pans.

Mark Mayerson said...

Comments on this thread are now closed.