Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pinocchio Part 11A

This sequence is all about character relationships, something that in later years at Disney would see both characters handled by the same animator. If casting by character, you would think that you'd pick two animators and let them work out the acting between them. However, while Pinocchio is handled by Ollie Johnston, Jiminy is split among Ward Kimball, John Elliotte, Lynn Karp and Walt Clinton. The heavy acting scenes are split between Kimball and Elliotte. As I go through these mosaics, I'm constantly surprised at how little of Jiminy is by Ward Kimball and how good the scenes by the other Jiminy animators are.

The sequence works well. There's a palpable warmth between the characters and there's some nice physical interaction when Pinocchio helps Jiminy put on his hat and coat in shot 27. Jiminy never lets go of the umbrella while putting on his coat, but John Elliotte hides that arm behind Jiminy's body so as not to call attention to it.

The rain in this sequence is beautiful. The cheapest way to do rain is just put a level over the top of the rest of the artwork. Disney goes way beyond that, showing drops hitting the ground and the water reacting to whatever surface it hits. There's water dripping off Jiminy's umbrella and splashing as he runs through puddles to catch up to Stromboli's wagon.

The rain is not just there to show off. It's expressionistically used to show Pinocchio's sorrow at being captured and Jiminy's sorrow over the end of his relationship with Pinocchio. In the next sequence, it will also represent Geppetto's sorrow over the loss of his son and later when the Blue Fairy has freed Pinocchio and Jiminy, the skies will be clear as they head for home. Expressionistic use of backgrounds and effects was one of Disney's strongest tools and the early features are full of this type of storytelling.


TOFU said...

Is it appropriate to write a fan letter as a Blog comment? I have thoroughly enjoyed your Pinocchio mosaics and commentary. I look forward to each new posting, and worry that at some time they, like the movie, must end. I have no professional experience in animation; I am just an avid Disney Pinocchio fan and collector. Your insights and comments are unique and thought provoking. I may not agree with everything you say (I feel I simply must come to the Blue Fairy's defense), but didn't someone once say that if two people agreed on everything, one of them was unnecessary. Thanks to you, I view the movie with a whole new perspective. I wished I had been given this education before I toured the Disney Animation Research Library--I would have had far more intelligent questions to ask. Someone else in a previous comment suggested that you publish this material. I don't know what kind of market exists for this kind of thing, but I would jump at the chance to have a copy. Again, thank you for your efforts. I am sure there are many others out there who, like me, are not in the business of animation, but are fascinated with what you are sharing. If I may quote a famous puppeteer, "Bravo, Mark. You are collasal!"

Hans Perk said...

Of course, the drafts do not indicate who was the supervising animator for a character in a sequence. I seem to remember that only the Fun and Fancy Free draft does that. In a case like this, it is very possible that Ward posed all the scenes out in rough for the animators under him, thus being responsible for the consistancy of the character, while the bulk of the drawings were done by Elliotte et all. We discussed this at length: that the drafts were working documents that point at the person to go to, if e.g. checkers have questions about drawings, they can find the culprit.

That notwithstanding, I love your mosaics and insights! It seems to be a worthy excercise to pick a film apart like you do - you get to know it so much more in depth...

Anonymous said...

In the next sequence, it will also represent Geppetto's sorrow over the loss of his son

Of course, it also shows how much hardship Geppetto is going through to search for his son - wandering the streets in the rain in the dark is more of an ordeal than wandering the streets in the dark.

Notice that the scene where Geppetto sets out is numbered 3.1, suggesting that at some point it was meant to come before the puppet show. Presumably this was changed because they wanted Geppetto to head out into the rain, which wouldn't make much sense coming right before the clear night of the puppet show.

Mark Mayerson said...

Tofu, thanks. I doubt there would be any publisher interest in this and in many ways I consider the web to be far preferable to print publication. Anyone in the world with the web connection can access this for free.

I assume you realize that you can save the images and the commentary with your mouse. If you're on Windows, a right mouse click on the images will allow you to save them and highlighting text and doing a copy and paste will allow you to save the text into a file format of your choice.

Hans, I understand that Kimball was the supervising animator and may have had a hand in scenes by other animators, but we're still not seeing a lot of Kimball. There are sequences of Geppetto, Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy that are handled by single animators, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Jiminy. As there is undoubtedly more Pinocchio footage than Jiminy footage, I wonder why this is? If Frank Thomas or Ollie Johnston can carry Pinocchio for extended periods, why didn't Kimball do the same with Jiminy?

I have to admit that I haven't looked ahead in the draft and maybe there's a sequence where Kimball finally takes charge, but I'm surprised to see so many important Jiminy scenes handed off, even if Kimball posed and timed them out.

For Pinocchio, it appears that long shots and shots without acting are routinely handed off to lesser animators where important shots always seem to be done by somebody whose name we're familiar with. That's not the case with Jiminy.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I had exactly the same reaction when looking at the drafts for Pinocchio in '81--I was shocked at how sparse Kimball's scenes were in sections where I'd just assumed (based on all the Disney publicity) Kimball must have animated "his" character--and you're right, there are real, closeup/acting scenes anyone would fight for in there by guys no one's ever talked about or heard of.
Knowing what I do now I feel as Hans does, that it might be due to Kimball's overall supervision; certainly Fred Moore--who animated virtually nothing of Mickey Mouse in "Fantasia", still was the supervising animator of the character who has all the Moore cuteness and charm(mostly I think as animated by Preston Blair).
Still, one wonders how it all got done and how it was passed out. It also makes me sad t think that is a guy named Karp or Elliotte or Clinton had claimed Jiminy as his, back in my infancy I would have thought they were telling tall tales.
All these analyses are absolutely fascinating, and I can't belieev that NO pulisher would consider them worthy, along with your other essays--at least MacFarland.