Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dumbo Part 15

The clowns celebrate their success and toast Dumbo. So far the clowns are the only characters beside Timothy to say anything nice about the elephant.

This sequence is wholly animated by Berny Wolf. Take a look at the shapes of the characters in shot 3. The balloon construction could come out of an early '30s Ub Iwerks cartoon, where Wolf worked prior to Disney. Wolf was certainly capable of work more sophisticated than he did at Iwerks; he animated a good chunk of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio. While the designs might be a throwback, the animation is advanced. The poses have beautiful lines of action and read clearly in silhouette. Wolf keeps the arms away from the body so that there is never confusion about the pose. There's great graphic clarity here.

Note that there are two colour tones of silhouette, which prevents background elements in shot 3 or the crowd of clowns at the end of shot 6 from being visually confusing. Even viewing the small thumbnails above, there's no confusion as to what is happening on screen.

Billy Bletcher, who was the voice of the Big Bad Wolf in The Three Little Pigs and the voice of Peg Leg Pete in the Mickey Mouse series, makes a cameo appearance here. He's the voice of the clown in shot 2 and is probably also the voice in shot 4.


Steven Hartley said...

I wonder how Berny Wolf actually animated the clowns in silhouette, because I used to think an effects artist would have done this?

Maybe, he animated the clowns not shaded and visible, and then his animation was delivered to the Ink & Painters and they painted the clowns in silhouette!

Mark Mayerson said...

There are very few people who can animate a silhouette without constructing the character first. It's likely that Wolf put in whatever construction and detail he needed and then either the assistant animator or the inker was instructed to just trace the outline.

John Celestri said...

This is a perfect example of the importance of poses having strong silhouettes in order to convey the acting and action of a performance.

Eric Noble said...

Great job. I wonder if the throwback designs of the clowns might be a tool to show the mechanical nature of their comedy. Just a thought.

Floyd Norman said...

In his later years, Berny Wolf worked as a producer at various studios in Hollywood. He was always great to work for, and boy did he have stories to tell.

Steven Hartley said...

Floyd, he was one of the lasts animator geniuses in this era, since he started his animation career in the 1920's, and do you recall him talking about his work on Dumbo?

P.S. 29 July, my birthday today!!

erica said...

I watched Dumbo (for the first time in years!) on blu-ray the other evening and this scene with the clowns in silhouette really stood out to me. Beautiful poses and animation! I imagine it must have been very difficult to get it reading clearly, and I wondered if anybody else marveled at this scene the way I did.

So here I am, stumbling across this great post! Now I know who animated it, and who else loves it as much as me. Thanks for sharing your insight. :)