Sunday, November 27, 2011

The ARL (and a bit of rambling)

Okay so, I still haven't actually been to the Animation Research Library yet as it's off-site. But Disney, for a while, has been scanning in everything from the library, and digitizing them so that we can check them out in high-res here from our desktops. It's pretty insane how much you have at your fingertips. You search for example, "Marc Davis", and scenes from every movie he's worked on come up. If I'm not careful I could spend all day looking up this stuff!

As expected, I've been looking at a lot of Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Mark Henn, Glen Keane. A good representation of Disney animation over recent years, and whose work I love. What's interesting to me is looking at much the acting in these films has evolved over the years, mirroring the evolution of performances in live action films. I love Milt Kahl as much as the next animator, and no doubt the graphic appeal is second-to-none, but studying him is tricky because a lot of his acting choices just wouldn't feel right by today's standards. That was then, this is now. I'll even go so far as to say that some of the work done in the early 90's might feel out-of-place today. You need to know (or I need to tell myself) what to look for when studying this stuff; clarity in posing, economy of poses, simplicity, and apply that to what I find entertaining today. Especially nowadays, I feel like some of the entertainment or the funniest gags , are put over because the movement is super simplified, or barely moving at all, but maybe that's just a taste thing.

Obviously I have no way of knowing this, but with someone like Milt today, if he were approaching a scene, I feel like he would, not in any way, move the character around as busily as he did in the Rescuers.
Anyway, this post didn't really go anywhere , and there were no conclusions, but hey what else is new on this blog!
From Andreas Deja's site.


  1. Well, I'd throw out that animation focuses on both economy of movement and humor much more than in the past so we see that funny pausing more frequently. I'm being a little extreme, but I think that's the case. Today's animation really reminds me of the style from animated variety shows of the 60s. I think that style of pause and punch the point(not sure what to call it) isn't just in animation, but throughout comedy these days. It is super funny. Probably has it beginnings in vaudeville and has been exaggerated through the years. Refining the technique. Heck, I don't really know, I'm just guessing from the gut. I do wonder about the true roots of it.

    I bet you're right that the old style of animation would seem out of place with the current tastes. Maybe there would have been more held motion. But then, if those guys were around they'd have still kept growing and pushing boundaries. Milt today would be doing completely different stuff. I wonder if the style today would have annoyed a guy like him or if he'd be taken by it. Really makes me wonder where he would have pushed to. Any one of those guys. Where were they going with their art. I like thinking about that. What's the next thing? How far will the current thing go?

    Makes me want to draw all day thinking about it.

  2. I agree with you & Katy.

    It's funny, because just a year or so ago, I went to the public library to rent a bunch of the older Disney stuff that I knew I liked, but just hadn't seen in a LONG while; Jungle Book, 101 Dalmations & Sword & the Stone to name a few.

    And in watching them I got the same feeling you did Bobby.

    Don't get me wrong, it's amazing stuff! Some great draftsmanship, timing & ability to stay on model. But i think from years of watching and animating in CG you notice a stark difference from stuff in the old days. It's interesting because its not fair to compare really, 1) because it was a different time in the medium (it's like trying to compare Star Wars Episode 2: Clone Wars special effects, with The original Star Wars movie special effects from the 80s.

    and 2) The eye for Subtlety CG animators have to have now, the 2D guys didnt need back then. You couldn't really incoporate too many breathing takes or lower lid squinches in a 2D piece without making it look jumpy or like the lines weren't cleaned properly haha!

    But it is super crazy to notice acting choices, or gesture or paths of action that you might not necessarily use today, in the animation we so loved from the past.

  3. Ha yes! I'm getting an awesome visual of Milt cursing and kicking the computer for not being able to do what his drawings are doing, all the way down to fabric wrinkles. He'd also kick my ass if he knew how much I playblast.

    It is exciting to see where it'll go next. I'm excited by distinct visual styles, and subject matter that animation hasn't explored before.