Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Exhibit: Grim Natwick- Golden Age Animator

PART TWO: GRIM NATWICK IN ANIMATION’S GOLDEN AGE

Grim Natwick

In California, Walt Disney had seen some of Grim Natwick’s animation of Betty Boop in "The Bum Bandit" and sent his brother Roy to New York to convince him to join them in Hollywood. Ub Iwerks had just left Disney to form his own studio, and an experienced animator was sorely needed to take his place. Roy Disney made Grim a remarkably generous offer, but Grim wasn’t sold on going to work for the Disney brothers. He spoke to his friend Ted Sears on the West coast and was advised that Walt Disney was just a businessman- Iwerks had been the real creative core of the studio. So Grim decided that Iwerks’ new studio was the place for him.

Click to Read Disney's Offer
Click to read Disney’s offer to Grim.

Click to hear an audio interview with Grim about IwerksClick to hear an audio interview with Grim about IwerksSeveral of Grim’s former assistants and co-workers from Hearst and Fleischer were already working for Iwerks. Grim phoned Ub and offered his services, agreeing to work for less than half what Roy Disney had offered him. When Grim arrived at Iwerks, he was so accustomed to leading the crew of young animators, he hit the ground running. Ub had lost interest in animation at this point, and willingly handed over the day to day direction of the cartoons to Grim, while he focused on tinkering in his workshop behind the studio.

At Iwerks, Grim got the opportunity to direct, making a clear mark on films like "Jack Frost", "Room Runners", "Stratos Fear" and "Aladdin’s Lamp". But he always loved a challenge. When Grim heard that Disney was planning a feature length cartoon based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, he knew he had to be a part of it. Ub offered him a full partnership in the studio to entice him to stay on, but money wasn’t Grim’s primary concern. Animation was. Grim reluctantly said goodbye to his friends at Iwerks and joined the Disney studios.

Natwick At Iwerks

Snow White Concept Drawing By NatwickSnow White Concept Drawing By NatwickGrim’s first animation for Disney was the female lead in "Cookie Carnival". He received great praise from Walt for his work, and was assigned the female lead in the upcoming feature, Snow White to animate. Grim was given some of the studio’s top assistants to work with- most importantly, Marc Davis, Les Novros and Jack Campbell. By the end of the picture, he had animated over 120 scenes, with six assistants working under him, producing as much as 35 feet of finished animation a week! (The average animator’s footage was about 7 feet a week.)

Grim’s tenure at Disney was not without turmoil, however. Ham Luske had been promised the character of Snow White before Grim arrived at the studio, and he considered Grim’s assignment to be an incursion on his territory. Although Luske had the directing animator credit on the film, he had little direct interaction with Natwick’s unit. There was considerable tension on the lot between Walt’s boys- the animators who had been with Disney for years- and the East coast animators who had been hired for the feature. Grim paid no mind to it, focusing on his work, but the bad feelings would eventually boil over.

Snow White Concept Drawing By NatwickSnow White Concept Drawing By NatwickGrim’s assistant, Jack Campbell showed promise and wanted to animate, so he was allowed to move to Luske’s unit as an animator. There are three Snow Whites in the finished picture… Luske’s, Campbell’s and Natwick’s. Luske’s girl is doll-like and close in style to the female leads in the Silly Symphony series (the scene with the bluebird in the forest is a good example), Campbell’s girl showed a strong influence of rotoscope (the scene at the wishing well). Natwick’s Snow White is the most lifelike and alive (the sequences where she investigates the Dwarf’s cottage, the house cleaning scenes, the dancing scenes and the "Someday My Prince Will Come" sequence).

Natwick At Disney

While Grim was putting in many hours of unpaid overtime, Dave Hand, the director, had promised a him bonus if the picture was a hit. But when the bonus checks went around, Grim was passed over, despite the fact that he was one of the key animators on the film. He contested the oversight with the paymaster and requested a copy of the draft to make a list of the scenes he had animated. He was disgusted to find that Luske’s name had been substituted for his own on scenes Grim himself had animated. When Max Fleischer called to invite Grim to join him at his new studio in Florida, Grim left Disney without a second thought. The paymaster had arranged for a token bonus, but Grim didn’t even bother to pick it up.

Natwick At Disney

Looking back on the situation many decades later, Grim felt that perhaps he should have swallowed his pride and stayed on with Disney to work on Fantasia and Pinocchio. Gulliver’s Travels wasn’t Natwick’s best work. He didn’t have the support of talented assitants like Marc Davis, and the application of the rotoscope was much more limiting than it had been at Disney. But after the political struggles at Disney, the Fleischer Studio felt like home, and Grim enjoyed the company of his co-workers.

Grim Natwick

Grim Natwick Concept Drawing
For "Flies Ain’t Human" (1941)

One afternoon, Max Fleischer visited Grim in his office and asked him to animate a sequence of Betty Boop for "old time’s sake". He explained that Betty had been a great asset to the studio, but the series had run its course, and this was to be the final Betty Boop cartoon. (The cartoon in question was most likely "Musical Mountaineers".) Max expressed his appreciation and offered to make a gift of the character to Grim upon the completion of the film. Not knowing anything about the legalities of transferring ownership of a property, Grim did nothing about it. But years later, he read in the trades that the rights to Betty Boop had been sold by the Fleischers to King Features Syndicate for a great deal of money. Grim sued, but he had nothing in writing and lost the case. Although some writers have tried to belittle Grim’s contribution to the creation of Betty Boop, saying that his part was minimal, history bears out the fact that the character was 100% the creation of Grim Natwick.

Grim Natwick At Lantz

Grim Natwick At LantzGrim Natwick At LantzWorld War II made it difficult to find work as an animator, but Grim’s old friend Walter Lantz was producing animated training films for the War Department. Grim returned to Hollywood to work for Lantz, where he had the opportunity to reunite with longtime friends like Shamus Culhane and Dick Lundy. In fact, Grim picked up his lunchtime game of horseshoes with storyman "Bugs" Hardaway right where they had left it when he left Iwerks ten years earlier! Lantz’s friendly, family atmosphere appealed to Grim, but he didn’t become complacent. He reinvented his style to suit the brash, slapstick style of animation at the time, and succeeded in creating some of the finest animation ever produced at Lantz.

Grim Natwick At Lantz

Lantz Animators in 1944 (Back Row: Paul Smith, Grim Natwick, Sidney Pillet, Bernard Garbutt Front Row:Les Kline, Shamus Culhane, Pat Matthews, Dick Lundy, Emery Hawkins)

Grim’s earliest work at the studio included "Take Heed Mr. Tojo" starring Hook, and "Enemy Bacteria", one of the most successful Wartime training films. His great animation for Dick Lundy and Shamus Culhane stood out in films like "Who’s Cookin’ Who", "Bathing Buddies", "Ski For Two" and "Solid Ivory". In his autobiography, Walter Lantz cited Natwick as the best animator he ever had the pleasure of working with.

Grim Natwick At Lantz


EXHIBIT CATALOG: GRIM NATWICK GOLDEN AGE ANIMATOR

Grim Natwick
Top Row: (left to right) Girl doodles* (ca. 1936) / Snow White Animation Rough* / Left: Character designs from "Funny Face"* (1933) Right: Animation drawing from "Stormy Seas"* (1932) / Studio gag drawing from Iwerks / Tracings from Natwick Animation of Wally Walrus from "The Beach Nut" (1944)

Middle Row: (left to right) Girl doodle (ca. 1936) / Girl doodle (ca.1940) / Studio gag drawing depicting Ub Iwerks as a boy playing hookey from school* / Studio gag drawing for Art Turkisher* / Character designs from "Enemy Bacteria"*

Bottom Row: Character design for Miss X from "Abou Ben Boogie"* (1944) / Caricature of Lantz Ink & Paint girl / Character designs (ca. 1940) / Character design for "Sliphorn King of Polaroo" (1945) / Animation drawing from "Abou Ben Boogie"* (1944) / Animation drawing from "Who’s Cookin’ Who?"* (1946)

* denotes a drawing by Grim Natwick

Next Chapter: GRIM NATWICK IN THE MODERN AGE (UPA and beyond)


Grim Natwick Exhibit
Assistant Archivist, Joseph Baptista views the exhibit.

GRIM NATWICK’S SCRAPBOOK

This travelling exhibit has appeared at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive in Burbank, CA and at the South Wood Historical Society Museum in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, birthplace of Grim Natwick.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The Officers, Board and Committees



THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
OF ANIMATION RESOURCES



STEPHEN WORTH
President
sworth@animationresources.org

Stephen Worth has worked as an animation producer for over thirty years. He is the recipient of three Annie Awards, including the June Foray Lifetime Achievement Award for Benevolent Service to the Art of Animation. His credits include Alvin & the Chipmunks, Cool World, Yogi Bear, Ren & Stimpy, and Bravest Warriors. He is a well known figure in the Hollywood animation community, having produced the first animated cartoon series created exclusively for the internet, as an authority on vintage animation art, and as the person responsible for establishing the Animation Archive, a digital reference library that serves animation professionals and students, as well as cartoonists and illustrators.

Stephen oversees the day to day operation of Animation Resources, and is chairman of the committee that oversees the Animation Archive.

JOSEPH BAPTISTA
Treasurer
jbaptista@animationresources.org

Joseph “JoJo” Baptista is an animator from San Diego, California. He has worked for John Kricfalusi, Ralph Bakshi, Cartoon Network, Wild Brain and Frederator Studios as an animator, designer and storyboard artist. When JoJo was in college, he volunteered and studied at Animation Resources, where he found its treasures were invaluable. He has much to thank Animation Resources for helping him break into the animation industry, and feels that it is important for him to help others as the head of the Education Committee.

Joseph oversees the financial operations of Animation Resources, as well as chairing the Education Committee.

PAUL ANDERSON
Secretary
panderson@animationresources.org

Originally from Minnesota, Paul arrived in Southern California in 2006, with dreams of someday entering the animation industry. Unexpectedly, he soon found a niche working on the production side. Currently, he can be found working on coordinating the production of a traditionally animated TV series, but also has experience in helping to produce CG content, stereoscopic 3D, live action, flash animation, and enhanced ebooks. He continues to develop his own art, both in classes at the Animation Guild, and in his own projects.

Paul is responsible for taking meeting minutes, cataloging and coordinating records, and distributing material to the rest of the board.

TABER DUNNIPACE
Director of Membership
tdunnipace@animationresources.org

Taber Dunnipace is a southern California freelance artist and educator specializing in 3D art and animation. For the last five years, he has taught a wide range of digital arts subjects, including character animation, digital painting, game development, and Flash animation. He also frequently does freelance work for both commercial animation and mobile games. He is currently teaching at Mt. San Antonio College and Riverside Community College, Norco.

As the Director of Membership, Taber is responsible for keeping track of membership status, dues, and communications with individual members.

MICHAEL WOODSIDE
Liaison to the Advisory Board
mwoodside@animationresources.org

Michael Woodside is an Animator and Educator working in Southern California. He is currently at Walt Disney Animation Studios. His credits include Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero Six. Before that, he was at Rhythm and Hues working as a Technical Animator and International Technical Animation Supervisor for various films. He also teaches students from around the world at Anim Squad, an online school for animation.

As the Liaison to the Executive Board, Michael communicates with the Executive Board in order to receive their invaluable guidance for the future of Animation Resources.

DAVID HOFMANN
Director of Communications
dhofmann@animationresources.org



ALEX VASSILEV
Director of Technology
avassilev@animationresources.org





ADVISORY BOARD


RALPH BAKSHI

Ralph Bakshi is an American director of animated and live-action films. In the 1970s, he established an alternative to mainstream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions. Between 1972 and 1992, he directed nine theatrically released feature films, including “Heavy Traffic”, “Fritz the Cat”, “Wizards”, “American Pop” and “Lord of the Rings”. He has been involved in numerous television projects as director, writer, producer and animator. Currently, he is living in New Mexico, drawing, painting and animating a personal film, “Last Days of Coney Island”. Link: RalphBaksi.com

DAVID CHAI

Award winning filmmaker David Chai, brings artistic excellence and technical know how to every project that he is involved in. David has worked in Film and Television for over 15 years, on every type of production from Big Budget Hollywood films to Independent films, Commercials to Television Series and Documentaries. He is currently Associate Professor of Design, Animation and Illustration at San Jose State University in California. Link: House of Chai

SHERM COHEN

Storyboard Artist Sherm Cohen has helped bring to life some of the biggest animation hits of the past decade-and-a-half: His directing, storyboarding and writing credits include the first four seasons of SpongeBob SquarePants, Hey Arnold, Kick Buttowski, Disney’s Fish Hooks, Phineas & Ferb, and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (as lead storyboard artist and character designer). Sherm is the creator of the “Storyboard Secrets”, a comprehensive 20-part online video course on how to storyboard for animation and live action films and TV shows. Link: Storyboard Secrets

WILL FINN

Will Finn is an American animator, voice actor, and director. His work in animation includes characters from Disney and Don Bluth films such as The Secret of NIMH, Oliver & Company, and Pocahontas. His characters include Laverne (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Iago (Aladdin), and Cogsworth (Beauty and the Beast). Finn co-wrote and co-directed the 2004 film Home on the Range and did voice acting in Chicken Little. In 2006, Finn directed the computer animated short Hammy’s Boomerang Adventure, a spin-off of Over the Hedge. And in 2014, he directed Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Link: Will Finn Blog

JOHN KRICFALUSI

John Kricfalusi began working in animation in the “dark ages” of cartoons, and learned his trade at studios like Filmation and Hanna-Barbera. In 1987, John met Ralph Bakshi and directed the breakthrough Saturday morning series, “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” for him. He resurrected the Director-Unit system like the one used to produce the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, and created his own studio, Spumco where he made history with “Ren and Stimpy”. Since then, John has pioneered web animation and created several TV series and specials, including “Ripping Friends”, “Ranger Smith” and “Adult Party Cartoon”, as well as numerous commercials and rock videos. Link: John K Stuff

STEVE STANCHFIELD

MIKE VAN EATON





COMMITTEES


ARCHIVE COMMITTEE:
Stephen Worth (Chair) sworth@animationresources.org
James Sanders

ANIMATION CREATIVE LEAGUE:
Taber Dunnipace (Chair) tdunnipace@animationresources.org
Stephen Worth

EDUCATION COMMITTEE:
Joseph Baptista (Chair) jbaptista@animationresources.org

PUBLCITY COMMITTEE:
David Hofmann (Chair) dhofmann@animationresources.org

EVENTS COMMITTEE:
No Chair Yet,
Stephen Worth

WEBSITE COMMITTEE:
No Chair Yet,
Stephen Worth, Nicholas Porzega



Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Instruction: Preston Blair’s Advanced Animation

Preston Blair

An online drawing course
taught by Preston Blair & John Kricfalusi!
Click for details…

Preston BlairPreston BlairPreston Blair’s Animation (Book 1) is the best “how to” book on cartoon animation ever published. When Blair put the book together in 1947, he used the characters he had animated at Disney and MGM to illustrate the various basic principles of animation. Apparently, the rights to use some of the characters were revoked after the book was already in the stores. Publication was halted for a time, and he was forced to redraw most of the MGM characters, replacing them with generic characters of his own design. The revised edition went on to become a classic, and the first edition was forgotten.

If you are familiar with the revised edition, you’re in for a treat. Pull out your copy and compare it to these scans…

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Here are a couple of comments these postings have received…

"I began making animated films while I was a student at Santa Barbara Junior High School many, many years ago. The only text book I had was Preston Blair’s animation book. Honestly, it was all I needed to get started. I can’t remember how many copies of this book I’ve purchased over the years to give to young kids with an interest in animation. The book is pure gold." Floyd Norman

"A lot of young artists look at the Preston Blair book as some sort of archaic and old-fashioned irrelevant text. Almost as though learning these lessons will ruin their “style”. This of course is the folly of youth. The ability to draw like Preston Blair, using all the tips in the book gives you the strength to do ANYTHING." Nick Cross

"Many thanks on your posting of the original version of the Preston Blair animation book. If that’s not worth a contribution to your cause, nothing is. Keep up the good work." –Paul Dini

If you don’t have Preston Blair’s book yet,

ORDER IT NOW!

No cartoonist should be without it.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.