Archive for the ‘fleischer’ Category

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Illustration: Artzybasheff’s Machinalia

Artzybasheff Machinalia

In his introduction to the section titled "Machinalia" in his book As I See, Boris Artzybasheff says, "I am thrilled by machinery’s force, precision and willingness to work at any task, no matter how arduous or monotonous it may be. I would rather watch a thousand ton dredge dig a canal than see it done by a thousand spent slaves lashed into submission. I like machines."

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Making of Steel: Charging the Open Hearth

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Tapping a Heat of Steel

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Filling Ingot Molds

Artzybasheff Machinalia

The Soaking Pit

Artzybasheff Machinalia

The Blooming Pit

Artzybasheff Machinalia

The Rod Mill

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Hydraulic Press

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Stranding of Wire Rope

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Weaving of Fence Fabric

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Wire Drawing Machines

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Spring Forming Presses

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Wire Cloth Looms

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Navy’s Mark III Calculator

Artzybasheff Machinalia

Executive of the Future

Recently, I was asked by a visitor to the Archive what relevance half century old cartoons and magazine illustrations have to the current animation scene. Well, this question is best answered with an example… Look at these amazing designs by Boris Artzybasheff originally published in the 1950s, and look at this clip from Fleischer’s Lost & Foundry.. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to be able to picture what a sequence in a current CGI film would look like if it had designs like Artzybasheff’s and animation like the Fleischers’.


Lost and Foundry (Fleischer/1937) at YouTube

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Exhibit: Berny Wolf 1911-2006

Berny Wolf at Iwerks

Berny Wolf holds up a model sheet he created
along with Grim Natwick for an Iwerks Willie Whopper
cartoon. (See Al Eugster’s Photo Album)

(Originally posted 9/13/06) We received the sad news today that veteran animator, Berny Wolf passed away a few days ago at the age of 95. Berny was a real gentleman, and his career spanned the entire history of animation… from Fleischer, where he rotoscoped Cab Calloway as a ghostly walrus for "Minnie the Moocher"; to Iwerks, where he designed characters and animated on Willie Whopper and Comicolor cartoons; to Disney, where he animated on Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo. In the TV era, Berny was a mainstay at Hanna Barbera and FilmRoman, continuing to work into his 80s.

Here are some model sheets Berny created along with Grim Natwick at Iwerks…

Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet

In this thread at Animation Nation, Ben Burgess mentioned that Berny animated the scene of Jimminy Cricket on the seahorse in Pinocchio. I have a drawing from that scene in my own collection and didn’t even realize that it was from one of Berny’s scenes…

Berny Wolf Jimminy Cricket

Perhaps Berny’s most famous scene is one he animated when he was just 21 years old… the ghostly walrus from the Fleischer Betty Boop cartoon, "Minnie the Moocher". Dave Fleischer assigned Berny to rotoscope footage of Cab Calloway. He told me that he did the work at Max Fleischer’s original rotoscope rig- the one on which they had rotoscoped Ko-Ko the Clown many years earlier. The rotoscope machine was made from an old camera stand, and it stood in a dark, dusty corner of the camera room. For a week, Berny sat alone in the corner, perched on a high stool rotoscoping Cab Calloway. Here is the film…

Minnie the Moocher

Minnie the Moocher (Fleischer/1932)
(Quicktime 7 / 17 megs)

Berny was a quiet, unassuming man. Perhaps that is why many people today are unaware of his importance to the history of animation. He was the quintessential East coast animator until the end, often attending important meetings in an impeccable pinstripe three piece suit, complete with a watch chain and white carnation in the lapel. ASIFA-Hollywood offers its condolences to the family of Berny Wolf. He will be missed by all who had the honor to know him.

COMMENTS

On behalf of my father, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for being so interested in his work and his life. You cannot imagine what it has meant for our family to see his name in print with all the wonderful comments. I can forward photos of him in the past and at his 94th birthday if you like. He was very shy and did not like having photos taken.

Sincerely,
Lauren Wolf-Purcell

Please do send the photos. We’re building a digital archive of information on the lives of great animators. If you have anything you would allow us to digitize to represent your father in our collection, please let us know. -Stephen Worth, Director

Read Mark Kausler’s overview of Berny’s career at Cartoon Brew
Mark Evanier’s remembrances.
Ernesto Pfluger’s Spanish obit

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

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

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

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.