Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Animation: Musical Timing Rediscovered

Shuffle Off To Buffalo

A few weeks ago, John K posted an article by Milt Gray about timing. If you haven’t read it yet, by all means, click on that link before you go any further in this post. Milt explains how cartoons before the TV era were timed to a musical beat, and how musical timing has become a lost art.

Rudy Ising and Hugh HarmanRudy Ising and Hugh HarmanWell, almost lost… I happened to be speaking to Mark Kausler about the article, and he mentioned that he had a complete set of bar sheets, given to him by Rudy Ising, for an early Merrie Melodies cartoon- "Shuffle Off To Buffalo". He graciously offered to let us digitize it and share it with you. This document is the "smoking gun" that animators interested in timing theories of the past have been looking for. It’s a highly detailed plan for the timing of a typical cartoon from the early days of sound. This isn’t a particularly good cartoon, but it gives us a clear look at the process. That makes it invaluable.

I’ve gathered together all the reference you need to analyze these bar sheets… I’ve supplied you with frame grabs from each scene to act as a storyboard, and I’ve posted a 24 fps movie file of "Shuffle Off To Buffalo". My own knowledge of animation timing theory is extremely limited, so I would appreciate it if the professional animators who are reading this blog would share their expertise through the comments link below, or by posting analysis to their own blogs. Nick Cross and Michael Sporn are the first to weigh in with their comments. I’ll add links to other blogs discussing this topic as I am made aware of them.

Musical timing is one of the principle aspects of early cartoons that set them apart from modern animation. The perfect rhythm of cartoons is what makes them so appealing and magical. Rhythmic timing doesn’t cost any more, in fact, careful planning saves money. “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” was planned down to the frame by two men- a director and a musician- before a single animation drawing had been done. The results are "magical perfection". Modern animation timing requires constant testing and revising by teams of artists and technicians to look "natural". Who wants cartoons that look natural? How many manhours could be saved with this technique? Let’s share info and try to recapture the "lost art" of Musical Timing!

RUDY ISING’S BAR SHEETS

Shuffle Off To Buffalo Bar Sheets

These 20 pages comprise the complete "detail sheets" (aka "bar sheets") for the 1933 Merrie Melodies cartoon, "Shuffle Off To Buffalo". This document was prepared by the director, Rudy Ising in collaboration with the musical director, Frank Marsales.

Shuffle Off To Buffalo Page 01
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STORYBOARD

Feel free to print out these images to use as a visual reference when you’re studying the bar sheets. Every scene in the picture is depicted here, along with its scene number.

Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard
Shuffle Off To Buffalo Storyboard

24 FPS MOVIE FILE

Shuffle Off To Buffalo Movie

I have encoded this Quicktime movie at 24 frames per second, so you can count frames and compare to the bar sheets. If the movie fails to load quickly, check back a little later.

Shuffle Off To Buffalo (WB/1933)
(Quicktime 7 / 30.6 megs)

COMMENTARY AND RELATED LINKS

Animator, Nick Cross discusses the importance of musical timing

Director, Michael Sporn provides examples of other formats of bar sheets and a discussion regarding how timing theory morphed over time

Kevin Langley discusses how he is applying musical timing principles to his own work, and offers scans of bar sheets by Bill Hanna and Scott Bradley

Mark Mayerson explains how to use a metronome to time animation

Hans Perk posts lecture notes by Disney composer, Albert Hay Malotte and bar sheets by Dave Hand for Trader Mickey. More on bar sheets at afilmla.

Timing Director, Milt Gray talks about the differences between the way cartoons are timed today, and the way they were timed in the golden age

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

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

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Theory: Live The Fabulous Lifestyle Of A Hollywood Cartoonist

Cartoonist Party

Wrap party for “Toot Whistle Plunk & Boom”

John Kricfalusi posted a blistering post this morning about popular culture and the upside down meaning of the words "liberal" and "conservative" today. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. Here is my own take on a similar theme…

BingBingThe other day, a student at Woodbury volunteered to help build out our database. His name is Jo-Jo. He told me how much this blog, along with Eddie Fitzgerald’s and John K’s, has opened his eyes to how great cartoons were in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He had a sketchbook full of Preston Blair drawings and enthusiasm for Fleischer, MGM and Warner Bros cartoons. So I asked him what kinds of music he listens to…

“David Bowie mostly.”

My jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I gave Jo-Jo the best tip he’ll ever get…

Cartoons aren’t the only things that were better back in the first half of the 20th century.

Roy SmeckRoy SmeckMike Fontanelli stopped by later and pointed out that somebody should write a book titled "The Golden Age of Everything". Sure, there are things today that are incredibly great… computers, the internet, iPods, frost-free refrigerators, etc… but music, dance, illustration, writing, movies and cartoons were all better back then. Cartoonists should be aware of this, and they should absorb all of the greatness of the past. It will make them better cartoonists.

Today, I’m going to talk about music…

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys

I know that someone out there is going to post a comment saying that there’s still great music being made, it just isn’t mainstream. I’m fully aware of the fact that there are talented musicians working today. But in the 30s through the 50s, incredible talent was a given. Performers, from the top of the heap to the bottom- from most popular to least- were all capable of making you do a double take and say “wow!”.

Fats WallerFats WallerWhen I ask kids what kinds of music they listen to, I usually get the response, “All kinds.” But “all kinds” usually turns out to mean a million shades of the same color… current rock music. There are so many names today for the same kind of music. For the life of me, I can’t tell the difference between rave, techno and electronica. In the past, there really were a million kinds of music… pop vocals, hot jazz, country western, big band swing, folk, rhythm & blues, bluegrass, mambo, dixieland, rock n’ roll, sweet orchestral, be bop…

I could talk for hours about this subject, but the best proof is seeing what I’m talking about…

JAZZ

Lucky Millinder

Lucky Millinder & Sister Rosetta Tharpe
"Four Or Five Times" (Soundie/1941)
(Quicktime 7 / 5.5 megs)

COUNTRY MUSIC

Collins And Maphis

Larry Collins & Joe Maphis
"Under The Double Eagle" (Tex Ritter’s Ranch Party/1959)
(Quicktime 7 / 5 megs)

THE BLUES

Collins And Maphis

Leadbelly
"Gray Goose" "Pick A Bale Of Cotton"(1950s)
(Quicktime 7 / 10 megs)

POPULAR MUSIC

Les Paul

Les Paul & Mary Ford
"The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise" "Amuka Riki" (Grand Old Opry/1959)
(Quicktime 7 / 12 megs)

If you are a student planning to be a professional cartoonist, listen to music that relates to your work- read books that inspire cartoony ideas- watch movies to learn cinematic techniques that can be applied to cartooning- LIVE THE FABULOUS LIFESTYLE OF A FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD CARTOONIST!

By the way… Jo-Jo is a big Fats Waller fan now! And that’s not all… He graduated from college, trained with John K. and is a professional in the animation business working full time on Bravest Warriors now. Way to go, Jo-Jo!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Inbetweens: Singer Ute Lemper Shows How To Act With The Whole Body

Ute Lemper

I discovered an amazing singer today, Ute Lemper. Her ability to act transcends words and languages. She sings in German, English, French and Yiddish, but her body movements, facial expressions and gestures carry the bulk of the meaning in the songs. For example here is a song made famous by Edith Piaf…

…check out the hand gestures, body poses and facial expressions in this one…

Too often in animation, we use “canned” gestures and facial expressions that are symbolic of emotion without actually expressing it. We plan out the poses carefully to hit all the bases and lose all sense of spontaneity. There’s a lot to be learned from studying performers like Ute Lemper who have a direct connection between their emotions and their movement.