Archive for the ‘grim natwick’ Category

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.

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Exhibit: Grim Natwick In The Modern Age

PART THREE: GRIM NATWICK AND MODERN ANIMATION

Grim Natwick

Studio gag drawing from UPA depicting an animator being laid off, replaced by children cutting out paper dolls.

It’s important to keep in mind Grim Natwick’s age when you look over his career. When he animated Snow White, he was one of the oldest artists at the Disney studio- 49 years of age. When his former assistant from Iwerks, Stephen Bosustow convinced him to join UPA in 1950, he was sixty. Most animators of his generation were thinking of retirement, or coasting on their past accomplishments until their pensions came through… but not Grim. He dove into the stylistic revolution of UPA with both feet. Grim animated on the early Magoo cartoons, as well as one-shots like "Rooty Toot Toot" and "Gerald McBoing Boing". In the early 50s, he was sent to New York as the keystone animator for UPA’s East coast office, where he animated many commercials and industrial films for the company, along with his assistant Tissa David.

Click to see Grim's  UPA model sheets

When UPA NY shut its doors, Grim worked at various New York commercial studios like Ray Favata and Robert Lawrence Productions. He animated on the first television cartoon series, Crusader Rabbit, and later took in work from Jay Ward and Bill Scott on the George of the Jungle program. He freelanced for Melendez and Duane Crowther’s Duck Soup Producktions, eventually settling in with director, Richard Williams. He animated on Raggedy Ann & Andy and travelled to the UK to teach while working on Cobbler & the Thief. He continued to draw into his early 90s, until his failing eyesight made it difficult.

Click to see Grim's post UPA commercialsClick to see Grim's post UPA commercialsOne afternoon, as I sat with Grim on his front porch, he casually mentioned that he had been told that there were machines that animated- computers. He wondered aloud "how they manage to get the machines to hold a pencil" and expressed an interest in finding out more about it. So I called my friend Charlie Gibson, who was a partner at Rhythm & Hues in Hollywood. I arranged for Grim to take a tour of their studio the following week.

50s TV Commercial50s TV CommercialWhen we arrived, we found the entire staff of R&H standing in the lobby waiting for us. Charlie showed Grim their machine room and demo reel, and sat him down at a workstation to see how wireframe characters are posed. After a few minutes working with the mouse, Grim leaned back in his chair and said, "I’ve seen some amazing things here today that I never would have imagined possible. I don’t pretend to understand everything I’ve seen, but I have a basic idea of what you do here. I have just one question to ask you… When I animated Snow White or Mickey Mouse, I had certain tricks to put the personality of the character across… a gesture, the raising of an eyebrow, a bit of acting… How do you do that sort of thing with your computer?"

50s TV Commercial50s TV CommercialThe room went silent. Charlie paused for a moment and replied, "Well, Grim, you just put your finger on the thing we struggle with every day… Computer animation is still very new. We’re constantly learning as we go. To answer your question, we study classic cartoons to learn those secrets from great animators like you."

In the space of an afternoon at nearly 100 years old, Grim had gone from "How do they get the machines to hold a pencil?" to putting his finger on the main issue facing CGI animators. His mind was always nimble and able to see the challenges facing animation in the future. He was truly a remarkable man.

EXHIBIT CATALOG: GRIM NATWICK IN THE MODERN AGE

Grim Natwick

Top Row: A Selection Of Natwick Animals (left to right) Chicken character designs from "Solid Ivory"* (Lantz/1947) / Lion doodle (after Jones’ "Inki & The Lion")* (ca. 1947) / Tiger studio gag drawing* (ca. 1944) / Character design for Lantz Wartime cartoon (ca.1943) / Concept for children’s book* (ca. 1947)

Middle Row: 1950s Commercials (left to right) Character design (ca.1959) / Self caricature of layout artist Art Heineman (UPA ca.1952) / Studio gag drawing depicting an animator being replaced by children cutting out paper dolls (UPA ca.1952) / Model drawing of Bert Piels (Piels Beer) by Tissa David from Grim Natwick animation (UPA ca. 1955) / Model drawings from unknown commercial by Tissa David from Grim Natwick animation (UPA ca.1955)

Bottom Row: Studio Gag Drawings Self caricature by Bill Melendez (ca. early 60s) / Studio gag drawing depicting Bill Scott explaining to a West coast animator how to dress like an East coast animator (UPA NY ca. 1952) / Three studio gag drawings by Bill Scott depicting the relationships between Grim Natwick, John Hubley and Scott (UPA NY ca. 1952)

* denotes a drawing by Grim Natwick

Next Chapter: THE GREATEST ANIMATOR WHO EVER LIVED (Studio Gag Drawings & Caricatures)


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.

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Exhibit: Natwick on Iwerks

Ub Iwerks

Ub Iwerks Self Portrait

One of the principle goals of Animation Resources is to tell the history of animation, not by character or studio, but through the lives of the people who made the cartoons. No single animator’s life and career tell the history of animation better than Grim Natwick’s.

Grim started in the 20’s animating silent Krazy Kat cartoons at the Hearst Studio in New York. He ended up at Fleischer, where he created Betty Boop. He received an offer to move West to join Walt Disney, but friends advised him that Ub Iwerks, who had just left animationresources.org to form his own studio, was the real creative spark behind the Mickey Mouse pictures. So Grim joined Ub instead, and ended up running the studio. A few years later, Grim became excited with the prospect of a feature length cartoon, so he went to Disney, where he ended up animating the title character. He returned to the Fleischers in Florida for a spell, and ended up back in Hollywood working for Walter Lantz on the wartime Woody Woodpecker cartoons. At an age when most of his contemporaries were retiring, Grim jumped into the modern stylization of UPA with both feet, and was instrumental in setting up their New York offices. He worked with Culhane, Ward and Melendez; and in his 80s, animated on Richard Williams’ Theif and the Cobbler. Here is a life that spanned the entire history of animation.

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks

Walt Disney & Ub Iwerks

I’m very proud to introduce the first bit of information into the biographical database… an interview done with Grim in the at Animafestival 1982 produced by Reg Hartt. Michael Gowling ran a tape of Grim’s comments. In the interview, he talks about his entire career… animating Snow White, experimenting with timing on commercials at UPA, and sharing insight on the various people he worked with over the years. One particularly interesting part of the interview deals with Ub Iwerks, and Grim answers a question that many animation historians have been puzzling over for years… in his own unique way.

NatwickOnIwerks.mp3

Thanks again to Reg Hartt and Craig Davison.

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.