May 26th, 2015

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Comic Books: Crime Does Not Pay / Boy Comics

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

Yesterday, Animation Resources supporter Marc Schirmeister stopped by with a little bit of comic book history. A copy of Crime Does Not Pay from June of 1947. This particular comic book is not for the faint of heart. It’s grusome and extreme. In fact, it marks the absolute peak of comic book sadism that led to the Publishers’ Code of 1948 and the condemning of crime and horror comics by psychiatrist, Frederic Wertham in the book, Seduction of the Innocent a few years later.

Soon after this comic was published, publisher Lev Gleason decided to shift gears away from the grusome subjects and focus on a new angle in Crime Does Not Pay comics. Artist/writer Pete Morisi quoted a conversation he had with editor Charles Biro about the change in direction…

Listen, Pete, we’ve got a good thing going here, and we don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to see any blood and guts. I don’t want any violence. Just give me detail, lots of detail!

Detail of what? What am I supposed to show?

Tits!

Some things never change.

This first story by Fred Guardineer does a great job of translating the crime/noir film style to the comic medium with the maximum amount of action per page… and the maximum amount of gunplay. It also features a cameo by a cartoon version of J. Edgar Hoover!

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

What’s with that jarring comic relief strip at the end?!

This second story is over-the-line ugly in just about every way imaginable…

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Here’s another treasure from the collection of Animation Resources supporter, Marc Schirmeister- the oddly titled Boy Comics Number 39 from April, 1942. This comic book isn’t as interesting for its art, (check out the wonky perspective on that cover!) but rather for its subject matter…

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Yes, this noir style comic written by cartoonist Charles Biro and drawn by Norman Maurer deals with the animation business! And check out the names of the incidental characters…

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Sound familiar? And the design of "B.S.", the head of NDN Studios, it a pretty clear caricature of Walt Disney!

Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman MaurerIt seems that Biro had some sort of connection to the East coast animation scene. Does anyone out there reading have more info on this unique comic book? If so, please let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: Mark Mayerson points out the Charles Biro was an animator and director at the Fleischer Studios from 1930-1936. Thanks, Mark!

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Mauer

Thanks to Marc Schirmeister for bringing these rare and historically important comic books to our attention! Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more like this.

Animation Resources is looking for collectors of gold and silver age comic books, 50s and 60s Mad magazines, 50s Playboys, National Lampoon, etc. who would be willing to lend us their books to digitize. If you’d like to help out, contact me at… sworth@animationresources.org.

Crime Does Not PayCrime Does Not PayIf you are interested in pre-code crime comics, you’ll want to check out Fantagraphics’ new book, Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer. It includes 24 stories culled from issues of “Crime Does Not Pay” between 1942 and 1946. You won’t believe your eyes… but make sure you hide these comics under your bed so your mom doesn’t find them!

If too much is never enough, also check out The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime, a collection of impeccably drawn crime comics by the master of the comic book, Jack Kirby.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

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

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Posted by admin @ 1:43 pm

May 25th, 2015

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Instruction: Animation Reference

Muybridge_race_horse_gallop

Muybridge – Horse Gallop

Today I’m going to be showing everyone my planning process for using photographic reference to plan and execute a naturalistic horse run cycle. This process has been used by generations of artists to help analyse and capture the motion patterns of real-world objects and creatures. This type of study is invaluable for building an internal “motion library” in your mind, so that when you have to make guesses about how something impossible might move, those guesses can be as educated as possible. For the beginning animator, doing motion analysis can also help give a stronger sense of what motion details matter, and which are best to remove to get an optimal stylistic motion.

First up, here is the finished animation: Horse_gallop

In a complex cycle like a horse gallop, there are many things to understand, and without experience animating similar creatures it would be difficult to plan ahead for this animation considering that we have so much to keep track of.

Get Video Reference

If you can film your own reference, then that’s a great first step, but if you can’t, the first place I search is the BBC Motion Library at Getty Images. This collection has thousands of real-time and slow-motion shots of sports, nature, vehicles, and much more. It’s free to view and download, which is ideal as we will need to carefully go through our shot frame by frame in order to analyse it.

Here is the shot I used for reference. As stated above, it’s free to download (non-commercial use of course) by right clicking the clip and choosing Save as.

A few notes about the shot:

  • It is playing in real-time, not slow motion, so we can use it for timing information
  • The shot isn’t stabilized, so we can’t use it to track body parts necessarily
  • The whole body is visible, including the feet as they touch the ground
  • The speed of the run is relatively stable for a few seconds, ideal for a cycle

Use A Frame by Frame Video Software

Next we need to be able to see each frame of the video one at a time. You can do this by importing the footage into any video editing software if you  have it. I prefer to use a much simpler method by opening it in QuickTime.

quicktime

QuickTime interface

To my knowledge, QuickTime is the only freely available video software which allows you to step through a video one frame at a time (using the left and right arrow keys). Many others allow you to skip several frames, but none that I’ve found allow this level of precision. Another benefit of this software shown above, is the ability to switch the timecode to frames, so we can easily count and locate keyframes in our action.

Before using the shot for any timing information, you’ll need to know the frame rate of the video. I figure this out by going to 1 second in the timecode, the switching to frames to see how many have elapsed. This shot is in a standard 25fps for european PAL broadcast. This will effect our conversion to our frame rate. In my case, I’ll be animating at 24fps (see the conversion math later on at the bottom of my Xsheet).

Get Additional Reference

Although we could use a single source of reference, it’s better to have several similar sources to draw from, and the plates from Edward Muybridge’s animal studies have been a source of inspiration to animators for a century. We have an extensive library of Muybridge here. These images (shown at top) are invaluable because they show a flat sideways perspective of a horse galloping with extracted frames to display the entire cycle of motion. The only problem with this is that we don’t know how fast it should be moving, a problem we’ve already addressed with our video reference.

Here is a playback of the muybridge_horse set to a realistic 40fps.

By comparing the frames to our video, I determined that the approximate speed of the original Muybridge shot was a brisk 40fps. I also adjusted the frames to stabilize the ground, put vertical and horizontal lines in to help track key parts of the body, and finally tracked each hoof with a colored ball. All of this information provides almost everything we need to put together our plan.

Horse Gaits

basicsGaitsGallopR or basicsGaitsGallopL

The last bit of information we need is an understanding of the pattern we hope to find and reproduce. This information I found easily on an equestrian website, along with footfall patterns of all the primary horse locomotion speeds.

muybridge_tracking

Path of feet shown in color code through cycle duration.

Record Observations and Refine

Finally we are ready to utilize all of this information into a formal plan for animating our horse. By stepping through the video and referring to the Muybridge plates, I record all of the pertinent information I can onto an Xsheet.

xsheet3D_Horse_Gallop-1

Modified Xsheet for planning CG animation

By examining the sheet above, you can see that I’ve sought out the most important aspects of the motion and spaced them out in time so that they flow fluidly. Here is a list of the things you should look for before continuing:

  • Key Frames – These should be the most informational single images for the action, without which, none of the remaining actions can possibly hope to illustrate the action properly. In my case, I chose the Squashed mid-air position, and the Stretched leaping position of the horse.
  • Extremes -The foot contacts must all be present, as well as the maximum and minimum vertical positions of the chest and flank.
  • Breakdowns – Wherever necessary, plan for the passing or half-way positions of body parts and poses, so you do not miss the nuance of the motion pattern.
  • Small patterns– Note the path and notes about the head, these patterns are important and shouldn’t be missed. Make notes of any details you might easily forget later.

For one reason or another, the use of Xsheets has never fully translated over to computer animation, which I think is a major loss. Although these sheets were originally used to plan for the exposure of cell levels in traditional animation, they can find a valuable second life in helping to plan body part motions and musical timing.

Execute Plan

With all of this preparatory work, the only thing left to do is to use this roadmap to complete your animation. By this point, you should have such a solid idea of what your animation is going to look like, that the actual work of animation is almost an afterthought. In The Illusion of Life, as well as The Animator’s Survival Kit, the authors tell stories of their lengthy and strenuous planning procedures, and how once planned out, an animation scene was practically complete before pencil ever touched page. This method allows you to keep a solid focus on your scene even between work sessions, and frees you to focus on the details without becoming lost in the larger patterns of motion.

 


 

Taber Dunipace
Director of Membership
tdunipace@animationresources.org

 

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Posted by Taber Dunipace @ 12:53 pm

May 22nd, 2015

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PRESS RELEASE: Golden Age Cartoons Screening June 20th

Golden Age Cartoons Screening

PRESS RELEASE
ANIMATION RESOURCES
STEPHEN WORTH
sworth@animationresources.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING
Egyptian Theatre – Sat, June 20, 2015 – 3:00pm
Presented by the American Cinematheque and Animation Resources

Hollywood, CA May 22, 2015

A Time Machine Trip Back To The Golden Age Of Cartoons!

Back in the 1920s and 30s, cartoons were a truly magical experience. Hand drawn doodles danced and sang projected as big as a house on the silver screens of lavish movie palaces. Every short cartoon was a window into a world of its own, and artists were free to use their pencils and paint to make fun of absolutely anything- no rules, no censors.

Today, times have changed. Animation is primarily a children’s medium. It’s made with computers, and the scope of the cartoon world is limited by the size of the TV set in our living room. Classic animated films of the past have suffered the ravages of time, gradually deteriorating, being bumped out of broadcast TV schedules, fading away until they’re little more than just a pleasant memory.

But on June 20th, film preservationist Steve Stanchfield will turn back the hands of time and present a program of newly restored vintage cartoons on the big screen at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Stanchfield is a champion of rare and forgotten animation, and his company, Thunderbean Animation is helping preserve our cartoon heritage, utilizing modern digital technology to return these precious films to their former glory. Also on board for this exciting program is Stephen Worth, the president of Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to serving animation artists and researchers. Worth will be sharing the stories of the artists who made the films and providing historical background.

The program will include a little bit of everything, from animation’s biggest stars to its most unusual obscure characters. There will be silent films and sound films, early experimental color cartoons, as well as good old black & white. Highlights of the program include a newly restored copy of Ub Iwerks’ “Hells Fire”, presented in color for the first time since it debuted in 1934. Felix the Cat, the very first cartoon superstar, will be represented by pristine prints of “Felix the Cat Shatters the Sheik” and “Draggin’ the Dragon (1926). There will be rare stop motion puppet films by Lou Bunin, a wartime training film made by Warner Bros that was never released, and rare films starring the deliciously obscure Mickey wanna-bes, “Cubby Bear” and “Binko the Cub”. The rarest of the rare will be back up on the big screen where it belongs!

Steve Stanchfield will have DVDs and blu-rays of restored cartoons for sale in the lobby after the program, and Animation Resources will be on hand to provide info about their organization.

Saturday June 20th, 2015 3pm
American CInemateque: Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028

Tickets for this program are $11, and are available for advance sale at the Fandango link below. They will be on sale at the Egyptian Box Office the day of the event.

WEB LINKS:

ORDER TICKETS ONLINE AT FANDANGO
http://www.fandango.com/egyptiantheatrehollywood_aaofx/theaterpage?date=6/20/2015

EGYPTIAN CALENDAR LISTING
http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/the-golden-age-of-cartoons

FACEBOOK GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS EVENT PAGE
https://www.facebook.com/events/804998502903937/

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Stephen Worth
President, Animation Resources
sworth@animationresources.org

PUBLICITY IMAGES:

GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 01
GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 02
GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 03
GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 04
GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 05
GOLDEN AGE CARTOONS SCREENING IMAGE 06

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 7:25 pm