Author Archive

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

Meta: Why Do We Need An Animation Archive?

Why An Animation Archive

Several people have emailed me to ask for copies of the speech I gave at the ASIFA Lion King Reunion event back in 2004 where I announced the establishment of the Animation Archive project. This event was a long time ago, but the points are still relevant today. Please feel free to print it out and share it with your friends.


Hello… My name is Steve Worth and my passion is the art of animation.

For the past ten or fifteen years, I’ve been a member of the Board of Directors of ASIFA-Hollywood, and I’m currently serving as the Director of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project (known today as Animation Resources).

Before we get started, I’d like to give you a little background on the archive project, and let you know how it relates to the panel discussion you’re about to hear tonight. Most of all, I’d like to share with you why this particular project is so important… perhaps more important now than at any other time in the history of animation.

Sir Isaac Newton was quoted as saying, “If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” It’s all too easy to become so involved with what we’re doing “here and now”, that we forget what came before us. Los Angeles is often spoken of as “a town with no history”. Compared with cities like Athens, London or Paris, that may seem to be the case. But in its short period of existence, Los Angeles was the place that nurtured and developed one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, the art of cinema… and most importantly to the people gathered together in this room tonight, the art of animated filmmaking.

This sketch was given to me by an artist who knew that I was interested in the history of animation…

Cartoonist

Does anyone here tonight know who this is? Editor’s Note: One person in the crowd called out “Tex Avery”. No one else in the audience was able to venture a guess.

My artist friend found it in the trash at FilmRoman, obviously thrown out when someone cleared his desk. My friend that gave this to me had no idea who this was. No one else he showed it to at the studio knew either. In fact, 99.9% of the general public wouldn’t even recognize his name, much less his image.

This is a self caricature of Ub Iwerks, the man who designed and animated Mickey Mouse… The man who invented process photography, enabling live action and animation to co-exist side by side… The man who revolutionized the industry with the invention of the multiplane camera and animation xerography. There are few people in the history of animation who have done more for us as animators than Ub Iwerks did. Yet his picture ended up in a trash can… completely unrecognized… at one of the most important TV animation studios in town. I’m not picking on FilmRoman when I point this out. The same could have happened at any studio, even the one this man made billions of dollars for over the years.

Think about that for a second and let it soak in.

How can we as artists “see further” like Isaac Newton if our collective memory is so short, we don’t even recognize the pioneers who made everything we do possible? This is the sort of shortsightedness that’s led to stories in the press announcing that hand drawn animation is obsolete. Hand drawn animation is no more replaceable by computer graphics than drawing and painting are replaced by photography. Cartooning is an irreplaceable artform, not an expendable technique.

Tonight, we’re here to honor the creative achievements of a team of artists who pulled together to make one of the most successful hand drawn animated films of all time. I would bet that just about all of us here tonight have pretty much the same question on our minds… How can the art of hand drawn animation return to the creative peak it enjoyed just a few short years ago?

Again, I’m going to give you a second to think about that question and let it soak in.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about that question. It’s time for me to build something that ASIFA-Hollywood’s founders, Bill Scott, June Foray and Bill Littlejohn envisioned as a goal for our organization nearly forty years ago… a museum, library and archive devoted to the art of animation… an institution dedicated to documenting, preserving and promoting those broad shoulders we all stand upon.

Why An Animation Archive

The first step in achieving this goal is the establishment of something the founders of ASIFA could never have imagined… a “virtual archive”… A computer database containing hundreds of thousands of digital files representing animation drawings, model sheets, pencil tests, background paintings, book and magazine illustrations, cartoons, voice over reels, interviews, information and movies… all searchable by keyword. In short, the ultimate artist’s clip file. We all know that the major studios in town maintain their own archives to preserve the documents related to their particular productions, this digital archive will be unique, because it will be dedicated to documenting and serving the people who actually make animated films… the artists. We is in an unique position to be able to pull together a wide range of material for its archive… a much broader scope than any corporate archive could ever hope to encompass.

Tonight, the Animation Archive is just a concept with only a few presentation boards here to represent it… but next time we gather together for an event like this, you’ll see equipment and material on display… a functioning archive, instead of just presentation boards.

We realize that this is a lean time for animators. Money is tight. But we aren’t asking for a great deal from any one person. What we are asking for is for the animation community to pull together to do something of great value for the artform. ASIFA has always been all about recognizing the achievements of individuals… whether through its screenings, events like this, or the Annie Awards. The Animation Archive will be no different. It will be a resource that documents the history of people like Ub Iwerks, and the people who will be speaking to you in a few moments. Best of all, the archive will provide inspiration and education to a new generation of animators, acting as the shoulders for them to stand upon. This is *exactly* the sort of project that will prove conclusively to the world that hand drawn animation isn’t dead.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Note: In 2011, ASIFA-Hollywood decided it was unable to continue to sponsor the Animation Archive. The volunteers of the Animation Archive pulled together and created Animation Resources, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to continue work on the project. Many thanks to the members of ASiFA-Hollywood and its President, Antran Manoogian for helping to get the project off the ground and onto a firm footing as its own organization.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Members Appreciation

For the past decade, Animation Resources has been serving artists working in the fields of animation, cartooning and illustration. Our volunteers and members have pulled together to raise the bar for our art form, and it’s time to celebrate… It’s Members Appreciation time again!

During the month of February, Animation Resources expresses our appreciation for to members with a very special Reference Pack, and we invite you to become a member too. For the next 30 days, we will be sharing reasons why you should join us. Our benefits of membership far exceed the cost of our annual dues.

Dollar Days

This year, we are trying something new to encourage new memberships. You can join for a one week trial membership for only A DOLLAR! Yes, you get access to everything our annual members get for seven days for only a buck. (Click here for the details on our Dollar Days.) What are you waiting for?

You can find out what our members get at the Member Appreciation Page. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online…


JOIN TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

Members Appreciation Month

PayPalAnimationAnimation Resources depends on your contributions to support its projects. Even if you can’t afford to join our group right now, please click the button below to donate whatever you can afford using PayPal.


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Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

Story: Alvin Show Pilot Board

Alvin Show Pilot Board

This is a very special post. Here is the complete storyboard to the pilot cartoon for The Alvin Show (1961). This is the board that Format Films and Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (aka: David Seville) used to pitch the show to the networks. It was probably done by Disney/UPA storyman, Leo Salkin. Salkin was the Associate Producer on the series and handled a lot of the story duties, working side by side with Bagdasarian to develop both the Chipmunk and Clyde Crashcup cartoons.

Alvin Show Pilot Board

I know that this might look like a checkerboard on your screen at this resolution. I made an extra effort to make the large size images big enough for you to read clearly, so please click on the pages and take the time to sit down and read this from beginning to end. I think you’ll be amazed at how well it plays in your head. It’s like you’re watching the cartoon.

Alvin Show Pilot Board

The drawings are simple, yet funny and expressive. Note how the compositions frame the action clearly, without clutter. Many current TV shows repeat the same oblique two-shot setups over and over. But this board keeps things interesting through clever staging and cutting.This is truly a model for television storyboard artists to follow. Enjoy!

Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board
Alvin Show Pilot Board

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

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

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Thursday, October 12th, 2023

STUDENTS: Will Finn’s Letter From Ward Kimball

STUDENTS! READ THIS!

Ward Kimball Advice

Here is perhaps the best tip you’ll get all year… Ward Kimball’s advice for young animators. Thanks to Will Finn for sharing this!

I found the last paragraph to be particularly interesting and relevant. Kimball knows that his point is apt to fly right over an enthusiastic 15 year old’s head, so he tells him to save the letter and read it later in his life. Kimball’s words are directly applicable to the things animation is going through today…

He says, “Of course Hanna Barbera are pretty crude compared to Disney’s. But this is a problem of economics. H&B are filling a need and it is a business just like selling washing machines. We all can’t be part of an organization such as Disney’s with almost untold capital to underwrite full animation. Lots of cartoon co.’s would like to indulge in full animation, but the economic realities of the jungle prevent it. It’s OK to have an idol and a goal but a realistic assessment of what’s going in on the world of animation is very important.”

Kimball knew what he was talking about. He had just witnessed the downsizing of theatrical animation, and saw the competing studio-run operations shut down one by one. The handwriting was on the wall at Disney. He ironically uses the phrase “untold capital”, but he knew that in 1972, Disney was changing too. They wouldn’t be producing as much animation as in the past. On his blog post, Will says that Kimball retired shortly after this letter was written.

But Kimball doesn’t come off as being the least bit angry or disappointed in this letter. He doesn’t bemoan the loss of what once was, he’s exuberant about where a passionate 15 year old could take animation in the future. He told Will to study the fundamentals of art and encouraged him to look beyond what Disney had done and consider the new ideas coming from Bakshi and Crumb. He advised developing a thirst for learning and figuring out how things work. And he summed it all up with the line, “A realistic assessment of what’s going on in the world of animation is very important.”

Beginning with “The Little Mermaid”, big studios dominated. Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Sony, Cartoon Network, Netflix and Disney created their own cartoon factories and employed thousands of people. Now, one by one, just like in 1972, they are cutting back staff. Yesterday, Netflix announced further cutbacks and said that they would be focusing on content created by third party creators in the future. Many of my Facebook friends were bemoaning the layoffs and predicting doom and gloom. But as Kimball points out, it’s important to figure out “how it works” in the here and now.

The phrase “Third party creators” should be a reason to rejoice for all artists. The whole point of being an artist is to CREATE, not to comfortably do the same thing day after day for the rest of your life. Creation requires risks. Corporate studios are averse to taking risks. Put two and two together and read the press release for what it’s really saying to artists. Layoffs may be hard to manage today, but if you follow Kimball’s advice, they may be the best thing that every happened to you.

A job isn’t like your parents. It isn’t there to take care of you. As Kimball says, it’s “a problem of economics”. If you have “a realistic assessment of what’s going on in the world of animation”, you’ll discern the path to the future. Instead of focusing on pink slips and they way things were in the “golden” past, we should focus on the creative aspects… specifically we should engage in curiosity about all things… THINK! THINK! THINK! and consider different approaches that may not fit the formula of our “idols and goals”.

In short, you need to be an artist, not a cog in a corporate wheel. You might be able to be comfortable in a job for a while, but it isn’t going to last forever. The world changes and evolves and you have to change and evolve with it. Instead of being devoted to a job title, specific technology or studio, be devoted to your art form. Focus on creative curiosity and look for the opportunities that come with change and you will be able to accomplish great things even in the downturns. In fact, the downturns may turn into great opportunities for you as an artist.

Student Membership Drive

Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member. For the next couple of weeks our Student Membership will be discounted to only $60/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years. Yes, this applies to full time educators too. Why should you join? Each day we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources. Bookmark us and check back every day.

$60Reference PacksSTUDENT MEMBERSHIP

Discount Ends Nov. 6th!
$70/year $60/year (recurring)

FREE SAMPLES!

Not Convinced Yet? Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

There’s no better way to feed your creativity than to be a member of Animation Resources. Every other month, we share a Reference Pack that is chock full of downloadable e-books and still framable videos designed to expand your horizons and blow your mind. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online.

JOIN NOW Before This Offer Ends!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

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