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Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Members: RefPack023 Is Available For Download Now!

Reference Pack

There’s A New Reference Pack
Animation Resources
Available For Download Today!

Every other month, Animation Resources shares a new Reference Pack with its members. They consist of an e-book packed with high resolution scans and video downloads set up for still frame study. Members. make sure you download the Reference Packs before they expire. When it’s gone, it’s gone!

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Reference Pack 023 is jam-packed with jaw dropping animation and inspirational drawings. First up is a high resolution e-book of the German satirical magazine Simplicissimus. It was the most audacious and daring caricature magazine of its day, lampooning the stiffness of officers of the military, religion, class divisions, loose social morals and inevitably, powerful political leaders. Based in Munich, the staff of Simplicissimus included some of the best draftsmen and most forward thinking illustrators of the day. This PDF e-book reproduces a little over two months worth of issues from 1904 in their entirety.

Astro Boy

Also included is the pilot episode of "Astro Boy" which established many of the concepts that later became known to be a part of the Anime style. The animation in this pilot episode is a model of economy. Independent animators would be well served to analyze the techniques used in this program. Many of the ideas for streamlining the storytelling and reusing drawings directly apply to the tight schedules required for internet cartoon series. We hope you find this to be useful in your own work.

Heckle and Jeckle

That’s not all! Thanks to our Advisory Board Member Steve Stanchfield, we are proud to bring you a rare Terry-Toons cartoon in HD. Jim Tyer animates the lion’s share of this cartoon and he had his own sense for distorting the characters to anticipate big actions that makes even tired gags seem fresh. Choose a scene that makes you laugh and break it down… study the drawings and timing. Notice how Tyer uses repeating rhythmic cycles of rolling eyes or flapping mouths to heighten the comedy. Volumes change depending on the need of the movement. His animation is less about moving characters through space than it is expressing movement through the characters. That is a totally different way of thinking about how to animate a film.

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Bonus Download

With every Reference Pack, we’ll be including a bonus video or e-book from one of our past Reference Packs. This time there are two bonus videos!

Cereal Commercial Reel

Paul Fennell was a pioneer of animated advertising. As early as 1939 he was animating the Kelloggs elves- Snap, Crackle and Pop, and continued to direct commercials starring the trio through the 1950s. This reel of animated cereal commercials features Cheerios spots with brilliant layouts by Ed Benedict. The design and clever limited animation of these commercials foreshadow the style of Hanna-Barbera’s early television series.

Cereal Commercial Reel

Industrial films are fascinating to study. Their primary purpose was to educate and inform, but they also needed to hold the audience’s interest. Animation provided the perfect balance of function and fun. This film about tuberculosis was designed with a very specific audience in mind, but was ephemeral- after their audience had been reached with the message, these sorts of films were no longer needed. For this reason, only a small fraction of the number of industrial films produced over the years survive. This great example was created by the Fennell Studios in 1945.

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Animation Resources is dedicated to helping creative artists raise the bar for the art of animation through self study and research. Reference Pack 022 pulls out all the stops with an hour of rare animation and a 146 page downloadable e-book. If you aren’t a member of Animation Resources yet, YOU SHOULD BE!

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Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

Sample RefPack

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Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Instruction: Animation Reference


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 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.


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.


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


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Friday, July 6th, 2018

REFPACK023: Havoc In Heaven (1960/1964)

Reference Pack

REFPACK022: June / July 2018

Every other month, members of Animation Resources are given access to an exclusive Members Only Reference Pack. These downloadable files are high resolution e-books on a variety of educational subjects and rare cartoons from the collection of Animation Resources in DVD quality. Our current Reference Pack has just been released. If you are a member, click through the link to access the MEMBERS ONLY DOWNLOAD PAGE. If you aren’t a member yet, please JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES. It’s well worth it.


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Uproar In Heaven

“Havoc In Heaven”
The Wan Brothers / 1961/1964

In this Reference Pack, Animation Resources is trying something new. Instead of providing our regular e-book and short films, RefPack022 includes a rare animated feature film in its entirety. We hope you find this to be useful to your studies.

Directed by Wan Laiming, written by Wan Laiming and Li Kuero, and animated by the Shanghai Animation Studio, Havoc in Heaven is a part of a trio of Chinese animated films based upon the "Monkey King Saga" which also inspired the Japanese animated feature Alakazam the Great. It was made by a family of animators known as the Wan Brothers, and the first installment of this trilogy of films, Princess Iron Fan was released in 1941. The second, Hue And Cry Over The Sky was released in 1961. The third segment Big Trouble followed closely in 1964. The last two films were later screened together with an intermission and titled Havoc In Heaven.

The Wan Brothers

We are proud to be able to bring you the last two films in this series. This video transfer comes from China, and unfortunately it does not include English subtitles. But dialogue is minimal and the action is clear, so you should be able to follow along without trouble.

PLEASE NOTE: This video file is very large. Please download the file by itself with no other downloads and please be patient for it to complete downloading. The film is worth the wait!

REFPACK022: Havoc In Heaven
Download Page
M4V Video File / 1:24:28 / 1.4 GB Download


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Havoc In Heaven Synopsis
Part One: Hue And Cry Over The Sky

(0:0:10) After a brief prologue showing Sun Wukong being born out of a rock, the first act begins on the Flower and Fruit Mountain with Wukong watching a military parade by his subjects. Delighted with their martial prowess, he decides to put on a display himself but accidentally breaks his royal sword. Annoyed at being unable to find a suitable weapon for himself, Wukong follows an old monkey’s suggestion to visit the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea for a possible weapon.

(0:05:40) Wukong then dives into the sea and travels to the Dragon King’s palace where he asks for a neighborly gift of a weapon. The Dragon King, amused by the arrogance, orders his soldiers to bring progressively heavier weapons, but Wukong dismisses them all as being too light and flimsy. The Dragon King then takes him to a great pillar which was used by the gods to pin down the sea during the great floods. The pillar is in fact the As-you-will Cudgel, a magical staff weighing eight tons that can change size and Sun Wukong happily takes the weapon. The Dragon King, not expecting Wukong to actually be able to take the great treasure, demands it back, but Wukong rebukes him, saying that the king should not have offered it if he did not want it taken, then returns to his kingdom.

(0:13:54) The Dragon King goes to Heaven and petitions the Celestial Emperor for the return of the pillar and to punish Wukong. General Li quickly offers to send an army, but the God of the North Star suggests that Wukong be given a minor post in Heaven so that he can be kept under close supervision instead. The Emperor agrees to the plan.

(0:15:23) The God of the North Star travels to the Flower and Fruit Mountain and tricks Wukong saying that he was to be honored with a title and a post in Heaven. Wukong travels to Heaven and is granted the post of “Head of the Imperial Stables”, being misled to believe that it is a high-ranking duty. Wukong arrives at the stables and unhappy with the treatment of the horses, sets them loose, letting them roam freely. Wukong is complimented on the improved health and mood of the horses. Shortly afterwards, however, the General of the Imperial Cavalry arrives to inspect the stables and is furious that the horses are free instead of being stabled, and he confronts Wukong, who then realizes that he has been tricked. He easily defeats the General and returns to the Flower and Fruit Mountain.

(0:30:02) The Imperial Court then hears that Wukong has claimed the title of ‘Great Sage Equal of Heaven’, and the furious Emperor orders General Li to capture Wukong. The general sends two of his best soldiers, including the god Nezha, to challenge the Monkey King, but they are defeated easily. General Li threatens to return, but Wukong shouts back defiantly that he and his monkeys will be waiting.

Part Two: Big Trouble

(0:43:10) An omitted part of the original release shows General Li interrupting the Emperor’s tour of his land, requesting additional troops. The God of the North Star interjects, saying that subterfuge is required again and after a short argument, the Emperor agrees to his plan. A short scene of life under the protection of the Monkey King is cut short by the captured God of the North Star being brought to Wukong by monkey soldiers.

(0:44:58) The second act opens with the God of the North Star trying to entice Wukong back to Heaven, but the Monkey King is wary, even with Heaven’s acceptance of the Monkey King’s title. The God makes comments about the Flower and Fruit Mountain, comparing it to the Heavenly Garden, extolling the beauty, scents and fruit compared to earthly delights. Intrigued, Wukong agrees to become the guardian of the Heavenly Garden, another minor post that he is misled to believe is important. Now assumed to be placated, he is left alone in the Garden where he eats the Empress’ peaches of immortality.

(0:52:35) A procession of fairies comes to collect peaches for an important Imperial banquet where they are questioned by Wukong about the banquet’s guests. When he hears that the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea had been invited, but not the ‘Great Sage Equal of Heaven’, Wukong realises he has been tricked again and flies into a rage. The fairies flee, but Wukong stops them with his magic. He goes to the Imperial banquet hall and after putting all the attendants to sleep, begins to sample the food and wine.

(0:59:18) The drunken Monkey King suddenly becomes homesick and steals the entire banquet, putting it into a magical bag for his subjects. He then leaves for the Flower and Fruit Mountain but becomes lost due to his drunkenness, ending up at Lao Tzu’s workshop where he eats the Emperor’s Pills of Immortality. The pills sober him up, allowing him to travel home where he is greeted enthusiastically by his monkeys and he opens the bag, allowing his monkeys to enjoy the stolen food.

(1:03:20) Meanwhile, the Empress discovers the remains of her banquet and petitions the Emperor to punish Wukong. The fairies then tearfully inform the Emperor that Wukong has eaten many of the peaches in the Heavenly Garden. Finally Lao Tzu comes and tells the Emperor that his Pills of Immortality have been stolen. This time, both General Li and the God of the North Star recommend military action.

(1:05:45) The Heavenly army descends on the Flower and Fruit Mountain, where there is heavy fighting between the soldiers and well trained monkeys. Sun Wukong fights and defeats the Four Heavenly Kings, who use a variety of weapons ranging from a sleep-inducing lute to a magical snake. General Li then sends in Erlang Shen and a troop of elite soldiers. Wukong uses his magic to make copies of himself and rapidly defeats the soldiers, then engages Erlang in a duel, which includes a memorable shapeshifting fight and Wukong’s attempt to evade Erlang by transforming himself into a house.

(1:16:53) Seeing that Erlang and the Monkey are equally matched, Lao Tzu interferes, knocking Wukong unconscious, where he is quickly captured. Wukong is sentenced to death and a guillotine is used, but the blade breaks on the Monkey King’s neck. A fire breather tries to burn Wukong to death, but he simply inhales the flames and exhales them over the fire breather, sending him running away on fire. A shower of golden arrows is then used, but only succeeds in sending Sun Wukong to sleep from boredom.

(1:19:45) Lao Tzu suggests incinerating the Monkey King in his eight-way trigram furnace, since he is extremely durable due to his earlier consumption of the Pills of Immortality and the peaches. After days of burning Sun Wukong in the furnace, Lao Tzu opens it, expecting to see nothing but ash, but instead sees two glowing lights which he mistakes for two Pills of Immortality. Reaching in, he discovers that they are actually Wukong’s eyes, hardened by the time in the furnace rather than weakened. Breaking free, he destroys the furnace then destroys most of the Imperial palace, routs the Imperial guards and causes the Emperor to flee in disarray. A finally triumphant Wukong returns to the Flower and Fruit Mountain where he is greeted by his cheering subjects.

Synopsis Source: Wikipedia


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The Wan Brothers

The Wan Brothers Documentary
China / 2005

Included with this feature is a “making of” documentary narrated in Chinese. It’s an amazing look at pioneering animators working in a totally different culture than ours. Animation Resources supporter, Yinghua Moore generously provided this capsule translation of the narration for us in English.

The Uproar in Heaven films (Hue And Cry Over The Sky / Big Trouble) were directed by Wan Laiming, one of the early pioneers of art films in China. These animated films were so popular in China that Wan is regarded as a treasured artist by the Chinese people. Wan Laiming had three brothers- Vancomyein Toad, the twin brother who was moon to Wan Laiming’s sun; Wan Chaochen and Wan Dihuan. They are all well known in China as "The Wan Brothers".

The Wan Brothers

They were born in Nanjing, on the banks of the Yangzi River. Their father, a businessman, expected them to learn a trade from books, so they could make a lot of money when they grew up. But their mother encouraged them to cut paper into the shapes of people and birds, and the sons enjoyed art more than book-learning. When they were young, they performed puppet shows with their paper-cut characters, based on a story from the four classic novels titled "Journey to the West", the books that document the legendary Monkey King epic.

The Wan Brothers

In 1916, the family moved to Shanghai. Wan Laiming took a job working for the Shanghai Commercial Press, and held positions in the Department of Fine Arts and the Department of Activities Movie Service starting in 1919. Inspired by American cartoons, China’s shadow puppet plays, and cinematic techniques he saw in live action films, Wan Laiming began making his own animated films. His brothers joined him at the Shanghai Commercial Press shortly after they graduated from art schools. Together, they made the advertising film, "Shuzhendong Chinese Typewriter" (1925), which marked the beginning of their animation career.

The Wan Brothers

In 1926, they made their first silent animated cartoon short, "Studio In A Row"; and in 1935, they made their first sound cartoon, "The Camel Presentation Dance". After the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan, the Wan Brothers, (with the exception of Wan Duhuan, who had started a photo studio) moved to Wuhan and produced the propaganda films, "Anti-Japanese War Slogan" and "Song of Resistance".

The Wan Brothers

The first full length cartoon feature was made by Walt Disney in 1937, and in 1940, after returning to Shanghai, the Wan Brothers began work on their own 8,000 foot, 80 minute long sound cartoon film, "Tieshangongzhu" (aka Princess Iron Fan, completing it a year later. This film lay a sound foundation for the Wan Brothers’ career in animation production. After its completion, the Wan Brothers moved to Hong Kong for a few years, and in 1954, they returned one by one to New China, where they became directors at the Shanghai Animated Film Studio. They devoted all of their time and energies from that point on to making animated films for New China.

The Wan Brothers

The 1961 film in the "Uproar in Heaven" series is the culmination of all of Wan Laiming’s painstaking efforts. He later recalled how the crew made the movie…

The script of "Uproar in Heaven" was adapted from one of the four classic novels, "Journey to the West". Li Kerou and I were asked to write the story. The first thing we worried about was whether we would dare to present the story as it was told in the book. It was a sensitive issue at the time. We studied the first seven chapters of "Journey to the West" and believed it to have profound significance- the sharp contrasts of conflict and struggle between the oppressor and oppressed within the mythological context. In "Uproar in Heaven", the dramatic conflict is mainly between the Monkey King and the rulers headed up by Emperor Jade. Throughout a series of adventures, the Monkey King matures, and uses his courageous ingenuity, unyielding character and tenacity to prevail.

=The Wan Brothers

The Monkey King has the characteristics of a real monkey- He’s a lively and nimble prankster. But he is also a God that can change 72 times, or become invisible at will. Human beings certainly do not have these features. He is also thoughtful and upright, so in the shaping of the character, it was necessary to exaggerate some aspects and use our imagination. Zhang Guangyu, the main designer on the film, together with Yan Dingxian and Lin Wenxiao made the characters in the film come vividly to life, and they deserve a great deal of credit for the success of the film.

The Wan Brothers

For each scene, we paid particular attention to the setting and atmosphere in order to unify the scenes with the personality and style of the characters. We absorbed the best essence of Chinese folk art tradition, and added to it our own imagination. As a result, the film has a very special flavor. Because of the fantasized atmosphere of the myth, we strived to construct a unity of rich colors, refinement toward simplicity and a shaping of the images that is more "vague" than "real". By doing this, we achieved a greater artistic effect.

The pacing of the film adopted many techniques of montage, so the story develops quickly, avoiding a slow unfolding of the plot. We made use of typical Chinese folk music- the drums and percussion instruments commonly used in Peking opera. This added a strong sense of rhythm to the action of the figures.

The Wan Brothers

The director of photography on the picture was Duan Xiaoxun. She later described how they shot the effects on the Monkey King’s weapon, and the magnificent palaces of the heavens…

The Monkey King’s weapon is called the "Jingubang". It looks like a glittering red stick with yellow on both ends. In order to make it glow and sparkle, we employed multiple exposures, and it proved to be a very successful technique in the film.

The Wan Brothers

The voices were provided by many famous actors of the time. Among them were Qiu Yiefeng (Monkey King), Fu Runsheng (Emperor Jade), and Shang Hua (Taibaijinxing). Their excellent work added a great deal to the film.

The Wan Brothers

After more than a year, and nearly 70,000 drawings, the image of the Monkey King finally appeared on the big screen. Wan Laiming’s decades old dream had come true. In the 1980s, the Wan Brothers were awarded an honor by the Chinese government for devoting their life to Chinese arts and filmmaking. Wan Laiming passed away 1999 at the age of 98. His tombstone reads, "Founder of the Chinese Animation Industry".

The Wan Brothers

Wan Brothers Documentary
MOV Video File / 35:12 / 75 MB Download


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Uproar In Heaven
Uproar In Heaven
Uproar In Heaven
Uproar In Heaven
Uproar In HeavenUproar In Heaven


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Not A Member Yet? Want A Free Sample?

Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

Sample RefPack

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