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This paper was written in a class as an exercise in analyzing a pre-1940 Disney cartoon short’s form, and how the formal elements of the film do or do not contribute toward putting over a convincing cartoon reality.  I settled on Just Mickey (1930) because it stuck out to me as unique in the Mickey Mouse series at the time.  Take a look here if you have seen it.  Also, I apologize for the messy footnotes.  I’m trying to understand how to format them better via WordPress.

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For Walt Disney Productions in the 1930’s, the constant improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness in recreating the “illusion of life” through animation was the motivating drumbeat that often worked its way into many of the studio’s projects.  Though many of their milestones in depth, color, and convincing motion and physics were depicted in the Silly Symphony series, the character of Mickey Mouse could provide an equally compelling vehicle for advancing the technique and art of animation from time to time. One such cartoon that exemplifies these progressions is Just Mickey (also titled Fiddlin’ Around) (1930).  Especially when taken in context of the surrounding Mickey Mouse releases, this cartoon is highly ambitious in terms of conveying personality, characterization, and emotion, while more emergent in other formal elements such as sound and physical movement. The film fits into the studio’s long-term vision for a higher degree of realism, yet reveals in its simplicity to be concerned really with only perfecting personality animation and characterization, conceding to further resolve others elements like sound, color, and depth later in the decade.

To begin, first consider the film’s approach to space, which is constructed by both depth and sound. Easily enough, the majority of the film’s action occurs on a proscenium.  Only briefly is Mickey Mouse depicted walking from the back of the stage to the front.  This opening shot provides the greatest depth contrast to the otherwise flat curtain.  While it puts over a convincingly deep shot, it’s highly mechanical, and a primitive portrayal of depth at best.  The space is communicated only by Mickey’s growth in perspective as he approaches the audience, and never shakes the feeling of being artificially produced. It is depth communicated by the drawn action, and not by the camera itself.

Just Mickey, directed by Walt Disney (1930; Walt Disney Productions, 2004), DVD.

Just Mickey, directed by Walt Disney (1930; Walt Disney Productions, 2004), DVD.

Depth is also briefly communicated by Mickey’s shadow, which matches his movements in the spotlight, and even obeys a shift in light as he plods offstage. Overall, there is a conscious effort to evoke depth, yet it falls flat in its forced appearance and inefficient reproducibility (such drawn depth could never hold up the detailed pans and trucks required in films like The Old Mill [1937]).

Another element that helps construct the space is sound, which Disney is able to use here to varying degrees of reality.  Of course, considering nearly all of the action Mickey engages in is playing the violin, this is a somewhat simple task. However, space is still constructed through the use of sound. Notice how the steps grow louder as Mickey approaches the front of the stage, or the soft swish of his hair as he shakes his head.  These efforts to crescendo or soften sound communicate a concern for establishing and obeying (occasionally) the physic principles of a drawn world. Perhaps most illuminating is the use of off-screen sound, in this case a heckling spectator, and the larger audience to which he belongs.  With little plot and no camera movement, the off-screen sound is vital in establishing where Mickey is, who he is playing for, and perhaps even some small obstacle to overcome (the heckler) by playing his violin to actual pieces. Of course, the soundtrack falls short of realism with effects like a ringing bell when Mickey is hit on the head.  Though there are problems of consistency and economic, industrial reproducibility, Just Mickey provides a ground for improvement in establishing animated space, though it is by no means a milestone picture in that formal element for Disney.

With the space established, next consider what and who live in that space, and whether they are convincingly presented. For this film, it is clear that Disney and his animators have begun to distance themselves from gags that break with believable physics. Though the animators here are still working out believable motion, weight, and force (notably in the breaking of the violin), the gags are entirely situational and emotional.  True, Mickey’s hair does seem to be flippantly and conveniently introduced, yet it’s a story element that carries believability and departs from the gags of physical transformation and removal of appendages, not to mention that it is consistent through the film. This is just the beginning of a larger progression towards stories of consistent physicality.  In addition to a less outrageously driven gag story, the animators invoke Mickey with more believable action.  There is no question that this film is predominantly animated on the reliance of “rubber house” animation, particularly in Mickey’s arms and legs; however, this was a constant struggle, and can even be seen cropping up in the character of Snow White years later in 1937.  What most noticeably catches the eye is the secondary action occurring while Mickey plays the violin.  As he pushes back the bow, his near foot offsets that action with a twist.  When his weight shifts and he pulls the bow back again, then comes another twist of the foot on the opposite side. As animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston describe, this adds “richness to the scene, naturalness to the action, and a fuller dimension to the personality of the character.” [1]

Or consider the manner in which Mickey’s entire face convulses as he cries, as opposed to simple tears streaming down his cheeks.  Further, there is even an element of squash and stretch in the violin as it bends and bows under Mickey’s aggressive finale.  While these principles were likely not even codified at this time, the film provides imagery that suggests the animators were pursuing physics in their drawings that emulated a style in the illusion of life. The techniques used here are by and large crude, and hardly even qualify as examples of their principles on animation, but the point is made to recognize the ideas and qualities that animation was moving towards just two years after the inception of Mickey Mouse. While physical construction of Mickey in the cartoon can at times detract from that goal with his rubbery build, there is inarguably a conscientious effort toward attaining a realism to the motions, imperfect as they may be at this time.

As a composite, though, each of the above formal elements exist to contribute in some way toward the film’s actual purpose, which is a character study of Mickey Mouse.  Important to note is that the concern of the picture is not establishing who Mickey Mouse is – two years in film had already familiarized him – rather it was in effectively representing that character in close up action, in his characterization.  The six-minute film could not be sustained alone on the action of Mickey playing the violin, but instead he must exhibit believable emotion. This explains the simplified story all the more, because more than action and movement, what the animators had to focus on was drawing personality.  Animation historian Michael Barrier emphasizes that this need for personality was one of Walt Disney’s most pressing concerns, noting:

Disney and the best of his animators, working in their own humble medium, were struggling to bring just such an emotional dimension to animation that represented the mechanics of movement with increasing accuracy.[2]

This “emotional dimension” was concerned with how the feelings affected bodily movement, and though the above quote is in relation to the three years distant Three Little Pigs (1933), it is also true of the struggle Disney’s team pursued in Just Mickey. In seconds, the audience watches Mickey work through feelings of embarrassment, excitement, surprise, anger, determination, and then joy after coming on stage.  Arguably, characterization and personality are formal elements that precede realistic movement in significance.  Without a compelling, believable character, what cause does Mickey’s audience (quite literally in this short) have to care for what he does?  The subtler movements of a violin concerto provided the studio team the space to tackle a deeper character study that might not be achievable in the broad action of a cartoon like The Barnyard Concert (1930), which immediately preceded this one. In this intimate space, Mickey can work through performances of practiced determination, sadness, and foot-stomping joy, all defined and characterized by his reactions to the crowd and the rhythms of his music. When he plays, Mickey’s determination is shown through rhythmic bouncing in synchronization with the tempo. It is a step beyond simple “mickey-mousing,” because here the character generates the music, and must physically accommodate the effort required to play it.  His sadness is communicated in crying not just a single tear, but sniffles, a wipe of the nose with the bow, and slumped shoulders and dragging feet.  In the finale, his uproarious surprise as he slides across the floor is deeply contrasted by a bitter display of disgust and contempt toward his heckler.  Recall, this is just two years following Plane Crazy (1928) in which Mickey’s expression of surprise is conveyed by his ears jumping off of his head.  The level at which Disney’s artists could now communicate emotion and feeling had bounded far ahead, even if the mechanics of animation were still held back in the rubber hose style of construction.

With a film such as Just Mickey, the artists and story men of Walt Disney Productions were given a vote of confidence in their newfound ability to create characters with capacities for a range of emotions and believability as actors.  Their efforts to compose space and depth via sound and perspective are recognized in this film but adjusted and improved in future films of the decade.  The crudeness of the art form could eventually catch up, but it was clearing this first hurdle to imbue personality and characterization in primitively drawn characters who were initially conceived as little more than trivialities that marks Just Mickey as a contributor to Disney’s struggle for the “illusion of life” via personality animation.

[1] Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (New York: Hyperion, 1995), 64.

[2] Barrier, Michael. The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 98.

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Below is a paper I wrote for a class titled History of the International Cinema: Part One.   Kind of a pretentious class title, right?  It was a wonder that I thought it was a good idea to turn in this paper on the trivial subject of animation, but thanks to this Leonard Maltin article, I was able to very quickly nail down a solid assertion, and simultaneously learn a whole lot about this period of animation that I hadn’t previously fully understood!  It was a real pleasure to write, and I hope it’s enjoyable to read as well!

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     The history of animation, especially its early days in the 1910’s and 1920’s, is comparable to one major “near miss.”   Animation, had it remained grounded in the style of Émile Cohl and other contemporary European artists, and the grand artistic visions of Winsor McCay in America, could have found itself uniquely positioned as a leading form of high art over the next century, but profitability conquered auteur artistry. Walt Disney made a major effort to counteract this sacrifice of artistic achievement, but his failure ultimately led to the often marginalized genre as it is known today. In 1940, at a budget exceeding two and a quarter million dollars Disney released Fantasia (1940), which shall be shown to be the pinnacle of “animated high art.”  Compare this with the production budget of Casablanca (1943) which stood at just over one million dollars, and it is clear that animation was an industry that sought great heights just the same as live film during these early years.  Just as Casablanca was the culmination of film technique up to that point in time, Fantasia also was the culmination of the animated genre and its development up through that point in time.  Had animation and live film been compared side by side in the 1910’s and early 1920’s, viewers would be hard pressed to argue that either type of film was trivial in comparison to the other.  Arguably, prior to animation’s industrialization in the United States between 1915 and 1925, it was a medium of high art, and could have remained that way had profitability and consumer demand not effectively destroyed its prospects for anything other than character-focused narrative after the failure of Fantasia in 1940.

     To begin, animation origins are not quite as well defined as the origins of live motion pictures.  It is also hard to pinpoint what exactly qualifies as animation.  The trick films of Georges Méliés, G.A Smith, and others employed old theatrical wire tricks to make things move independently, but in 1907 James Stuart Blackton released L’Hôtel Hanté through Vitagraph in Paris, and audiences were astonished when close ups of a table setting itself revealed no wires or traditional tricks, thanks to the technique of animation (Crafton, Before Mickey 13-14).  On the other hand, animation as it is traditionally thought of was being explored by Émile Cohl in France in 1908.  Cohl was one of the pioneers of animation, and though animation’s origins are ambiguous, he can be credited with a fairly large hand in the development of the medium.  The style most attributable to Émile Cohl was the “Incoherent Cinema,” an aesthetic he originated in his 1908 short film Fantasmagorie, his first animated cartoon, and the first step forward in animation as its own art form.  He created this while simultaneously writing scenarios for the Gaumont studio, working alongside Louis Feuillade and Etienne Arnaud (Crafton, Before Mickey 65-66).  The picture was released under the Gaumont name, and with its nearly 2 minute running time, “most viewers were undoubtedly left puzzled by this curious apparition” (Crafton, Émile Cohl 121).  This incoherent cinema style is incredibly fluid and unpredictable.  At one point in the film, a man is swallowed by a cannon, which tilts upward to change into a bottle, but then suddenly peels to reveal the man standing in the center of a flower (Fantasmagorie).   Earlier experiments in animation allowed the artists to be present with their on-  screen creations, and Cohl does not entirely ditch this concept with Fantasmagorie.  What differentiated Cohl from more primitive animators was his prior experience as an artist.  Cohl’s interests actually heavily concentrated in painting and poetry, and as a member of the Société des Dessinateurs Humoristes, “Émile Cohl was the first artist with an established reputation to become a full time filmmaker” (Crafton, Before Mickey 65). 

     Émile Cohl was not the only artist to transfer into the medium of animation.  Take for example Hans Richter or Viking Eggeling and their work between 1915 and 1923.  Both were fine artists seeking to translate their still art into motion through animation.  Their inspiration coincided with the avant-garde movement taking place in cinema at the time, and some films were just as much about exploring cinematic potential as they were about artistic expression. For Eggeling, Symphonie Diagnole was, on top of being an experiment in kinetic art, an exploration in spatial relationship in a camera frame.  Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 21 was based on similar ideas.  In the same vein of experimentation, Walter Ruttmann in Berlin was creating new animated forms for his Opus series of films.  He presented a contrasting body of work for his time, for while “Richter and Eggeling used music as a structural model to analyze the movement through time and space, Ruttmann was more interested in translating the emotional overtones of music into moving colored images” (Lawder 62).  Ruttmann’s experience in creating his Opus films actually led to his contribution to live film work in his “city symphony” Berlin, Symphonie diner Grossstadt (1927).  His practice with the patterned rhythms and abstract forms of Opus allowed him to craft his choices of objects and shots in this film.  On top of all this, Opus I (1921) was created in color, showing that animation was able to keep pace with the technological advancements in live film.

      As this all began, Bernhard Diebold, a German film critic of the time, wrote in 1916 of a new medium of art that would combine movement with music through film.  Diebold expressed a desire for “film-as-painted-music…based on the theory of synaesthetic correspondences, which presumed the existence of specific auditory and visual stimuli to elicit identical inner emotional states” (Lawder 56).  This relates back to the earlier assertion that Disney’s Fantasia was a culmination of everything the animation industry had pushed to achieve in its early days.  It was both the peak of Diebold’s desire for “film-as-painted-music” and the end of this notion, as neither Disney nor any other animation studio would pursue such a film again. Esther Leslie, a professor at Birkbeck College in London, echoes Diebold’s sentiment in her essay “Animation and History.”  She invokes Diebold, paraphrasing his assertion that “if cinema was to be an art form…it needed animation, because that made possible a cinema that had broken free of a naturalistic template and conventional story lines” (Leslie 33). Clearly, animation had both its own evolving development as an art form for abstract, modern artists in Europe, but it also acted as a testing ground for filmmakers and artists to better understand the intangible elements of film like rhythm, form, and composition.

Colorful forms from Ruttman's "Opus" series.

Colorful forms from Ruttman’s Opus series.

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     Moving from Europe to the United States, Winsor McCay, an American cartoonist, was busy developing his own animation process with slightly different intentions than Émile Cohl.  In fact, McCay’s attitude towards animation very much resembled the “cinema of attraction” displayed by early filmmakers like the Lumiére Brothers and Mélies trick films, and in his first film, “the four-minute sequence exploits movement for its own sake in a highly exploratory way” (Crafton, Before Mickey 103).  While McCay was able to work in to his early projects some semblance of narrative (something entirely lacking from Cohl’s Fantasmagorie), his first three and most famous productions were far more concentrated in spectacle than narrative.  As a cartoonist and vaudeville performer, McCay was an already established figure.  He wrote a newspaper comic strip at the time called Little Nemo in Slumberland.  Thus, when McCay translated this highly popular cartoon into the animated medium in 1911, it became a wildly popular piece of the exhibitionist cinema.  His first three cartoons, Little Nemo, followed by The Story of a Mosquito (1912) and Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), all featured between 3000 and 5000 drawings each, and they were all produced with the purpose of accompanying McCay in a traveling live stage act.  The most famous of these was Gertie, which featured McCay physically climbing up a ladder behind the screen and timing it so that he would then appear on screen with the dinosaur.  As an American, McCay’s vision for animation somewhat differed from what would come to be.  In an article published in a 1911 issue of The Atlanta Constitution, McCay was discussing his work on Little Nemo, and predicted “ a day when finished paintings will possess life and action” (Ormond 16). 

      The American animation industry would not concentrate on this path, however.  Instead, there was John R. Bray, “animation’s greatest proponent of the mass-production…[and] at once the Henry Ford, Harold Lloyd and Thomas Edison of the cartoon business” (Adamson 48).  John Bray can be thought of as the man who brought animation out of experimentation and capitalized on its potential for business.  When he got a chance to experiment with animation around 1915, Bray patented one of the vital pieces of the standardized animation process, the cel.  This allowed a translucent sheet to separate the body of the character or animated element from the stationary background.  A Bray studio advertisement from Moving Picture World in 1919 asserts, “The Bray Studios has always led in the development of improved processes for superior animation,” and considering the cel was continually used through the 1990’s, this arrogant advertisement is more or less justified (Bray).  For a while, Bray was contracted with Paramount, creating short educational segments, newsreels, and the first military training films.  His artists included Paul Terry, Max Fleischer, Walter Lantz, and several other influential men that went on to Disney and Warner Bros. in the 1930’s.  Though Bray never created any lasting property, he did establish the business model of mass production in animation which would be adopted by the most influential animators of the next two decades .

     After Bray’s withdrawal from animation, the medium declined.  European artists were no longer using animation as an artistic medium in the 1920’s, and thanks to Bray, animation had become industrialized in the pattern of Hollywood films, effectively stifling the expensive, labor-intensive productions McCay had been exploring a decade earlier.  It was only with Walt Disney’s bet on sound in 1928 with Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie that animation continued to stay technologically relevant with film.  Disney’s competitors would follow suit, transferring to sound in the 1930’s, until he took another major leap forward in 1932 with Flowers and Trees, the first film to ever use Technicolor’s three-strip full-color process.  Five years later, Disney would step forward again with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), the first feature length animated picture.  Again, the industry followed, and the Fleischer brothers would release their own picture in 1941, Mr. Bug Goes to Town. 

The pinnacle of animation as high art, "Fantasia" was able to incorporate abstract form alongside music driven and character driven story lines.

The pinnacle of animation as high art, Fantasia was able to incorporate abstract form alongside music driven and character driven story lines.

Throughout the 1930’s, Disney continually pushed for more cohesive stories when other studios were satisfied with cartoons that relied solely on gags.  All of this culminated with Fantasia in 1940, a full color film that was broken into eight segments and featured strictly no-dialogue in the story segments.  The only sound accompaniment — which was provided in the debut of stereophonic sound — was the symphonic orchestration.  The narrative, character, tone, and overall theme of each segment was wholly informed by the music, fulfilling Diebold’s prediction.  It was an effort to reverse the pattern of animation as a trivial accompaniment to major features and instead return to animation as a high art form.  It was, in fact, recognized as such at the Academy Awards where it received two special recognition awards for its advancement in technology and in the motion picture as an art form.  The goals of Richter, Eggeling, and Ruttmann’s experiments almost seem to directly inform this production, but box office returns turned out to be more influential in the future.

Animated form timed to music in "Fantasia," something reflected in the "Opus" series.

Animated form timed to music in Fantasia, something reflected in the Opus series.

Disney’s grand vision was shattered when the film saw abysmal box office returns, and it was only due to the major success of Snow White and relative success of Dumbo (1941) that the studio stayed alive.  Disney would not be able to produce another major motion picture until the 1950’s, and though he continued to push forward innovative filmmaking techniques — Lady and the Tramp being the first animated feature to be released in CinemaScope — Disney did not have the capital to innovate on such a grand scale, especially with his other ventures in theme parks and television.  According to film critic Leonard Maltin, “Creativity remained a hallmark of the animated features and shorts that came from his studio, but the bold era of experimentation was over.  The failure of Fantasia would remain a sore spot with Disney for the rest of his life” (Maltin).

     In spite of its best efforts, animation eventually tumbled into the mass-production form it is known for today, and Bray’s introduction of a business mindset won out.  Walt Disney, in his early years, made concerted efforts to reverse the pattern of lazy comic adaption and character inconsistency in animation with his elaborate shorts and innovative technologies, but his failure with Fantasia, followed by limitations brought on by World War II, resulted in the culmination and effective end of popular animation as fine art.  It was a hybridization years in the making and anticipated from nearly the beginning of the medium, but American industry more or less refused to let the two coexist. Nevertheless, the simple fact that in Fantasia Mickey Mouse can and does exist within a German poem and move in rhythm with a French symphony proves there is yet a potential for animation that will hopefully be further explored in the future.

Works Cited

Adamson, Joe. The Walter Lantz Story: With Woody Woodpecker and Friends. New York: Putnam, 1985. Print.

Bray, John R. “Bray Studios Pictograph.” Internet Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 15.

Crafton, Donald. Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1982. Print.

Crafton, Donald. Emile Cohl, Caricature, and Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990. Print.

Fantasmagorie. Dir. Émile Cohl. Gaumont, 1908. Web.

Lawder, Standish D. The Cubist Cinema. New York: New York UP, 1975. Print. Anthology Film  Archives.

Leslie, Esther. “Animation and History.” Animating Film Theory. Ed. Karen Beckman. London: Duke UP, 2014. 25-36. Print.

Maltin, Leonard. “When Disney Got Adult and Trippy.” BBC. BBC, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Ormond, Sidney. “Pictorial Art of the Future Will Move; Pity the Poor Newspaper Cartoonist.” The Atlanta Constitution 1 June 1911: 1+. ProQuest. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Bibliography

Adamson, Joe. The Walter Lantz Story: With Woody Woodpecker and Friends. New York: Putnam, 1985. Print.

Barrier, J. Michael. Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. Dir. Walter Ruttman. 1927. Web.

Bray, John R. “Bray Studios Pictograph.” Internet Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 15.

Bruckner, René, Dr. History of the International Cinema. Norris Cinema Theater, Los Angeles. 24 Aug. 2015. Lecture.

Crafton, Donald. Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1982. Print.

Crafton, Donald. Émile Cohl, Caricature, and Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990. Print.

Fantasia. Prod. Walt Disney and Ben Sharpsteen. Perf. Leopold Stokowski and Deems Taylor. Walt Disney Productions, 1940. DVD.

Fantasmagorie. Dir. Émile Cohl. Gaumont, 1908. Web.

The Haunted Hotel. Dir. Stuart Blackton. Vitagraph, 1907. Web.

Heraldson, Donald. Creators of Life: A History of Animation. New York: Drake, 1975. Print.

Korkis, Jim. The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. N.p.: Theme Park, 2013. Print.

Lawder, Standish D. The Cubist Cinema. New York: New York UP, 1975. Print. Anthology Film Archives.

Leslie, Esther. “Animation and History.” Animating Film Theory. Ed. Karen Beckman. London: Duke UP, 2014. 25-36. Print.

Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich, and Oksana Bulgakowa. The White Rectangle: Writings on Film. Berlin: Potemkin, 2002. Print.

Maltin, Leonard. “When Disney Got Adult and Trippy.” BBC. BBC, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Opus I. Dir. Walter Ruttman. 1921. Web.

Ormond, Sidney. “Pictorial Art of the Future Will Move; Pity the Poor Newspaper Cartoonist.” The Atlanta Constitution 1 June 1911: 1+. ProQuest. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Peary, Danny, and Gerald Peary. The American Animated Cartoon: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1980. Print.

Schwarz, Arturo. Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination. London: Thames and Hudson, 1977. Print.

Symphonie Diagonale. Dir. Viking Eggeling. 1924. Web.

Connections are important.  They are the supply lines of careers that can often act as a springboard for up-and-coming talent in any profession.  In film especially, connections can provide a strong basis on which you can begin a career.  The best way to form these when you live in the middle of nowhere is through email, and over the years, that is exactly what I’ve been trying to do.  I’ve come across some very valuable advice from a woman who has worked as an animator on The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh.  Just recently, according to iMDb.com, she worked in the visual development of Wreck-it Ralph.  This woman is Sarah Airriess whose blog you can find here.

Following the release of The Princess and the FrogI found Mrs. Airriess’ name listed in the credits as an apprentice animator.  Hoping to find how she had made it to this stage in her life, I emailed her a few questions along the lines of “What advice do you have for a kid who wants to do what you do some day?” I also couldn’t resist asking her what parts she animated.  The response I received was fantastic, and her advice was surprisingly simple.

First of all, she recommended some materials to learn from, specifically a website this website:  The Temple of the Seven Golden Camels .  It is a goldmine in terms of explaining various aspects of storytelling.  The author(s) has posted articles ranging in subject from costumes to character arcs.  Whether you want to better understand movies, or simply add to your writing, this blog will help out invaluably.  In addition to this, Mrs. Airriess recommended the practice of “stop-framing,” as she described it.  Basically, she explained that by playing back animated classics like Snow White or Tarzan frame by frame, a viewer can study character movements and understand better the idea of what animation should look like in the individual drawings.  Through the method of “stop-framing,” you really can get a first-hand look at what animation legends put into their drawings to bring out the life.  I’ve even tried it with Looney Tunes cartoons.  When “stop-framing” a Looney Tunes cartoon however, if it is directed by Chuck Jones, you will find that every few frames contain one of his own key frames, as he would draw out the keys for many of his cartoons, including all three episodes of The Hunting Trilogy.

I also found that Mrs. Airriess animated in The Princess and the Frog many background and crowd shots, as well as a few scenes with Dr. Facilier.  The lesson to be learned from all of this is that a simple email is possibly the most empowering tool for any adolescent looking towards his or her future.  The worst that can happen is your contact may decline or forget to respond due to a heavy work schedule.  All of this valuable advice has come straight from a professional.  It’s safe to say that connections are pretty powerful stuff, and coincidently, they’re in the name of my blog.  (I didn’t mean to do that at all).

Sarah Airriess created this pencil test of Dr. Facilier.  Notice how much energy and flexibility she gave Facilier in this shot, even though the camera angle was in an unfamiliar position.  It’s impressive how visible the energy is in the character, despite the rough form it is presented in the video.  ( http://www.penciltestdepot.com/2011/03/bruce-smith-facilier-patf.html )