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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:30 am 
Collector's Edition

Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 11:05 pm
Posts: 694
In case some should be interesting in knowing how the old cel animation at Disney used to be made:

Helen Ogger
http://www.animationartist.com/columns/ ... rouge.html
The famous blush on Snow White's cheeks was a rose-colored dye - not paint, which, when carefully applied, bled into the surface of the cell itself, thus producing this soft, diffused effect as the dye seeped through. This was applied to the top of the finished cell with a small piece of cotton wrapped around a tipple pencil, not unlike a Q-Tip. Just how this process was ultimately reached is more difficult to substantiate. The late Ruth Thompson, a cell painter on "Snow White" who later became a multiplane scene planner, recalled: "We tried everything - airbrush, drybrush, even lipstick and rouge, which is perhaps the basis for the legend because we did, in fact, try it. But nothing worked."

The airbrush was difficult to control on such a small area; drybrush was too harsh; lipstick and rouge unwieldy and messy. Everything proved to be impractical and all hope seemed lost to give Snow White her little bit of color when the idea of using a dye was proposed. Again Ms. Thompson: "Someone suggested a red dye because the blue day we added to give Donald Duck his distinctive sailor-blue never really could be washed off the cell without leaving a bluish stain where the paint had been applied." Apparently Donald's special blue color was made with a dye added to the usual powdered pigments. "So we tried that." As the women gathered around in what must have seemed just another dead-end effort, all eyes became fixed on the red dot which soon became a small glow with no perceptible edge. The hushed silence soon gave way to sighs of relief. The method had finally been found. Now the application. Who could apply it consistently to the same spot on each cell, a very difficult proposition.

Among the studio's many inkers (an extremely demanding profession), was one young lady whose training and skill was unique: Helen Ogger. Just being an inker placed one within the elite confines of this most "holy of holies" area of the Nunnery, as the Ink and Paint Department was so called . But Helen was in addition a very fine cartoonist and one of the few women at Disney's or anywhere else, who could animate.

Helen first came to the studio in 1931. Born in Caro, Michigan, she moved with her family to Glendale, California when she was 14. After graduation from Glendale Union High School in 1927 she attended USC for two years until 1930 and after that art school. A friend of many years as well as a fellow inker, Juanita Fernandez also attended the same school: "We both attended Frank Wiggins Trade School (later Los Angeles Trade Technical College) and studied art. Helen was a wonderful cartoonist who could draw very funny caricatures of all her friends (she would graduate in June of 1931 with a major in Advertising Illustration). And she could animate."

Her careful attention to detail has made her work on "Snow White" an important ingredient in the overall success of this feature cartoon and another reason for its permanence among the great works of the Twentieth Century. When one adds up the number of footage required to be tinted freehand on each individual cell, the hours suddenly turn into weeks and months. In fact, such a treatment was never attempted again on such a scale and even today, the publicity stills from "Snow White," most of which do not have the added blush, bear witness to how that little touch of extra care adds to the vitality we see on the screen. The work was done on all close-ups, most medium shots, and even on some long shots. The Queen was also similarly tinted. Hundreds of hours were needed to complete this task, arduous, repetitive and, of course, hard on the eyes. Ultimately a handful of other girls were needed to assist Helen as the clocked ticked toward the deadline.

Helen had to place several cells together on an animation board, one atop the other, just like in the process of animation, in order to get the 'registration' right (the spot of red just right in relation to the preceding and following ones) - all of this without any guide. She would work out her own extremes and then 'animate' the blush in inbetweens. She was paid, as were the rest of the Inkers, $18 a week, which included a half-day on Saturday and the many, many hours of unpaid overtime "Snow White" would require - all given unstintingly, (by everyone involved, it should be added), to a project whose joy in participating was its own reward. She eventually became head of Inking and Special Effects and even taught classes in animation at the studio. She left in 1941, taking her skills with her. Perhaps it is safe to say that her departure was critical to the abrupt demise of this now unique effect (it was also used, though on a much smaller scale in both "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia"). None of the other inkers or painters were animators and it is this fact, not just the factor of economy nor the changing tastes, which surely must be considered a reason why such details were never attempted again.

Ken O'Connor
https://www.mouseplanet.com/11595/Disne ... en_OConnor
In the days before computers, special-effects artists, who drew all the individual sparkles surrounding Cinderella when her ball gown appeared, or the movement of the waves and ripples in the watery domain of Monstro the whale, or even the realistic (and at the same time impressionistic) blazing forest fire that threatened the animals in Bambi (1942), received little recognition for their demanding work.

Ken O'Connor was deservedly made a Disney Legend in 1992 for his work in that field, but I think many Disney fans are clueless about why he received that distinction, other than the fact that he worked in animation and was old.

O'Connor is the person who laid out that sequence and had to work out all the perspective problems, like the cards becoming big in the foreground and receding into being smaller rectangles as they pulled back. He made grids with vanishing points on his layouts so that the animators, like Judge Whitaker, could understand how to do it correctly.

"It had to convey the third dimension by size and appearance and vanish," O'Connor told interviewer Ron Merk in 1993. "There was a vanishing to each card. I had to have a horizon line in mind all the time even if it didn't show and work to it. You've got to turn all these hearts and spades and diamonds and then back again. And they're in perspective. That's a devil of a thing to do."

O'Connor was born June 7, 1908 in Perth, Australia. His dad owned a newspaper, so the young O'Connor started his career as a reporter at the age of 16.

When his dad got a job with the Australian National Travel Association (to promote tourism), the whole family relocated to San Francisco, California, around 1930, where O'Connor attended the California School of Fine Arts and earned a living as an art director for a local poster company.

In 1935, the Disney Studios did a massive campaign to recruit new artists for its forthcoming animated feature and urged by his father to apply for the job, O'Connor took a trip to Los Angeles.

He was hired as an in-betweener, but quickly got moved into the Effects Animation Department. He was then assigned to do rotoscoping (tracing film of live-action performers into rough line drawings that would later be exaggerated by animators) on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

That tedious work helped him to better understand how drawings moved in animation rather than static illustrations that had been his previous experience.

After Snow White was released, he got moved to assisting layout artist Leo Thiele and gained attention for his layout work on the Mickey Mouse short, Clock Cleaners (1937) and, in particular, the sequences with the vertigo-inducing perspective that added to the drama of Goofy stumbling around impossible heights on the outside of a building. He violated a lot of rules of perspectives for dramatic effect that added to the suspense and humor.

"Having learned perspective and how to make depth in a picture, the next thing was to learn how to break the rules, so that you could enhance the scene," said O'Connor in 1977. "I had Goofy staggering along the edge of a ledge. He had been hit in the head and was dizzy. I wanted the audience to feel it was high up and a sense of vertigo and danger. So I took the ledge he had to come down and established the vanishing point.

"All horizontal planes vanish on the horizon but for the sake of this scene which was a vertical pan and the camera could only take in a certain amount, I deliberately dropped the landscape (of the other buildings) down to make it seem more dangerous and give him a feeling of being exposed to space and air."

O'Connor contributed to 13 full-length animated features, including Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Lady and the Tramp (1955).

For Pinocchio, he was responsible for laying out that overhead scene from the song "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee" as Honest John the fox and Gideon the cat curve through the streets of the town with Pinocchio to convince him that he should pursue an actor's life. He filmed live-action reference in a sound stage before laying out the scene.

In an April 1984 interview with Anita Weld, Ward Kimball stated, "Ken is able to combine a good sense of draftsmanship with a mechanical knowledge, and figure out how things would look in fifty years. He arrived at some very interesting solutions when we worked on the space series with scientists like Wernher von Braun. I'd ask him for some quick sketches of how an underwater restaurant would look, and he would come up with some wild ideas."

After his Disney retirement, he worked as an instructor at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). At CalArts, his students included Tim Burton, Jerry Rees, John Lasseter, Henry Selick, John Musker, Brad Bird, and many others who went on to have a huge impact on animation.

The Disney company also brought him back as it did other old timers as a part-time "visual development consultant" to animation but his suggestions were for the most part ignored, like his design of Ursula the sea witch for The Little Mermaid (1989) as a manta ray with the wings being a black cape.

For Cinderella, O'Connor built an actual model of the pumpkin coach out of balsa wood and wire wheels and photographed it from different angles to aid in the drawing of changing perspectives of the magical vehicle. It was O'Connor who decided that the transformed coach would still have echoes of a pumpkin like the coachman's seat would resemble a leaf on a vine as well as making the spokes of the wheels as spirals.

Amazingly, when O'Connor showed Walt the model, Walt approved it with no changes, just some questions about some of the techniques that O'Connor had used because Walt was deeply involved at the time in making miniatures himself.

For Lady and the Tramp, O'Connor stated, "I was more concerned with what is Lady's point-of-view. That's important. So I had shots under the furniture from a short dog's-eye point-of-view."

For the "Trees" segment in the compilation film Melody Time (1948), it was O'Connor who decided to use frosted cels with the pastel images rendered right onto the cel to help preserve the integrity of the original story sketches. Each cel was laminated in clear lacquer (to preserve the pastel from smudging off) before being photographed by the animation camera to give a distinctive look that had never before been done.

O'Connor's design of the "Pink Elephants" sequence in Dumbo (1941) was much cleverer than many animation fans suspect. In the era before computers, pretty much everything was done by hand.

One of the most iconic and memorable sequences in the feature film was the drunken hallucination that the young elephant had of pink elephants on parade after inadvertently drinking from a tub of water spiked by champagne from celebrating circus clowns.

Seeing pink elephants is a reference to the euphemistic cliché that a highly intoxicated drunken person might envision such odd things. In the 1913 Jack London novel John Barleycorn, there is a phrase that an alcoholic man hallucinated "blue mice and pink elephants" since the allusion to pink elephants was common usage by 1905, supplanting other animals like snakes or differently colored critters.

O'Connor developed a method for filming the elephant characters when they were composed of changing color gradations. It was virtually impossible to achieve this effect by airbrushing the cels, because a consistent density from cel to cel could simply not be achieved even with more time, people and money.

He came up with a clever and simple solution. The color gradations of the Pink Elephants were painted on a background sheet and the elephants were left transparent areas on the cels placed over the background. The rest of the image on each cel was painted black.

What appears to be the changing color of the Pink Elephants is actually the background, and what appears to be the black background is actually painted on the cels. The colors of the Pink Elephants appear to keep changing, without the need to delicately duplicate color on each individual cel.

O'Connor also came up with using black velvet on the floor for a multiplane camera shot because that way there were no specks on the black and no "graying out" so there was a "perfect" black for the first time.

He was responsible for many other significant layout contributions, like the fight between Tramp and the rat in the baby's bedroom and Pinocchio face down in the surf after escaping Monstro.

And something about O'Conner's contribution to the Dance of the Hours segment in Fantasia:
"In 'Dance of the Hours' (with the alligators, ostriches and hippos dancing a ballet), the music seemed to break down into four sections and a recapitulation, much on the order of a symphony. Having the musical outline as a fairly clear pattern, we decided to go along with that in the design motif. Our design would match the music.

"The first movement was quiet, so we started out with a quiet motif. We used verticals and horizontals, which were as quiet as we could get. The scene opened with a camera cruising down in a long hall. It moved in on a wide stage and wide, flat stairs. Vertical columns stretched high on each side.

"Ballerinas were arranged down the stairs, but they turned out to be ostriches when they stood up. The long, thin necks of the birds made more verticals, and they added to the motif. We tried to design everything symmetrical in verticals and horizontals, and we kept the colors very quiet and subdued. Then the music picked up, so we went to the ellipse as a motif for the next sequence.

"In the first movement, we showed the colonnades as verticals, but we changed the camera angles in the second movement to stress the elliptical shape. Within the hall was an elliptical pool, and the characters moved as much as possible in ellipses—that is, around the pool.

"The main character now was a hippopotamus, a rotund creature made up of ellipses, especially when we put a ruffle around her middle. So she was round, the pool was round, and she danced a little waltz step in an ellipse near elliptical colonnades. All of this contrasted with the simple horizontals and verticals in the first movement.

"In the third movement, the music got even faster, so we designed a more active motif, the serpentine. We used elephants, especially their trunks. We preferred elephants not only for the shape but for the way they moved, both themselves and their trunks. We tried to get more action into this movement than in the previous sequence—the pachyderms threw balloons and did silly things in a serpentine form.

"Then came the fourth section. Certainly it was the most active, so we took the most active line we knew, the diagonal, and applied it to the architecture. The simple lines of the opening that became ellipses with a change of camera angles now became slashing diagonals. Down shots and unusual angles presented the columns and colonnades in entirely new forms.

"We stretched the angularity of the bends in the hall. We introduced an alligator as a new character. He was a series of diagonal lines himself, in his basic geometry, and when he moved it was on a diagonal line out of the ground. Throughout the sequence we wanted the effect of the daylight hours changing. In the morning, it got brighter and brighter, and now it got darker in the evening. So this angular character came from the angular architecture in an angular path, and he zig-zagged about the hippo."

But of course, with television, the Xerox process and end of the golden age of animation, all these techniques would go away.
And as Floyd Norman says about the Xerox process after it was replaced by CAPS: “By the time we got Xerox darn near perfect, we made the move to digital.”

Animation has come a long way since soap was seen as a miracle tool:

Berthold Bartosch who was one of those who worked with Lotte Reiniger on The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926):
"In his last conversation with animator Claire Parker, Berthold Bartosch talked about another animation technique he had used those many years ago on Prince Achmed: "During my years of work I have learned many things. Soap, it is quite extraordinary, with soap one can do everything."

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