Saturday, February 11, 2012

How To Make A Woody Woodpecker Cartoon

I'm a real sucker for classic how to material like this..Here's Walter Lantz explaining the traditional process of making an animated cartoon. In the old Woody Woodpecker show from the late 50's and early 60's, Walter Lantz would introduce the cartoons, much like Walt Disney did in his Wonderful World Of Color and Disneyland episodes; but Lantz would describe in short 4 minute sections like this, how a story was put together or how the backgrounds were made or how the pencil drawings got transferred to cels, etc. These real glimpses into the process fueled young people (like myself at the time) into learning more about the animation medium. Some would eventually be inspired enough to pursue a career into the cartoon arts! Material like this was pretty rare to see, especially at a time when there was no you tube or DVDs. If they aired a piece like this and you missed it, you'd have to watch the show on a steady basis to see the re-run of the episode. Fortunately, a bunch of these clips are available on The Woody Woodpecker DVD boxed set #2. In this bit, Lantz explains the job of an animation director. The Director I believe, is none other than Alex Lovy. Lovy was a key director for Lantz and later for Hanna-Barbera. Sometime in the early, early 90's, Alex was still working, directly across the aisle from me at Warner Bros. Animation. Don't know why, but I should have asked for an autograph at the time.....missed opportunities!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Disneyland Showtime 1970 Behind The Scenes At The Haunted Mansion

If you know me well or have been following the blog, I have a big love for Disneyland.
It's the only Disney park that Walt actually walked in.  In a sense, Disneyland is an extention of the animation work done for the Disney motion pictures, mainly because it was designed by the very people who created all those wonderful Disney animated films! It's pretty obvious in places like Fantasyland where the rides are based off the animated features. But classic attractions like The Jungle Cruise, Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, it's not so apparent. In my animation classes, I told students to go to the Disney parks to study the art direction, composition of the scenes inside the attractions and the actual animation of posing of the animatronics. There's a tremendous amount of education to be had there!
In this clip from The Wonderful World Of Disney episode, Disneyland Showtime (1970), Kurt Russell takes us on a behind the scenes tour of Disneylands' Haunted Mansion. What's really great about this clip is that some of the imagineers who made this attraction a reality are in it. You'll see animator Bill Justice cutting discs to control the ghosts that shoot at each other continuously throughout the ride and then you'll see layout artist Yale Gracey setting up the haunted bust illusion featuring Thurl Ravenscrofts' projected image. Then it's off to a complete ride through of the then new Disneyland attraction. Missing from the clip are the key designers of the ride, background artist, Claude Coats, who was the main designer of the interiors, Master Animator, Marc Davis who designed a good amount of the scenes and characters, Blaine Gibson, who did a good amount of the sculpting of the figures and Rolly Crump who came up with a good portion of creepy ideas. Animator X. Atencio provided the script and probably one of the most important and memorable elements of the attraction, the lyrics of the song Grim Grinning Ghosts. Buddy Baker, also equally important to the mood of the attraction provided the creepy music. Believe it or not, I remember seeing this episode when it first aired in 1970, and being 8 yrs old and living in New York at the time, couldn't wait to get to California to see it first hand. It would be five years before I could see the Disney World version of the attraction and another eleven to see it it at Disneyland. The full version of Disneyland Showtime featuring the Osmond Brothers, Kurt Russell and E.J. Peaker can be viewed here...but beware!!!!!!!!It's slightly dated but still a fun look back at a more innocent time at Disneyland Park.