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Identifying the different styles of WB animators

Discussion in 'The Termite Terrace Trading Post' started by The Spectre, Oct 7, 2003.

  1. The Spectre

    The Spectre Member

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    While each director had his own style, it would appear that even the animators in each director's unit would have their own styles as well - in terms of how the characters look, how they move, and other factors. Some of these are quite easy to spot, some time more practice.

    Several animators worked at WB during the 'Golden Age' - did they all have their own distinctive mark? How can their work be spotted?

    From what I can tell, these are some of the most noteworthy:

    Rod Scribner - known for wild, shape-changing character animation

    Virgil Ross - very smooth with appealing character designs

    Emery Hawkins - Splashy movement

    Ken Harris - Skilled and very expressive and lifelike.

    Ben Washam - Gives Bugs pointy teeth. :)

    What are the others?
     
  2. Jave

    Jave Beware of the SPLAT
    Staff Member Moderator Reporter

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    I've been trying to learn about different animation styles too and trust me, it's really fun when you start getting the difference.

    Rod Scribner is considered one of WB's zaniest animators, wether with Clampett or McKimson. Some notable scenes by him include:
    - Bugs slipping through banana peels while going from one side of the airplane to the other ("Falling Hare")
    - Prince Chawmin's attempt to revive Coal Black ("Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs")
    - Fats Waller getting blasted by the wild trumpet solo. ("Tin Pan Alley Cats")
    - Porky chasing a long-legged Daffy through a conveyor ("Baby Bottleneck")
    - Bugs' wild dance in order to impress the audience of scientists. ("Hot Cross Bunny")
    - Bugs and Elmer's first dancing of "What's Up Doc" ("What's Up, Doc?")

    Some of these are presumed, of course.

    Another quite noticeable is Robert Cannon, who worked for the Avery and Jones units during the early 30s/late 40s. Whenever a character stretched himself or made a slow turn as a reaction to something, Cannon was most likely in charge of that. I believe "The Aristo-Cat" is a good example of Bob Cannon animation.

    I haven't been able to find out styles for the following:
    - Cal Dalton
    - Phil Monroe
    - Lloyd Vaughan
    - Charles McKimson
    - Cecil Surry
    - Volney White
    - Sid Sutherland
    - Richard Thompson
    And probably more, but I would like to hear someone else's comments, mainly Larry T and Sogturtle, who seem to be the "experts" when it come to this subject.
     
  3. Nick

    Nick Cartoons are educational

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    I've never really been brilliant at identifying animation styles either, but the two you mentioned are quite recognisable. :bosko:

    BTW did Rod Scribner also animate the scene in "Kitty Kornered" where the cats all exit out of the door, that scene is really funny!
    ________
    Extreme vaporizer
     
    #3 Nick, Oct 8, 2003
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2011
  4. Larry T

    Larry T GET IT RIGHT!!!

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    Animation Styles Class 101

    I'll try my best to give a quick rundown on what to look for when spotting animators through their styles. Even though the overall "style" is a big thing to look for, you really have to pay special attention to timing and posing. Timing refers to what happens between the animation 'keys' when the character goes from pose to pose. Posing refers to the ways the artist likes to set up his characters and angles when they're onscreen.

    Mr. Scribner is probably one of the easiest to spot, but be careful not to mistake him with Emery Hawkins..... it's TIMING which sets them apart, especially in their WB-McKimson days like "Fractured Leghorn". For example, both like to really contort their characters when they animate them. But Rod tends to be relentless with his boundaries- while Emery is not. Look at Red Hot Ryder in "Buckaroo Bugs" when he's asking Bugs where the MM went. He squirms around unnecessarily, just for the sake of it. He has lots of details on his clothing and facial folds, and his extremities seem to be pulled out by invisible hands..... that's Rod. Check out Bugs Bunny kicking the projector around in "Tortoise Wins By A Hare". Notice the stretching and the excessive detail.... he never stops moving. Rod's timing has him being fully animated through key to key. For a more contained animation example, when Elmer has been buried alive by Bugs in "Old Grey Hare" ("That pesky wabbit is out of my life for ever and ever"). Sure, there's no extreme giveaway animation here, but look at the timing. The characters move around continually and have that "there's-noplace-they-couldn't possibly-end-up-onscreen" posing style. Plus, they have a rubbery look and feel to them, and they tend to stare into outerspace with these 'fried-egg eyes'.

    Now compare that with the Dog in "Two Gophers From Texas" when he sets the trap and laughs into the camera "NYEH-HEH-HEH-HEH-HEEEEHHHH!!!". Even though you might think Rod did that, it was Emery. The dog is refined within the scene; only his head has the major action on it. He doesn't go anywhere onscreen simply for the sake of being stretched out there, yet he still has a 'cartoony' look to him. Same with the scene in "Hurdy Gurdy Hare" where Bugs Bunny plays the violin to soothe the Gorilla. Notice the action is still pretty fluid and bendable, but it's refined. Emery keeps within the confines of his animation, but he still plays with the action to make it nice and rubbery. Bugs is more solid-looking there, however- you don't expect him to fly all around the screen while taking off like Rod did to the dog, cat and Tweety in "Birdy and the Beast" after the cat digs through the bowl of dog food.

    Virgil's animation is very refined. He hardly ever goes 'off-model'. It's as if he wanted to keep every single drawing looking good on its own if viewed frame-by-frame. He didn't seem to want to seize hold of that wipe-pan effect of characters blurring out into huge unrecognizable blobs of action like Bob Cannon did in "The Dover Boys". The closest Virgil got to that was the 'whipping' effect of drawing the part that was actually moving, like in "Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips" when the Sumo wrestler attacks Bugs, or in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" when Bugs turns Sam's guns to face himself, and Sam realizes it and then 'whips' them back towards Bugs. But Virgil's timing was very precise, and with experience you can see how he carefully eased his characters' actions from pose into pose onscreen. Sometimes he used 'blink' lines to accentuate something happening, which are those little dotted lines drawn exiting from something that contacted something else, for example.

    Ken had a great style of making cartoon characters just plain look good. His drawings are cartoony, well-designed and well-executed. They're just plain fun to watch, because there's a lot of expression. See the scene from "My Bunny Lies Over The Sea" when Bugs conducts the auction. Or the scene from "Two's A Crowd" when Claude is getting approached by the master of the house who's about to kick him outside. One of the best examples of a cartoon he did a lot of work in is "The Ducksters". Lots of great facial expressions here, and plenty of cartoony movement. Ken's posing technique mainly stays within a simple staging philosophy- the characters don't usually get in front of each other, they interact with each other, like in "Little Orphan Airedale", when Charlie gets back from Australia and jumps around with Porky in his pouch.

    There'll be a test on this tomorrow, class. ;)
     
  5. The Spectre

    The Spectre Member

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    I thought Rod Scribner did the projector bit in Tortoise Wins... who did the bit at the end where Bugs yells "I'm the rabbit!"? Did he do that?

    Also, what did he do in Falling Hare?

    Any idea who did what in Golden Yeggs? Just to get some examples with one which I actually have on tape... Did Virgil Ross do the sunbathing bit? Did Emery Hawkins do the bit where Daffy jumps between 'pleading' poses as Rocky imitates gunfire?
     
  6. Larry T

    Larry T GET IT RIGHT!!!

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    Rod Scribner

    He DID do that scene. Plus, he also did the one at the end where the rabbits commit suicide too.


    Right now the only scene I can think of for sure is the one where the Gremlin jumps on Bugs Bunny's head and pulls his eyelids open... "I'm only three and a half years old.... Bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl...."

    About that scene where Bugs Bunny is sliding through the plane on the banana peels... I'm really pretty sure Scribner didn't do that scene, I think that was Tom McKimson.

    Also, I don't think Scribner did the scene from "Kitty Kornered" where the cats jump out through the keyhole... I think that was Manny Gould.

    But Scribner DID do the scene where Porky is lying in bed and turns the radio off, then goes into that fantastic "take" when he realizes the martians are in bed with him :anime:
     
    #6 Larry T, Oct 8, 2003
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2003
  7. angilbas

    angilbas Active Member

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    Abe Levitow was one of the most distinctive (and ambitious) animators in Jones' unit. As others have pointed out, he put a lot of detail in his work and tended to make characters' joints angular. He animated Porky's shaking belly in Robin Hood Daffy and probably crafted the scene in Wild About Hurry where Wile E., having crashed his rocket, almost grabs the RR before striking a natural bridge.


    -Tony
     
  8. Frank

    Frank Active Member

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    What about the different styles of the MGM animators? Like in Tex Avery's or Hanna-Barbara's units?
     
  9. The Silver Fox

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    YOu know i never noticed that on Red hot ryder till it was mentioned, the details in his clothing, folds and baggyness put on it.
    now there is attention to details lost in the current Cartoon CArtoons for the
    sak of putting anything on the air
     
  10. J. J. Hunsecker

    J. J. Hunsecker Active Member

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    Scribner also did the scene of Porky calling for his dog "lassie" in that cartoon.

    I think you provide a great description of Scribner's style, Larry T, I would just disagree with your earlier statement that Scribner would sometimes animate characters who "squirm around unnecessarily, just for the sake of it." I think Scribner's highly energenic animation showed the inner turmoil and emotions of the characters he drew. They pulse with life! The style might not have been to everyone's liking, but it had a definite reason behind it. Bugs Bunny at the beginning of Tortoiose Wins by a Hare is at his most fustrated and angriest over having lost to a turtle. It's in every drawing, every pose. Scribner's animation was also the fullest at Warners during the war years. It must have been tough on him when the budgets got tighter and the animation had to be a little more limited.

    Scribner was also capable of fine, subtle and solid animation. He was on par with Robert McKimson when both men animated for Avery in the early forties. The only thing that sets them apart is that even back then the characters Scribner drew exhibited the furrowed brows and wrinkles that was his signature style. I believe Scribner animated the scene in The Heckling Hare where Willoughby the Dog has reached into a tree knothole trying vainly to grab Bugs, not realizing that the rabbit is actually standing outside of the tree. It's the scene where Bugs repeatedly pokes Willoughby's paw and then drops a tomatoe into it. Bugs has the wrinkled brows and egg shaped eyes with elongated crescent pupils in that scene, but the animation itself is not as exaggerated as the stuff he would later do for Clampett.

    Then there is the animation he did for McKimson when the latter became a director himself. It's seems like McKimson held Scribner on a short leash. It often looks to me like someone else went over Scribner's scenes and reworked the drawings. Sometimes I can't tell if a scene was done by Scribner in the 50's McKimson cartoons until I go through it frame by frame, and happen to see a few key drawings that are in his style. An example of this would be in French Rarebit, in the scene where Gaston and Francois argue over who has the rights to cook Bugs first. "Messr.Louie, what have you do with my rabbeet?" up to "The rabbeet is mine, not yours!" I think Scribner might have also done the scene with Bugs kneading the french chef/rabbit like dough and the one where Bugs puts a stick of dynamite into a hollowed out carrot. But I'm not sure, as these scenes don't really look like pure, unadulterated Scribner to me.
     
  11. J. J. Hunsecker

    J. J. Hunsecker Active Member

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    No one has mentioned Robert McKimson yet. I really like the animation he did for Clampett during the war years. McKimson was a superior draftsman and animated subtle personality animation in the Disney vein. McKimson very rarely went "off model". Speaking of models, he was also responsible for the final model design of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the 40's. McKimson animated Daffy's Danny Kaye routine in Book Revue. I think he did the majority of the animation for Queenie in Coal Black and de Seben Dwarfs. According to Chuck Jones, McKimson animated the creepily realistic looking Uncle Sam in Old Glory, without the aid of a rotoscope or live action reference.
     
  12. Larry T

    Larry T GET IT RIGHT!!!

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    Yes- I'm sorry if I came across as being biased, as Rod Scribner was one of my all-time aspirations when I was learning to animate, I just meant "unnecessarily", in the matter that it really didn't have to be animated so fully, but Rod did it for his love of the craft-

    Yes, I've read that in many places. I also think it contributed to Rod's "going off the deep end" eventually.... :(

    That's Emery Hawkins.... look at the timing and the character expressionism. Watch a few of the Woody Woodpecker cartoons, or the Columbia cartoons he animated in, and you'll see the difference in the action from Rod's.

    Scribner did do the scene immediately following that one, however, during the full shots where the chefs "tweak the little pink tomato nose", and start pounding each other with the frying pans, etc. He also did the close-up shot of the chef saying, "I will now prepare the deleezious Rabbit Francois!...*kiss* *kiss*".

    At first, the part where he "pickles" him, and stuffs him with the tobasco sauce, etc. that was Emery Hawkins. The following part, where he dumps him in the flour and "pours" him into the bowl, you're right, that was Scribner, including the part about the carrots, asparagus, ..... Hold La Onions". When the other chef walks in, up to the part about "Wha Hoppin?" that was Hawkins again. From "Proceed, Monsieur rabbeet" to them leaving the scene to fix the other chef up like a rabbit, that was Scribner again.

    Yup, you got it, it was Scribner. The oven explosion and the two chefs singing "alouette" inside, that was all Hawkins.

    Well, remember, McKimson was trying to put the harness on him at the time, unlike how Rod could express himself fully while in Clampett's unit....
     
  13. J. J. Hunsecker

    J. J. Hunsecker Active Member

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    D'oh!!I could have sworn that scene was Scribner's! One pose in particular seemed a lot like the way he would draw a character when they reacted in a surprised take. Live and learn, I guess.

    I never would have guessed that Scribner animated those scenes. Especially that close up you mentioned of the chef! It just doesn't strike me as being in his style!


    *Whew!* At least I got some scenes right!

    Larry, do you know how McKimson worked with his animators? I know it has to be different from Clampett's method. I heard that McKimson didn't want his animators to deviate from his layout drawings at all, but I don't know if this information is correct.
     
  14. Larry T

    Larry T GET IT RIGHT!!!

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    :D Yes, I find that's the major problem in discerning the animation of the two. There are times when they seem to imitate each other so closely it's difficult to set them apart..... but like I said..... timing and staging...... Look at "Two Gophers From Texas" when the dog is orating at the beginning ("Food..*snort*....in the RAW....!!!) Scribner was never in Davis' Unit, at least to my knowledge. Check out the timing and the way the character poses, and compare it to the animation in McKimson's unit. Another good scene is in "What Makes Daffy Duck", when Daffy is putting the make on Elmer in the female duck suit. I know there's a scene there where he really starts looking like Woody Woodpecker..... :daffy: = :woody:

    That is very true. AFAIK, the directors were the ones who were at the start of the whole project. They oversaw all the story writing, character design, gags, etc. A lot of the time they had this all done themselves, with some contribution by their assistant staff (for example, if they liked a gag suggestion, they would work it in.... of course, two heads are always better than one). I remember reading an article about how Robert McKimson had Rod Scribner re-animate some of his work 5 or 6 times until it was to McKimson's liking. I know that when the artist is assigned a scene (or footage, I dont know what they went by at the Termite Terrace), it has to be passed through the director before actually going to the ink and paint department. If the director doesn't like it, he has every right to pass it back to the artist (cost permitting) and request it to be redone. I can totally see McKimson's deadpan expression on his face after seeing Rod's wild, unrestrained action presented to him. Remember, the McKimsons were all excellent draughtsman, so they probably liked everything to be rendered "to the letter".... and I can see why in Bob's Bugs Bunny cartoons (like "Rebel Rabbit") Jean Blanchard's model sheet and in the final animation in the film, Bugs always looks so robust and heavy. It was the McKimson method of keeping him looking like he was actually a solid form all the time- unlike what Rod and Emery did with their creations.
     
  15. The Spectre

    The Spectre Member

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    Ah, yes, there are a few scenes in Arthur Davis cartoons where I think "That must be Emery Hawkins... Daffy looks like a woodpecker." The only problem is, some of these scenes are in Mexican Joyride, which Hawkins isn't credited on. It seems to me that Arthur Davis wasn't nearly as strict about keeping characters on-model than Robert McKimson.
     
  16. Mibbitmaker

    Mibbitmaker potrzebie

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    I may have mentioned this before, but in the great Pete Puma cartoon, a couple times where the little bunny scurries along, feet a-flappin', it seems McKimson did let Scribner be Scribner for one brief moment.
     
  17. J. J. Hunsecker

    J. J. Hunsecker Active Member

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    What about Manny Gould? Can anybody point out scenes that he did? I often get his scenes mixed up with Scribner's in Clampett's cartoons, they both did such wonderful broad animation. As I understand it, though, Gould would sometimes have the characters perform actions with "twinning" gestures. Both arms might perform the same action, for instance, like in some early Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
     
  18. Frank

    Frank Active Member

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    What about the Warner's animators during the Harman-Ising years 1930-1933? How can you identify their styles?
     
  19. The Spectre

    The Spectre Member

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    Mmm, maybe he did the bit at the beginning of The Great Piggybank Robbery where Daffy "milks the giant cow" etc.
     
  20. cabe624

    cabe624 Nutzi Duck

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    The cartoon "The Prize Pest" (McKimson, 1951) has some nice Scribner/Hawkins animation in it. I believe they animated the following scenes...

    Scribner:

    Porky opening the box with Daffy inside; all of Daffy's Jekyl and Hyde "transformations" (some really effective animation)

    Hawkins:

    Porky offering Daffy a cigar (although the close up of Daffy sniffing the cigar is not Hawkins; probably Phil De Lara)

    Both men were obviously brilliant and very talented animators, and they are some of the easiest animators to identify once you get used to their styles.

    I'd also like to know more about different scenes that Manny Gould animated.

     

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