Walter Lantz on directing cartoons

Here are some fun videos of Walter Lantz describing the method of creating animated cartoons.

Here is a fun look at Lantz working with new characters.

And finally, this fun documentary made to show the public how cartoons are made.

Invisible Instruments

I just read about Jerry Lewis performing a musical scene in the Tashlin film “Cinderfella”. It’s him alone in a kitchen miming to an instrumental track.

I was going to post just that video, when I noticed this next video by Rowan Atkinson. He’s doing his popular “invisible drum kit” act.

Hopefully you can see the amount of character that is put into the performance, making it about the performer, and not the music. For contrast, here is a real drummer mimicking his art for a mildly entertaining music video.

So that made me think about invisible instruments, which of course lead to air guitar. I found this short montage of the top three performers at the 2011 World Air Guitar Championships. I appreciate how some of them inject some character into the act, rather than just pretending to shred. Of these three, the third person was the winner. I liked the first two better, but what do I know about this.

Disney Acting Reference for Alice in Wonderland

Here is fantastic bit of acting reference from the production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, featuring the greats Ed Wynn, and Jerry Colonna.  More evidence of what great comedic actors can bring to animated charaters.  Look at this reference, and compare it to the recording booth videos of big name stars we see today.   These men get in costume and use their full talents.  The Youtube title says they used the actual audio from the reference.

The poster image for the clip shows a split screen comparison of Jerry Colonna and the March Hare.  I notice they followed the basic hand gesture he used, but changed their relative position in order to get a better silhouette.


Tips for action comedy

I have found some YouTube videos with some great insights to creating action comedy.

This first video isn’t specifically directed toward action comedy, but it uses a comedic scene as an example.  In How to Make a Perfect Action Scene, Patrick H Willems explains why action scenes can’t simply be a series of exciting events.  There should be either clear causation or surprising turns.  He uses the term “therefore” when one event causes another event, and “but” for when there is an unexpected change.  A video of animators Matt and Trey Parker speaking at NYU is his source for these terms.

After watching the video, I realized this is why the action scenes in the Indiana Jones movies work so well.  They have both a logical progression and unexpected changes of direction.  Rewatch the Club Obiwan scene that opens Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for a great example.

The next video is from YouTuber BigStinkyMoose.  His bio says he is a Canadian fight choreographer.  His video Jackie Chan Famous Ladder Fight Scene Analysis does an excellent job of illustrating how Jackie Chan foreshadows the use of props in his fight scenes. Basically, Chan makes sure the props he uses are clearly visible in the shots before he puts them to use.  I believe that helps the audience follow the fast action.  It only serves to reinforce Chan’s reputation as a great filmmaker.   Again, this involves comedy.

While that video is enough to explain the method, I recommend watching his follow-up video, below, that shows what happens when an action scene is shot without the same attention to detail.  I especially like his use of clips from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  In the famous fight scene, the TV anchormen meet in an alley for a rumble, and they all produce frightening weapons from inside their suit jackets.  That reminds me of how cartoon characters can suddenly pull out a giant hammer or bundle of dynamite.

Wolf pulls hammer

It is curious that a “serious” fight scene can rely on almost cartoonish techniques, but Jackie Chan carefully prepares the props beforehand to make it believable. For more on Jackie, read my other post.




Wilson and Keppel – Sand Dance.

It’s not so common anymore, but most of us have seen a character doing a stylized Egyptian dance.  That dance is derived from the sand dance, done by a trio of music hall performers. Here is the Wikipedia intro to Wilson and Keppel and Betty.

Wilson, Keppel and Betty were a popular British music hall act in the middle decades of the 20th century who capitalised on the trend for Egyptian imagery following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Their stage act, called the “sand dance”, was a parody of Egyptian postures, combined with references to Arabic costume. The lithe and extremely lanky Wilson and Keppel, who wore long mustaches and make up to emphasize the sharp angularity of the features so as to appear almost identical, would demonstrate their impressive suppleness in adopting wild gestures and dancing in identical “stereo” movements (using gestures vaguely reminiscent of Egyptian wall paintings), while Betty watched their antics. Theirs was a soft-shoe routine performed on a layer of sand spread on the stage to create a rhythmic scratching with their shuffling feet. The act was usually performed to the familiar Egyptian Ballet (1875), by Alexandre Luigini.

And here is a video of them doing the dance.

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