GREG DUFFEL'S TIMING SEMINAR
“I’m bringing two cartoons that I just made this year in Flash, and they’re about as cartoony as you could imagine,” he comments. “One of them I did with Katie Rice [http://funnycute.blogspot.com], a super-extreme, cartoony, brilliant cartoonist who does pretty-girl animation. She and I did this cartoon and we had it animated at Copernicus Studio, a Flash-animation studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And I just did another thing where I did all the drawings myself and Copernicus animated it. So there is a way to use [Flash] and still make it cartoony. It involves more drawings.”- JOHN KRICFALUSI
I’ve been meaning to transcribe the notes I took at timing Seminar Given by Greg Duffel(Who did Xsheets on ren and stimpy) that I attended a few months ago, SO here goes:
The first thing Greg showed was a comparison of the openings of the Bugs bunny and tweety show; one was from the 60’s animated by Jerry Shanicky(sp?), He was Friz Freleng’s “dance” guy. It wasn’t drawn that hot, it was TELEVISION animation, for sure. Greg then showed us the Revamp from the mid 90’s.It was the same scene (“overture, light the lights, this is it, we’ve hit the height”) and it was drawn in the more “consistent” modern bubbley WB style, BUT it slid all over the place, and it didn’t have good timing; it wasn’t ON BEAT. How far we’ve fallen, because most people would look at the modern clip and think it was better.
Society use to be more musical, people could sing harmony, they could read sheet music, A large number of people could play the piano. Musicals were popular, and people liked to go dancing.
Music CAUSED timing in cartoons; because the sound was done after. The director used a metronome to discuss with the Music composer the pace he wanted. A “click track” was then made. It had every beat as a Click sound, so when they played back the cartoon they could see it was happening “on beat”. Greg showed an early warner's sound cartoon that illustrated this dramatically, the ‘click’ was still discernable in the music.
Fleischer cartoons were the most blatant; everything moved and swayed to the beat.
Before exposure sheets, animation was timed out on musical “bar sheets”.
In Tom and Jerry, Each bar was a 16 frames block (8 drawings on 2’s, or “on 8’s”), equal to one foot of film, one beat, or one measure of music.
Back then every cut, blink, landing, step, or action happened on the beat or half or quarter beat. Modern cartoons, such as tiny toons, never planned for a beat, that’s why the music and action was so jarring, (doo dee d-DAHHH!) because it was never planned out musically.
There should only ever be variations of these three charts, weird charts = bad keys.
The director is responsible for the overall storytelling timing (do the gags work?), and the animator is responsible for micro timing (is it believable? interesting? does it read?).
6 frames is the bare minimum for an expression to read.
On a walk, the beat is when the WEIGHT hits, not the contact.
Greg then showed specific animator’s work, Greg seems to be able to tell who did what just by watching it.(wow, I wish I could do that!)
Ken Harris- When Greg was starting at Williams, he noticed Sometimes Ken Harris would draw just an arm or a head on a “breakdown” drawing to break up the timing.
Every 5th frame was a key, and he had very simple charts. If the accent fell on an inbetween, he’d put a breakdown for the inbetweener. Greg showed a clip of the coyote balancing his head on a unicycle on a sloped wire; balancing carefully- carefully, just about ready, and *snap* the wire breaks. Greg pointed out it seems like an easy laugh to pull off, but the timing of the balancing act was so carefully done, you never expected the wire break. Cool. When Greg worked with Chuck Jones in the mid 90’s (he said the cartoons were awful, just chuck’s daughter selling cels) Chuck said to the crew: “I don’t care what you do with my drawings, but don’t change my timing”.
Rod Scribner and Manny Gould- force of nature straight ahead animators.a combination of Believability and extreme exaggeration. Bill Melendez was trained by Scribner. Robert Mckimson- Virgil Ross-Subtle-master of attitudinal head tilts(VERY important)
- from here my notes kinda trail off, I just wanted to watch the all the mind blowing clips. To sum up, musicians and animators are the same; it’s all in the rhythm, and riffing off of that. It was a real pleasure to hear Mr. Duffel speak; his passion for the medium was very inspiring. He does funny Left wing talk radio now, and doesn’t animate any more. Too bad, he’s the best animator I’ve ever met. He said if he WAS going to do something new, he’d avoid computers all together (cels, painted BGS, the whole smear!) I sure hope he does.