Thursday, August 10, 2006


“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 [], 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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was kicking myself for not taking notes at Greg's talk but I was up front and just too mezmorized by the random energy of his talk. Tidbits of life and career, tips, and history with great visuals. Thanks for the notes man! You should get everyone in the studio to read this post! :)

3:09 PM  
Blogger R.A. MacNeil said...

Wow! Thanks for taking the time to post the notes.

And congrats on the plug in Animation Magazine.


4:53 PM  
Blogger Mirco said...

Wow, thanks for posting your notes. It sounds like it was a great lecture in animation. I'm really sorry I missed it. I'm glad you took notes and posted it though. Did any one by chance happen to record the event?

12:29 PM  
Blogger murrayb said...

Joel-he's a great speaker isn't he?
Ryan-thanks man, As well as artisitic genius, Mr. K is a master of promotion,it can only mean great things for us being involved with his work.
Mirco-yeh, that would of been ideal, but we organized it the day before. hopefully Heather Harkins of AFCOOP can get Greg back again soon.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Yeah his section on animation history through his experiences was phenominal as well, he met all the legends of animation and sometimes worked side by side with them and seeing the reel from his own studio was awesome!

5:57 AM  
Blogger ncross said...

Hi Murray,

Freleng's "dance man"'s name is Gerry Chiniquy. Great post though, I met Greg when he did a short stint at Spumco timing some of the last Ren and Stimpy's.
He's a cool guy.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Dave Pryor said...

A great read. I learned timing on beats too - and many of the Tiny Toons shows were still animated with beats in mind (i worked on those). But in my opinion, they tried to get too many jokes in there, and had a lot of non-pros cranking that stuff out. Alot got lost along the way.

Thanks for the post.

4:34 PM  
Blogger PEPE said...

thank you for sharing murdog!! really great notes!!!

11:27 AM  
Blogger :: smo :: said...

hey thanks! i saw him speak at RIT a few years ago, and i couldn't remember too much of what he said afterward. i do remember he really hated the show becker and thought it had awful timing, and he had a great story about the guy who animated snoopy and gave him teeth....

thanks for transcribing this!

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey...those are pretty good notes. Did I really say ALL that? I did do a lecture at RIT (must have been a bad one if the person didn't remember anything I said except the Rod Scribner "Snoopy teeth" story). And what is "Becker"? Why was IT so contemptable to me, I wonder? Now I'm very curious.

Well, my "left wing" radio show was cut off. Good thing I still have my "right wing" , the one I animate with that is...That's a joke, son!"

Well, I'm back into animation in the New Year, finishing a cartoon started 15 years ago. Paraphrasing that Led Zeppelin song..."Does anyone remember DRAWING?"

Thanks for the great hospitality you showed me in Halifax last March and it really was delightful to do that "lecture" for all of you. Hey...might be the last time I'll ever do that!

Best wishes

Greg Duffell ( has that pesky second "l" in it)

1:48 PM  
Blogger murrayb said...

Hi Greg if you ever read this,well I mispelled Gerry Chiniquy's name wrong too(thanks NICK!), but I'm sorry I beat the 'L' out of you.(god, I can't believe I just used bil "family circus" keanes' joke.) I'm so glad your wonderful wings have not been clipped, I wait with great anticipation!
In regards to drawing- "The question isn't who is going to let me, it's who is going to stop me!" ( in my case, that's me.. time to make some new year resolutions of the pencil-paper- good ol'fashioned work variety)
I feel privileged that we were your last lecture, but I ask you to think about it, your a wonderful public speaker. Hey, I guess you having a "plog" is out of the question?
That would be a fun procrastination tool.
Well have a productive and happy 2007!

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


12:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home