Thursday, January 17, 2008

Links to Animation Interviews

UPDATE: Gareth provided a link to a version of the Bill Peet interview that contains all of the images and the whole thing on one page. Thanks, Gareth!

Recently, John K. posted some excerpts from a Bill Peet interview that was published in "Hogan's Alley" magazine about 13 y ago. Back then I worked really hard to track down a copy of it, but since then I had completely forgotten about it, so I'm really glad that John excerpted it and brought it to light. I didn't see a link to the whole thing on his blog, so just in case anyone missed it, here's a link to the whole thing. It's the most honest and forthright animation interview ever published, given by a guy who contributed a lot and didn't get as much credit as he felt he deserved.

He makes some fascinating claims in the article, most notably that he animated a whole section of "Dumbo" for Bill Tytla. I've heard a few people grumble over the years about Bill Peet saying that but no one's ever denied that it's true. If you ever looked at Bill Peet's Dumbo boards in the "Paper Dreams" book you'll see it's entirely possible. His drawings of Dumbo are amazingly appealing and "on model" before there probably was a model. This also suggests that there's truth to the rumor that Bill Peet felt like he did a lot of the character design works in the storyboard stage but animators got all the credit for designing all of the Disney characters when basically all they were doing was taking his designs and animating them.

Years ago John Cawley wrote a book called "How to Create Animation" that contained interviews with some different animation artists. All of those interviews are now online here. Unfortunately the artwork from the book is not reproduced because there was some great development stuff. If I can find my copy of the book I will scan it and post it someday, but anyway the interviews are great to see because there are some great animation artists included in the collection that one rarely hears about.

Simply put, there are two types of great animation artists: those you've heard of and those you haven't. The ones you haven't heard of are just as great as the "famous" ones, they just haven't been in the spotlight. Be sure to check out the interviews with Ed Gombert, Mike Giaimo, Chris Buck and Darrel Van Citters (founder of Renegade Animation) to learn something about some great animation artists that you've probably - and shamefully - never heard of.

One only wishes that John Cawley would update the book and re-do the interviews because everyone in the book has done so much more since the book's publication. But in any case, it's great to be able to read these interviews for free, go check them out!


Gareth said...

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the links! I just thought I would let you know this link for the Bill Peet interview works with the images in there as well.

Kevin Koch said...

Great find! The Cawley book was very inspiring and helpful to me when I was first getting into the industry, more so than probably ANY other animation book available at the time.

Whenever students ask me what books I recommend, I always want to put that book on my very short list (frankly, even with the explosion of animation books in the last dozen years, most are still marginally useful at best), but since you can't find it anywhere I don't even mention it. I'll definitely be recommending the links. Thanks!

k. borcz said...

Awesome, thanks for the links! I have lots of reading to catch up on and this will be perfect.

John S. said...

I got into it with Handel over this very interview. I he thought Peet made the whole thing up, more or less stating that there was no way a "Story guy" could draw as well as the great Bill Tytla, and offering the opinion that those Dumbo drawings aren't that impressive. I was going to explain to him that they were done before any models or animation were done, but eh, why bother explaining anything to him.
Thank you for posting all of these great links. I still have the Cawley book around somewhere. It's a great book, full of honest insight into the actual work of animation and boarding.

Will Finn said...

i remember reading this interview and coming from anybody other than Bill Peet, one might be skeptical about some of the claims... I do however agree with you that the evidence is very strong in favor of his claims, particularly on the bath scene in DUMBO. i'm convinced he helped Tytla, and no small amount. I've also seen many of his drawings on DALMATIONS and SWORD: his story sketches are concise poses and layouts the other artists built on, but the raw material and extensive foundational groundwork belongs to him. Take a look at the awesome drawing of "Madam Mim" scaring "Wart" with her hog-face and you can see that Milt Kahl knew well enough just to follow it. Same for 'Cruella' and no doubt any number of characters he boarded.

One of the vexingly incorrect impressions THE ILLUSION OF LIFE book gives is that animators draw their inspiration from a void, which is an insult to story artists everywhere. It is no shame for an animator to admit following great story sketches:I have Ed Gombert, Kevin Harkey and Roger Allers to thank in many cases of my own, though getting that message into print has proved harder than I would have expected. Hell even a bad story sketch gives an animator something to react to, but the story guys are the ones who face the actual void when they sit down to work every day. That takes guts.

Bill Peet drew deceptively well, his sketches have a loose feeling that de-emphasize his powerful sense of design, but having seen many of them in print and a good selection of the originals you come away with an awe of his ability.

Simon Stahl said...

It seems strange to me that the role of storymen was so marginalized.

When I told my family I wanted to be an animator, they thought I should try to be a story artist instead, since that was actually creative - they thought animation was just mechanical :P

mark kennedy said...

gareth - thanks again for the better link!

Hey kevin - yeah, it was inspiring to ma at the same point in my I said, I'll have to locate it and scan some of the artwork sometime.

hey k! Glad you're going to check it out.

Hey John! Yeah, not worth getting into, if those Dumbo drawings don't convince people that Bill could draw then nothing will.

Hey Will - thanks for the great comment and for weighing in on the discussion, it is absolutely true that the blank page is the scariest part and that's the life of a story person.

Hey simon - that's strange, your family is in the minority - since most people only see animators on TV and in print interviews they think animators do everything, I guess. When I first started at Disney, I was animating in a "junior animator" role when I was fired. A few years later, when I told my father I was going to return to Disney and work in the story department, he said "And then in a few years will they promote you to an animator?"

Kampanye Damai Pemilu Indonesia 2009 said...

Nice information about Links to animation interviews