Sunday, May 25, 2008

101 Dalmatians: Part 9A

Sequence 7 is another one directed by Ham Luske that's cast by animators. Hal Ambro handles the humans and Frank Thomas and Blaine Gibson handle the dogs. This sequence is brief, but it gets the story point across; the dogs take action to find their puppies. The best part of this sequence is Frank Thomas animating Pongo's desperation to get the word out. Anyone who has ever struggled with a willful dog on a leash will recognize the physical exertion involved: the dog pulling and the person holding the leash attempting to stay balanced and exert some countervailing force. There's good physicality here.

The next sequence, 7.1 directed by Reitherman, introduces two characters who appear briefly, but who make a strong impression based on the concept of contrast. The Great Dane and the terrier not only look and sound different, they move in very different ways.

Hal King does a magnificent job on the terrier. The character moves distinctively, characterized by frantic movements played against holds. By this time, Disney animation had moved toward a kind of naturalism that frankly is a little boring. Compared to earlier films, poses are less graphic and a character's line of action less distinct. There is less distortion of a character's natural shape and timing is more realistic.

In the terrier, King has a character that lends itself to a more stylized approach and he takes advantage of it. Because the terrier moves so quickly, there are strong shape changes in very few frames. While the character is small, the poses are as broad as the anatomy will allow. Even the fur is expressive during shot 14 when the terrier is barking.

I spoke earlier of King not receiving enough credit for his work at Disney and this character confirms to me that King was exceptionally talented and deserving of further attention.

John Lounsbery's work on the Dane conveys size and strength. The Dane's movements are slower and more concerned with believable weight than with expressiveness. From the standpoint of story, we know that other dogs take Pongo's alert seriously and will do their best to spread it. The terrier really only exists for the sake of exposition. He should be able to understand the barking the same as the Great Dane, but by asking questions, he allows the Dane to spell out that Pongo's message has gotten though.

Bill Keil and John Sibley get a collection of shots showing the word spread throughout the dog community. The shots are full of in-jokes. Shots 15, 17 and 17.1 show Jock from Lady and the Tramp. The Afghan and the poodle from the first sequence of this film re-appear. Peg and the bulldog from Lady and the Tramp are in a pet shop window in shot 20 by Sibley. The pups are dalmatian pup animation from other parts of the film, painted differently. Shot 22.1. shows Tramp in the upper right and Lady at the bottom center of the screen.

Thad asked in the comments to Part 9 if the re-used animation from Lady and the Tramp was credited to the original animator. The only shot in the draft that references animation from somewhere else is the pet store window in shot 20. The draft says, "Anim. from Sc. 30, 32, Seq. 10, #2079 - also Sc. 43, Seq. 004, #2110." Clearly two different films are being referenced. 2110 is Dalmatians, so I assume that 2079 is Lady and the Tramp, but no animators names are specified. The animation of Jock, Lady and Tramp that appears in this sequence would seem to be new work.

The sequence ends with shots way out in the country, showing how far the dogs have been able to carry Pongo's message.


Hans Perk said...

I read somewhere that someone was doing a book on Hal King - and somewhere else that it was Pete Docter writing this book. How true this is, I do not know. But Hal King is, as you say, well deserving the attention!

Thad said...

Two gem scenes by Hal King in the Jack King (no relation) DONALD DUCK's can be found in "The Old Army Game" (Donald attempts to shoot himself), and in "Trombone Trouble" (Donald exclaims fiendishly: "Power! POWER!")