Thursday, February 7, 2008

Juggling in Animation

Earlier this week, I posted a clip of Donald Duck juggling from the cartoon "Mickey's Circus". To me, juggling scenes in animation always catch my eye. I guess it's because of several things:

-A) The intricacy & complexity of the juggling itself

-B) What the character is juggling (balls, pins, household objects, knives, etc...) & how many objects is he/she juggling at once.

-C) The amount of control that a character has (very skilled? very clumsy? Is it their first time?)

-D) The character's attitude while juggling (cocky? cautious? scared?)

Scroll down to the Donald post & watch the clip again, now having these four elements in mind. What did you notice? What did you learn?


Let's start off with A: At first, Donald is doing a normal juggling act, juggling only with his hands. As it goes on, he really gets into it & starts bouncing & rolling them off his feet & head without missing a beat. He even balances all the balls on his rear & butts them back up in the air!
A normal person could never do these things. It's impossible. But in a cartoon, anything is possible, so to us it's pure magic. I'd LOVE to do something like that, but I can't because my actions are limited, but Donald's movement is limitless.


Now on to B: Donald is only juggling with rubber balls, so chances are these probably wouldn't do much harm if he screwed up. Plus, he's juggling SEVEN rubber balls! It's an odd number, but to a superstitious person, luck would probably be on his side.


Now C: Donald's juggling is effortless. He's probably had plenty of practice & has done it millions of times before. He's so good at it, he doesn't even drop a beat of sweat. He could probably do this all day if he wanted to.

Donald has complete control over what he's juggling. He knows what's coming next because it's probably all routine to him. He only loses that control when an outside force comes in & disrupts him.

Finally, D: Since Donald has experience with juggling, he's a lot more confidant than someone whose just starting out. He's so confidant in himself that he hardly pays any attention to what he's doing & becomes somewhat cocky. He's having a good time, not only because he's juggling, but because someone is watching him juggling! He smiles & ogles the audiece watching, almost shouting "Look at me! Look at me! Aren't I swell? Aren't I a talented, skillful, suave, handsome, irresistable little duck?"

At the end of his act, he smiles & opens his arms to the audiece, absorbing their applause & cheering, until he's knocked over by larger balls thrown by his seals off-screen, finally losing control & dropping the balls. He's angry, embarrased & has a face full of dirt. "There goes the whole act!"


I probably didn't have to go through all that evaluation, but it's true! It may look like just some cartoon character juggling, but behind all that there's that "Why? factor" that might explain why a character is doing what he/she is doing.

I'll talk more about juggling in animation later on, probably sometime in the next two weeks. & don't worry, I'll include video for you to watch!

Thanks again to Kevin Langely for helping me out again!

Oh, & by the way, if anyone can identify who animated Donald in that scene, drop by & let me know. That would be great! Thanks!
*Update 2/22/08* Hans Perk has the draft for this cartoon, but it's missing the first three pages! Still, he told me the other animators on the film, so it's either one of these three people: Frank Thomas, Al Eugster & Shamus Culhane. If there are any IDer's out there who can tell which one did it, I'd really appreciate it, thanks!


Anonymous said...

I believe Frank Thomas (who was uncredited, but, yes, did work on that short) is the one who did the scene. I checked it out online because it got me interested as well and found this:

"His first solo animation assignment was in the 1936 short Mickey’s Circus where several seals swarm of a hapless Donald Duck." (from here:

... Good luck finding out if it's true or not - tell me if you find out for certain.

See you in class sometime.

Julianna Ventresco

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike!
Sorry I haven't gotten to talk to you. I've been so busy, with the musical and all. Anyway, my brother has been telling me about the updates. Its getting interesting. I can't believe that there is another delay! Oh well, the game will just be getting better. I'd rather get a good game than a glitchy, half-ass one. Well, Falco is in! On IGN, there is a video, and his icon is there. So anyway, how has SVA been? Hopefully see you soon, maybe for Feb break if you get one.


Michael J. Ruocco said...

Juliana, I'm sorry I haven't replied to your comment sooner.

I emailed Hans Perk about the scene & he checked the animator drafts for the cartoon, but he's missing the first 3 pages!

Still, he said it's either one of these three animators: Frank Thomas, Shamus Culhane & Al Eugster. You may be right!

Thanks for the comment!