Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Juggling

I'm back with a little more on cartoon juggling.

These next two clips I'm going to show come from two different studios in two different time periods. These two might not constitute as "real" juggling, but I think they count eitherway.

This first clip comes from Popeye's debut cartoon: "Popeye the Sailor" from 1933 by the Fleischer Studio. Does anybody know who animated it?

I especially like juggling when it's timed to a beat (musical or not) & as everybody knows, everything in Popeye cartoons is timed to a beat. Even when the characters are just standing around they bounce to the music.

Back to juggling... in most cases, the juggling act is the gag itself, like the Donald Duck clip I posted before. In this case, the juggling is an add-on to make the "Hit the Nerd" gag funnier. They could've had Popeye hit the "nerd" millions of other ways, but what better way is there to help introduce Popeye to animation than to show what his muscles can do. Although his arms may be huge & bulky tumor-like lumps, he can still pull off a little style & grace with them. Such dexterity!

Besides, this is a Fleischer cartoon, everything has got to be funny & rubbery!


This next clip comes from Disney's Sword in the Stone, exactly 30 years after Popeye's animated debut. In this scene, Merlin (transformed into a squirrel for this particular sequence) fiddles around with an acorn.

Even though he's only playing around with one acorn, he's still juggling it up in the air, off his feet, etc. This scene is probably influenced by the Harlem Globetrotters.

Unlike the Popeye scene, there's a lot of things going on here:

First off, this is Disney animation, so everything has to be more realistic (even though there's a blue talking squirrel juggling acorns). While the balls in Popeye felt like weightless ping-pong balls, this acorn has weight. There are no cartoon physics here, there's mass, momentum & inertia in action going on.

This was animated by Frank Thomas, who by 1963 had over 30 years of animation experience. He knows a thing or two about realistic motion, after animating lifeless marionettes, dogs, cats, deer, humans & hundreds of other characters. Besides, Thomas was a perfectionist, so everything he animated had to be perfect before he let it go to final color.

Like the Popeye clip, this juggling is timed to music, but unlike Popeye's juggling, there's a lot of nuances in the action. While Popeye's timing just went "boink! bink! boink! bink!...", this juggling is timed to a unique melody with unique lyrics. Certain actions are done in relation to the music & words of the song. For example, when Merlin say's "explanation", he flutters & spins the acorn to the sound of the word. In "discaboomeration", he catches the acorn on the accented "boom" & rolls it down his arm as the "-eration" rolls out of his mouth.

& like the Donald Duck clip, Merlin is interuppted by an outside force, this time by a homely, love-crazed girl squirrel. Merlin is surprised, embarassed & by the end of the song, know's how this is gonna turn out (just look at that expression on his face in those last few frames!)

Just watching this animation as a normal everday viewer would think that was cute or fun. But when an animator like me watches it, I wonder "How in God's name did he pull that off?!" Frank put a lot of thought into this little scene, & boy did he make it soar!


& I know what you're thinking... you think I have no idea what I'm talking about, do you. Well, half the time I don't. Still, I put a lot of thought into animation like this. Besides, I'm only a novice when it comes to doing animation myself, so I don't the experience like some people do. Plus, I have a hard time putting them into readable, understandable words & sentences. I'm dyslexic in that way. There are definitely people out there who can do this better than I can.

Now I need your help! If any of you know of any animated juggling scenes that I haven't mentioned yet, let me know & post those too! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

hey mike.. its em

there is another juggling scene in mary poppins where mary and bert and the kids go into berts painting and mary and bert are being served by waiters/seals LoL

At least i think they juggle i remember them doing somthing like that.... what ever just a sugestion :)

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Hey Em...

I checked out the Jolly Holiday" sequence from Mary Poppins. There's a lot of complicated action throughout the scene, with all the penguins jumping about, but there's no juggling going on. The actions are a bit confusing, so it would be easy to lose track of what happened in the scene. Thanks for the suggestion, though.