The Art Babbitt Classical Animation Course – Page 3

The Course Objectives

The secondary purpose of this course is to endow its members with some proven animation formulas that will help them earn a better living, sooner. The clichés we arrived at after years of experimentation will be the subject of our earliest lessons – to give you a head start, we will strip away some of the mysteries of the exposure sheet and the essential mechanics to be noted thereon, so that you will be equipped to use it properly and without delay.

But the primary object of the course is open the windows of your minds to the endless horizons of our wonderful, exciting, exacting medium. A medium that has barely been discovered, let alone explored. A medium that can be an art form that encompasses practically all other art forms. A medium that can gratify aesthetically, that is not earth-bound, that can be an invaluable aid in teaching everything from elementary chemistry to the Theory of Relativity. A medium that can amuse, or move to tears. A medium that can comment or satirize – without ever being obvious. A medium that can be as fresh as tomorrow or as ageless as creation.

It is my hope to be the gadfly that makes you ask yourself a thousand times whether “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” are to be our only sources of inspiration – or whether we should finally take a peek at Voltaire’s “Candide” – or the “Canterbury Tales” or “De Maupassant” or “Balzac” or “The Boys from Syracuse” or the dozens of recent masterpieces.

The course Structure

Hopefully, after our first rough tests are completed, we can set up a disciplined division of time for our classes -which would encompass the following activities:
a) An illustrated discourse on a new problem in animation.
b) An assignment to be worked on after the class period.
c) Screening of pencil tests, and criticisms.
d) A question and answer period.
e) An over the shoulder type of observation as you work on your problems.

Topics to be Covered

The subject of animation is a monumental one. Here are some of the topics which we shall cover in our classes, not necessarily in their proper order:

a) Character analysis.
b) Weight and texture.
c) Hard and soft contacts.
d) Timing.
e) Mechanics.
f) Inbetweener and assistant duties.
g) “Cycle” animation as opposed to “straight ahead” animation.
h) Human actions – actual and eccentric.
i) Overlapping action.
j) Push and pull.
k) The source of an action.
l) Situation and mood analysis.
m) The breaking of joints to achieve flexibility.
n) Stretch and contraction.
o) Small actions – such as: thinking, breathing, eating, speaking etc.
p) “Limited” or “simplified” animation that best fits third person situations -such as “Joe goes to the store”.
q) Walks on an elastic surface (a tight-wire or a trampoline).
r) Runs, jumps, falls, dives, stumbles etc. – fast and slow sneaks.
s) The “aesthetics” pertaining to a path of action -“arcs and straights”.
t) Animation from extreme to extreme as opposed to “straight ahead” animation.
u) How to observe and analyse all the activities we see daily.
v) How to use live action as a “library of information” rather than as a crutch.
w) How to invent a convincing action that is actually impossible. (The Goof’s walk … or his shuffle-type ice-skating).
x) How to use and expose a staggered succession of drawings to illustrate a shiver, laughter, strain etc.
y) How to analyse dialogue and music and to achieve synchronisation with the animation – illustrating both.
z) Compositions of a scene.
aa) The treatment of secondary characters – and their reactions to what the primary character is doing.
bb) The retention of various drawing styles, in animation.
cc) True and caricatured actions of birds, fish, reptiles etc.
dd) Animal actions, horses, elephants, deer, mice etc.
ee) Swimming, rowing, paddling a canoe etc.
ff) Dancing – from tap to ballet – from the polka to the “Funkey Chicken”.
gg) Mechanical animation – scratch-offs in reverse – the use of Xerox etc.
hh) Anticipation and results of an action.

Illustrations: Moving Day, 1936. Sequence of drawings of Goofy animated by Art Babbitt. Copyright Walt Disney.

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