Friday, July 2, 2010
Dumbo Part 11
How many elephants in a pyramid? In shot 1, there are eight elephants standing around the ringmaster. In shot 4, there are seven around the ringmaster. In shot 23, the pyramid consists of six elephants. In shot 40.1, there are eight elephants in the pyramid. In shot 41.1, there are seven, as there are in shot 51.1. All of this takes place before they trip over Dumbo and scatter, so the number should be consistent.
Hugh Fraser does excellent work in this sequence. He manages to capture the drawing and the personalities of the elephants in a manner consistent with Bill Tytla's work. He does that while dealing with multiple characters whose weight must be animated believably or the sequence loses its effectiveness. Shot 10.2. gets even more complicated with one of the elephants being swung towards and away from the camera, adding a size change to the rest of the difficulties. While Fraser has Tytla's work as a template, the animation challenges here are possibly greater than Tytla's with the same characters.
Warren Schloat, Ed Dunn, Van Kaufman and one of the Patterson brothers (the draft doesn't specify if it is Ray or Don) handle similar shots, but they don't have to deal with dialogue or personality.
Due to the action, I'm guessing that the elephants often had to be animated on a single level of paper. That makes timing and revisions extremely difficult. Timing is critical to the portrayal of weight, so I'm sure the animators had to plan these shots very carefully. Make no mistake, the pyramid and its collapse is a very difficult animation challenge.
Howard Swift handles the ringmaster for the most part and does it well. Looking at this, I wonder if he animated the sleeping ringmaster in the previous sequence. The ringmaster reacting in shot 42.1. by Ed Dunn is definitely inferior quality, with the ringmaster coming to a dead hold before dropping off screen.
John Lounsbery animates Dumbo and Timothy. His drawing is very appealing. He captures Dumbo's cuteness and panic equally well. Dumbo's stumble and fall in shot 51 is beautifully done and is worth studying single frame.
And "Out of my way, assassin!" has to be one of the greatest lines of dialogue ever.