For People Crazy About 2D Animation!

Acme Punched! is for people crazy about 2D animation. It may be enjoyed by beginners and others, but it is aimed at animators who know already something about the process of animation and the basics of character animation. In large part, it will attempt to provide a deep look into the problem solving that goes on in my head as I work out a scene, often in step-by-step posts that I will sometimes enter in "real time", without knowing in advance what the outcome will be. Mistakes and false starts will not only be included but emphasized, so that the creative process of animation will be portrayed realistically. And, while my own bias is for 2D drawn animation, many of the effects and principles discussed here can apply to CGI 3D animation as well. I hope the blog will prove useful and instructive for all.

-Jim Bradrick

Monday, February 25, 2019

No. 181, Film Review: Saludos Amigos

Looking through Andreas Dejas' The Nine Old Men, I found myself marveling once again over Wooly Reitherman's gaucho Goofy sequence.  A selection of drawings from this piece was also included in The Illusion of Life by Thomas and Johnston, and I have often gazed admiringly upon these wonderful, hyperactive constructions at which Reitherman was so good.

© Disney Corporation

This was a segment in the 1942 release Saludos Amigos, the result of a good will tour of Central  and South America by Disney and a select team of artists. (I believe there was also some motivation to try to cultivate new foreign distribution markets after the loss to fascist powers of much of the continental European markets.) I thought I would see if Saludos  was available on YouTube, and I succeeded; in fact, I found a real animator's special. Some wouldn't like it because it is 1) recorded in Spanish with 2)  tinny sound quality and 3) takes up only a third of the YouTube screen and 4)  is cropped from its original aspect ratio. Put it up at full screen, though, and the image is clean and clear. If you are just studying the animation, you probably won't care much about the vocal sound track anyway. The URL for this is here.

The four animated sequences are each prefaced with some grainy, blown-up 16mm live-action footage of the South American countries being visited, sometimes showing Walt Disney and some of his staff observing or interacting in front of the camera. Like so much of the newsreel footage shot in the 40s and 50s, any sound you hear has been added in post production, including singing and sound effects. Also, just about everything has been speeded up, probably just for the simple reason that it was shot at 16 frames per second and run in theaters at 24.

But the film includes not only the Wooly Reitherman animation of Goofy, but also an amazing sequence featuring Donald Duck and a cartoon llama that were animated principally by Milt Kahl.

© Disney Corporation

There is also a pleasant and cute story about a mail plane named Pedro, an early example of Disney's anthropomorphic vehicles that include Susie the Little Blue Coupe and the Cars movies.

© Disney Corporation

Least interesting of the four cartoon segments is the one called Aquarela do Brasil. This introduces the parrot character Jose Carioca to Donald Duck, and it is competent animation that only suffers by comparison with the livelier and more dynamic animation of Donald and Jose, along with a third character called Panchito, in the later release The Three Caballeros, with design and animation by the great Ward Kimball.

© Disney Corporation

The film is there to study or just enjoy. Remember that the YouTube settings menu features a choice of speeds, including .25 (25 percent), which is a rate of 6 to 7 frames per second and allows you to appreciate all the individual drawings.

I recommend that you spend some time with Saludos Amigos and enjoy some of the best comic animation that ever came out of the Disney studios.

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