Saturday, 19 December 2009

A closer look at sequence 4-D "Spooks"

I think this was the first sequence to be animated after Bill Tytla's sequence 6-A "Dwarfs at tub washing" and Fred Moore's sequence 5-A "Bedroom". It was the first therefore to extensively use other animators on the dwarfs.

There are a few scenes by Moore and Tytla here, and they don't always seem to be cast with much rhyme or reason: Tytla was known for being best at Doc and Grumpy, and he does get most of the scenes where Doc gives orders and a few of Grumpy expressing his suspicion, but he also shares scene 39 with Babbitt, where the other dwarfs tell Dopey "We're right behind you!" I'm assuming Babbitt animated Dopey while Tytla animated the other dwarfs, but the way in which they are required to all speak in unison as a single unit goes against Tytla's deliberate intention to make all the dwarfs in the washing scene function as separate individuals, but it was probably what he was told to do, and he does get some slight variation in the chaarcters' gestures.

Fred Moore gets a couple of long scenes of comedy business, scenes 26 and 29, each measuring about 30 seconds and involving Sneezy's hay fever. Sneezy's almost snakelike contortions are a lot of fun to watch, but I can imagine it's the sort of thing Grim Natwick, which his anatomical realism, didn't like about Moore's animation!

Of the supporting animators, the ones who get the most sustained sections of footage are Art Babbitt and Fred Spencer, at the end of the sequence. Babbitt was assigned to Dopey, following his success with Goofy in the shorts, but got into a bit of trouble with management when he started improvising, something he always got away with in the shorts. In this sequence he animates Doc and the others sending Dopey upstairs, and Dopey reacting with (unusually vocal) terror at the sight of the yawning, stretching Snow White. Spencer takes over for the remainder of the sequence, when Dopey runs downstairs, and the others flee him, clobber him, and, after finally recognising him, ask him several questions about what he saw.

Both are fairly Dopey-centric scenes, with the other dwarfs mostly functioning as a single personality. Babbitt gets his fear and trepidation while Spencer gets his frantic energy and childlike suggestibility when he nods and mimes in repsonse to the other dwarfs' questions about what kind of monster he saw. Throughout the film Spencer was assigned to several Dopey scenes and scenes involving a lot of visual action.

There are a couple of scenes which must have been reinstated at the last moment - Scenes 17, where the dwarfs pass by the animals looking in through the window, and scene 25, where they discover the boiling pot on the fire. They are listed in the draft as being out, but this has been fixed in pen. Unfortunately there are no descriptions of the scenes, nor do we know who animated them...

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