I thought today I would write about a rather famous clip among animators. This is a scene from Pinocchio, animated stunningly by Milt Kahl. Pinocchio has gone off to school (or with the intention of going to school) and Jiminy has slept in, and is rushing after him. This scene is so full of secondary animation that it’s just breathtaking.
At the start of the shot, we already leap into the secondary animation with Jiminy twirling his hat around in his hand as he runs. I can’t imagine many animators would have that kind of thing going on at this point in a scene, and with the character that far away. It shows Milt’s attention to detail.
Even with everything that's going on in the scene, Milt has still paid attention to the little things like having good squash and stretch as Jiminy puts his hat on:
Notice that in the right-hand image above, Milt is even paying attention to the deformation of the umbrella.
I love the little head-shake that follows as he makes a “phew” sound. Things like this, while simple in concept, add so much personality to the character.
What follows next though is frankly bewildering in it’s complexity.
Jiminy starts by fastening his tie. As he reaches for his tie, his hands are right out in the clear, making them easily readable. It’s so easy to lose fiddly actions within a fast-paced piece of work, so clear silhouettes are extremely important.
Then, as if Milt hasn’t quite challenged himself enough, it gets even more complicated as he tucks his tie into his waistcoat whilst simultaneously shaking his head (and bear in mind that throughout all this he's talking too!).
Before picking up his flailing shirt and tucking it into his pants (note that the camera is panning now, which the animator has to also cope with):
Finally, as Jiminy realises that Pinocchio has just gone past, he does a lovely ‘take’. Note how there is absolutely no anticipation on this that would diffuse the shock of it. Nevertheless the ‘take’ action follows smoothly from the motion of the preceding animation. There’s no sudden snap, the eye is led with the change in action.
How Milt was able to achieve this is frankly beyond my comprehension. It’s simply beautiful. Jiminy is alive to an extent that very few characters end up being.
So what do you think of this scene? All comments welcome :)