Hey there boys and girls! So the holidays hit me pretty hard, with illness and with overbearingly awesome family fun time. So I'm back to formally announce my apologies for the hiatus, and to introduce the second installment of REFLECTING ON GREATNESS!!
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"An animator is basically an actor...He would probably go stiff, if he has to talk to anybody, because he can't act... talking to anyone else... But on paper!" -1967 interview with Lousie Beaudet as found on Didier Ghez's Disney History blog.(Image referenced from the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive Website)
Take a moment to think a bit on these films, and see what you come up with: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinnochio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. Now ruminate a while on more specific characters filled with such personality as to make them memorable throughout the years: Characters like Grumpy, Stromboli, Dumbo and his Mother, and Chernabog. Each of these creations was brought to life by one Vladmir (Bill) Tytla. He was a man who felt everything strongly, and let all those emotions find outlet into his animation. In their seminal book, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston described Tytla as having a " big mop of coal black hair, heavy black brows, and very piercing dark eyes. But more than that it was what was under the surface that made him stand out. He had great feelings churning around inside of him and tremendous nervous energy."
In a 1968 interview conducted by George Sherman, Tytla reveals some of his personal history. He was born on October 25th, 1904, and by 1920 Tytla started his career, claiming the nickname "Tytla the Titler" at the Paramount animation studio in New York City, and by 19 he was hired to work for Paul Terry, Brother of John Terry, at Terrytunes Studio. He started at Disney in 1934. He attended the 1941 strikes against Disney when Art Babbit joined in, and though he eventually returned to work for the studio, his assignments where less challenging and he left the studio in 1943. He moved back to New York in 1944, spending the next 25 years of his life attempting several businesses with his farm, and his own studio in 1958.
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( Directed by Bill Tytla)
Frank and Ollie also comment on how "Bill loved and believed in the characters he was creating, but he was concerned whether he would animate them as well as he should. He need not have worried, for had the sensitivity to understand his characters' motivation in terms of acting, and the ability to interpret that into drawings and staging."
In the interview with Sherman, when asked if there were any special moments he remembered from working on Pinnochio, Bill responded " I had to do one sequence in Pinnochio, and I gave it everything I had. I showed my animaiton to the other animators and they all said "great" or "nothing else is needed"... I felt pretty good about it. Walt came to see it... we ran the sequence, the lights went on, and we all waited.. He said, 'That was a helluva scene but- if anybody else had animated it I would have passed it. But I expected something different from Bill.' " He goes on to say how though nothing mean was meant in what Disney said, he was still crushed by the weight of falling short of what Walt had expected. It was weeks before he could pick up a pencil, but when he did, it hit him and he just started drawing the scene again, naturally different. " This time when I showed it to Walt, he said, 'Great. Just what I was expecting!' He never did explain what was wrong. It was as if in some magical way, you would know [what was wrong]."
In his book on the master animator, John Canemaker notes how Tytla's time in Europe taking classes, exporing cities like London, Bologna, and Nice, and simply creating painting after painting helped to hone his already superb draftsmanship.
Some wonderful drawings/ frames of Tytla's work can be found on Michael Sporn's Splog-- here, here, and here. These wonderful posts are so incredibly helpful, and I highly recommend them to any animator out there-- I don't know how many hours I've spent scouring the tests on his blog, stepping through them to try and glean some of the genius within.
Here are a few tests David Nethery has posted. Wonderful stuff.