Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Steamboat Willie & Plane Crazy

Above is the Disney Short Steamboat Willie, although it wasn't the first animation to have sound it is supposedly the first fully synced sound animation.  

Ub actually animated this Disney short all by himself cranking out over 700 drawings a day as he was so dedicated to this project and because he wanted to be the record set by Bill Nolan who was the fastest animator before Ub came along as he would churn out 600 drawings a day.  This is mind-blowing to me 700 drawings a day thats crazy! How he managed to do that amazes me and just shows how dedicated he was to his craft and if he had been given the credit he deserved at the time rather than just shoving his name on the end of the credits and paying him a measly amount but with a 20% stock share he could have gone on to do more for Disney and had more success and made a bigger name for himself.  

As much as it surprised me and has inspired me to work harder when I find something I enjoy drawing and creating, his granddaughter Leslie was quoted in the GEO Remembering Ub Iwerks interview saying 'Ub would turn out seven hundred drawings a day, a fantastic amount! Unheard of! Animator Bill Nolan in New York held the record at that time with 600 drawings a day.  Ub was such a competitive spirit that he was determined to top that.  And he did! He animated the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy, all by himself in two weeks.' 

In the 1920's it was uncommon but not unheard of for a single animator to lock himself away and create an animation all by himself but this is what he did for Plane Crazy.  He also had set up and drawn some continuity sheets for the story and I bet these are the sheets that influenced Disney to create storyboards which are still commonly used today.  I actually prefer it to Steamboat Willie.  I prefer it because the music is less annoying and for me the characters have more life and personality than in Steamboat Willie.  For me its clear that Ub put his soul and personality in this short and to know the future Mickey and to have seen the one he has drawn I prefer the one with sass and it's a shame really that Disney remoulded him and lost this spark to be more commercial and i'm sure that hurt Ub as it would me to put everything into something to see parts of it stripped down and edited to make it more commercially marketable.  Leslie Iwerks proves my point as she went on in the interview to say 'Mickey had a very wild side in those early cartoons, pretty raucous.  I mean, he's throwing cats around and is very abusive to other animals.  Deep down that was Ub.  Hard to believe it's the same Mouse that in the 1930's cartons became such a soft sweet mouse.  Ub had this very crazy sense of humor which Walt tended to town down.'  I wish he could have created more cartoons like this one as I prefer this Mickey to the one I have grown up with as its more captivating and refreshing to watch as he is more free but even today the actions in this cartoon would not be allowed as there are stricter rules today on what people can or can't do in a cartoon or show before a certain time but these rules didn't apply back then and even when Hollywood came up with Hayes Code it couldn't really be applied to animation.  

Soon after the popularity of this film took off Ub was put in charge of training new animators.  Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston say in the book 'The Illusion of Life' that 'Ub was in a class of his own' when it came to animating and that it was both a 'blessing and a curse for him and those he was training. It was a blessing because Ub demanded perfection and was able to breed some of Disney's best animators.  It was a curse because Iwerks had a short temper and it showed often against those who didn't give projects 110% or for those that didn't fully appreciate the art of animation.'  This quote proves to me that Ub was seriously dedicated to his craft and that he was right in a way to demand such a high standard from the people he was training as animation back then didn't have the interest or amount of animators that it does today so he obviously wanted to keep only the very best who would give it their all and do him proud.  

Geo Interview (n.d.) Remembering Ub Iwerks,[online], Quote from Leslie Iwerks, Available at: http://www.crazycollege.org/IwerksFilmFax.htm [Accessed: sunday 8th january 2012].

disneyanimation (2009) Steamboat Willie Video. [video online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBgghnQF6E4 [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012].

disneyanimation (2009) Plane Crazy. [video online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCZPzHg0h80 [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012]

Quote from Thomas, F. and Johnston, O. (1997) Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, 3rd ed. [Tuesday 10th January 2012]

TV Tropes (n.d.) Ub Iwerks,[online] Available at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UbIwerks [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012].

Disney Shorts (1997) Plane Crazy, [online] Available at: http://www.disneyshorts.org/shorts.aspx?shortID=94 [Accessed: Tuesday 10th January 2012].

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