Essay by nadia786College, Undergraduate April 2011

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�PAGE � �PAGE �5� Animation Practices

Animation Practices

Animation Practices

To satisfy the international craze for Mickey Mouse (fuelled by a keen merchandizing campaign patterned after Pat Sullivan's exploitation of Otto Messmer's Felix the Cat), the Disney studios created 100 cartoons starring him in the ten years from 1928 to 1937. In the process they managed to homogenize the character-Ub Iwerks's original Mickey from Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie had wiry limbs and a wicked personality that could torture cats and ladies, while the later Mickey became rounder, milder of temperament -- and virtually exhausted his possibilities. Fortunately the Mickey cartoons spawned secondary characters Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck who starred in their own cartoons until the mid-1950s: in fact, the best of the later Mickey Mouse cartoons, such as the 1935 Band Concert or the 1937 Clock Cleaners, derive as much energy from Donald and Goofy as from Mickey.

Equally fortunately, Ub Iwerks initiated a second parallel series of sound cartoons with his 1928 Skeleton Dance: the Silly Symphonies, which explored lyrical and whimsical themes in folklore and nature. Free from the gag formula of regular cartoons, Silly Symphonies gave the Disney staff the opportunity to experiment and expand their animation skills, and they won Academy Awards regularly: the full-colour Flowers and Trees ( 1932), Three Little Pigs ( 1933) with its diverse personality characterization for animal protagonists, The Tortoise and the Hare ( 1935), Country Cousin ( 1936), The Old Mill ( 1937) with its atmospheric multiplane depth effects, Ferdinand the Bull ( 1938), and The Ugly Duckling ( 1939).

The technical advances explored in the Silly Symphonies partly arose from a rivalry with the Fleischers, who, among all the other animation studios that survived into the sound era, consistently produced excellent cartoons in the early 1930s. Unlike...