Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Well, That's Good

I (and others) complained that the first two Animaniacs DVD sets focused entirely on the writers and voice actors and had absolutely nothing about the animation, so the special features listed in this press release are a good sign:


* They're Totally Insan-y "In Cadence with Richard Stone" - Composer Richard Stone -His music and influence on how he made Animaniacs come alive.
* They can't help if they're cute - They're just drawn that way - This is about the animation and how they came up with the characters. (25 minutes)


I know that these shows are not considered notable for their art or animation, and I'm not saying they necessarily should be. By the time Animaniacs came along, a certain tension between writers and artists, which started on Tiny Toons, had in some cases turned into outright hostility. This isn't, as John Kricfalusi will always insist, because all animation writers are talentless hacks. It is, if anything, a sign of the opposite: the instinct of scriptwriters, on any show (live-action or animation) is to write their material and then fight for it to be done exactly as written. Writers are suspicious of the attempts of the actors to deviate from it; but though animators are actors, they quite rightly consider themselves more of a creative part of the process than a live-action actor. The result is that you get writers who consider their material to be sacrosanct and artists who don't like being told to put their own creativity on hold.

I recall an animator once told me about directing on a '90s cartoon show (not Animaniacs, and not one of the Spielberg/WB shows) where he suggested to the writer that they cut something to make the episode easier to animate. The writer objected: "Listen, there's a lot of me in that script." Which may sound kind of egomaniacal, but in fact it is what you'd expect a writer to say -- whether it's a good script or a bad script, a good show or a bad show, writers are naturally protective of what they've written. This becomes much more of a problem on an animated series, though, especially because writers have been known to write stuff without much thought to how the artists are supposed to execute it.

But I happen to think that Animaniacs would never have been a success if the animation, direction and boarding hadn't been of a high quality (if nothing else, once the art aspect of the show started to go downhill, it was a lot less fun to watch), and I hope that this DVD will bring in some of the people who were involved with creating these cartoons -- Rusty Mills, for example, or Rich Arons.

Also, the last Pinky and the Brain special feature is:


* It's All About The Fans! -Although the show has stopped airing, the fans are still blogging and supporting their return to the air. There are fans that go to AOL chat rooms and those who go to ComicCon to hopefully catch a glimpse of Maurice LaMarche (the Brain) and Rob Paulsen (Pinky) and to get autographs. What better way to pay tribute to this Emmy ® winning show. Rob and Maurice sit down and share some of their most memorable fan encounters, letters received and reveal some celebrity fans who loved the show.


9 comments:

Mr. Semaj said...

This is the best post I've read so far regarding the rivalry between writers and artists.

Some people are just more adept at expressing things verbally than visually. That doesn't mean that everyone who applies it to a cartoon is untalented. There are plenty of toons from the 90's that are scripted, where most of the writers probably have little to no drawing skills, but the love and intelligence is still there. And that's all that really matters in the end.

Thanks for sharing this!

John said...

This is sort of a battle between the perfect and the good. For people like John K, only a total return to what he perceives as the system used during the Golden Age of theatrical animation will suffice, and anything that falls short is treated with disdain.

The problem with this attitude is it makes no differentiation between animation and story that has entertainment value, but isn't perfect, and the stuff that is total dreck with no purpose but to fill 30 minutes of airtime and possibly sell a few marketing items. So you end up shunning everything and offering no encouragement to do something as good or better in the future than "Animaniacs" because you don't see it as any better than something like "Loonatics".

PCUnfunny said...

"Some people are just more adept at expressing things verbally than visually."

Then they should be writing for books or live action shows, not for cartoons.

"There are plenty of toons from the 90's that are scripted, where most of the writers probably have little to no drawing skills, but the love and intelligence is still there. And that's all that really matters in the end."

The love and intelligence in the dialogue probably, which is were most of the humor of Animaniacs comes from, not the visuals.

"The problem with this attitude is it makes no differentiation between animation and story that has entertainment value, but isn't perfect,"

There is no perfect way of doing anything but that Golden age way of making cartoons makes alot more sense. Read his post he made on March 27th and tell me how it is not the msot logical way to make a toon.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Then they should be writing for books or live action shows, not for cartoons.

PCUnfunny, what is the fundamental difference between writing for live-action and writing for cartoons? In both cases, you're writing material and leaving it to the actors and director to execute. Live-action actors are different from animated actors, but in both cases you're scripting stuff that has yet to happen.

PCUnfunny said...

"PCUnfunny, what is the fundamental difference between writing for live-action and writing for cartoons? In both cases, you're writing material and leaving it to the actors and director to execute. Live-action actors are different from animated actors, but in both cases you're scripting stuff that has yet to happen."

In live action, a director needs to guide the actors and tell them how to react or pose during a scene right ? It whould not be nessecary to draw a script when you guide the actors in real life. In cartoon it is different. You need to draw everything. Your characters,scenery,etc.,are all on paper. You need directors and animators who know to draw in order for those characters to appear on screen, to pose them and guide them. It makes no sense to give them a hand written script because they can't tell the character how to pose or react, they need to draw them doing it. See what I mean ? A director whould not guide a live action feature through a telephone.They need to be there to show them what to do.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Of course the director of an animated movie needs to know how to draw, but that doesn't mean the writer needs to know how to draw.

A script is like a description -- it describes, in words, what's going to happen in pictures (stage directions) and what's going to come out of the actors' mouths (dialogue). Someone else needs to execute it, whether it's for animation or live-action.

So a writer writes a chase scene for a live action movie. It's mostly description. The director needs to turn it into pictures. How is that different from writing the same description for an animated movie?

PCUnfunny said...

"Of course the director of an animated movie needs to know how to draw, but that doesn't mean the writer needs to know how to draw."

That makes no sense. That's like asking a cartoonist to draw characiture my face but I send him a hand written description.


"A script is like a description -- it describes, in words, what's going to happen in pictures (stage directions) and what's going to come out of the actors' mouths (dialogue). Someone else needs to execute it, whether it's for animation or live-action."

But dose a script say in every little detail on how an actor is suppose to look like in a scene? No. You need a director to do that. Just like you need a drawing to "tell" Daffy Duck how to look in a scene.


"So a writer writes a chase scene for a live action movie. It's mostly description. The director needs to turn it into pictures. How is that different from writing the same description for an animated movie?"

The thing you seem to fail to undsertand is describing action in real life is different then action in a cartoon. In a cartoon,action is far more exaggerated.Yes you can outline your story with words for a cartoon but that's really all can do. If life where like cartoons,I wouldn't even be debating you on but it isn't. There is now way in hell you could have hand written a script of any of the golden age Looney Tunes.

PCUnfunny said...

This is a perfect example of what cartoon writing is. A brief but efficient summary. This page gives plenty of room for the artist to imagine, no vsiual gag is really given any detail.This page is part of an only four part summary, and the cartoon ELEVEN minutes long. That is a hell of alot of animation.

Mattieshoe said...

"This is a perfect example of what cartoon writing is. A brief but efficient summary. This page gives plenty of room for the artist to imagine, no visual gag is really given any detail.This page is part of an only four part summary, and the cartoon ELEVEN minutes long. That is a hell of alot of animation."


See, that I agree with. What I don't necessarily agree with is that a cartoonist is the only type of person who can write a script like that.


Animaniacs was horribly, HORRIBLY over scripted in it's later years (I know. I've seen the scripts)

but in the first season, I get the impression that, although the Writers are obviously the ones driving the story, there is plenty of visual imagination coming from ether the Animators, Layout Artists or the storyboard artists.

moments like Wally Llama's hat turning into a smokestack after being kissed, or his face when being confronted by the Warners, are obviously not things that would have been "Written"

the artists added gags and punctuations: not story points. And since the writing was good anyway, in my opinion, that makes for a n all-around good show.