Monday, 15 March 2010

Getting the Most Out of Limited Animation

One of my favourite one-shot characters has to be the TV director in Yogi’s ‘Show Biz Bear.’ It’s from early in the second season of the Huckleberry Hound Show when Don Patterson, George Nicholas and Ed Love came on board to animate. I’ve gone into the background of those three ex-Disneyites before. They all, for awhile anyway, tried to stretch the low budgets and fewer drawings of limited animation as far as they could go. Here’s a little example from the cartoon I’ve just mentioned.

Instead of a two-position head bob with the occasional shake, which seems to describe what all characters do in H-B cartoons by the time Yakky Doodle hit the air, we get four positions. At this point of the cartoon, the director has looked at Yogi, turned to the camera, shrugged and said “What can I lose?” Instead of just staying in the position or just going to the next pose, we get some subtle movement. He straightens up and drops his head down on twos. You can see below how the angle of his nose changes and the head stretches upward.

Here’s the animation slowed down. It’s not like what you see in the actual cartoon, but it may give you a better idea of the movement.

Then the director looks at the camera and says “Besides, he’s got his own bear suit.” What you see below aren’t all of his mouth movements, but you can get the idea. The head is stationary while the mouth moves around the face. But there’s variation in the expression as the eyes are closed or looking in a different direction while the mouth is held for a frame. It gives the impression of extra movement.

I really like the character’s design, too. The general consensus is it’s by Tony Rivera, newly-arrived from Disney.


  1. I first noticed the unconventional design of this episode in 1988 when Yogi made a long-belated return to syndication. Because it may have been the first H-B cartoon animated by Don Patterson, Don's trademarks (jaunty walks, cocked heads, misaligned eyes, character overbite, huge 'smear' lines from dashing offscreen) weren't quite discernible yet. But the heavily stylized director character looks like he came from a Gene Deitch or UPA production. Subsequent H-B one-shot human characters through 1966 would have much more routine designs.

  2. Howard, I'm going to post a review of this in a couple of weeks so I'm going to get into the character designs then. Yogi is almost Lah-ish at times.
    I presumed Ed Benedict did the layout but the experts here will no doubt fill us in.

  3. Huh, When I First Saw This One, I Could've Sworn Tony Rivera Drew the Layout Designs for this One. and The Ranger here Looks Like a Gene Deitch Terrytoon Drawing.

    Asim M.Ishak @ MSN

  4. Guys, I'll take your word for it.

    John, I thought (unless I misread it) you thought Rivera was the weakest of the layout guys on the Yogi cartoons. I like the designs on this one. Or did the layout guys not design characters and backgrounds?