Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Count the Light Sockets

Yes, it’s true. Pixie and Dixie did run in front of the same light socket over and over again to some chase music. They certainly did in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, anyway. All that was required: a held cel of the meeces bodies, a few drawings of arms and legs, and a background that was designed to be panned for use several times. Voila! Cycle animation which, as you might have guessed, involved less work (except by the cameraman) and therefore less cost to H-B Enterprises.

The first Pixie and Dixie cartoon put into production was “Pistol Packin’ Pirate” (E-4). It was set on a pirate ship so there are no light sockets, but there is a run cycle involving Pixie and Dixie. It’s by Mike Lah, and he draws with the mice with their arms extended, the same as he did with a Yogi Bear run cycle in the first Yogi cartoon, “Pie-Pirates” (E-1). What’s interesting about this cycle is, unlike others, the cels of Pixie and Dixie are moved slowly from the centre toward the left of the frame; they don’t stay in the middle of the picture. (See the barrel? They run past it four times).

The next Pixie and Dixie on the production line was “Judo Jack” (E-5). This is the first time the meeces are chased by Mr. Jinks in front of a baseboard. This is Ken Muse’s work. All that’s animated is the swirl of legs; he uses one drawing for two frames. There are three drawings so six drawings complete the cycle of animation. It takes 24 frames (6 x 4) for Pixie and Dixie to pass the same part of the baseboard. You can see the animation slowed down and then at about the speed it is in the cartoon.

The third Pixie and Dixie cartoon in the system was “Kit Kat Kit” (E-10). It was kind of a chase cartoon (interrupted for a photo gag about a third of the way through) but no baseboards were involved; Pixie and Dixie get chased around what I guess are pillars (on overlays) in a living room. By the way, all three of these cartoons give a designer credit to Frank Tipper. Whether Tipper was hired for the Huck show, or he freelanced, or he worked for Hanna-Barbera on the earlier Ruff and Reddy series, I don’t know, but he disappeared after these three cartoons. Tipper was best known as an animator, mainly for Walter Lantz in the ‘40s, though he was employed in the previous decade at Warner Bros. (Schlesinger) and Harman-Ising.

Finally we get to a light socket in the fourth Pixie and Dixie cartoon, “Cousin Tex” (E-14), though it was the first that actually aired. The chase animation below is by Carlo Vinci. Unlike Muse, Carlo has the meeces’ whole body move in each drawing. There are four drawings in the cycle, one per frame, and it takes 24 frames to get back to the light socket (4 x 6). Again, I’ve slowed down the animation and then you can watch it at about normal speed. Note how Pixie and Dixie don’t run with identical leg positions.

By the way, Pixie and Dixie ran past the same light socket four times before director Bill Hanna cut to an exterior shot of their mouse hole.

The music that accompanies the chases in the last three cartoons mentioned above is “Toboggan Run,” credited to composer Jack Shaindlin. We have a capsule biography of him in a really old post of the blog. Suffice it to say, by 1944, he was supplying a lot of music for short films, including The March of Time, Paramount News and Soundies. The same year, Shaindlin was employed by Lang-Worth, Inc., a radio transcription service, to compose music. The company put out trade ads for a production music library of 163 compositions, including openings, neutrals, bridges and such. In 1954, Shaindlin and Lang-Worth combined on a music library known as Langlois Filmusic (Filmusic was a library developed by Shaindlin in the late ‘40s). When “Toboggan Run” was composed for one of Shaindlin’s libraries is unknown; I can’t find a copyright date.

I should point out for those who go off and put misinformation on web databases and pedias and the like that Langlois Filmusic has nothing to do with the Capitol Hi-Q library. It was made by an entirely different company (on a different coast, even). Both were among a number of music services available that TV or movie producers could contact to lease or purchase cues.

Regardless, you can hear my favourite Shaindlin cue below (if your computer’s music player is configured to do so).


1 comment:

  1. And as mentioned in that linked post (THe In complete Cartoon Shaindlin, 2010), Morton Gould actually wrote TOBOGGAN RUN< the Raymond Scott POWERHOUSE of HB.:) Capitol, which had nothing to do with Shaindlin's work, same point made by Yowp, did distribute it from what I heard..while one of WB's BELL SCIENCE projects, THE ALPHABET CONSPIRACY, has a Shaindlin cue COMEDY SUSPENSE heard under Snooper, none of the six WB cartoons often mentions when the subject of such background music scoring at the studio comes up, of course, noen of them ever using Shaindlin cues, using instead Philip Green cues, created not on west or east coast in USA but in another country! (England..and there is a Phil Green article..I've forgotten where, but Yowp no doubt will answer and link to it..) (I'm referring to WB, whcih did Bugs Bunny show ads, the above mentioned Bell Science, whcih I saw as a kid,and rare parts of some of the final (pre-1965/DFE) WB cartoons, also doing the familiar six fall-winter 1958 shorts from WEASEL WHILE YOU WORK to HIP HIP HURRY..) SC