Sunday, May 8, 2011

Memory Lane 8 - Video ONE : Key Clean-Up Artist - Don Bluth Studios - 1986


I asked Gary Goldman { who is the Producer and co-director of Don Buth Animation ... as well as my kids Great Uncle :-) } about the reason for 'cleaning up' onto the original animators drawings. 
Below is his response and he mentioned that it was fine to post.



Cleaning up the animator's ruff animation on separate paper wasn't budget related. It's the way we were trained at Disney during the '70s under Woolie, Milt, Frank, Ollie, John Lounsbery and Eric Larson. They drummed it into our heads to knead down the animator's ruff drawings and cleanup them up on the same page. We had always cleaned up the original animator's drawings, otherwise the result is sort of a weak, fine-line tracing of the original. I believe that the reason Disney started cleaning up on a new paper was to preserve the original ruff, in case cleanup artists might have changed something that the animator or the director did not like and wanted to review the originals to make the correction. Our philosophy has always been that a cleanup on a separate piece of paper was a mere tracing of the original and lacked the power or essence of the animator's work. 

I was once the victim of poor cleanup on an 18 foot, multi-level scene with Bernard, Bianca, Evenrude and the leaf boat during production on The Rescuers, where the final version was stiff, and off model. It was heartbreaking for me, but I still believe that the originals should be cleaned up unless, of course, the originals are so far off model, or too ruff, or so darkened with a 6B pencil making is almost impossible to clean up the those drawings. 

If you ever had a chance to check scenes out of the Disney morgue (archive), from Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, or any of the classics and even up thru Pete's Dragon and The Fox and the Hound, the originals were always cleaned up on the same paper. Except maybe for Glen (Keane), who drew in a very heavy, sketchy style that the cleanup artist may have been too intimidated to take a chance on choosing which line Glen intended for the action. Glen always came up with some very powerful images, and the ruffs are probably still there in the morgue to prove it." - Gary Goldman


 This is the first of many videos i will be posting from my time working in California in the mid 1980's up until the time I moved back to Vancouver in 2009.

This 1st video is of me explaining to my family back in Canada 
what my job responsibilities were being a 'Key Clean-Up' Artist 
for Don Bluths 1986 feature film 'An American Tail '.

This video was shot in Van Nuys California half way through production on the film, early 1986. My extremely talented friend Barry Atkinson was holding the camera as I walked through some of the steps of my job. 

One interesting note is that at Bluth Studio's we actually 'cleaned-up' on the original drawings from the animators.
At Disney studio's the process was for the clean-up artist to take a new sheet of blank paper and draw over top of the original animators drawing, keeping them separate. You would then have two piles of drawings for the scene, one the original animators drawings and also the clean-up drawings.

Please NOTE the above reply from Gary Goldman explaining the process and why it was done that way.

I think the process at Bluth was different, as noted above, so there was very much a tendency for the animators to draw in their finished scenes as clean as possible, and on model. 
John Pomeroy lead this style by animating not only with his drawings loose and full of life but also extremely clean as well which made cleaning up his work a joy as it was so beautiful.

Near the end of the video there is a short moment showing what the studio looked like where 'An American Tail' was made on Hart Street in the middle of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.  

And yes, back in the 1980's, a lot of Canadians wore mustaches so just roll with it  yikes ;-)  

An American Tail - Mark Pudleiner: Key Clean-Up Artist 1986 from Mark Pudleiner on Vimeo.
Explaining to my family back in Canada what my job responsibilities were being a 'Key Clean-Up' Artist for Don Bluths 1986 feature film 'An American Tail'. This video was shot in Van Nuys California half way through production on the film, early 1986.


Martin Fagan said...

Great video Mark. I'll always remember being amazed by your clean-up drawings when I first started working at Bluths in Dublin. I used to struggle so much to try and match your line.
Drawing straight onto the Animator's blue drawing may have been a cost saver, but for a long time it scared the hell out of me.

So funny seeing the condition of the paper deteriorate as a result of all the flipping. The worst case was always if you had multiple characters on one sheet and then had a right handed Key artist and a left handed inbetweener working on the scene. Those drawings would be well battered by the time they made it through the production.

mark pudleiner said...

Thanks Martin for the good words :-)
I also was nervous drawing on the original drawings at first.It took me around a week or so to get comfortable. But cleaning up a John Pomeroy, Lorna Cook, Linda Miller scene {as well as some others} always added extra pressure for me. Due to the respect of their quality and I wanted them to be very happy with the job i did.

Sometimes a blank was needed but that depended on how rough and off model the animator was. But in most cases it worked.
I was always amazed on how few 'crinkles' were on some animators drawings. I know John Pomeroy would 'flip' so gently that at times his scenes looked as though there was no flipping done at all. Others were the opposite with some paper so damaged a new blank piece had to be used due to the violent flipping. Different styles throughout the studio.
Great hearing from you Martin.

Sandro Cleuzo said...

This is great to see, Mark. I hope you post more of these videos as they are are very inspiring to all of us who loves animation.

Stuart McGillivray said...

Wow that's awesome! you look so young!

mark pudleiner said...

young AND innocent