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  • This walrus didn't get these dance moves on his own.

  • They came from Cab Calloway, a 1930s jazz singer and band leader.

  • Do you see it now?

  • Cab was a source of endless inspiration for early animators, who transformed his dancing

  • into that walrus, and a ghost, and a very moonwalky old man of the mountain.

  • The old man of the mountain!”

  • The way those moves got from real life to cartoon was a breakthrough in technology and

  • method.

  • It's an idea that forever changed animation, when an inventor took pictures that had just

  • started to move and made them dance.

  • As…“rivetingas that was...early animation had a problem: the first animated shorts didn't

  • look right.

  • Don't focus on the drawing.

  • Look at the motion.

  • See how clunky his arm move is here?

  • And how his shoulder doesn't move realistically?

  • Max Fleischer saw that problem too.

  • This is him, the inventor, blowing bubbles in some of the first films that revolutionized

  • animation.

  • And this is the clown that did it.

  • See how naturally Koko the clown moves compared to the umbrella guy?

  • That's where the invention called the rotoscope comes in.

  • You can understand it from the patent application.

  • It was a way to film real movement to create better animation.

  • First, they filmed live action motion in the wildfor Koko the clown, they filmed Max's

  • brother, Dave Fleischer, dancing around in a clown costume on Max's roof.

  • He was in front of a white sheet, for contrast.

  • The sheet actually blew around so much that once Dave almost fell off the roof.

  • So, don't try this at home.

  • That film gave them individual frames of Koko moving around, like in the patent.

  • They used a projector, hooked up to a car headlamp to amp up brightness, and it showed

  • each frame on a screen with tracing paper.

  • Then they just played it back, frame by frame, tracing what they needed.

  • It had the creativity of animation, but the precision of live action.

  • The results were astonishingly smooth, and lots of people noticed.

  • The New York Times said Koko, “The Inkwell Man,” “leaps as a human being,” and

  • it made sensehe was one.

  • Take Cab Calloway's performance.

  • Now, animators didn't have to guess what subtle movements came in the middle.

  • They had a filmed guide to every frame.

  • Later, it helped out with Supermanusing photos and film to model Lois, like here.

  • Gulliver's Travels also had hyperreal movement inspired by real motion.

  • When the patent expired, other animation studios followed.

  • But Fleischer's work was more than just one invention.

  • Now these cartoons and other ones at the time are filled with tons of cringey stereotypes

  • that wouldn't pass muster today.

  • But the creativity?

  • That, that is not dated at all.

  • Here we go!”

  • Fleischer studios invented the bouncing ball song, where you can follow along with the

  • lyrics.

  • Oh yes, there's a patent.

  • Max and Dave patented multiplane animation as well.

  • See how they could film the main character moving and separately move the background

  • elements, like pictures and models?

  • This created depth and saved animators time.

  • It enabled gorgeous motion like in this scene from Superman.

  • As it evolved, Fleischer animation mixed all these technologies with skilled artistry and

  • improvisation.

  • And that's why rotoscoping is a versatile tool still, whether it's inspiring some

  • of the animation in early video games or in its logical extension in motion capture, where

  • real movements are given over to animators' fancy.

  • But even that undersells their achievements a little.

  • That Cab Calloway Walrus cartoonMinnie the Moocheris a Betty Boop cartoon.

  • But it is a work of art filled with infinite delights that tantali—...

  • Scratch that.

  • It is straight up weird, in the best way possible.

  • Phones have lips, handkerchiefs talk, ghost skeletons get drunk, tonsils screamthe

  • list goes on.

  • When Cab Calloway saw himself turned into a dancing walrus, he fell to the floor laughing.

  • An invention made that work, but it was a different type of genius that made Cab Calloway

  • fall to the floor.

  • You can patent a device.

  • But you can't patent that.

  • That's it for this episode in this series about big changes to movies that came from

  • outside of Hollywood.

  • If there are any other animation examples you find striking, let me know in the comments.

  • I do want to take a chance though to underscore just how far outside of Hollywood the Fleischers

  • werein addition to their New York Studios, they had one in Miami, Florida, and that is

  • where Gulliver's Travels was actually made.

This walrus didn't get these dance moves on his own.

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B2 US Vox animation patent cab walrus koko

The trick that made animation realistic

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    minami.kuo posted on 2019/12/04
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