Saturday, 26 June 2010

Heroes of Animation: Norm Ferguson

It's coming up to the end of the week off between Spring term and Summer term at AM, and I thought I'd spend a bit of time learning new skills, or improving old ones. Nothing that I'd do during term time...thats gotta be 100% animation...but stuff that will hopefully add to my reel at the end. So basic modelling, delving into texturing, uv mapping and rendering. Stuff that my non technical mind still can't really get around :) The important thing though is that I've actually started reading The Illusion of Life again. I'm not much of a reader, and I've got a ton of animation books lying around almost hoping that by merely owning them they will somehow turn me into an animation superstar :)Not gonna happen. So I'm making sure I turn off the TV, sign out of facebook and get down to some serious reading. It really is a great book though. I've only just started up, so I'm not too far into it. But I thought I might share some thoughts.

Norm (Fergy) Ferguson. Not a name a recognised. I guess I never really saw much of the really early Disney stuff, but Fergy played such an important role in the future of Disney, and as a result, the world of animation. It's amazing to read how he started off as a cameraman, and one night when some drawings were missing, with no-one about to help out, Norm "had to fill in". One of his first pictures was Frolicking Fish. He animated three fish dancing at about 2 minutes in. Whats so awesome about this, as the book points out, is that for the first time the characters weren't hitting a hold and moving out of it. There was always a part of them moving which gave them real fluidity, a greater sense of weight, and made them actually feel alive rather than a bunch of pictures moving.

Next in my list is Chain Gang. This is such a funny little short with a load of great jokes in there. I love the pig who gets shot, jumps out of his trousers and the trousers are still running along with him chasing behind :) And when Mickey snaps the chain after carrying his ball and chain, only to pick the ball back up and carry it again. Loads of little gems. One of the reasons I love Disney. Whats hugely important about this short though is Fergy's treatment of the bloodhounds chasing Mickey. The intense sniffing along the ground. The little snorts. The facial expressions. Everything he did breathed life into them. The bloodhounds would later be reworked and introduced as Pluto. How cool is that?! :)

Well, it's getting pretty late and I've been waffling on. Time to hit the dusty trail. Hopefully I haven't bored anyone :) What I've written really hasn't done justice to all I've been reading. The Illusion of Life really is the animators bible :D

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