Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Cel Vol 1, #14: 7/14/44


The contracts of Terrytoons and Famous are once more before the WLB.  This time they are accompanied by letters signed by both the union and the employers in which some points which had previously held up the decision are now clarified.  There seems to be some chance that a decision may be handed down in another 4 or 5 weeks.

Beginning next week, Terrytoons will commence paying the general increase of $4.70.  This is based on a WLB order which allowed a blanket 15% increase on the total payroll.

When Mr. Cristenfeld was retained as the Union's attorney, it was decided by the members that he would be paid the equivalent of the first week's raise of all the union members.  In the last general meeting the membership voted that the Treasury pay this out as a lump payment and each person at Terrytoons will be assessed that amount separately.

Since a similar agreement exists at the Famous Studio, "Top Cel" wishes to remind the members of that plant, particular the new members, that the first week's raise (not the first week's salary) will similarly be assessed to pay the members obligations to the attorney.

The two delegates from Terry to the Executive Board were elected: Don Figlozzi and Marea Bishop.

Pepe Ruiz is taking a three week leave of absence so all complaints should be given to the Chairman of your Unit.

Next Executive Board meeting will take place Monday, July 17, at the Commodore Hotel, 7 PM.  The Board is inviting to this meeting all Animators and Head Animators plus the Stewards.


New method of producing animated cartoons with plastic models and characters will be utilized by Plastic Cartoons, organized by L. Morey, John Sutherland and John Landis in Hollywood.  Use of plastic models for animation, combined with color photography, gives third dimensional effect which is not possible generally in the regular cartoons.  Plastic process was developed by Lion, and allows for molding characters in large numbers, utilizing one for figure in each frame of film, with change in movement flexible through workability of the plastic material used.  Figures are set up from pencil animation, miniature sets are used and cartoons shot in stop motion as is the rule with this type of production.  This films will be released by United Artists with whom the outfit has signed a contract.  Four pictures will be released each year.  The title of the first will be "The Cross-eyed Bull".

Results of the election at the Local in Hollywood:

Ray Patin..............................President
Al Amatuzio........................Vice President
Helen Hansen.......................Recording Secretary
Cornett Wood.......................Treasurer
Bob Carlson.........................Warden
Ace Gamer...........................Conductor
Volus Jones..........................TrusteePaul Julian...........................Trustee
Jack Bailey..........................Trustee

Cecil Beard, Curtis Dean, Ted Parmalee and Charlotte Adams will represent the Local in the Central Labor Council.  Bob Cannon and Paul Sommer were named as delegates to the Conference of Studio Unions.  They also voted to create a new office of executive secretary and to combine those duties with that of Financial Secretary.  Curtis Dean, who was elected to post, also will act as assistant to the BA.

Leon Schlesinger resigned as chairman of the Cartoon Producers Assn.  Walter Lantz is acting as temporary chairman.  The Assn. has agreed to launch an educational campaign to show exhibitors the increased costs of production.  This will be a preliminary drive to get higher rentals for cartoon productions.

A field survey by Motion Picture Daily discloses that approximately 71 per cent of the country's 16,500-odd theaters show double bills regularly or otherwise against 73% two years ago.


Nesta Thomas left Famous for Fletcher Smith.... A/S Perry Rosove in Pampa, Texas... Phil Lazara, former Terrytoon Inbet., now on sick leave, dropped in with missus, looking very healthy, but not fully recovered yet.  Make it snappy Phil! ....Flash!  Mr. & Mrs. Don Figlozzi expecting a little Don Jr. in Sep.  Harold Abbey, formerly of Famous & Terry, now free lancing... Josephine Eaker of Terry's, Left.... T/Sgt. Earl Patton in Fresno, Calif... Zeke de Grasse en furlough with the Massies in New York.... Irving Dressler now officially in story dept. at Famous... Terry's Mgr. Chas Perrin's high perch was ripped apart and now everything Charly says and does is on the level.  Haw! ... Flash! ...Animation Room at Terry completely renovated in pastel green.  First time in memory of old timers that room got new coat... In CBS Television Quiz, Myrle Munson, Johnny Walworth, Debbie Shaw, Woody Gelman and Lillian Grossman competed for $25 War Bond.  Johnny copped the honors.... Marvin Grau in Hollywood on furlough.  Betty Brown has gotten a release from the Navy.  She is expecting a baby.... Handsome Anber Kneitel new member of Navy Animation Unit.  ....Bob Kuwahara is expected to start working at Famous... Arnold Gillespie left Metro for Harman's. ...Harold Robbins applied for a work permit... Stevens, camera man from Metro, now at the Signal Corp in New York... Mannette Lamberston married... Jean Selby, Sp. 1/C, now in charge of Painting and Inking at Anacostia, getting ready for officers training...


This column is being inaugurated for the express purpose of presenting personal opinions.  In all other portions of Top Cel, every effort will be made to keep strictly to fact.  This column, however, is frankly dedicated to opinion.

The value of such an idea is achieved only when everyone expresses himself.  It is not the purpose of the Editor to give his own opinions alone, as they may differ from those held by the members.  We would prefer, rather, to make this column the voice of the members.  So here is a chance to express your opinion, gripe, tear down the union, or even a compliment and give suggestions.  An effort will be made to answer and act upon these letters.

A union exists for the advancement and utilization of the strength of those who compose it.  Through the power of the union, many results can be achieved that would be impossible of attainment otherwise.  These improvements do not come of themselves.  They are the results of ideas and work, and require just as much effort as was originally expended in organizing the union.  This work must be done by all.  Once the union, or its paper, is controlled by a few individuals only, its is lost and and it becomes a farce that controls rather than helps.  So make your opinion heard.  Write letters and attend meetings.


From a late bulletin from Selective Headquarters in regard to veterans who desire to assure their former jobs, it is stated that both men and women discharges who left for the service after May 1, 1940, either voluntarily or through draft are entitled to like seniority and pay with the conditions: If the position is a permanent one; if, when he left, he did so of his own volition in order to enter the armed services or because of the draft; if he applies for re-employment within 40 days after his discharge from the service; and if the employer still has the position.

Once back on the job, the employee is to be considered as having been on furlough during his absence and shall not lose seniority, he shall be entitled to participate in insurance or other benefits with other employees, and he may not be discharged without cause for one year after his re-employment.


"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is topping business it did in the first week at the Hillstreet and Pantages Theaters in Los Angeles six years ago by substantial percentage.  Second general release of picture, on basis of reports from around the country, indicate that it is beating precious healthy grosses in every situation.  Indications are that Disney and RKO will add another comfortable $2,000,000 or thereabouts to record gross first racket by picture.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Morning Music Thing

My pal Cynthia Mitchell made this a few years ago.

She's a painter by trade and had never done anything with animation.

It's a bit raw, but it has it's moments.

I think it's the duty of animation professionals to encourage everyone to produce independent work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Failure

Often the outcome of a bid will be determined by factors completely outside of your control.

You can do everything perfectly -good creative, good budget, good rapport with the potential client -and still not land the job. It's common for animation/effects/design to get the short straw in the grand scheme of a production. Often that means it's one of the first things that's cut or scaled back so much an editor can handle it, or put off until there's no time.

Sometimes it's a combination.

For this project we pulled together several design ideas.

It was a fairly open assignment, and the concepts flowed pretty easily.

The client limitations were to keep it in the ballpark of what they already had (but to make it different).

Our concerns was that we make reference to the subject matter, but not mimic it.

The ideas were simple, and sometimes easiest expressed through storyboards.

These (and others) accompanied a written treatment which not only described the actions but justified the concepts.

Just about anything can done with motion graphics, but for them to be good there needs to be an inherent reason.

After this presentation, we were told they loved everything.  They were concerned we'd be able to do the work for the budget (we designed the concepts so that'd be possible).  Everything was a few months off.

Ultimately, other production issues came up. Time marched on and the client decided to keep their in house designer on the project.

We enjoyed the day or two spent on the concepts and were happy to pitch ideas and would gladly do it again for these folks.  Sometimes the stars just don't align.  In this case, we had no financial gain from the work we developed but we didn't spend all that much time on it.  Two or three days.  But it was an enjoyable exercise and sometimes you need a workout to keep in shape.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Four Year Animation School - Year Four

The final year of animation program should do (at least) two things.

First, it should continue to develop a student's technical skills.

Second, it should be a kind of creative crucible -a production which incorporates the previous years of study and pushes concepts against practicality.

It's not unreasonable to expect a 2:00 film to be produced.   The bulk of a student's credit hours should be dedicated to producing the thesis film.  6 class hours a week.  Here a student will learn professional production practices.

Continuing to develop animation skills, we'd use  Richard Williams' "Animator's Survival Kit" as the final year workbook.  By this point a student should have a basic grasp on animation mechanics, making the advanced studies in this book useful.

This is also the time to start developing as filmmakers. There are two general film resources which are invaluable.

Steve Katz' "Shot by Shot" and John Sayles' "Thinking in Pictures".

Friday, November 26, 2010

Churches and Mountains

Working on a short film now, still photography.

I realized it comes down to churches and mountains.

That's probably what most of American history is ultimately about.

Churches.  Mountains. And a homestead.

And their convergence.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Four Year Animation School - Year Three

The third year curriculum should be the most difficult for an animation student.

First, anyone who uses the word "animations" will automatically fail for the year.

Basic concepts of draughtsmanship and ways of thinking about animation should be fostered in the first two years -along with a rigorous dose of animation and film history.  Year three is when those ideas begin to find their ways into practice.

We would also have two current concept paths throughout the year: 1) story form, and 2) animation technique.

Thrown into the mix will be software courses: both 2d and 3d software.  Though, I have to admit, I don't have a good plan on how to approach 3d software.  In my opinion that would be a 5 year program with software being introduced in year 3, expanded on in year 4, and "perfected" through production in year 5.

Start with story.  First and foremost:

Brecht on Theatre in conjunction with

Aristotle's "Poetics".

Storytelling is largely instinctual.  I think it's a bad idea for young filmmakers to first study books which  expound on form and formula -even good books ("Save the Cat", being a prime example).

These two texts -"Poetics" and "Brecht on Theater" present ways of thinking about storytelling.  They're not "How To..." manuals, they're texts which help an artist understand their instincts.  These writers provide a vocabulary for discussing and understanding what makes a narrative work.

On a practical side, I hate to do it, but I've got to "double dip" authors with Nancy Beiman's "Prepare to Board" (I also like her other book for 2nd year development).

This leans a little step-by-step for my pedagogical tastes, but it's well written and gives useful legitimate information. Most storyboard books don't.

I'd love to see a volume that just collected boards from various sources -Warners, Disney, Plympton, commercials, Dora the Explorer, independent shorts -with little commentary. That's the best way to see what works.

For animation lessons, I'd use two workbooks. It's important to remind students that there is more than one right answer when it comes to animating. That's a tricky concept -since often a character will dictate that there is only one "right" way to animate, but that "right way" can't be universally applied.

The best of the animation workbooks is Halas and Whittaker's "Timings for Animation".

Unfortunately, the revised edition of this book is a step down from the original incarnation but it's all that's in print.

That would balance with Tony White's "Animator's Workbook".

Thus concludes the core reading for year three of my hypothetical animation program. I'm sure I'd load in other supporting, dissenting and seemingly irrelevant texts too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Cel Vol 1, #13: 6/29/44. You Don't Flip Cels, Baby!

Another  Tuesday, another "Top Cel".

The installation of officers will take place at the Capitol Hotel on next Friday, June 30, 7:30 p.m.  This is the first time that the union is meeting socially.  "Refreshments" will be served and music will fill the air -so let's make this a good turnout!


In our last issue, in naming the new Officers, we forgot to announce that Nick Tafuri was elected Chairman of the Famous Unit.  We are waiting for the Terry  Unit to meet to elect their two delegates to the Executive Board and their Chairman.

In our last Board meeting, it was decided to form a Grievance Committee in each plant. At Famous, Nick Tafuri and Bob Connavale, Judy Weiner, Howard Post, Bill Hudson and Alice Rehberg, were appointed to form the same.  These persons will act as Stewards, so all question or interpretations of the contract should be directed to them or to our Business Representative.

We want to stress again that it is our duty to see that we all live up to our agreement with the company.  Consult your Stewards if there is any question in which you feel the union can assist you.

Attention Executive Board members: As the first Monday of July, (the regular day for our Board meeting) falls before the 4th, the meeting will take place the following Monday, July 10th at the Commodore Hotel.  Next day, July 11th, our regular membership meeting will take place at New Rochelle.

We haven't been able to get together with Mr. Terry's lawyer to present our signed contract to the WLB.  Knowing how long the approval is going to take, it is unfortunate that Mr. Kerwin can not take care of our case a promised.  At Famous too, we haven't been able to present our petition of approval of wages to the Board as yet.

At Famous the company has announced that the vacation period shall take place on August 11th.  The Painters will not be able to take their vacations at that time as the department is a good deal behind schedule.  If the work progresses more rapidly, it is possible that the entire plant can vacation at the same time.

The members  at that studio asked to have Monday July 3rd off, and the Company agreed.  This, together with the two week vacation, are working examples of union achievement.  However, it is necessary to add that those who take Monday off should be certain to report for work on Saturday July 8th.


Warners has completed negotiations with Leon Schlesingers for purchase of later's cartoon studio, with price reported between $200,000 and $300,000 as reported in Variety.  Price would give Warners 100% ownership and operation of the plant, and it is expected they will maintain the present studio quarters.  (By the way, one of the worse in Hollywood.)  Present staff and organization will be maintained intact but with likelihood that Warners will appoint one of the studio Executive to take charge.  Schlesinger started his cartoon company about 1929.  It is understood that contract for deliver of his contract for deliver of his cartoon provided for payment on completion of each negative.  Producer has been turning out around 40 cartoons annually in recent years.

Walt Disney, in New York to record Benny Goodman music for "Swing Street", believes there is a big post war future for educational films.  "But I will not stick my neck out unless others go along," he said according to Variety.  He believes that the current large interest in visual education is due to fact that pictures supplement books and lecture in teaching.

Cartoonist Local in Hollywood has 243 members in the service, one of highest percentage in the West Coast.

Question of six paid holiday and time and one-half for Saturday work when holiday falls within week was submitted to arbitration by the Guild in Hollywood.  The Cartoonists were seeking pay for Christmas and New Year's which fell on Saturday following Thanksgiving and Memorial Day.

Plan for asking exhibitors for highers rentals on cartoons, due to increased production costs, was proposed by Walter Lantz.  He urged that steps be taken to make theatremen aware of the fact that costs have increases 40% since 1942.  "Authoritative surveys have proven that cartoons constitute a definite box-office drawing power," said he.  "In this respect, cartoons even rate above newsreels in the short subjects field.  They are as important to a film theatre bill as comic strips are to newspaper."


"Top Cel" is the printed voice of Local Union 1461.

The duties of this paper are:

1) To print news of the Union and its activities.

2) To present news of activities within the industry and allied industries that may be of interest to union members.

3) To present fairly problems that arise between the Union and the Employers.

4) To acquaint members of political issues that pertain to the advancement and detriment of the Nation and the labor movement as a whole.

"Top Cel" desires to reflect the opinions of its readers.  In support of this policy, "Top Cel" invites the opinions and letters of both Labor and Management.


Here are the New York State rules covering the employment of children:

No child under 14 may work.

No child under 16 may work in a factory.

Children between 14 and 16 working after school or during the vacation period must have work permits.

Children between 16 and 17 must have working papers.


Excerpt from a letter from the West Coast: "...The main reason... is to thank you for 'Top Cel', especially the last one.  It tops ours by far.  We are having elections this month.... It  seems we lack the interest you fellows have back there.  You New Yorkers are gaining more respect every day, more power to you...." Cpl. Jimmie Glabby, now in England, missing his bicycle rides due to D-Day.... Eli Levitan is correcting Jimmy Tanaka's Japanese..... A/C George Giroux graduated on the 27th at Stockton Field, Cal. after seeing his new arrival.... Jean Emerson leaving Terry's.  Just got over pneumonia... Bill Sturm in charge of production at "Fletcher Smith"... Mary Zaffo Mathewson, Terry Camera Dept., retired permanently to be near hubby at Camp......Marea Bishop Jacques down visiting  her husband for two weeks.....

PFC Harry Arpadi back in this country after minor injury in Italy...... Helen (oh boy!) Bromback left inbetweens to do inking (You don't flip cels, Baby!)..... "Geegee" Renza, Connie's boy, a June grad, doing coloring until Army grabs him.... Nick Tafuri, Harry Ryterband and Leonard McCormick perfect speciments, accepted after their physicals.  They are in the new "pool" now....Petite Peggy Adrian of coloring, now flipping inbetweens.  John Mendelsohn left Famous for greener pastures... until the Army gets him... Jacqueline Arias left to get marry ... Cpl. "Wed" Murphy now overseas.... Connie Quirk of inking, now inbetween at Terry......


Success of "Snow White" in its current re-release has prompted Disney to plan at least on animation picture of that nature each year, and perhaps three every two years.  He has set his story men to work preparing "Uncle Remus" from Joel Chandler Harris' fables; "Cinderella" "Alice in Wonderland" and "Sword in the Stone", a King Arthur Roundtable derivative.  Animation will not begin until after Disney has completed his commitments to the armed services as his major studio effort, his publicity Dept. says.


The Merchant Seaman Club, 43rd Street, is distributing ties and theater tickets to members of the Merchant Marine.  There is a shortage of ties.  Please donate any old ones you may have in your possession.  These ties are as important as the tickets to insure admission to the theaters.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Morning Musical Movie

This is a little film we did at The Ink Tank for Children's Book of the Month Club based on the very great Sandra Boynton's song and story.

It was one of the last pieces shot on film. The bulk of the animation was done by Kris van Alphen, who was recommended to R. O. Blechman by Paul Driessen. Kris did all the animation on the first season of "Caroline in the City" -the studio produced a new opening every week for 26 episodes.

Krystoff Giersz did the revision work. Kris van Alphen was living in Belgium so it was easier to have someone local take care of the changes. I only remember two. One was to make the musical notes bigger when they flew out of the book. The other was to make the bird at the end turn around to look at other ones.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four Year Animation School - Year Two

In their first year, our budding Eric Goldbergs and Brad Birds did approximately ZERO feet of animation.

They should be good and ready to pick up their pencils right about... NOT SO FAST.

First they'd have to work with Helen Hill's "Recipes for Disaster" for a month or so.

There are a million lessons to be had here, but to number a few:

1) fearlessness: Experiment, mess up, do things even if you don't know whether it'll work (HINT: if you've thought about long enough, you've probably worked out how to get it done)

2) time: Touching film, cutting it up, looking at the little pictures -you see the meaning of a frame. It's a sledgehammer way of showing the value of a single image as well as its worthlessness.

3) community: You, student are laboring by the dim light of your Cintiq, there are others out there like you. Talk to them, share with them. Your colleagues are your greatest resources. They're more important than any films you can produce, more valuable than any awards.

We've got to get to the flour sack sometime, and Nancy Beiman's "Animated Performance" is the best introduction.

She's still concerned with how you think about/approach animating but has exercises to put them into practice.

After several months of preparation, artists should be ready to animate.

There's no better reference for motion than Muybridge.

The best artists make a continual study of history, for animators the history of their field is especially important. Past animators and films form a lexicon which can communicate ideas elegantly and accurately to those who understand the language.

There are multiple sides to every story. Most history books (even Barrier's) tend be told from the studios' point of view.

Tom Sito's "Drawing the Line" looks at animation history from another perspective. Its full of interesting stories -but the fact that is shows the business of animation from a different angle is more than enough to make it pedagogically important.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Four Year Animation School - Year One

There are many people of my generation, I bet, who wanted to be archaeologists and college professors.  Indiana Jones.  Lecturing one day, battling Nazis for ancient mysteries the next yet still finding time to get the girl and crack one liners.

For many of us, that dream rests somewhere in our unconscious -manifesting as occasional flights of fancy.

Sometimes I daydream that I've got a well-salaried, tenured position with an oak paneled office at an Ivy League style animation university.  While my methods would change from year to year (some classes get a cheerleader, others a drill sergeant), I think my course material would be fairly consistent.

Here's the first year reading list.

Miyazaki, Hayao: Starting Point.  This is possibly the best book around animation.  Plus kids these love "Totoro" and all that stuff.  A text like this creates a bridge from the familiar -most students today are closer to "Porco Rosso" than they are to "Pinocchio" -to a new and brilliant way of thinking.

In some ways, its too easy to start with this book -if a first year student understands the lessons within, they may well grow into an animator one day.

Again, too easy.  Bendazzi's book may have some flaws (it's very Euro-centric) but it remains far and away the most comprehensive survey of animation history.  There's not too much analysis and the illustrations and synopses make a reader want to seek out the films.

While just about every student knows "Princess Mononoke", this is a book which will introduce them to one hundred years worth of films they might love even more had they only known about them.

This is a book about effects animation!  Am I crazy?  Where's the sack of flour?  Where's the bouncing ball?  Where are the walk cycles?!?!?!?!?

Joseph Gilland's "Elemental Magic" lets you know how think about animating.  He gives you techniques for seeing and translating what you see into what you commit to film.

As energizing and exciting as it is seeing your drawings move, throwing a novice in front of a lightbox with a copy of Preston Blair will give them the idea that this is way animation should be done.  That's 100% wrong.  Animation should be done by thinking about it for a long time before you even pick up a pencil.

O. K., O. K., sometimes you have to think by drawing.

That's why they'd be in life drawing for a few hours every day and have Thomas Eakins' drawing manual on their reading list.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Road Trip

A few weeks we hit the highways for a shoot on a project for The National Endowment for the Humanities.

I won't post any of the material used for that until it's in better shape.  These are some things encountered along the way.

Apparently these stores are all over America.  I don't know if they all feature this amazing sculpture of bears battling eagles over salmon. 

Or elephants amongst the shoppers.

Or mammoth taxidermy installations.

Everything's big in West Virginia -or Western Pennsylvania -it's all big.

The president's former office in the Ohio Statehouse.

The soup is out there.

But maybe Michael's Goody Boy would be a better choice...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Top Secret

Can't go too much into this yet, but these are too good not to share.

Doug Compton's layout drawings for a film we're working on.

There will be a few of these short bits throughout the picture.

This particular shot will be about 7 seconds.

She's sitting by a vanity (mirror screen west).

These eight drawings are the starting point for the animation.  He'll probably do another 20 or so drawings and time and chart the remaining 60 odd drawings for inbetweeners.

Note that the detailed pattern is drawn in on all of these.  That will likely drop off from the extreme drawings and be left for assistants.

One thing he'll do (maybe we'll show when they're done), is a lot of partial drawing on the inbetweens -a blue line body with the head finished so the inbetweener doesn't have to make the face act, just follow the gesture of the body.

It's an efficient system which allows for a few important things: the most talented artist focusing on the most important parts,  less experienced animators working with a master to see how he does it, the division of labor helps hide the animator's hand allowing the illustration to retain it's original design (the several hands it passes through all refer back to the model)  and it makes production much more manageable by dividing labor into several stages instead of one "animation" chunk.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gettin' Abstract Wit' It

David Levy wrote earlier this week about a new trend in broadcast animation away from the hard-edged "CalArts" style towards a more idiosyncratic "RISD" style.

There's something to this shift away from the geometry seen in kids programming.  In part, its production artists becoming more adept at the tools producers are providing (Flash) and squeezing more juice from the lemon.  It's also part of the cultural pendulum that design swings through -look at the classic "50s" style exemplified by UPA.  That was overtaken by the ornate graphics of the 60s Pushpin school which, in turn, lead to the softshell 70s designs we know best from The Electric Company and Sesame Street.

In my mind, a lot the product he writes about is warmed over "Krause".  Fran and Will have created a series of distinct, intelligent films which have trickled down certain sensibilities we're seeing broadcast today.  It's no coincidence that their pilots flopped with arrows in the back, while similar shows have gotten picked up by the same execs a few cycles later.

In any event, the purpose of this post is dual 1) to talk about how brilliant Fran Krause is, 2) to brag about working with him on The Buddha for a little segment.

This is strength of the education I've seen from RISD.  While producing students who have distinct styles, they also equip (or at least try to) them with the tools they need to be successful professionals in a diverse field.

Honing quirky storytelling skills is important for a student, but more important is learning how to be an animator.  That's someone who can rattle out some neat personal films as well as make a string sing.

It's important to remember that even in animation, there is a Middle Way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Cel Vol 1, #12: 6/16/44. The G. I. Bill

Yesterday, the Animation Guild in Los Angeles announced the results of their local's election.

Today we post the results from Screen Cartoonists' Local 1461 election of 1944.


At the elections conducted in our last General Membership meeting the following members were elected:

President...............Orestes Calpini
Vice-President......Ralph Pearson
Rec. Secretary......Shirley Knoring
Fin. Secretary.......Phyllis Shagrin
Treasurer..............Dave Tendlar
Conductor............John Gentillela
Warden................Joe Deneroff
Trustees................Nicholas Tafuri, Gordon Whittier, Mildred Bishop

Delegates from the Famous Unit to the Executive Board: Morey Reden and Bill Henning.

(The Terry Unit shall elect its two Delegates to the Board.)

Woody Gelman was elected editor "Top Cel".  Judy Weiner and Shirly Knoring will act as Assistant to the Editor.


The Terry contract, approved by the Unit and the General Membership is about to be signed.  However, there are still several points to be ironed out.  For instance, in the vacation clause the word UNINTERRUPTEDLY can be taken in several ways and is liable to cause much confusion later.  the  military clause was forgotten again, etc.  We hope the company take care of those details as soon as possible.

At Famous, at a meeting with a representative of the WLB, it was determined that the best way to come to practical conclusion on our application for approval of the bonus plan is to wait until the Board okays first our wage increase.  It was disappointing to find that the approval of the plan has to be delayed again, especially since the members have been traying to meet the bonuses.  However, we have the assurance of the company that the money earned will be credited, and ways and means will be found to pay it in case the WLB does not approve its retroactivity to March 13.

After conferences with the Board, it was decided to make new application for approval of the increases.  The argument that the union is giving is that since the company was organized on June 1942 the 15% Little Steel formula does not apply to us.  Our claim is that our industry is nation wide, and that the sound and tested going rates are those of the five Studios in the West Coast.

As the members were informed at the last General Membership meeting, the WLB is already making a survey of the animated cartoon industry for the purpose of establishing job classifications and range of salaries paid for each position.  Once these facts are established, our position will be clearer and the early approval of both contracts will be possible.


FLASH!  Former Terrytoons Backg'd artist JOHNNY VITA, sergeant Camerman in the Sig. Corps, pulled a promised stunt on entry of allied in Rome.  Gaining access to balcony of Palazzio Venezia, where Mussolini used to do his monkey act, he gave such a vivid imitation that the Roman crowds laughed and cheered.   So Johnny got his pix and write up broadcast throughout the world.... Jean Selby of the Anacostia unit, now Specialist 1st Class, in NY last week end.... Marge York back from vacation in Indiana.... Wahl and Spector again taking basic training.... Going woozy from eye strain, Irene Rowland had to quit inbetweening and go back to inking.  Sorry Rene.....Sam Cobean, of The New Yorker fame, now a Sergeant......


Conciliation hearing before Dept of Labor Conciliator Service, regarding revision of contract between Cartoonist and Disney was completed.  Studio execs and Guild will draw up points on which they differ and if they cannot be reconciled, case will be sent to War Labor Board for decision.  Biggest difference is over failure of company to provide for wage increases.... George Pal has agreed to arbitrate with the Local in Hollywood the layoff of an employee whom the Guild would not permit to do A Classification work while he remained in B Classification.... Herb Sorell, the best friend the cartoonist have in the West or East Coasts, was handed a new three year contract as business

Representative of the Studio Painters, and added compensation to raise his weekly minimum to $177.50...... Leon Schlesinger agreed to pay five employees for time taken off to vote.  Labor contract for the studio said he would recommend payment after the Business Agent call to his attention the California Election Code which allows employees two hours off with pay to cast their ballots...... Famous Studios doing a job for Office of War Information.... Screen Office Employees Guild, sister Local of the Brotherhood of Painters, was certified by the NLRB as collective bargaining agent for White Collarites at 20th Century Fox......


Legislation assuring America's fighting men and women the best postwar treatment a nation has ever given, designed primarily to get war veterans good jobs and education instead of handing them a cash bonus as in the last war, was approved by Congress, despite some chiseling by Rep. John Rankin (D. Miss).  Popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights, it covers:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.  During the first two years after their discharge, Veterans are allowed $20 a week unemployment benefits for a period up to 52 weeks.

EDUCATION.  $500 a year tuition, expenses for lab fees and books, $50 a month.  Subsistence allowance (plus $25 for dependents) for Veterans who were under 25 when they joined the armed forces.  (The age limitation was Rankin's handy work.)

BUSINESS LOAN.  Private loans at 4% interest, with the Government guaranteeing up to 50% of the loan, up to a $2000 maximum.

JOB PLACEMENT.  Special provision will be made for arranging employment of veterans by the US Employment Service.

HOSPITALIZATION. Free hospital care provided in Veterans Administration hospitals with $500 million authorized for construction of hospital facilities.

(Material taken from P M)


Roberta Whitehead came up from Chicago for a visit.  All "old" folks were tickled to see her.... Al Rose, of the Capra Unit in Hollywood, visiting New York.... Glen Couch getting married on June 23 at the Marine Post Chapel in Quantico, Va.  She...?  Pvt. Dorothy Stanely, USMCR......Terry Story Dept's Tommy Morrison chock full of new gags and very happy he picked up that "Joe Miller" joke book at a rummage shop.... Eugene Klein, Sam Buckwald smart and able lawyer, proud Father of a baby boy.  (That's the reason he was not at the meeting the other morning.) ..... Chris Ishii with the OWI some here in India..... Lt. Dick Alexander just arrived at New Guinea...... Bernice Bernstein, back at Famous after a month absence due to ill health..... Mrs. Ralph Pearson away for the summer.... Ellen Mahony joined Famous cel-polishing group.... Christie McFall of the Signal Corp unit, on furlough.... A cute colored gal lending color to Sparky's colorama harem.  Welcome to Terrytoons Judy Short!.........


For the benefit of those that have asked us, we again repeat:

Withdrawal Cards should be requested in writing.  In order to secure them, one has to be in good standing.  With a Withdrawal Card you don't pay any dues because you are not active.

At the last General Membership meeting, once again, the members determined that dues should be paid in advance, and that in order to be in good standing, as determined in our by-laws, the members should have the same paid by the first of the month.  However, the Business Agent was instructed not to present the list of those members in arrears to the Famous Studios until the 15th of the month.

For the information of the members our office on the Salmon Tower Bld., Room 1312, is open Wednesday and Thursday  between 12:30 and 1:30 and from 5:30 to 6:00.  Members can pay as many months in advance as they wish; they can pay with checks, money order and one person can pay the dues of as many other members as he or she wishes.

Without asking permission of the Local, no member is allow to take work home or do work above his classification.  The member faces a fine or even an expulsion.

All grievances should be reported to the Chairman of the Unit or to our Business Agent, so they can be taken up with the company.

Members to go into the service don't pay dues, as the Local will keep them in good standing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Morning Movie Trailer

Watched "A Clockwork Orange" again recently.

Actually, before I watched the film, I watched Pablo Ferro's trailer for the film.

I watch that trailer and think "Pure Pablo" (he, of course, did the opening to "Dr. Strangelove" as well).

Sometimes I'll dismiss a work out of hand if they ape Pablo Ferro's signature type design. 
Unfair, yes, but none have yet to do it better.

But then, I think on the one of the greatest film trailers of all time:

And the relationship between the two is clear. Very different films, very different trailers -but still so similar in their vision and "sales technique".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Testing 5

This is the final proof of concept test for this pitch (which we didn't land).

Part of the problem with "tests" is that they rarely reflect the circumstances of production accurately.

To truly produce this segment, we would have taken maybe 6 to 8 weeks instead of a little over one and we would have had significantly more money to invest in doing it properly.

That's the way it goes sometimes.   About 90% of the time when we put together something this elaborate we'll land the project -even if the final looks nothing like the "test".  A lot of this initial development, I think, is a client gauging it's comfort level in working with someone.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Testing 4

From yesterday's first round of drawings, we developed some more with specific shots in mind.

The styling has changed some after conversations with the client. 

This all had to be done fairly quickly, so we would composite heads from other drawings.

The quick turnaround prevented us from "unifying" the design.  But, again, just a "proof of concept" more than anything.

We painted up background too.

These would all be assembled, which you'll see tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Testing 3

These are the designs to go with the board posted yesterday.

Brian painted these watercolors from photographic reference.

We were trying to develop a style evocative of the past without referencing a particular school of art.

One of the first instincts when doing work set in an era is to look at the artwork of that place and time and replicate the style. This can be a good approach, but it's not the only way to go.

ABOVE: This isn't the most successful execution, but the idea is clear.  Line work body, some detailed face.

ABOVE: Another rendering.  Didn't like it as much.

Here's a different take.

And more realistic one, again, after a photographic.

We used some of the above art to create an animatic which would (hopefully) showcase how were roughly thinking about the piece.