Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Top Cel Volume 2, #15; 11/2/45 -Animators Are Not Machines

Animation Unit in India

Back Row: Neil Sessa, William Cookrish, W. O. Field, Joseph Magro, Harold Goddard.

Front Row: Nat Friedland, Reah Ehret, Carmen Eletto.

OUR UNION. Notice to new workers.

It has come to the attention of the Executive Board that new workers are not filing their application for membership and not paying their dues.

For their information we would like to mention that according to our rules if the worker is hired before the 15th of the month he or she has to pay the current month.  If hired after the 15th, his or her dues don't start until the following month.  Dues for Work Permit people are the same as the regular members.  We would appreciate if you would contact your steward for this and any other information you desire to ask

Stewards at Famous:  Paint: Doris Zvirin and Beulah Kirschner; Inking: Alice Rehberg; Inbetweening: Shirley Knoring; Animation: Hal Robbins and Joe Deneroff; Story: Izzy Klein; Camera: Leonard McCormick.


According to Oscar A. Morgan, short subjects sales manager at Paramount (distributors of Famous cartoons, you know!)  an all time record was established by Paramount short subjects during the five-week On Third of a Century celebration.  He said that figures disclosed a rental record that surpassed any previous accomplishment on Paramount shorts in the history of the company.

Under the sponsorship of the CIO Research and Educational Department a colored slide film on the guaranteed annual wage is being made by United Film Productions.  Under way by United at present also, is another animated film under UAW sponsorship based on the pamphlet Races of Mankind.

George Pal contracted to make a picture for Shell Oil Company, the first of a series of films on the oil industry.  Film will reveal the geological phases preceding the drilling of a well.

As a sequel to "Peace on Earth" MGM will make, when the strike is over, "The Truce Huts" a post-war story staring Tom and Jerry.  It is aimed at setting an example for world peace, Hanna-Barbera directing.

Samuel Goldwyn has organized a new producing company and will turn over all his film assets -contracts, stories, studio property, etc. - to it for coownership with employees.  The new company is capitalized at $10,000,000.  Goldwyn will retain 50% ownership.  He is chairman of the board.


"How many tie have you seen in the American papers a serious effort to analyze the profits General Motors and Ford and the oil companies, and their capacity to give their workers a take-home pay somewhat adequate to living costs?  How many times have you seen a serious discussion of Walter Reuther's impressive figures about the relation between profits, wages, hours, and living costs?  How many times have you seen a newspaper commentator give the trade unions a break by examining what a steep drop in take-home pay envelops would meant to the American economy as a whole, and how it would affect the question of prosperity and ultimate full employment for the Nations as a whole?

"What the trade-unionists are saying, in effect, is this: 'If free enterprise is to mean prosperity, as you corporation heads and your spokesmen in the press say it does, then we want a share of that prosperity.  But if all you mean by free enterprise is the freedom of the corporations to get high profits from tax cuts, regardless of full employment, and without giving us the freedom to get some security, then it isn't our dish.  National prosperity cannot be built on low wages and workers' insecurity.  We don't want to use the strike except as a way of getting that security.  But if you deny us security and decency, then our only recourse is to show that we too have some power in a free society."


Well over a year we approached the west coast requesting their cooperation regarding minimum prices for comic book work.

The publishers certainly should be grateful to one Jim Davis who started the racket and who, consciously or not, has kept the prices in Los Angeles  much lower than in New York where they are already low enough.

Since all the artists working out there are members of Local 852, we would like to set up, in conjunction with our local here, a minimum for that type of work, specially now that the strike is over.  Out here we are at a disadvantage as no one knows how many freelance artists there are, but at least we would know that our own brothers in the west coast don't take our work for less money.  Now at least three publishers have to work done in L. A.


Jack Willis refused to be moved out of Jim Tyer's room and consequently had to be "Sewell -Averyed" out.  Such fun!

Joan Bassi and her Lt. husband are back from their honeymoon.

Speaking of honeymoons Marvin Cristenfeld is in Cuba... you can guess the rest (Editors note: That's what I had to do.)

Our apologies to Frank Bacher who is leaving Famous.  His name was omitted last issue.  Shane Miller also leaving after he finishes the backgrounds for his "Raggedy Ann" picture.

Phyllis Shagrin was married last October 28th so the gals a Terry's gave her a supper at Schaffts.

Top Cel wants to thank Pete Caldera of Smith's for designing our masthead.

More animators leaving Famous: Al Rose, John Walworth, Ben Solomon. The score: seven!

The much publicized Johnny Vita visited Terry's recently.  He has been discharged from the Army.

Evelyn Klein the new steward at Smith's.  From the same studio we were sorry to see leaving Mr. Smith's secretary, Jean Drexler.

Woody Gelman and Larry Reilly are now permanent members of the Story Department at Famous.

Mr. Donald McKee dies very suddenly of a heart attack.  We extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs. McKee and Bob, our first president.

Julia Costa and Elaine Ryder both left Famous to get married.  Lucky girls!

Vince Eletto has returned from the Air Corp Unit on the west coast to work at Terry's.

Phil Di Paola and Lucy Violante no longer with Famous.  Good luck!

New at that plant:  Lila Salmi, Helen Stricker, Ruricko Hatakeda, and Joan Saracino.

Beatrice Sertner planning to get married in November and Dotty Unger in March.

Eliva Jump is the new assistant for Anne in the research department.

Doris Ortelli on a 3 week leave to get married. The girls in inking gave her a shower.

Fay Nadel is leaving Famous.  Reason?  Her husband is home from overseas.

Bill Littlejohn is the father of a baby girl.


Every day the newspapers publish what they call a "strike roundup", telling briefly of strikes throughout the nation.  Each such story tells the total number of workers on strike on that particular day (the figure is usually a rough guess).

But have you noticed that these strike roundup stories are usually careful to avoid mentioning WHY the workers are striking?  There is usually no mention of the grievances employers have refused to settle; no mention of broken agreements, no mention of all the other reasons workers strike.


Another truth concealed by "strike roundup" stories is the fact that so few workers are actually on strike. For instance, a story headlined "100,000 ON STRIKE" would be a darned sight more accurate if the headline read instead: "50,000,000 WORKING; 100,000 ON STRIKE".


Navy personnel discharged in the nation's capital have been fed a phony.  They have been told by Navy officers who should know better that they can't have their gold honorable discharge "because of the strikes".

At the separation center, PM found two Navy officers who admitted they had been passing on this anti-labor lie.  They said they thought it was true.  They said they had been "informed that the company that makes the buttons is out on strike."  They didn't remember who "informed" them.

The Navy Press Bureau had the fact straight.  The Navy, they explained, gets its buttons from the Army. The Army is short of supply due to stepped up demobilization and won't increase the Navy' quota.  More buttons are being made now by the Navy at the Philadelphia Mint.

"There is absolutely no truth to the story that strikes have anything to do with it," said the Bureau.


Simple as it is, union men found out that by grouping themselves they were breaking one of the oldest tricks of "divide and conquer."  We still have employers that practice such tactics more or less successfully, although most workers are wise to the ruse, some still believe they can make "a deal".  Those fellows are secretive about their salaries (what they consider of most importance) without realizing that separately no one can tack a single, central power, the boss.  In a union, men pool their information. Honest men explain the lines given, so others don't fall for the same.  In other words, WORK TOGETHER.  The union, and only the union should be the instrument of contact with the employer.  We know by now that the paternalistic boss is good only to himself and his business not us!


Jack Baldwin in Gushkara, India: "One of the duties here is to record the news as it is dictated by the Army new Service from Hawaii.  I may be oversensitive but it seems to me that the labor disputes are being over-played.  Away back before V-E they would report that a few hundred milkmen were on strike in Podunk.  It wasn't very newsworthy and I am sure that bigger news was in the making at the time.  There was never a daily report that landlords were trying to get around rent controls or that the N.A.M. was planning a post war campaign to beat the taxes and the unions.  Today the news is overflowing with "Union Demands," "Workers Revolt," "Strike Cause Stoppages," etc. etc. etc.  There are the phrases which stick in the GI's mind and don't think it isn't effective.  Yesterday a typical GI reading the bulletin board put his finger on an item about the CIO demanding a 30% wage increase for auto workers and said bitterly "The bastards, the dirty bastards." He is not to blame... the issues weren't explained.  I blame the Army News Service.  Perhaps they will blame INS, AP and other news sources.  The whole thing is very vicious."


The old adage about 'having your cake and eating it too' was disproved, for the base canard it was, a long, long time ago.  It is today too a physical as well as biological impossibility.

A person, regardless of his occupation, is expected to know his own job thoroughly.  If he knows his neighbor's job too, so much the better, although it is not expected of him.  Nor will his knowledge be rewarded by any additional green stuff in his weekly pay envelope.  All that is expected of him is an honest days work well done.

We all know what the so called 'efficiency experts' are, and in what direction their particular talents lie.    As applied to the animation business, they seem to be entirely unnecessary.

Man has made machines and is undoubtably their master.  Efficiency experts can make adjustments causing them to either speed up or slow down as the situation might require.

Animators. assistants and etc, on the other hand, are not machines in spite of any thoughts our opinions to the contrary.  They cannot be speeded up without a resultant drop in efficiency and quality.  There is no denying that some animators in the business might increase his animation footage.  We concede that.

We do not believe, however, that the extra foot or two each week is worth the out-of-proportion difference in quality.  In a highly competitive business such as ours, we do not consider that sacrifice a wise one.

No, we can't 'burn a candle at both ends.'  Neither can we 'have our cake and eat it too.'


Nick Poppa George, Ted Berman, Ed Levitte and Carl Fallberg are civilians now.  Nick is planning to work for Tom Codricks outfit and Fallberg is doing it already.  Berman is back at Disney.

Marine Glenn Couch promoted to S/Sgt.

Lt. Tom Goodson a proud father of a baby girl.

Leo Ellis in a hospital in Long Island.

Cpl Perry Rosove visiting NY Again?

George Baker getting out of the army.

Capt. Bill McIntyre now in Japan.

Russell Baldwin passing through New York.  We are sorry we were unable to see him.

Morris Gollub  out of the service and in New Rochelle with Dan Noonan. (40 Prospect Street)

Capt Bill Tilton from the Philippines and in his way home.

A. Keitel, C. Glenar and R. Stokes leaving the Anacostia group very soon.  Paul Fennell is already out, his place as head of the Unit being taken by Johnny Burks.

Charles Byrne from Anacostia in Screen Gems and Henry Bender in charge of personnel.

Ex-service men that just started to work at Famous: Al Eugster, Tom Johnson, G. Germanetti.

Zeke de Grasse out of the service and in Hollywood.

The Air Corp assigned Lt. George Giroux to his home, so he went and got married.


If you are anticipating a discharge from the service and aren't planning to return to the industry, please let us know.  Unless we keep contact, we will be unable to determine your status in the union.  We recommend that you write either East or West Coast locals as soon as possible after you are separated from the service.

Whether you are still in uniform or not, please keep us informed of your whereabouts.  We want to keep you informed of what is going on in the industry.  Our files are in bad shape since V-J Day when many of you stopped communicating with us.  Cooperation is more important now than ever.


We have always felt that the veterans needed an organization to represent their interests; to give them a voice in the world they fought to preserve.  Selfish interests took control of the larger veterans groups long ago.  Their views are now merely the views of big business.  A soldier from India sent us one of the bulletins published by the AMERICAN VETERANS COMMITTEE, the only veterans organization invited to San Francisco to witness the attempt to establish a lasting peace.  Our attorney and business agent have both investigated this organization and recommend it highly.

Lack of space prevents us from going into the matter more thoroughly.  The program of the A. V. C. include adequate financial, medical, vocational and educational assistance  for every veteran under a system of free private enterprise in which business, labor, agriculture and government work together to provide full employment for the nation.

We suggest you to write them for information.  Dues are $2 per year for those still in the service and $3 for veterans.  The address: American Veterans Committee, 554 Madison Ave., New York 22, NY.


As a group of men and woman, and not having in our by-laws or constitution any limitation as to our activities (as long as it is not subversive and in conformance with the law of the nation) our union can take any direction the members wish.  We could form groups such as sewing circles or political clubs.  Different times we heard members saying: "We are a union we cannot do that" etc, implying, without knowing, that we should worry only on financial gains or working conditions.  It is your right to direct our activities to any direction that would benefit you or the majority.  This is why the new trend in labor is political (something that horrifies the Ryans and the Walshes) as politics is extremely close to our daily lives.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Fraidy Cats

Tending to cats, recently.

Murray the Cat is hanging in, although he was diagnosis terminal a few months back.

This is a little film we did several years back for a pilot that never went into series.

Animation is by Doug Compton.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


No figure today in animation demands a documentary treatment more than Bill Plympton.

It could be argued that he's the most the important single figure in the past 25 years (moreso than Lassiter, Keane or MacFarlane) -the previous 25 belonging to Bakshi, the 25 prior Hubley, Walt Disney before him all the way back to Winsor McCay.

Adventures in Plymptoons had it's sneak premiere at the Museum of Moving Image yesterday before it's grand unveiling in Annecy next week.  There's plenty of material within the film to support the idea that the Plympton story needs to be told.

Beyond the technical issues -like it or not, fuzzy mattes and noisy audio which may be acceptable in an issue documentary become an issue in documentary about film -the serious flaw was hinted in director Alexia Anastasio's introduction.

She recounted a funny story about trying to "get" Kanye West for the film.  His appearance was foiled after his infamous Grammy Awards episode sent him to a self-imposed media exile.  Sure the pop star worked with the animator on a music video, but really, who cares?  What sort of insight could he offer on the man or the work?

There lies the fatal flaw in Adventures in Plymptoons, the viewer is treated to an constant stream of interviewees who seem chosen for some sort of celebrity appeal with few offering more than a line or two of hagiography.    Most stories are enjoyable -"Weird" Al Yankovic, for instance, is a personable and funny as you'd expect- but the cumulative effect is a white noise of talking heads.  Voices who might have otherwise broadened the scope of the film -Signe Baumane who senses a touch of misogyny in one particular scene, Ron Diamond on Bill's relationship to the commercial world -are given equal or less time than a voice actor who had maybe three hours interaction with the subject.

The talking head format fights the contrapuntal "quirky" approach.  Some of these segments are surprisingly rewarding -Bill Plympton serenading Troma's Lloyd Kaufman with "The Nose Hair Song" is one particular highlight.

Casual fans will likely enjoy some of the anecdotes (many are also recounting the excellent Independently Animated).  The uninitiated will see some great work though they might not fully understand why Bill Plympton is such a big deal.  Those looking for something more might be a little disappointed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another One

Here's another guy Liesje made for that commercial pitch.

He's a pretty good character, so maybe he'll get put to use somewhere.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Presentation Pieces

We were asked to bid a project recently which involved coming up with design and narrative solutions within a budget.

We came up with a few looks.

The above characters were made by David Fremont, we came up with loads more as illustration and some more in clay.

This is by Liesje Kraai.

It's been a couple weeks and we've heard nary a peep.

C'est la vie!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


A little preoccupied these days.

But still thinking of you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Top Cel - Vol 2, #14 - 10/12/45 - New York Rates Below Standard

Dick McDermott worked at Disney's, Screen Gems and the U. S. Marine Corps in the latter as a "combat artist" which consisted at times of "combat" but practically never "artist".


TOP CEL is most happy to welcome into the publishing field Famous Studios.  We certainly don't mind the competition.  As a matter of fact in some ways we are indeed happy about the appearance of "Bottom Cel".  Since we have gone on record many times in the past through TOP CEL with statements concerning policy, these same being available to any and all interested parties, we feel that from this new competition we may expect some reciprocal statements.

Inasmuch as our union is against any speed up system, no matter what fancy name is given, (bonus, incentive plans or other compensation), Famous decided to give one of the three aforementioned plans to several girls in their respective departments for the best performance that week.  Nothing is official.  You simply find a couple extra bucks in your check at the end of the week.  Of course, no one is supposed to know anything about it, specially the union.

The Executive Board has passed a recommendation to the General Membership that any extra money received should be reported to the union and returned to the employer.

The same employer has decided at this time, during negotiations, to give raises, which, as his own attorney pointed out, is considered unfair labor practice under the Wagner Act.

The Executive Board has informed Famous Studios that giving raises or bonuses during negotiations is considered unfair labor practice by the union.

Our Business Agent informed Fletcher Smith last week that one of his employees was not in good standing in the union.  For the first time in our history an employer had to take drastic steps and drop this employee from his payroll.  It is painful having to enforce our contract, however, it is not fair for all those members that pay their monthly dues and assessments to allow others to ride along without contributing.  This employee will not be able to work anywhere in our industry as we wrote to the Hollywood Local already.


Cartoonists in Hollywood have signed a new contract with Disney and Lantz which will up earnings of workers approximately $150,000 annually.  Biggest group to benefit is some 300 inkers and painters, who will cash in to the tune of $75,000.  Artists also will receive around $100,000 in retroactive pay.  Minimum follow [omitted from typed list, click image for details]


A union is a device to enable individual employees to organize their strength and combat evils that beset us all and to handle necessary problems that individuals cannot handle alone.  Sometimes problems arise that are bigger than mere employer-union collective bargaining, problems that are universal in scope, though vital to each of us individually.  Such are problems of unemployment, international unity, war, etc. These problems can only be handled by a union of unions.  Every employee  and every union have a stake in their outcome and all must work together.  So too with the problem of employer-union coalitions and union racketeers.  The Hollywood strike against these evils affects every one of us.  The success of gangsterism and company unionism in the movie industry will mean the same thing everywhere.  One union cannot fight the coalition of producers plus a racketeer union alone any more than one employee can fight an employer.  Unless all unions unite now against this high powered test attempt at union-busting in Hollywood, each union will have to face the same attack alone.  All employees understand this.  Your union is the device to help you make yourself felt in the fight.  Make your union take its stand now.


Promoted to S/Sgt, Dick McDermott is now in Washington, DC.

The exodus at Famous continues.  Leaving: Frank Little, Graham Place, Rube Grossman, Otto Feuer, Joe Goteri and Bob Little.  Good luck to you all!

Opaquer Joan Bassi was married Sept. 16 in New Rochelle.  The best of everything to Joan!

Woody Gelman returned recently from a short pleasure to Quebec.  Quoting Woody: "Those French girls, whow!"

Reg Massie now a civilian.

Connie Quirk, Dolly Knickerbocker and Gloria Feriola returned once again from their inbetweens.

Norma Spalding  expects her boy friend home any day now.  And so is Fay Nadel.

Barbara Angel has joined the group of glamour girls who are opaquing for Terry.

Ann Gardner left for greener pastures.

MT Sgt Art Babbit giving us his own home as his address.

Additions to the Famous payroll: Therese Varela, Nine Irwin, Mary Vassilio and Ruriko Hatakeda.

Dotty Weber's fiance home from overseas.

Dottie Romer is to be a Navy wife about the first of this year.

Bob Little's son visited Famous a few weeks ago.

Phyllis Shagrin is to be married in  Oct.

Grandpa Pat Carbone tells us that 1st Lt. Frank and Mrs. Betty Lee Carbone announced the arrival of a 7 lb. baby boy, Ronald Francis.

Johnny Wulp visited Terry's before returning to school.

T/5 Carl R. Anderson returning from the army is going to start working at Screen Gems.

Lt. Freeman Silva still waiting for his discharge.

We all express our deepest sympathy to Connie Rasinski upon the death of his wife.


We can still hear the applause Pete Burniss received at a Hollywood meeting when he severely criticized the American Federation of Labor.  But we all had to weigh his words carefully when he went on to ask who we could turn to if not that organization... the Producers?

Perhaps this is a good time to remind ourselves of the reasons for our affiliation and to take stock of what we have gained from it.

When the cartoonists first began to organize at Schlesinger's, the well knit group that was formed decided to remain independent because there didn't seem to be any central organization worth joining.  This group was strangled in NLRB red tape.  A year and one half later, when MGM began to organize all over, the same question of affiliation came up.  At the moment there again seemed to be no one to affiliate with.  Most of the professional and white collar workers, such as Set Designers, Office Workers, Cartoonists, etc. were having little success in organizing.  Although many of us like the liberalism, democracy and militancy of the CIO, it was a comparatively weak organization in Hollywood where almost the entire movie industry was AFL.  And it didn't seem as though we could join that organization which in Hollywood was saturated with graft, corruption and terrorism by the Bioff coalition with the Producers.

Fortunately for us, in the midst of all this AFL's darkness, there shone one ray of light and hope, a man and a group who vigorously and unceasingly fought the graft, corruption and terrorism of the Bioff-producer coalition.  That man was Herb Sorrell.  The organization was the Brotherhood of Painters.  And, as we all know, that man and that organization are sill fighting the same forces.

The cartoonists were the first group to make the unique arrangement of affiliation with the Brotherhood of Painters and today we are proud of what we have accomplished with the help of Herb and the Brotherhood.  We have grown from a struggling one studio group to a nationwide organization that won greatly improved working and financial conditions not only in Californian but in New York as well.

There has been a rumor going the rounds that some people now want to make some changes in this affiliation.  We in New York feel that such a step should first be discussed and planned by ALL the groups concerned not just by a few animators or publicists or white collar workers and that if a decision is made, all should move as one.

None of us dispute the fact that many of the leaders of the AFL lack the courage and honesty so sorely needed today.  Everyone knows that the Hollywood strike could have been settled long ago.  But we feel that this is  no time to be thinking about affiliations.  We have a very vital stake to win first.  And as Pete Burness pointed out, if we can't depend on the AFL, who can we depend on...the Producers?


At a recent meeting, one of our officials delivered an oration almost entirely lacking in "forensic eloquence".  That lack, however, was more than overbalanced by the sincerity of belief we all felt and know must exist in that speaker's heart.

The subject was "RESPECT".

We hope that the large number of members who heard that speech were impressed.  It set us to thinking.  After turning the thought over several times we couldn't help but feel that even had the speaker not said what he did in relation to union, the thought on any other subject would have been equally worthwhile.

All of the things that little seven-lettered word implies and represents and all of the forces that can be set in motion through it could probably put an end to wars, make for a better understanding between nations themselves and lastly, but by no means least, cause people to pass through their three score and ten in a much happier and contented frame of mind.

Most of us have always had a goodly amount of respect for our employers.  Whether the reverse was true has always been to us an unanswered question.  We, of course, would like to feel that there is a certain amount of respect felt towards us by our employers.  We cannot however, be confident in that opinion so long as a man to man attitude does not exist but instead, what we might laughingly refer to as a father and son relationship.  We do not imply that no respect can exist between a father and his son. What we do hope to point out is that fact that we are not children.

The old adage that has it about "Familiarity breeding contempt" is not true.  That only happens whe the parties had a good start of not liking each other before.  We want to go right on being friendly.  But we also would like to be respected.

We are not entirely certain who should be credited with the following but we certainly think it makes a nice ending to this.  "Sir, I disagree  entirely with what you have to say, but I will defend unto death your right to say it."

There gentleman, is a pretty swell example of "RESPECT" in action.


You have the right to quit your present job and take a better one.

You have the right to demand that your union find out what jobs are available, and represent you in getting them.

A properly functioning union is a clearinghouse for jobs.  Employers call the union to get artists.  Artists come to the union to find out what jobs are available.  In the past month or two, for instance, several employees have left Famous Studios and many others have inquired about jobs on the west coast and elsewhere because New York rates are BELOW STANDARD in the industry.  At present your union has made contact with a New York studio in of artists.  YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE YOUR UNION AS A CLEARING HOUSE FOR JOBS. DON'T HESITATE TO USE IT.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tale of Two Compressions

Jeff Twiller's latest shenanigan.

Slushing Brooks - VCR Repair from Slushing Brooks on Vimeo.

Animator Morgan Miller sent a link on YouTube then wrote "my colorist friend Crystal did alot of tweaking on it with a Wave Panel console...for her little home studio, and then when you look at You Tube, it looks all washed out."

Here's the YouTube link.

The color difference from the same source file is pretty strong.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Wasn't Expecting To Be Here Today

so I didn't really prepare a post.

For a moment or two, as clouds broke over Brooklyn I thought maybe, hopefully, the Belt Parkway would be a highway to heaven. Or hell. It doesn't really matter.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Doing some more research and found this nice little film on Thomas Cole on the website for his landmarked home in Catskill.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Picturing America

The past year or so we've been happily and proudly associated with the NEH and PBS' Picturing America (On Screen) initiative.

The program is expansive -crossing schools, libraries, websites and ultimately broadcast media. We did the title sequence for the broadcast and made a few of the short subjects.

In trying to finish up the last one, we hit a bit of a snag. So I revisited the NEH website for insight and found this. The body of the segment is downloadable, this is the only version I could find embeddable (which, incidentally, is a spell check approved word whereas "downloadable" is not).

The first :45 seconds or so are a kind-of intolerable opening. Skip passed them to body of the clip. The students reactions after the NEH promo ends are also interesting.

As mentioned, there was a hiccup with this last piece we're doing. Watching this little video helped remind of the goals of the initiative. I had been thinking a lot about the "ways of seeing" and "observing" aspects -the former hasn't been well addressed in the other episodes -but was reminded of the resulting rewards of seeing and observing: illuminating stories of the past.

Hopefully this shift in thought will help wrap up the last subject and turn it into a good little film.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Have Your Cake

So these are crummy cel phone pictures

Combining cartoon and sugary food is older than Grandma's first Twinkie, but in an era of expanding young waistlines is this really the proper place for some characters?

Cookie Monster now famously eats celery (something I don't understand, celery may be the disgusting food on the planet), but he can be eaten cupcake form.

Of course there's parental responsibility, but hey - if we're a trickle down society shouldn't the profiteers shoulder some responsibility too? With great power...

I didn't get any of these. But I bet they were delicious. Thanks Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon, Warners and Sesame Workshop!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome to the 20th Century

In the quest for simplicity I've been experimenting with making little gifs for the website.

They misbehave on some operating systems.

This is the simplest, working up complicated ones too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top Cel Vol 2, #13 -09/28/45; War Is Over, Unrest On The Horizon

Photographic Science Lab, Art & Animation Div., USMAS. Anacostia

TOP ROW: G. Rufle, T. Byrne, C. Nett, H. Rich, B. Roberts, T. Tobin, R. Kennedy, F. Greene, J. Ulm, B. Morrison, G. Snowden, H. Binder

ROW TWO: E. Cook Jr., G. Martseqis, E. Parks, D. Major, N. Schwarz, M. Arens, N. Dulin, C. Perkins, A. Kneitel, G. Goepper, S. Popko, R. House.

ROW THREE:  C. Rayburn, E. Haworth, R. Gotto, A. Wells, C. Shankland, K. Miner, Z. Jablecki, M. Provensen, S. Spohn, A. Franc, H. Hutsin, E. Carey

ROW FOUR: V. Wise, A. Rosenberg, F. Randolph, P. Lacallaide, M. Schulteis, L. Parks, P. Krisl, B. Hansen, J. Ebensperger, K. Coyle, B. Oates, R. Minick, M. Coy, B. Reynolds, T. Hersch, L. Perrigo

ROW FIVE: Paul Fennel, Lee Blair, W. Tracy, W. Kennedy, C. Glenar, A. Wise, L. Schmitt, A. Lowy, R. Stokes

Those not in the picture are: V. Bank, C. Byrne, J. Carey, J. Jones, E. Loughlin, W. Pattengill, L. Rhodes, C. Shinn, E. Sharpe, S. Whittaker, D. O'Malley, B. Schibler, V. Darling, R. Avery


Union Shop Clause: "The Union Shop Clause contained in the 1944 contract between the parties shall be incorporated in their 1945 agreement."

Duration of the Contract: "The term of the contract shall be for two years.  The contract shall contain a provision permitting the question of wages to be reopened at the end of the first year."

"Most Favored Company" Clause:  "The Company request that the "most favored company" clause shall be retained in the 1945 contract shall be denied."

Wages: "The panel recommends that the rates approved by the Tenth Regional Board (Calif.) for the animated cartoon industry be approved as minimum rates in the instant case.  The panel recommends further that the parties through collective bargaining fix the rates for the positions not listed here, using as a basis for those rates the rates recommended in this report.  It is also recommended that the parties, through collective bargaining, fix the rates for apprentices, and reconsider the whole question of rate ranges."


"September 6, 1945 - Eugene Kline, Esq. 1501 Broadway, New York City -Dear Mr. Kline: I have been advised by the Business Agent of Screen Cartoonists Local 1461 that your client, Famous Studios, is hesitant about paying the bonus money dues to it employees because of an uncertainty about present War Labor Board policies.  The Union has suggested that I ask you to advise your client of the existence of WLB General Order 10, as amended, which reads as follows:

'(a) The payment to employees, whose wage or salary adjustments are subject to the jurisdiction of the National War Labor Board, of a bonus or gift may be made without the approval of the National War Labor Board'......
The Union has already called this new policy to the attention of Mr. Buchwald but he prefers to await your advice before acting.  Will you kindly provide him with a copy of this Order as soon as is conveniently possible so that this matter can be quickly cleared up.  Very truly yours, (s) Marvin D. Cristenfeld, Attorney for Screen Cartoonists."

In this issue of 'Top Cel' we would like to acquaint our members with the mechanics of collecting the weekly assessment.  The results of the first two weeks, in spite of its being a new experience for many of us, were very pleasing.  There were a few members however, who were "confused" by the new ruling of the membership. To them we would like to state that the regular dues will not be accepted until all the assessments have been paid.  You can pay these assessments either every week or once monthly IN ADVANCE if you so desire.  Another point the members should keep in mind is that the receipts given them by the stewards should be kept as that is the only proof they will have that payment has been made.

At our General Membership a Grievance Committee was appointed to discuss with Mr. Buchwald of Famous, six or eight grievances, including the payment of bonus money, that have been pending for some time.  Mr. Buchwald has absolutely refused to meet with this committee ("the issues are not important") to discuss the grievances.  at a luncheon meeting on Sept. 12, the committee decided to postpone direct action to correct our complaints until plans can be completed.


Where grievances are concerned your union is a sword and a shield.  It is a sword in that it carries your gripe to the employer and fights for you.  It is a shield in that it protects you from reprisals.  But your union cannot go around hunting for complaints.  For instance, your contract with Famous Studios provides that existing working conditions shall be changed.  Yet the company stopped the use of pay telephone and cut out coffee drinking at certain times.  Recently the head of the Painting Department has gone as far as to threaten to forbid incoming calls as well as outgoing calls.  Although your union might have had these conveniences restored under the contract, no one seemed to care about them, no one seriously complained, so nothing was done.  You union exists to represent you in such matters, and in all matter large and small.  MAKE YOUR UNION EARN YOUR DUES AND YOUR BUSINESS AGENT EARN HIS SALARY by filing your grievances promptly and seeing that they're attended to.


At our last General Membership meeting on Sept 11, our members voted unanimously for a motion requiring every member of our Local to join the picket lines that will soon be formed around NY theaters to back the Hollywood strike.  A card will be sent to each member to determine what time of the day or night will be most convenient for him or her to picket.  Watch for the notice of a meeting to be held soon to arrange the details of the picket lines.


In a letter addressed to "Dear Mr. & Mrs. America" 'Roundup' (that Ralph Sommervile so kindly send us each week) speaks to the nation:

"For weeks, our paper has been publishing stories picked up from the nation's press quoting public figures who have been lamenting the plight of returning veterans.  At first those stories tickled our GI sense of humor, and we gave them the facetious treatment they deserved.  But it has reached at point today where there is too much of what was never a good thing.

We -your husbands, sons and friends, separated by 14,000 miles from all we know and hold dear -are fed up with this constant attempt to magnify servicemen's readjustment problems which, in the majority do not exist.  We feel that such ill-advised and unwarranted overemphasis on the readjustment bogeyman will result only in creating a war-neurosis among civilians.  It will make what should be happy and long awaited return home by the soldier a nightmare interlude of trying to convince his wife and parents and friends he is not a first-rate problem child.

What we really want you to know Mr. and Mrs. America, is that we aren't coming home a mass of jibbering idiots, expecting a life of luxury through the courtesy of overpadded bonuses nor are we going to be carrying the torch for a picture of a semi-nude wench whose only purpose was to brighten up drab living quarters.

There will be no need to lock the windows and doors or hide the children.  No need to self-consciously attempt to steer the conversation into channels designed not to upset us or flinch everytime we sneeze or raise a hand to scratch our backs.  We're not bloodthirsty, nor has our long exile in far-off lands made us subject to sudden fits.

No, Mr. and Mrs. America, we're just a bunch of damned lonesome Joes, and the only readjustment we're worried about is getting ourselves back across 14,000 miles to the USA.  And to us, all the crackpot dissertations about problems of the returning war veteran and all grandiose "welfare" schemes are strictly for laughs.  Don't let them mean any more to you."


Again we would like to remind the members who leave the Studio that they must write a letter requesting a Withdrawal Card if they don't want to keep on paying dues.  Unless a written request is received and the .10 fee paid, the members face an automatic suspension at the end of three months.  So please make sure you make your request in writing.


You don't have to:
Pay more than your maximum rent.

Sign a lease that is different in terms and conditions than your expiring one.

Accept an "escape" pr "escalator" clause (to the effect that rent will be increased if OPA regulations are modified or dropped) if your expiring lease didn't have one.

Be evicted solely because the landlord refuses to renew your lease, as long as you are paying the maximum rent.


No longer with Famous: Sara Tsurugka, Dorothy Kneitel, Lynn Cataldo, Lillian Chiodo, Bella Weinberg, Sylvia Alevy, Kamma Phelps, Hazel Heit, Otto Messmer, Brenda Reiner, Gloria de Gregoriis, Evelyn Gay, Norma Korn.

Recent baseball poll winner include: Peggy Breese, Dolly Knickerbocker, Connie Renze and Don Figlozzi.

Iris Tomberg taking over Kamma Phelps job, while Doris Zverin is promoted to Effects Dept.

More vacation news: Jean Maier, Nancy Lee Jones and Mrs. Bishop found themselves in Conn.  Elsa Fumaro spent her vacation at Lake George.

Gloria Wilson, Edythe Barnell, Patricia Ward, Eileen Saracino, Mae Goldstein, Kathrine Simonian, Jack Ehret and Frances Scribnik are new employees at Famous.  Why such a turnover?

Freddy Benz back at Terry's as an opaquer instead of an office boy.

Iris Tomberg will formally announce her engagement next month.

Jose Corral, just discharged from the Signal Corp, now working at Fletcher Smith.

Pat S. Barker is in Texas with her husband.

Edith Fiorino back at Famous.

Lou Zukor is the proud father of 6 lbs. 4 oz. baby girl. Joan Carrol. Congratulations.

Joan Bassi who is soon to be married, was given a surprise shower at the home of Mary Ann Marvin.  Almost all the girl from Terry attended.

Lillian Grossman out with pneumonia.  Get well!

Johnny Wulp left Terry's for a short rest and then...back to school.

More new employees at Famous: Edith Fiorino, Lew Ladsman, Nina Irwin, Rosemarie Rossi, Elaine Ryder, Therese Varela, Mary Vassilo, Pete Burness in New York.


In a recent public opinion poll one of our best known poll-takers pretended to find out for a second time how America stands on the closed shop issue by asking the usual cross-section an oh so unbiased and unslanted a question as "Would you be in favor of FORCING EVERY WORKER to join a union AGAINST HIS WILL in order to keep his job."  The answer to such a question, as would be expected, was a large percentage of nos.  We wonder if the response would have been any different if the famous unbiased poll-taker had asked "Are you in favor of protecting those who sacrifice their money, time and often their jobs to form a union and fight for a contract against the selfish free rider who will take the hard won increased wages and working conditions and even refuse to pay dues to support the organization that won the better conditions and continues to fight for them?


The war just ended, among many other things, has given us many new phrases to bandy about.  One of these is 'protective custody', for instance.  Those who understand what that means will laugh at its camouflage.

At Famous Studios too, we have our own cute little ways of putting things. Here, for instance, no one is ever fired.  They are merely 'forced to resign.'

A few weeks ago, we said good-bye to two girls who has formerly been members of the Inbetweening Department, and who also has been 'forced to resign'.

Who they were is not almost as important as several other thoughts and implications that enter our minds.  We believe it could have been and other two inbetweeners.  Or inkers, opaquers and lest they forget, animators and head animators.  It already happened in the Cutting Room.  You read about it in earlier issues of this paper.

To us, it appears to be only a small part of a larger pattern.  We might possibly be wrong.  We, most certainly, hope we are.

Whichever way that is, however, it raises the question of efficiency in our minds.  We don't believe it is possible to maintain the high standards of accuracy and efficiency required in the production of animated cartoons when the minds and hands that turn them out, are weighted down with doubts and questions involving such primary and essential things as security.

So far, the people affected have not been with the studio for as long as a period as have most of the animators, background men and those in a few other departments who can boast of long periods of service.  How long before these latter people are affected is an important questions the answer to which lies in the graces of either one person or us.

We don't mean to raise doubts in the minds the employees of the studio.  We do intend to raise doubts and questions in the mind of the employer whenever he feels like pulling some strings or pushing buttons on any 'statistic' at the studio.


We are happy to inform our readers that according to our information Vonda Bronsom, Henry Binder, Bernadine Schibler, and Charles Byrne were honorably discharged from the Anacostia Unit to be followed by Virginia Bank, George Goepper and Kathleen Coyle.

Abner Kneitel was in town.

After two years, Connie Auditore returned to the states from Italy.

Sgt Jim Logan, Pfc Wm A Perez, Cpl Nat Elliot, Ted Bonnickson, Leo H Buckner, and Cpl James H. Baldwin have sent in change of address.  Thanks!

Sgt. Stan Green back in New York wearing the Purple Heart.

At the Animation Unit in New York, those leaving include Myron Waldman, George Germanetti, Earl James, Al Eugster,  Dave Hoffman, Dick Blundell, John Harbaugh and Jack Zander.


"By staying the job the 4th of July US Labor made up in one day all the time lost by strikers since Pearl Harbor.  This magnificent fact knocks out every lie against labor told the past four years by 99% of the US press  by all the reactionary columnists of the Pegler type, all the radio liars, all the plain and fancy liars who poison the information of the American people.

Guild Reporter (July 13) has obtained documentary evidence on how the Associated Press first told the foregoing fact, then got cold feet and faked the news.

First AP story read: 'Time lost in all the strikes since Pearl Harbor was virtually offset yesterday by the millions of workers who observed Independence Day by laboring...'  Later the AP sent out a 'sub intro night lead' or substitute story story saying: 'Millions of workers observed Independence Day by Laboring... Theoretically offsetting to some extend the time lost in strikes since Pearl Harbor.

This 'to some extend' story, however, was further changed.  A 'second night lead' began: 'Millions of workers observed Independence Day by laboring but there still were some 50,000 strikers idle...'  The 'offsetting all time lost since Pearl Harbor' was this killed, and a fraud again perpetuated on readers."


The most important development of the last two weeks in the fight in Hollywood to liberate the democratic forces in labor of the IATSE-Producer coalition, was the entry of the CIO into the picture.  No sooner had the CIO Executive Board recommended to support the strikers than the General Council voted unanimously to comply with that recommendation.  Approximately 5,000 workers are participating in picketing the movie houses in Hollywood.  That collective picketing was the first that AFL and CIO units have done in cooperative basis.  Since the theater managers are beginning to scream to the producers and the producers magnates are finding that the box office "take" around town has been considerable lessened, this new tactic in the strike procedure has been considered as urgent in bringing an early settlement.

By now our members are familiar with the "small but mighty, bursting with the HOLLYWOOD ATOM" that the Publicists Guild is sending us daily by air mail, and where we see the daily development of the strike.  The members are also or should be, acquainted with "The Picket Line" sent to us by Herb Sorrell's office.  We want to thank them, because that is the only way we can keep our members informed of the facts.

A notable development was the arrival in New York of Roger McDonald of the Set Designers.  The Strike Strategy Committee have instructed him to carry out negotiations for theater picket lines here.  And to endeavor to consolidate activities here and in general keeping the people notified at the same time of the strike issues.

We wish to heartily welcome Mr. McDonald and to assure him that everything in our power will be done to facilitate him in his work.  With a committee established here in New York we should have closer cooperation in our efforts to keep the democratic forces in our unions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Medicine

Been feeling a little run down.

Maybe I should've done this.

Designed by Phil Marden and animated by Tissa David around 2002 or so.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Loss Leaders

Do you know how much money clothing designer make on Paris, Milan and New York "Fashion Week" shows?

It's hard to quantify, but the simple answer is "negative a lot".

The high end designs that walk celebrity runway shows cost more to produce than they recoup.  I don't fully understand the details of the fashion industry, basically the top lines and the haute couture (which is a very specific subset of Parisian houses) are the avant garde for the low end labels which stock department store shelves nationwide.  Barneys might buy a few dozen $5000 dresses which march through Bryant Park.  The profits are made from the mass produced cheaper models which sell for $49.99.  That and fragrances, apparently.

So why spend so much promoting clothes which will never make back the production costs?

The fashion industry sees these as "loss leaders".  The money invested on the high end of the line is necessary for greater profit on the mass market lines.  In this particular case aspirational buying in the consumer plays a major role.  Isn't there an aspirational angle to all purchases?

In animation and other forms of film production the loss leader can be an important part of the business.

These can take the form of cut rate work, like music videos.

They can also take the form of short films -Pixar's shorts are a great example.  The studio loses plenty of money producing them but the technology and talent they develop repay the company's investments many fold.

When someone offers a low to no budget project, the question to ask is -"If I can't make money on this particular on this job, will it help me profit in the long term?"  It's a tricky question because the answer is conjecture.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Site Redo

Working up some new website ideas.

We're going simpler, all html programming (which I have to figure out).

Above is the first idea.

Below is another which incorporates more images on the homepage.

The stills will rollover to gifs containing several images, like this:

These are first drafts, works in progress.

We'd be interested in hearing opinions.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Animation Fan

Hopefully Blogger will restore yesterday's post.  If not I'll repost in the next few days.

Yesterday animator William Moritz stopped by the studio to show his work.

He was kind enough to leave this gift behind.

It's a fan from Odri Studio in China where he worked for a time.

The obverse is an illustration of the "animation history museum" they have in the basement of their studio.  Apparently this is even used as a resource by animation schools across the country.

I can only recognize the Wii controller, so I really need to brush up on my animation history.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dog Walking Dog: Going For Half A Walk

I don't know if this one exactly qualifies as half a walk.


It is only eight drawings and cycles.


It was used in an ABC/Disney video for They Might Be Giants' Here Come the ABCs video series.


As far as work goes, it would have been "easier" to do a Preston Blair standard walk.  There's less thinking involved, though this was pretty intuitive and went quickly.


This was how we thought these guys walked.  The dog walking the dog.  So there were too many other options and it didn't need any more drawings.


Neither this film nor The Stepford Wives film won anything at ASIFA, maybe the jurists were more attuned to bizarre walk cycles than they are today. 


This is a graphic approach to character animation, trying to find interesting manners of movement (which are simple) that convey an attitude -not to be confused with 'tude -using the body form as a configuration of shapes. 

It's ontologically opposite of "the illusion of life".


It is, rather, the admission of the medium.  Instead of applying laws of gravity and biology to the drawings the animation here allows the drawing to dictate the manner of motion.  


This is a pretty simple little walk for all those big words -but that was the thinking behind animating this character in this fashion.

It's very simple, it doesn't try too much.  It's one bit which, I think, succeeds in what it attempts.  As goofy as it is, I'm pretty happy with this little cycle.

Half A Walk

Michael Sporn has a typically interesting post illuminating a problem of poor craftsmanship being inculcated in today's animation students.

It reminded me of a half-walk we did for The Stepford Wives.

Six drawings B13 through B18.

B 13

Sure this was a big Hollywood movie, but here's the rub: they needed rewrites after a test screening and were hoping to help "fix" it in our sequence because the lab needed the new cut in just over a week.

B 14

Given the timeframe another 6 drawings (times two for clean up, times two for paint) wasn't insignificant.

B 15

Above is the passing point, it's the "trick" drawing where the legs switch.

B 16

Fortunately, this shortcut is stylistically acceptable in the context of the whole piece.  It also makes for funny animation.

B 17

Doug Compton is the animator here, and it wouldn't work without his considerable skill.  It's only a "short cut" if 20 plus years of honing one's skills as an animator is a "cheap" way to do something.

B 18

In the context of what he's criticizing, Michael's point is right on target.

I do like George Griffin's thoughts to put the problem in the larger world of motion study:

Plympton made fewer drawings work and it was not a decision based on narrative or character; it was experimental animation; it did break the rules; it let the scratchy lines move slower and not distract. A cycle is anything that’s repeated. The running Nazi gained some interesting qualities with fewer drawings: his head is obsessively facing forward to emphasize his menace, not twisting to the side on the stride; and the crazy legs give him a loping kind of nutty asymmetry.
Advice to students: Forget about “good” or “bad.” Just think about your objective, your time base, your momentary design and how it will flow or jerk in time.

Here's the animation cycled on twos.