It takes a certain amount of trial and error to get from a storyboard drawing to the final, emotional scene… and it starts with what is called a first pass.
It was discovered in the mid-1930s (by Disney animator Norm Ferguson) that as you begin animating, the more you loosened up, the more you could inject personality into your sequence. Drawing loosely and quickly allowed the animators to forget about the sciences of anatomy and physics and allowed their feelings to go straight from their gut into their pencil. This caught on, and soon each Disney character’s acting range skyrocketed from the basic happy/sad/angry tropes to the layered emotions of a Hollywood actor.
The movie Pinocchio was animated in character teams (much like nearly every Disney film since), and Art Babbitt was the head of the Geppetto team, numbering about 3o artists. He would pick up the toughest and most important scenes with that character, divvy up the rest of the scenes among the other animators, and oversee the general progression of that character’s scenes.
First pass drawings are rarely saved – maybe because they’re just a learning tool and aren’t actually used in production. That’s what makes this Geppetto scene so special.
Many thanks to ZipsToys.com for the use of these images. These and other pieces of animation art are for sale on their website.
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