Sunday, July 6, 2014

Elongated In-Betweens

In the 1930s and '40s, animators became fascinated by motion blur effects in fast action photography, and they invented creative ways to simulate it on acetate cels.

A 1935 Disney short called "The Tortoise and the Hare" used drybrush effects along the legs' path of action, plus speed lines in the overall direction of the character's motion. The cel painters had to develop special skills to pull this off, and effects like this drove up the budgets of the Disney cartoons.

With the austerity brought on by the 1941 strike and World War II, budgets tightened. Animators over at Warner Brothers figured out how to get similar effects more efficiently.

In 1942, Chuck Jones directed "The Dover Boys at Pimento University," which achieved startling motion effects with fewer drawings. Here's what the poses look like when the Dover Boys were holding still. 

When the characters moved, they became wildly distorted drawings. This cel appeared on screen for just one frame. One frame out of the 24 frames that flash by each second can't really be seen consciously, but it is certainly felt.

These stretched poses came to be known by a variety of names, such as: "elongated in-betweens," "long-headed in-betweens," "swish trails," or "motion smear." Here are a couple more frames from "Dover Boys" showing some elongated in-betweens.

The effect was so entertaining that entire sequences were built around it. In the 1943 Bugs Bunny episode "Super Rabbit," Bugs outwits some Texans by becoming a cheerleader. As he waves his hands and dances around, his poses stretch all over the place.

In the 1952 short "Water, Water, Every Hare," a few of the frames use painted multiples of the ears and legs for a zippy stroboscopic effect.

Daffy Duck confronts Elmer in a rapid smear with strobing multiples. Strobing smears register in a different way from the elongated in-betweens, more of a visually buzzing effect. 

Addendum: Guinevere Singley reminded me that the stop-motion animation company Laika made some sculpted (actually 3D printed) elongated in-betweens for their feature film "Paranorman." More about that at Cartoon Brew.

Book that talks about this: The Animator's Survival Kit
Previously on GurneyJourney:


DamianJ said...

Co-incidentally, Aaron Blaise, an ex-Disney animator, recently covered this very topic on his Youtube channel:- Aaron's Art Tips Season 2 E11 - Creating Wipes In Your Character Animation.

RobNonStop said...

Documentary on Limited Animation. Smears are covered at about 13:40

Chuck Jones: Extremes and in Betweens
- A Life in Animation –

– sorry if this was already covered on Gurney Journey

Roberto said...

This reminds me of the Italian Futurists, and also of Duchamp’s Nude Descending an Elevator, or Pollock’s infamous motion paintings. Even the earliest recorded (cave) paintings explore this illusion. Thanx for the Journey -RQ

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I believe they were/are called "tweening!"