Friday, July 4, 2008

Clockwork: the one that got away...twice!!!

This YouTube video has been pointed out to me, regarding a scene reanimated in Disney's BEAUTY & THE BEAST of "Cogsworth" the talking clock character I was supervising animator for.

The first version was not animated by me (I think I was out sick or on vacation) and I frankly begged to get a shot at re-doing it myself because I felt it was over-done and the shimmy was un-natural forced. In the grand scheme of things, that shot never came....

...Until the decision to update the film for a special home video release, (including the originally cut song "Human Again.") The studio often takes the opportunity in these special updates to address other fixes and the directors and producers knew I always wanted this scene re-done. Unfortunately, I had left Disney during that period and wasn't aware of the change or of any of the new material on the character until it was all finished. I would have re-animated the scene in a heartbeat at no charge had I been asked and still wish I had. Apologies to both animators of versions one and two (both are top-notch feature animators) but I don't like either version much and had something much more "in character" in mind. But everyone's heart was in the right place here and no "conspiracy" was at hand.

Oh well. That's what comes of not having control of your own work folks...

"But WHHYYYYYY...didn't you let ME re-do it?"
(Thanks Alexey)


Mike Caracappa said...

I don't know if this is a difficult question to answer, but what would you have done to make the scene better? Just curious :)

Will Finn said...

Mike- Well, I would have just done it subtler, if that answers your question. Mostly just worked on the face and hands and kept the rest pretty still. It was probably the single most emotional line reading for that character and my take on those sorts of scenes is the "less is more" philosophy.

In both versions the scene was given to animators who were not overly familiar with the character, which kind of explains why it feels off to me. Like I said, both are fine animators in their own right. Maybe i'm a little over possessive of the character but that happens with character-specific casting. i really enjoyed this role and would have loved to have done more animation on the character.

Mike Caracappa said...

That's a good answer. I will definetly keep that philosophy in mind. Thanks!

David Nethery said...

Interesting post, Will.

That YouTube fan video was really over-wrought. LOL. You'd think they'd spotted someone new running away from the Grassy Knoll in the Zapruder film or something !

I wish you had been given the opportunity to re-animate that scene your way. I also know the two animators who did version 1 and version 2 (and agree with you they are both good animators) but that is a sort of key moment and would have been good to see your hand in that shot.

What did you think of the whole re-insertion of "Human Again" ? I remember when it was moving it's way through clean-up at the Orlando studio (I was working at the Orlando studio at the time and a good portion of the clean-up on the Human Again sequence was done in Florida) , but at the time I couldn't help thinking : Why ? I love and respect Kirk and Gary and Don, but I'm really not convinced that re-inserting Human Again made B&B a better film. It was interesting to see it and compare, but it must have cost millions to take that sequence all the way to color and insert it into B&B . I think for the money a lot of other shots in B&B could have been tweaked or re-animated to better advantage (to make the existing version stronger ... um just redrawing the background townspeople in "Belle" would have been a huge improvement .)

Another thing I dimly recall working on during that time was re-doing the clean-up on some Pumba and Timon scenes for the IMAX release of The Lion King. That was weird , going back to those characters years after the first version to do new, more detailed clean-ups so it would look better on the huge IMAX screen. "It was deja vu all over again!" I never did see it on IMAX , so I don't know if it was better or not.

I think there are shots in every movie that we'd like to re-do if given more time. Sometimes the economics of the situation dictate compromises.

Russian Insider said...

Thank you for the nice explanation! It is pity that you haven't had a chance to do it on your own. And still if we need to choose between these two versions I prefer the first one better. The first animator did a very solid work.
Alexey Kobelev

Will Finn said...

"I think there are shots in every movie that we'd like to re-do if given more time,"

Well said Dave. Thanks for your input. I didn't know Florida did a lot of HUMAN AGAIN.

I did not love the song in it's original incarnation, but at least the version on the DVD is better. It opens up to more characters and the spoken inserts are much better than what was there originally. I never sat down and saw it play through from the beginning to end with the song so I don't have an opinion on it any more.

"Russian Insider", for whatever it's worth, the new one is preferable to me, even though it misses the mark in my opinion. At least his body doesn't whip around like a rubber snake during a subtle moment. That drove me nuts and you can thank my constant nagging at the directors for having them decide to change it at a later date. i am sure the original animator will be glad to know so many people like his version though.

Ashley Barton said...

Hahaha, I noticed that! I borrowed the Special Edition DVD from my grandma, and saw that it was changed. It always looked kinda funny to me in the original version. Wish you coulda done it, though.

I love that drawing of Cogsworth by the way! He was my favorite character, and it's awesome to see you still draw him. What's it been since the movie came out, seventeen years?

And as a side note, I really love the added song "Human Again." It's a fun song to listen to!

By the way--hope I'm not rambling--but I also just recently saw Hunchback of Notre Dame (don't know why I hadn't seen it sooner). Amazing movie. You animated Laverne, right? She's a great character, and so are the rest of the gargoyles! Heck, the rest of the characters period. And weren't you head of story, too? Or something similar to that?

If so, kudos, and thank you for helping put out a heck of a movie!

And sorry that last part of my comment was totally unrelated to your post, heheh.

(Also, sorry if this sends twice! My internet decided to disconnect right as I hit 'publish.')

Jaime J. Weinman said...

The one thing I like about the "Human Again" number on the DVD is that it allows for the dialogue scene with Belle reading Romeo and Juliet to the Beast. A big problem I had with the original version is that Belle never read anything more complicated than fairy tales, which kind of made nonsense of the idea that she was someone who loved to read.

Otherwise, I usually watch the 1991 version (at least they included that on the DVD).

Will Finn said...

Jamie, point well taken.

I know that originally that beat (as roughed out by Howard Ashman) depicted her teaching him "JACK AND JILL" which came off very awkward to me. The reading idea was right, but frankly I thought watching him struggle with a nursery rhyme made him look like an idiot.

I wasn't there when it was re-done, so i could be wrong, but i think my pal John Sanford came up with using ROMEO & JULLIET, which was much stronger and central to the romance.

Clio said...

UGH!!! I am sorry to see that. That wavery little movement is one of his most memorable... well, movements. The new one doesn't fit with the dialogue at all. That is nice of you to say you would've done it for free - guess we all just love the art too much. <=)