Thursday, June 9, 2011

"BIRD DOG AFTERNOON"

I had lunch with some animation pals yesterday, including the multi-talented ART VITELLO. I freelanced model designs and storyboards for a good number of shows that Art produced and directed for Disney TV, DIC, and WB TV, including several TINY TOONS ADVENTURES.

Art mentioned that a "one-shot" I storyboarded and did models for was favored by none other than Chuck Jones, who called Art up to compliment him on it and he was nice enough to say the storyboard was one of the show's strenghts. Art's direction is the real strength though: as always smart, character oriented and entertaining... I guess the character never appeared in any other cartoons, but it was a pantomime dog named "Byron." Art did a rough sketch of a kind of basset hound-Sharpei mix and the jokes had a lot to do with his slow movements and floppy skin. Then I did the story board and a model with lots of poses and animation ideas. We worked out that he could change direction by sort of inhaling his head into his folds of mass and have it come out the other end, (somehow without turning inside out!).

The short was called "BIRD DOG AFTERNOON" and I believe this is the only show from that series that I worked on that I ever got a chance to see on the air. Somebody put it up on YouTube, where it shows up around the 3:56 mark.


I thought a lot of it turned out nice, with decent animation and lots of attention to what was posed out in the storyboard. There was a gag of the dog fastidiously adjusting a crooked picture on the wall that Art enhanced by having him exit the frame and then returning to fix the picture. The only other thing I think that got changed (maybe to get a better silhouette?) was the climatic shot of the cat on the chimney, where I had put the neighboring roofs in more of a dramatic downshot. My sketch is crude, but I think the idea was right... As alterations go, that's a quibble I guess I can live with...

I also remember suggesting an alternate title: "THE HOUND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE", but by then it was too late. Oh well. Working with Art is always a pleasure and usually a tremendous learning opportunity too...

UPDATE: 08/07/11

TINY TOONS writer-producer Tom Reugger visited the comment section to describe the true-to-life genesis of this story:

"Bird Dog Afternoon" was based on an incident in my back yard. A bird built a nest under the eave of our backyard patio, and baby birds hatched. Our basset hound Lucy spent most of her life on that back patio. So, one day, we heard non-stop barking coming from out back. I went out there and found our basset hound worked up into a lather, barking non-stop at our cat who was also out there on the patio. Normally, this cat and dog completely ignored each other. But the reason for the racket was this: the baby birds had leapt out of the nest and had landed on the patio and were peeping and jumping around down there. The cat saw them, allowed its instincts to take over, and was going in for the kill. But the basset hound would not let that happen. Lucy the basset kept the cat at bay and actually managed to herd the baby birds into a corner where she could defend them successfully from the cat. Wild. (Well, the basset hound did own the patio.) The baby birds eventually figured out their wings and took off. 

Your board was great, as was Art's direction, and the cartoon worked beautifully -- and Byron's personality really came to life. 

And yes, the Tiny Toons character named Byron Basset was a shout out to both TT director Byron Vaughns and poet Lord Byron.



(thanks Tom!)

7 comments:

zoograyson said...

Nice Post. BTW I finally did that post on you for the 50 Most Influential Disny Animators Blog. Congrats you made it in at number 28. The link is http://50mostinfluentialdisneyanimators.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/28-will-finn/
Hope you like it!
Grayson P.

Will Finn said...

Thanks Grayson i will check it out when i get a chance...

Aaron Long said...

Byron was also used prominently in the Tiny Toons direct-to-video movie, "How I Spent My Vacation." He may have appeared in other episodes too, I'm not sure.

Brubaker said...

I presume Byron is a shoutout to Byron Vaughns?

I love how the dog turns around. Good job, "Bill Snelgrove".

Mike said...

Surprised how close some of the expressions and poses came to your style. I was especially struck by this when he makes the silly face to calm the birdies, and also on some of the takes. Fun cartoon. Thanks for sharing!

I have yet to meet Art, though I'm eager to do so as I have a friend who knows him and speaks highly of him.

Tom Ruegger said...

"Bird Dog Afternoon" was based on an incident in my back yard. A bird built a nest under the eave of our backyard patio, and baby birds hatched. Our basset hound Lucy spent most of her life on that back patio. So, one day, we heard non-stop barking coming from out back. I went out there and found our basset hound worked up into a lather, barking non-stop at our cat who was also out there on the patio. Normally, this cat and dog completely ignored each other. But the reason for the racket was this: the baby birds had leapt out of the nest and had landed on the patio and were peeping and jumping around down there. The cat saw them, allowed its instincts to take over, and was going in for the kill. But the basset hound would not let that happen. Lucy the basset kept the cat at bay and actually managed to herd the baby birds into a corner where she could defend them successfully from the cat. Wild. (Well, the basset hound did own the patio.) The baby birds eventually figured out their wings and took off.

Your board was great, as was Art's direction, and the cartoon worked beautifully -- and Byron's personality really came to life.

And yes, the Tiny Toons character named Byron Basset was a shout out to both TT director Byron Vaughns and poet Lord Byron.

Will Finn said...

Thanks Tom Ruegger-- I have heard that Art imitates life, and in this case I guess Art can also mean Art Vitello imitating something from your life...(!)

It was a really beautifully written script and my favorite of the several TT's that I freelanced on. Nice to know how it evolved... Pantomime characters rule!