Monday, April 13, 2009
First Assistants and Clean-up: the Unsung Heroes of Animation
“My assistant will take the scenes over and really add quite a bit to the stuff. That is part of the function of the first assistant. Several pieces of animation in this reel are examples of the value of the first assistants and the cleanup men. There are several scenes in this sequence that I know would never have resulted as they did if the cleanup men has not been able to draw and did not know something about animation.”: Bill Tytla
The above quote is from legendary animator Bill Tytla during an action analysis class. Here is one page of that talk where the quote can be found.. The whole talk can be found here: http://afilmla.blogspot.com/2009/03/tytla-speaks-on-forms-vs-forces-i.html
What I found interesting is the complete honesty about his process of animating and how it's not any one thing in particular but a blend of many elements.
One thing the studio system had going for it was the distribution of labor which allowed the lead animator to concentrate on the big acting gestures and handing off the scenes to assistants who polished and filled in the additional drawings bringing the action up to the 24 drawings per second of screen time. The scenes were cleaned up during this process and details added such as fingers, buttons and hair etc. by more assistants known as clean-up.
These guys had to be good or they could blow the whole shot and ruin the animation altogether. We all hear about the Lead Animators but it's a shame we don't know much about their assistants.