At first I was simply using Pinocchio as one of the references that I’ve been looking into towards creating a truly believable animated walk cycle for my character NomNom.
But when I started looking into Pinocchio I just couldn’t stop and I also just had to watch the film once again.
Now I don’t know anyone that hasn’t actually seen Pinocchio so I don’t think I’ll need to go over the storyline or any of the characters as many of us know who he is and what happens. But Pinocchio was the second of Disney’s animated films that still makes a great impact upon us all today from when it was created in 1940.
Before the nine old men, some of the main animators who had aided and added to the creation of Disney and defined its style where Norm Ferguson, Fred Moore, Bill Tytla and Art Babbit who all started off Pinocchio which then was passed onto the, at the time, newer animators who also included the nine old men. They don’t seem to get the same amount of attention or appreciation from many people, although they are known throughout many animators as some of the greatest animators ever, as they are not as well named as the nine old men, however without these guys they may have never been those great animators we all know today.
I’m mainly looking at Pinocchio due to the walk cycle that was created for this little boy. Although the character Pinocchio is different to NomNom in that my character is much more mischievous, but they still both hold a sense of innocence and curiosity to the world that young children have. It’s interesting to see how the great Disney animators worked around this and created Pinocchios personality in his movements in a very short time. It’s also interesting to note about the walk cycle that Pinocchio has due to its play on the actual more ‘normal’ creation of a walk cycle, as Richard Williams also mentions in ‘The Animators Survival Kit’. He mentions the walk cycle due to how Milt Kahl and some of the other animators of Pinocchio had actually animated so his feet were moving backwards and with broken joints, yet they do it so well that no one actually notices and it works.
“A walk cycle I animated with my Wacom, using the Milt Kahl thumbnails from Illusions of life.”
This is a fan made version of the walk cycle but is a nice look at the walk cycle were I can try to take a more detailed look at his movements as well as try to understand where each point of the walk cycle is.
It’s interesting to see how far Pinocchio actually throws his head back when he walks or skips along but he keeps that great arc within his body movement and keeps a curve from contact to the top of his head. He also throws the top half of the body in the direction of the leg that is lifted within the rocking movement of the walk. Even the walk and the way they have created this extreme movement is showing you what the character is focusing on and the thought that is going through his head, very subtle but noticeable and fluid. The arms arc and swing very far ahead but focus on the pivot of the elbow, a key point that enforces the momentum of throwing himself forward when he walks. The drop seems to also enforce this movement of going forward as well as adding a bit more personality to the walk and diversity, rather than making him just skip along, it may even be showing that he has some uncontrollable or too much energy in him with all the excitement of exploring the world. Something that I also read about when I was looking at walk cycles, is that when a child walks they tend to lift up the knees very high to create momentum when they walk as well as bring some weight into the movement, getting a stable footing. This is something that adults don’t tend to do as they save energy just to slightly lift the foot, hence why we tend to trip up so much!
Analysing the actual film was great, not just because I got to watch Pinocchio again, but after researching, testing and starting to understand the traditional side of animation I’m able to appreciate and analyse the animated film from an animators perspective.
6:46 into the video is the famous camera scene, in which they began to implement the use of the multiplane camera which was a groundbreaking achievement within film, that the Disney team had begun to develop and create.
Here’s a great short video that shows Walt himself explaining how the camera works from the “Tricks of Our Trade” episode of Disneyland which aired 13th February 1957. It’s actually bigger than it looks! They also talk about the camera and the scene within the documentary and making of, that I have also linked below (Within Part 4 of 6).
8:07 into the Pinocchio film video is the main walk/skip that I am focusing and looking at. As you can probably tell by now I’ve gotten back into this film with a real passion and want to understand everything about it. I think that the main points that seem to come from looking at the walk cycle and this particular one within Pinocchio is that nothing is created by one person, everything needs to walk together being sound or movement and that people must understand the character and it must show the characters personality else no one will care.
Here’s the great documentary on the making of Pinocchio Part 1 on 6.