Bertie on 17th December with adjusted lip sync

Here is the latest version of Bertie (20th December) I have tidied up the umbrella sequence at the end of this scene and also done a deal of inbetweening. Inbetweens are the frames between the keyframe drawings. In some cases, this means drawing 12 frames every second, but in this sequence, almost every frame is drawn, which means 25 frames a second.

This is the version from 17th December: The key to this was slightly offsetting the soundtrack- otherwise, no matter what I did, the lips did not sync up with the voice. It is a very odd phenomenon and one clearly dealt with in Williams’ book, “the animator’s survival kit”. Though, I confess I had never really taken it seriously before.

This is the (earlier) version after a day working on the hat and fleshing out some of the key animation in the latter part- the joke with the umbrella and so on. There is still a great deal to do of course, though so much tends to be of this “fiddling-kind”, tinkering rather than drawing. This is partly because the character is rooted to the spot and that makes the movements less broad. Disney had the same problem really with the doorknob in “Alice in Wonderland.”

The doorknob:

odd character, not a character in the original book and fiendishly difficult to ensure that it looks as if it is screwed to the door.

This is the original:

alice_in_wonderlandsmall door tenniel

Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway; ‘and even if my head would go through,’ thought poor Alice, ‘it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.’ For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (‘which certainly was not here before,’ said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words ‘DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.

The Disney version, however, gives the Doorknob quite a scene: 

alice doorknob

(the Doorknob was voiced by Joseph Kearns, Alice is Kathryn Beaumont) 

alice a

DOORKNOB: Ohhhhh!!

ALICE: OH! Oh, I beg your pardon.

DOORKNOB: Oh, oh, it’s quite all right. But you did give me quite a turn!

ALICE: You see, I was following…

DOORKNOB: Rather good, what? Doorknob, turn?

ALICE: Please, sir.

DOORKNOB: Well, one good turn deserves another! What can I do for you?

ALICE: Well, I’m looking for a white rabbit. So, um, if you don’t mind…


ALICE: There he is! I simply must get through!

DOORKNOB: Sorry, you’re much too big. Simply impassible.

ALICE: You mean impossible?

DOORKNOB: No, impassible. Nothing’s impossible! Why don’t you try the bottle on the table?

ALICE: Table? Oh!

DOORKNOB: Read the directions, and directly you’ll be directed in the right direction. He he he!

ALICE: ‘Drink me’. Hm, better look first. For if one drinks much from a bottle marked ‘poison’, it’s almost certain to disagree with one, sooner or later.

DOORKNOB: Beg your pardon!

ALICE: I was just giving myself some good advice. But… hmm, tastes like oh… cherry tart… custard… pineapple… roast turkey… goodness! What did I do?

DOORKNOB: Ho ho ho ho! You almost went out like a candle!

alice b

ALICE: But look! I’m just the right size!

DOORKNOB: Oh, no use! Ha ha ha ha. I forgot to tell you, ho ho ho ho! I’m locked!

ALICE: Oh no!

DOORKNOB: Ha ha ha, but of course, uh, you’ve got the key, so…

ALICE: What key?

DOORKNOB: Now, don’t tell me you’ve left it up there!

ALICE: Oh, dear! What ever will I do?

DOORKNOB: Try the box, naturally.

ALICE: Oh! ‘Eat me’. All right. But goodness knows what this will do… wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!

DOORKNOB: whtwhsthswwdthdwd!

ALICE: What did you say?

DOORKNOB: I said: ‘a little of that went a long way’! Ha ha ha ha!

ALICE: Well, I don’t think it’s so funny! Now- now I shall never get home!

DOORKNOB: Oh, come on now. Crying won’t help.

ALICE: I know, but I- I- I just can’t help myself!

alice c

DOORKNOB: Hey, this won’t do! Bwbwlwbbwlwbl! Say, this won’t do at all! You, you up there, stop! Stop, I say! Oh look! The bottle, the bottle…

ALICE: Oh dear, I do wish I hadn’t cried so much.

(and then she swims through the keyhole…)

alice d

Here are some random frames from the first doorknob scene and then a reappearance of the doorknob in Roger rabbit.

doorknob in Roger Rabbit

In Alice, most of the scene was animated by Ollie Johnson (certainly these lines:“Hm…better look first, for…”and “…it’s almost certain to disagree with one sooner or later”) though there is some Frank Thomas stuff too (“…if you drink much from a bottle marked poison…” ) and Thomas certainly animated the Doorknob itself and discusses it in “the Illusion of Life”. There is some animation here also by George Rowley and Blaine Gibson and Hal Ambro did the growth scene, lots of “squash and stretch”.The shrinking scene is pure Ollie Johnson though and rather brilliant. (shot 43) Alice takes up much of the scene and then skrinks and falls. Very tough assignment!

This is what is said in the book:

The knob is a simple piece of machinery, and had to be drawn with great care. Sizes that changed or jitters would have been more noticeable in this case because the character is anchored in one place. The outside says constant except for a slight move at the top in reaction to the brows lifting. The knob itself moves but never changes moves, so it retains its metallic quality. The keyhole mouth gives the feeling of enunciating the words very carefully, which fits the stuffiness of the voice.

alice looking a doorknob alice talking to door 2 alice before doorknob 3

there are some magnificent effects by Josh Meador, layout by Charles Phillipi

Alice and Maths:

To understand Alice, it is essential to get hold of Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice (1960) and More annotated Alice (1990)

Helena Pycior writes about links between the trial of the Knave of Hearts and a book on Victorian algebra

Melanie Bayley writes more in New Scientist 2009: Alice’s adventures in algebra: Wonderland solved

Numbers have a habit in wonderland of behaving oddly. Alice forgets her multiplication tables when she is falling down the rabbit hole.

Dodgson was according to Bayley a bit conservative (stubbornly conservative mathematician) at a time when Maths was changing (introduction of “imaginary numbers”) so the Cheshire cat’s disappearance leaving behind his smile is a comment on the “absurdity” of imaginary numbers. The caterpillar scene is apparently about the absurdity of symbolic algebra: Hookah is an arabic word as is algebra and was commonly referred to in Oxford as al jebr e al mokabala, restoration and reduction, which is exactly what happens to Alice: if she eats one side of the mushroom, she grows and if she eats the other side, she shrinks. But while Allice goes from 9foot to 3 inches and complains about her “size”, what is most important in this scene is her ratio. Her actual size becomes irrelevant: she is concerned that if she eats too much of one side of the mushroom, her neck gets too big and so on. she wants to “grow to my right size again”.

The pig and pepper scene is about projective geometry and the Madhatter’s tea-party is about time – or the absence of time. I gather it is a commentary on the work of William Rowan Hamilton: In Lectures on Quaternions of 1853, he added a footnote: “It seemed (and still seems) to me natural to connect this extra-spatial unit with the conception of time.” 

Things become more obvious in “Looking Glass” particularly when the red queen tries to get Alice to run in order to stand still. Anyway, as far as I can work it out, the mathematical issues in Alice are all about satirizing contemporary academic developments. Humour lies at the heart of this book then- otherwise it is just whimsy. Maybe, but then Edward Lear got on very well with just whimsy, didn’t he!!