Just getting to the point where the judge can be coloured.
The 19th Century woodcut illustration industry was very peculiar. So while Leech, Tenniel, Phiz (Halbot Knight brown), Dore and co produced very fine and very quick drawings, these were then copied by craftsmen called “woodpeckers” and turned into prints. In the case of the Punch cartoons, this process must have been accomplished in a matter of days and some of it is astoundingly complex. The best “peckers” in the business seem to have been the Dalziel brothers who worked on the Tenniel Alice illustrations of 1865 and 1871 as well as Moxon’s Tennyson poems of 1857.
The wood engraving process was different to that used in the late middle ages. The woodcut used the plank wood or side grain, and tend to be larger using bigger tools, but for Tenniel and co, the end grain was used on very hard wood (boxwood/ Buxus sempervirens, though lemonwood is also used) and the quality of detail compared favourably with copper and steel engraving or even etchings. The wooden blocks are often worked on stuffed leather pads which allow the craftsman to work at almost any angle, a bit like a modern Cintiq and the resulting block could be printed with ordinary letter-press rather than using a special printing press as in the case of steel, copper or etchings.
The wood engraving process was expensive and labour intense. Gustav Dore, for example, could not find a publisher prepared to cough up the funds to print his illustrations to the Inferno, so in 1855, he self-published the book which not only continues to be reprinted but both made him a household name and a tidy profit.
There were cheaper and quicker processes available. The Voltaic press (electrotyping) allowed for a greater print-run but the same woodblock seems to have been the starting point and litho-prints allowed for colour but until the late 19th Century had very limited print runs. The photomechanical systems introduced by 1893, the year Tenniel was knighted, pretty well destroyed the woodprint industry overnight.
Our “Trial by Jury” images try to nod towards the style of the “woodpeckers” and accordingly I have been “inbetweening” crosshatching effects. It demonstrates how time-consuming and effective was the original craft.
Here is a post on progress on the Judge’s song from “Trial by Jury”.
This is a line test of the first verse. The Right arm and some of the body is still missing as well as the earlier frames of the pigtail and the pupils.
The animation was completed on the Harmony/toon boom system though I note the production of the brilliant and recently-screened “Ethel and Ernest” on BBC was done with TV Paint which seems to offer so much more opportunity in terms of textures and usability. Harmony was a wonderful tool when it was run by the Vogelesang family, particularly Lilly and Joan, but they were taken over by Corus entertainment in 2014 or so and it does not seem to have been the same ever since. I have been teaching in a school in Moscow that apparently promotes the software and it was a devil of a job to get it actually to work at all on the school machines. So much for Industry standard! I note the company also acquired Animo, Pegs’n’co and the Cambridge animation system, rival 2d animating software and has not made any effort to update any of these since, effectively smashing the opposition and leaving precious little choice.
Gilbert and Sullivan is about as cartoony you can get- though Offenbach comes very close. I think animation probably lends itself to music that has distinctive rhythms and an interesting orchestration. The words seem to me to be less important than what is happening musically. Though of course the words tell the story. When the Disney people were animating “Fantasia”, the better animators trawled the score to identify the incidental tunes that lay under the main melody. There is a sequence in the Chinese dance in the Nutcracker where Art Babbitt has talked about “those nasty little notes underneath”. But Babbitt uses those “nasty little notes”! It is precisely this fact that makes the sequence stick out as something remarkable. Culhane references this in his book on Fantasia. It is worth looking at the dance in detail because the perspective goes all over the place and it still seems logical. In the same way, the instruments used to orchestrate a particular sequence will dictate a particular image.
Eric Goldberg animates on the beat and repeats a rhythm with the Carnival of the animals in FANTASIA 200o and Andreas Deja does it too in the same film with the barrel organ in Rhapsody in Blue. But I think Babbitt’s mushrooms still have the edge precisely because they take note of the intricacies of the orchestration and the repeated visuals (a visual ostinato) are not necessarily based on something obvious…
You can find a link to it here: (the interesting points are at.46 and the bow at the end)
and here is the flamingo scene by Goldberg:
I was playing around with the Three Little Maids from School piece at the beginning of the MIKADO.
This is the text: “Three little maids from school are we,Pert as a schoolgirl well can be,Filled to the brim with girlish glee–Three little maids from school.” David Watson has done a very clever arrangement.
I will post more on this shortly because it is an excellent example of a tune that does a great deal. The three voices (Yum yum, Pitti Sing and Peep Bo) are quite distinctive and the whole thing gallops along at quite a pace. Here are some sketches mostly of Japanese hair-styles…
Below is a page from the notebook on Trial by Jury the storyboards for which move slowly forwards…
Here in order of development: the first thoughts:
and a more restrained version (music arranged by David Watson, Kanon)