This book is an enormous print compilation of Disney sketches and animated stills accompanied by text discussing early animation, its principles and appeal, the procedure of putting animation on the screen, character development, animating expressions and dialogue, acting, and other aspects of the technical and nitty-gritty details of how animation works. On page 292, in the Music and Sound section, it devotes an entire page to an example of how composed music and sound effects were synched with the animation. The example is from Three Little Pigs, and includes a sketch of the pig who built with straw running towards his home to take refuge from the wolf.
Beside the sketch are two strips, or "exposure sheets," which show how the pig's movements and actions change with time using little thumbnail sketches along paper with divisions representing time on screen. The main accents of the scene, such as going through the door, slamming the door, opening the door, pulling in the Welcome mat, and closing the door once more are shown along the strips, placed according to which frame contains the action. Where each measure of music falls is notated along the strips as well, and the swelling or dropping off of the line of action through the frames must resonate with the music synched with the film. This is a perfect example of the meticulous detail and effort put in by Disney animators that imparted quality to the resulting films and gave the studio a competitive edge.
The document is a primary source, and a perfect example of the care and extra work put in by Disney employees that is discussed in other sources. It gets into the detail of exactly how the amazing feats Disney studios was able to achieve were performed, and Three Little Pigs is a great example of the effective use of synchronized sound. This illustration, and the accompanying discussion, helps me prove that sound effects and music were part of what made Three Little Pigs so astounding. In addition, this book is almost a bible, filled with details of the animating process which would help me gather background information to discuss other aspects of my argument such as illustration and other animation methods which helped in characterization, as well as color and photography methods.
This journal article deals mainly with the series of films entitled Shakespeare: The Animated Tales, and aims to address the cliche that when portions of the plays are removed in order to make the films, the works are simplified or "dumbed down" to the point where the quality is almost completely sacrificed. It suggests that a better way to analyze the films is to examine them as films, and not as literature, and therefore acknowledge the omissions but still treat the work as a whole. In addition, this reading sees these cuts as necessary to enhance the cinematographic needs of the medium, and the choice of animation brings these valuable and culturally significant stories to a new generation.
The article goes on to cite Walter Benjamin and Sergei Eisenstein's early writings that see animation as significant and important, and claim that it serves as the experimentation necessary for the progress of cinema as a whole. A primary example of Disney's experimentation with anti-realism, according to the article, is the "Silly Symphonies" series of short animated films. The author sees experimentation in various aspects of the film, including "self-reflexivity, technical innovativeness, violation of natural spatial-temporal rules, and violence," and cites other writings which claim that part of the influence of the films lay in their ambiguous target audiences. The films were "not just children's stuff, and certainly not sugar-sweet. Whether they were for adults or children was indeterminate." It was the animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that ended this era of experimentation for Disney, and proved that cartoons could be respectable, even "antiseptic." While Warner Brothers continued to be edgy, Disney was now mainstream and accepted by the Production Code.
This article helps me prove the foundation of my thesis, that the Silly Symphonies began as experimental works that allowed Disney and its animators to try new technologies and new forms. It also helps me show that this experimentation led directly to the development of elements, like narrative, character differentiation, and others, whose perfection made the production of an animated feature-length film possible.
This article is a review and discussion of four newly released double-disc sets in the “Walt Disney Treasures” series. The discs contain Silly Symphonies, and the author discusses how Disney used technology to gain a competitive edge over the Fleischers. Disney took more care in music and sound editing and synching, using a technique which enabled animators to listen to already-recorded music and effects and animate in synch with these soundtracks, while the Fleischers’ sound seems more like improvisation. And Disney signed an exclusive contract, giving him the only rights to use a new three-color Technicolor process that gave his films a “visual pop” unlike any others available.
This article discusses the technical care and expertise put into Disney short films. The article argues that the color, shading, draftsmanship, depth techniques, and expressivity of movement eventually used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were first used in Silly Symphonies like The Goddess of Spring and Three Blind Mouseketeers. The author also discusses the differences between Walt Disney’s television persona and behind-the scenes “persistent dissatisfaction,” claiming that whichever one considers, Disney’s efforts edged the country towards “greater technological feats.”
This article, while it does not mention Three Little Pigs explicitly, helps fill in some information about how Disney managed to employ technology to his favor, and the details of some of that technology, especially color and sound. It also shows how the Silly Symphonies served in some cases as proving grounds for new techniques that eventually emerged in full-length animated features, and echoes an often-expressed belief in Walt Disney’s quest for perfection through bigger and better technology.
In Chapter 1, entitled “Popular Culture,” the author addresses Disney’s populist tendencies, providing examples of Disney’s desire to bring high art to the people and provide messages of reassurance. While looking later in the timeline at works like Fantasia, he mentions the Silly Symphonies as originally being meant to illustrate both classical and jazz music, including the fact that the animators and writers were encouraged to experiment with the medium, aided by the absence of constraints like recurring characters. In addition, Three Little Pigs is cited as a prime example of Disney’s inclusion of his beliefs in battling urban industrialism with the ideals of agrarian and rural values. Looking deeper, the message of this short is seen as a reference to biblical tales like David and Goliath, and is seen as a possible mobilizing force in American society that may have catalyzed demands for solutions to the Depression such as the New Deal.
This source is interesting because it provides direct evidence for what other articles and writings, and my own viewings of Three Little Pigs and other Silly Symphonies, have only suggested: that the animated series began as a field for experimentation and discovery on the part of Disney Studios. It also provides slightly different readings of the moral undertones of the film, claiming that it might have been not only individually inspiring but may have contributed to or more directly affected societal change.
The author discusses and forms theories as to the rules of fairy tale adaptation at Disney, especially related to the role of the child and the view of adolescents or adults, in a few of the Sillies including Babes In The Woods. He discusses Three Little Pigs specifically, but more as a contradiction to many of these trends. The pigs are pre-pubescent children, and while they are old enough to be without parental figures and have pin-ups, they still sing with high voices and dress like toddlers (except, of course, Practical Pig, who has photos of his parents and wears pants). Therefore the short takes place in the “self-contained infant world of play,” a fact echoed by the presence of the lean, hairy, evil wolf.
This article would be useful for my paper as evidence of the direct trend of the Silly Symphonies from experimental, even “anarchy” in animation, to standardization in the portrayal of fairy tales. But it also codifies the aspects of the adaptation process which are distinctly Disney and American, and shows how these aspects fall into the categories of characterization especially. Sound and color are also mentioned as methods for advancing animation and increasing the potency of the stories told in these short films.