Thursday, 18 September 2008

Tissa David "Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers"

And don't forget ...Today's post assuages a guilt I often feel when reviewing movies in which a team of animators work together. For ease or through idleness I often simply record the director. An occasional series then in support of those who support and are indeed invaluable to their directors. Today's focus is Tissa David. For simplicity's sake her work will be summarised in one five minute animated song, Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers, from the 1977 film Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure, directed by Richard Williams. (The second link is to a full, 85 minute Google Video version of iffy quality - below is a more preferable link to Amazon though the film can be only be purchased there for a reasonable fee in tape form - see below.) Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for the film does not mention Tissa. So I'll redress the situation. The featured segment was animated using pen and pencil sketches by Tissa. If you want an exemplar of character animation as Ann and Andy sing to each other, bolstering their confidence in their first ever night out in the dark woods, this is it. There is great fluidity of movement, Andy leading the way with his distinctive gait, the pair clambering up and down the tree trunks, rolling their eyes, Ann hitching up skirt and petticoat as she makes her way through the undergrowth. Dancing, embracing, exploring, somersaulting - the five minute section is an object lesson for animators. Add to this a strangely infectious song sung by Mark Baker that lingers in the memory. I came across Tissas work when researching articles on-line about the walk cycle. As so often when researching animation I turned to that erudite chronicler of matters animation, Michael Sporn, whose article Upkeep Cycles is a memoir and insight into the creation of John and Faith Hubley's 1973 Upkeep. Michaels praise for his colleague is fulsome and he included in his blog her 18 walk cycle sketches for the serviceman, the subject of the film. In these roughs Tissa demonstrates the animators art. One may view the actual Walk Cycle, courtesy of another informative writer, David T. Nethery. Doesn't the lilt in the guy's stride give the clue to his personality? David's article Tissa David : an appreciation, by the way, is excellent. And digressing again, check out Michael's Popeye to see the eater of spinach walk in a circle. Tricky to animate that. Another related source of insight is John Canemaker's book "The Animated Raggedy Ann & Andy: An Intimate Look at the Art of Animation; its History, Techniques, and Artists" . The relevant chapter is: "Tissa David -- The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Animator". Biography: Michaels notes form a most concise source and, as animator for his The Marzipan Pig and The Man Who Walked Between The Towers - covered elsewhere on the blog - he knows her well. Tissa was born in Hungary in 1921, moving via Paris in 1955 to New York where amongst others she teamed up with the Hubleys. As a teacher of English Literature I have used her 1983 The Midsummers Night Dream which she animated and directed for the BBC's animated Shakespeare series. Michaels post on the production has some quality images. Tissa's latest completed movie was as an animator on Chicago 10 released last year. Another source of information about her is Don Brockway, again a most readable blogger, who references Canemaker's book, relaying some tales of Tissa's wartime experiences and quite rightly laments the lack of a DVD version of the movie. Reading Michael's blog in particular is to be aware of his fondness and deep respect for her. Should you wish to discover more about an animator of rare talent his archived blogs on Tissa are a treat and include her storyboards, drawings and several walk cycles and things.


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