Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reading Lips, part two!

Several comments last week prompted me to do a more in-depth study of lipsynch in different areas. It was brought up that because cartoons now are mostly Flash based, there has been a different way of animating. This means that as well as a different means, there is a different process, which leads more to the spelling out of every letter, as shown by good old Timmy Turner. But what about the cartoons of old, where everything was hand-drawn?
This week, I've had a look at a few different areas to get a better scope. I've pulled up bits from X-Men, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Looney Tunes, and Kronk's New Groove.

First, X-Men!
This was one of those shows that you love from childhood, hold in the highest regard, then re-watch later, and cringe at how bad it was. Naturally, I wanted to know just HOW bad it could get!
This first example, is about the quality I expected.

There are generalized mouthshapes - in this case, a simple, chomping open and closed, for the word "galaxy".

However, upon looking at another section, I was completely bowled over! Words defy this incredible example of lipsynching, so I will let you, the readers, simply look, and enjoy. The line was, "You designed the show!"

Once again.... wow.

Moving right along!

To put television into a different production value, next comes Looney Tunes! As a higher-quality television show, I expected it to hold up better, and better it did. This is Bugs Bunny, milking his way through the word, "beautiful".

Although I couldn't find any shots that openly used phrasing, the Looney Tunes style rather leans away from it, due to their characters. Everyone is so loud and outrageous that "subtle" lipsynching would just be weird. I mean, can you really imagine Daffy Duck slurring his way through syllables? Every syllable is pronnounced, if only to emphasize the wackiness of the characters, and put that extra dividing line between us, and them.

Next up is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
I guessed that a TV special would rest lightly between television quality and movie quality. However, I ran into much the same issues as in the Looney Tunes example, although this is not terribly surprising, seeing as how Chuck Jones was also responsible for this one. However, not to be stingy, here's the breakdown that I found for the word "practically".

Next up comes Kronk's New Groove.
I expected this one to match a TV special - possibly even a little lesser in quality. However, I was pleasantly suprized! Although the characters did exhibit the same outrageous character, and therefore much of the 'pronounce every syllable' logic, the lines weren't spoken with the same pacing. This forced the animators to pick and choose which noises they wanted to show off, knowing that there simply wasn't always time to show everything. Here is Kronk, and a chunk of the sentence "head delivery boy".

As you can see, a rather large chunk of 'delivery' was taken out, in favour of the entire thing reading better. Which is not just remarkable because they chose not to have flapping gums, but also because that is just what phrasing would beg. When you say 'delivery', the entire first syllable is mashed into a single mouthshape.

In conclusion, what does this look like? A question of budget.
Television productions with a tighter budget, such as X-Men and Fairly Odd Parents, will push out whatever they can. If it's moving, it works! Luckily, in the case of Fairly Odd Parents, they have technology backing them. Even in ToonBoom, there is an auto-lipsynch function, allowing less time to be spent swapping symbols.
Television productions with a larger budget are more likely to take the time to at least find the right mouth shapes, if not proper phrasing. Would they use it, if the style demanded? The world may never know. (If you can think of any higher end, traditionally drawn, subtle television show, feel free to mention it, and I'll do what I can to get a decent analysis!)
As for both television specials and straight to DVD productions, it is also a matter of budget. The Grinch showed off his ability to pronounce anything with a mouth almost fully open, giving the necessity for every letter to show. Kronk, with the Disney budget backing him up, showed off his phrasing very well. Delightful! But once again, if anyone can mention a more recent(preferably traditional) television special, or a lower-budget straight to DVD film, I'd love to have a look and see what there is to see.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Chrstie! I'm really impressed for the work you are putting in your blog. It's definetly refreshing to see breakdowns of animation told in such laid back construction of senteces. However, what stands out the most for me it's the passion you wrote them. If they were intentional or not, they are great.

    Congrats!!!!! ;)