Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cel Walls

Among the favorite activities that my daughter and I share together is watching old cartoons. We have a full cabinet of DVDs with cartoons like Tom and Jerry from the 1950s and 1960s, Scooby Doo from the 1960s and 1970s, Dyno-Mutt from the 1970s, Smurfs from the 1980s, and my favorite, Pinky and the Brain from the 1990s. However, the older cartoons from the days when they were hand-drawn have always sparked our most careful viewing. Not because we find these old shows overtly challenging from an intellectual standpoint, but because as these cartoons were churned out in a more mass-production mode, they tend to feature quite a few more mistakes. So, for us, the activity within the activity is to spot the errors, pause the video, and then to engage in discussion.

Usually the mistakes are logical in nature, where the cartoon makers, whose goal was to minimize the number of new cels that had to be drawn and colored, often tended to liberally re-use stock drawings that were already made and to splice them into the show. Often this results in characters showing up that in the previous scene or view were not present or characters changing size from scene to scene in relation to fixed background objects. We have seen some pretty egregious things over the years. Another type of issue is coloring mistakes, where some part of the background or the characters themselves are either not colored at all, or change colors from frame to frame. We have also made quite a nice collection of digital photographs of character parts and pieces that were not drawn at all. A few that I could quickly find have been sewn together in the accompanying photo from the old Scooby Doo cartoons. Enjoy.