Monday, 5 October 2015


Much has been said about the geometric shapes and camera angles in Chuck Jones’ “The Aristo-Cat” (1943) when the spoiled housecat (Claude) realises the butler he has been tormenting has walked out on him.

There’s an interesting effect that adds to the cat’s discombobulation from the audience’s perspective. After some smear drawings (Ben Washam?), the cat runs toward the camera, then turns into a profile. Jones then had the camera enlarge the drawings of the cat to make it larger and bring it into the foreground. Claude doesn’t run closer to the audience. He’s actually running in place; it’s all a camera trick.

The cartoon marks the debut of Claude and the head-game-playing mice, Hubie and Bertie.

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure if I understand what you're saying or whether you have this entirely correct in terms of the technique. I do not think the camera ever moves in on the background at all. The background pans, maybe on an angle (certainly the next two shots in sequence are animated on a tilted field, with a pan). It was pretty standard, as far as I can figure out, that there was an avoidance if at all possible of using panning cels during character animation. From the animator's perspective, the background pan would be calculated and sit on the lower peg bar of his disc in layout form (either finished or preliminary). The animator would work on regular sheets on top pegs and move the background into position to register the character's graduated movements to it. This would avoid using large pieces of paper or cel for no real purpose. It would also reinforce that usually when this was being done, the animation would have to be on "one's", unless the character was not contacting the ground. If registration to the background was necessary, for example drawing a dividing line between character and background, this would be finalized in ink and paint using the same setups and calculations as specified by the animator, using a dedicated "match-line" that was exact to the final background. A good example of how this was done is in this scene in "My Bunny Lies Over the Sea" (animated by Lloyd Vaughan).