Saturday, 27 July 2019

Something New: Cels!

How many of the artists connected with animated cartoons in the silent era are forgotten?

One of them is Bert Green.

You can read a short biography at the New York Public Library site. Green was animating Krazy Kat cartoons in 1916 and working for Pathé five years later, the same year he had a 14-minute vaudeville act with his cartoons.

In a post on Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research site, chronicler Jim Korkis reveals Green was employed at MGM “sometime in the late 1930s and early 1940s,” though the 1940 U.S. Census has him back in New Jersey and cartooning for magazines. He had been in Hollywood, though; in 1933 he went on the Hal Roach payroll and in 1936 Variety reported he was working with former animation director Greg LaCava on the Universal lot.

Green died on October 4, 1948. He was 63.

He chatted about making cartoons move in this syndicated newspaper story of August 26, 1921.

Making Animated Cartoons Is the Modern Man's Job
NEW YORK—If Job were alive today he would probably surrender his crown for patience to the makers of the animated cartoons.
The astonishingly life-like action portrayed by outlined figures on the screen is obtained by drawing a series of pictures, photographing each one separately and in sequence and projecting them on the screen.
"You can't get any more out of cartoons than you put into them," says Bert Green. He animates maps and charts and other things that would appear only as dry statistical subjects on the screen for Pathe News.
Pathe maintains a complete mechanical plant for turning out cartoons and animated diagrams.
The operator touches an electrical button for the "shot" of each separate drawing. Often the camera is standing on its head for the shot.
The photographed drawing is withdrawn and another substituted. This operation is repeated several thousand times to make a reel that will run six to eight minutes on the screen.
Winsor McKay, some eight or ten years ago, drew 1,000 drawings and moved them in succession before a motion picture camera to illustrate a day in the life of “Gertie, the Dinosaur.”
This modern Job's job is no longer entirely a one-man job. The cartoonist create the scenes, characters and incident. But the details of action such as a man running of falling are made by his assistants, called “animators.”
Formerly the entire figure and the scene represented were re-copied for each drawing. This seemed to be necessary for a complete negative.
However, a recent invention obviates that labor. It is called the celluloid sheet. It is sufficiently transparent for photography through it.
Thus, if only the head, the arms or the legs move, only the part that move has to be re-drawn. The main part of the character and the "set" remain under the camera lens.
The animator must be so proficient that the lines of the changed part will join with the unchanged lines.
Many tricks have evolved from camera animation. Some of them are the pen that moves across the screen with no hand to guide it, the ink blot that resolves itself into characters, the monkey's tail that sweeps across the screen and leaves the artist's signature.
The latter is employed by Paul Terry who is animating Aesop's Fables.
Animated cartoons have acquired a place on the screen of importance equal to that of the strip comic in newspapers.

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