Sunday, August 14, 2011

How Jim Tyer worked

On 8/13 I talked to veteran animator Doug Crane, whose credit includes Terrytoons, Paramount, Archie Comics, and many other places in New York (and some in Hollywood). During his stay at Terrytoons he assisted the crazyman of all animators Jim Tyer, so naturally I asked him how he worked. Here's what he told me:

It depended [on the scene]. If there was a weird piece of animation that had to be done like a guy who does not know how to dance...if it was a regular dancer he would have to animate on a beat. If a 16-frame beat he would have to go "bump...bump...bump" and the foot would have to hit the floor on the beat, so it would've meant drawing one, thirteen, twenty-five, etc. And that would be a dance and Jim could do that superbly.

But he would be much better off if he had a fellow who DIDN'T know how to dance was trying to dance. And this way you don't do drawing one, thirteen, twenty-five and work into it. You just go straight-ahead. He would put down alot of paper on his pegs, and the rubber band going around the pegs so the papers wouldn't fall off. He would pick up all the papers and he would do drawing one, then he would do drawing two, then three, then four. He never knew where he was going and you'd never know what was going to happen along the way, with this guy slipping, stepping on his fingers, and then stretching them and all. He was a master at stretching and squashing and expressions.


And with that, here are some of Tyer's animation



[and I'll continue posting my Donovan Cook interview tomorrow]

5 comments:

J Lee said...

Thanks for adding to the Tyer record. His drawings of Sourpuss on roller skates from the opening of the CBS Cartoon Theater isn't exactly 'dancing', but it conveys the same wild, straight-ahead drawing style of someone whose legs and upper body are going in multiple directions.

Will Finn said...

Len Glasser worked at TT in their twilight years. He told me once something to the effect that Tyer animated each character in fragments, sometimes starting with just an eye or the head or mouth and just working straight ahead on each separate part in no particular order (right eye, left foot, body, ears, mouth right arm, left eye, etc)and then pulling it all together when each fragment was finished...

it sounds insane but plausible given the results. they guy was a savant in any case...

Brubaker said...

Yeah, I think I remember hearing Ralph Bakshi say the same thing.

Will Finn said...

Another story I heard was it was not unusual to find Tyer sitting at his desk with his trousers off, wearing just his shirt and boxer brief, puffing away on a cigar as he drew. I find it hard to believe but it came from someone who was there...

I'm going to assume this had something to do with hot weather and the absence of air-conditioning (and Human Resources Departments).

Another tale tells it that Tyer jealously guarded his works in progress by locking his working drawings in a drawer whenever he went out to lunch. One hopes he put his pants back on for such occasions...

Brubaker said...

I heard that story, too, about Tyer hiding his works-in-progress whenever another person came to his desk.

From what the people who knew him has said, Tyer was just as weird as the scenes he animated. That explains things.