2D Animation Techniques in the Bob Godfrey Collection

The Bob Godfrey collection comprises a wide variety of different techniques from traditional 2D drawn animation. Some were pioneering for their time. The collection captures the pre-production and production stages of drawn animation and is therefore a fantastic resource for anyone studying the subject.

As I delve in to each box I’m never quite sure what I am going to find but often it is a mixture of the following:

Dope Sheets: Chart used by Director and Animator to time out action, identifying the numbering of the animation and giving all instructions relating to action planning, animation levels, camera moves, exposures, etc. There is one Dope Sheet for each ‘shot or scene’.

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Dope Sheet from Great 1975

Storyboards: A kind of script with images as well as words similar to a comic strip. The images allow the animation team to plan the flow of the plot and the composition of the imagery.

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Storyboard from Jumbo the elephant you’ll never forget 1978

Sketches and Drawings: These can range from very preliminary sketches on the back of a scrap of paper drawn in pencil or sometimes felt tip pen (also known as a rough) to more accurate drawings of what the final animation cel will be.

Production Backgrounds: A painting or set that appears behind the animated characters or actors. These form the background to the animation cels. Depending on the animation these can use a variety of techniques such as painted backgrounds, drawn scenes and the use of cutouts to create a backdrop against the drawn animation. See more on cutouts below.

Animation Cels: In traditional 2D Animation the cel is the transparent celluloid on which the characters were painted/drawn on. Often made of acetate; the painted celluloid, or cel, is placed over a background and photographed, becoming one frame of the animated film. Actual celluloid (consisting of cellulose nitrate and camphor) was used during the first half of the 20th century, but since it was flammable and dimensionally unstable it was largely replaced by cellulose acetate. With the advent of computer-assisted animation production, the use of cels has been practically abandoned in major productions.

Cutouts: is a technique for producing animations using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or even photographs. Terry Gilliam made the use of cutouts synonymous with the Monty Python’s Flying Circus. However Bob Godfrey used this technique very early on in many of his animations including his Oscar winning film of 1975 “Great” and Gilliam demonstrated the process in Bob Godfrey’s series for the BBC “Do It Yourself Animation Show” 1974.

I also come across the occasional drawing which has nothing to do with the title I’m working on but is a self-contained and often fun cartoon in its own right like the drawing below musing on animation…

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