I recently saw a compilation of Bill Tytla shots on youtube (posted below) and decided it would be a spring board for possibly starting an “Animation History 101” type series of posts. We’ll see how it goes.
To get an insight into the life of Bill Tytla, John Canemaker wrote an amazing biography which can be downloaded/read on Animation Resources. I highly recommend it, it’s a well written and researched look at the ups and downs of Tytla’s life. I’ll just offer a brief overview of his career:
Tytla began his career in New York, painting title cards for Paramount animation studio before becoming a T.V animator for Raoul Barré and later joining Terrytoons. His passion though was fine art and he took an extended break from work to study painting and sculpture in Paris, which helped lead to his signature understanding of weight and mass in animation.
After returning to the States and working again at Terrytoons in New York, he was brought over to work at Disney by his friend Art Babbitt. There he became one of the most respected animators, animating on Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia and some Mickey + some war time shorts.
Tytla brought Stanislavsky’s acting approach to animation, performances that were driven by becoming the character and identifying with their inner emotions and thoughts. He had a style of animating “form not function”, basically allowing distortions and imprecise inbetweens into his work if he thought the movement as a whole felt natural. Most of all he was known for his powerful characters which showcased a great understanding of weight; Stromboli, Chernabog and the giant in the Mickey short ‘Brave Little Tailor’.
After becoming unsettled living in California and working at Disney, Tytla quit and moved back to the East coast to work in TV as an animator and director. He was known to become unhappy with his choice, unwilling to adapt to the changing in styles of TV animation, unable to properly manage his own studio and despite his talents and legacy, unable to get rehired at Disney.
Tytla was known to be heavily impressed by Pieter Bruegel while living in Europe, his paintings becoming inspiration for Tytla’s work on The Seven Dwarfs
Tytla animation before Disney. Browse through more on Mike Knight’s youtube page.
Stromboli pencil test:
Montage of some of his work at Disney:
Michael Sporn posted some amazing scans of Tytla’s work, breaking down some of his use of distortions
And also posted this youthful run by Dumbo
Some of the shorts he directed post-Disney: