“Cab Calloway: Sketches” by Asterisk Animation

Our friend Richard O’Connor at Asterisk Animation produced this sublime piece of dance animation for Cab Calloway: Sketches, which had its US premiere Monday on WLIW (PBS-21 in the New York area). The program has several encore performances this weekend. Richard writes:

The dancer is performing from the Alvin Ailey group’s “Uptown”, a piece which is a move-for-move interpretation of the Minnie the Moocher dance from the Fleischer film. We then animated Cab, in the style of illustrator Steve Brodner – he’s drawing Cab’s caricature throughout the film – doing the moves with him. We basically took poses from the film as layouts and animated from there. The film was produced for ARTE (France) in conjunction with the 25 anniversary of The Blue Brothers in October. Christina Capozzi Riley animated.


  • http://www.youtube.com/user/VujadeEntertainment#p/u/0/3HaupcJwAdk Steve Schnier

    I hate to say it, but the Fleischers did a much better job of interpreting Cab Calloway’s dancing 75 years ago. Check out Betty Boop in “Minnie the Moocher” and in “Snow White”.

    • http://comedyforanimators.com/ Jonathan Lyons

      I agree with Steve,

      I don’t see any relationship between the live dancer and the animated one. And the composition puts the animation too close to the edge of the frame. It feels tacked on.

      • http://matthewchao.blogspot.com Matt

        Watch the entire film and the relationship between the animated cab and the dancer will be a lot clearer.

    • Iritscen

      Yes, and don’t forget “Old Man of the Mountain”, the Old Man’s dance might be my favorite dance of Calloway’s that appears in the Betty Boop films.

  • http://www.segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    I agree with Steve. Cab Calloway was such a fluid dancer, his animation really needs to be on ones. Nice illustration style, though.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Carpozzi is an animation Goddess.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    It’s fun to watch, but technically distracting.

    A live-action frame rate practically demands animating composited elements on ones so they’ll blend. This is animated with a combination of twos, threes, and fours against 25fps live action plates. There are many technological solutions for interpolating frames quickly and cleanly.

    The “sliding” is also distracting. Cab drifts all over the place. Any number of tracking methods could have locked Cab to the floor.

  • Frank

    Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog michael sporn

    An absolutely gorgeous piece. Very well done.

  • http://outoftheinkwell.blogspot.com Mike Dobbs

    The Fleischer legacy looms largely even in 2011!

  • Bob Lindstrom

    I agree with the earlier posters. Representing the incredibly fluid dance moves of Calloway (even in a highly stylized way) in animated twos is like recording the New York Philharmonic with a 2Hz sampling rate.

  • Dance Girl

    Cab Calloway’s dance moves weren’t “fluid” at all.

    He had a very wierd and jerky way of moving.

    They say he studied how roosters moved and got his style from that.

    You guys may know cartoons, but you don’t know dance.