How To Be A Cartoon Director

Kevin Langley found this vintage clip online in which Walter Lantz describes the duties of a cartoon director at his studio. It’s nice to hear Lantz stress one of the fundamental concepts of how cartoon animation is properly produced: “Both the writer and the director have to be artists because we draw stories instead of writing them.”


  • Nicolas Martinez

    Thanks for sharing. If only cartoons were still done that way today.

  • klingos

    Nice. Fun to watch !

  • Nick Burkard

    wow almost everyone in the animation industry is balding….

  • http://vice.parodius.com/ Dave Silva

    Nick, I was gonna say something like that but was afraid I’d get yelled at!

    Seriously though, I remember several clips like these showing up in reruns of the Woody Woodpecker show that I used to see back in the mid 80′s. We need to force all those so-called “directors” to watch these until they learn how to do things RIGHT.

  • A. J. Cervantes

    The Walter Lantz live action ‘how cartoons are made’ segments aired originally in the late 1950′s as filler on “The Woody Woodpecker Show” and they helped inspire a whole generation (along with similar things Walt Disney later hosted on his “Wonderful World of Color” program) to eventually get into the animation business. It’s a very trim Alex Lovy who is the director in these clips. Lovy could draw with either hand and sported a beret in his later years at Hanna-Barbera. Despite what Lantz says about all the people having to draw who make his cartoons, the tall gent with the glasses, second to play that trombone, is the writer Charles Shows, who wasn’t a graphic artist and who wrote tons of early H-B, Lantz, Beany and Cecil and Bozo the Clown cartoons. Shows was no cartoonist but he was very fast and artists could easily work from his stuff. Curious that they didn’t require a cadre of development execs to help them realize animated cartoons in that era, unlike now.

  • Gerit Vandenberg

    Groovy. Behind-the-scenes clips like these were vital to my becoming an animation freak -especially in the old school sense of paper and pencil. All I knew was that I wanted to hang around with people with jobs like that.

    Someone should un-squeeze this anamorphic looking transfer so we can see the bald heads in all their luster.

  • http://www.goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    Very interesting, and you’d think it would be common sense. But when I watch Cartoon Network now, all I see are talking heads. Ugly ones. And there doesn’t seem to be much of a story…”My Gym Partner is a Monkey” for example. The characters walk up and down a school hallway and talk and make funny noises. Loudly.

    Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy and others told a story in most cases. Woody always had a motivation…either to get something he wanted, tick someone he didn’t like off, or escape some kind of danger. Chilly Willy had simple motives…get warm and get fed. It’s just simple story structure that nobody seems to be able to do these days.
    It was always hammered into me in high school English classes, where we’d do character analyses of a novel.

    Who am I?
    What do I want?
    What am I going to do to get what I want?

    Add to that what Lantz says about the director and story artist having to be artists. Notice he doesn’t say “master draftsman”. You just have to be able to stage something and draw basic expressions…I’ve seen pictures of Mike Maltese’s storyboards for Warner cartoons that are very crude drawings, but they are expressive, and they tell a story.

    Do they even draw storyboards now?

  • http://www.fredcline.blogspot.com Fred Cline

    Thanks A.J. for the ID on two of the guys in the film – can anyone ID the others?

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